Consistently, one of the most trafficked pages on Deceleration is a reprint of an article I wrote about the poisoning of the people of Gulfport, Miss., by Agent Orange chemicals during and after the Vietnam War. But the story of Agent Orange, and the likely millions of human lives it has damaged and cut short, never seems to be truly or fully told. (One solid attempt is found at Agent Orange History.)
Thorough investigations inevitably lead to Mission, Texas, birthplace of Monsanto, “home of the grapefruit,” and “the most contaminated man on the planet.”
Monsanto was one of the primary producers of the chemicals used to make Agent Orange.
Telling the story fully and well should also include a deep dive into an online archive organized as a “Xicana feminist codex and a digital roadmap of resistance” once known simply as the Mission Texas Coalition. The long history of poisoned bodies and justice ignored told here is one that extends beyond the confines of AO, however, as a variety of chemicals and culprits were tangled up in this industrial-grade assault on the public health.
On December 30, an impressive amount of material collected and organized by this self-described guerrilla media effort was released to the public to make telling this and many other related stories of the poisoning of peoples and the planet easier.
This release makes accessible hours of public hearing videos and independent interviews, as well as powerful audio clips, such as recordings of the corridos, “Venga Naciones Unidas A Mission, Texas (Come United Nations to Mission, Texas)” by Los Papiz and “Quimicas Peligrosas (Dangerous Chemicals)” by Los Gavilanes de Mario Saenz y Beto Cano.
According to Xica Media, the data dump includes:
… hundreds of previously confidential/unpublished multimedia to the site, revealing a chronicle of the events surrounding the chemical contamination in Mission, Texas.
Mission, Texas is a birthplace of Monsanto Ag and for decades produced 9 of the 12 most hazardous contaminants known to man, known as the “Dirty Dozen,” which were outlawed by the United Nations in 2001. Mission is also the birthplace of Agent Orange.
The archive contains documents produced between 1949 and 2008, including:
- The complete original community website (including a searchable version)
- 246 photos
- 91 video clips of community interviews
- 82 video clips of public meetings
- 58 scientific/government reports
- 47 press articles covering the case
- 11 in-house multimedia (community-produced guerrila media) files
- 11 legal files regarding the class-action lawsuit (including expert testimony)
- 2 corridos produced by local RGV artists
- 1 feature documentary trailer for American Orange
The publication of these documents were intended to document, digitize, and disseminate the story of Mission and the longstanding, intergenterational contamination of Mexican/Mexican American people in the U.S.
We remember the public chemical baths in El Paso in the same era, done to folks crossing the border every day to work. Now let us also remember that Monsanto, the agrochemical industry, and “science” around the human impacts of chemical exposure were quietly born in a MeXicanx barrio in deep South Texas.
Decades-long silence/secrecy by government agencies has hidden this story from public view for far too long. The people have a right to know.