Caridad Esteban is a member of the San Francisco Resistance who has become an integral member of its medical staff.
The oldest of seven children, a lot was expected of Caridad and she did what she could, for a poor kid born on the coast of Mexico. Her mother worked as a seamstress in a local factory and her father worked as a laborer on a tobacco farm.
The first invasion was something of a myth to Costa Sur. Something that happened in other places as most of Mexico had been left alone by the Visitors. Other places in South America had been more important. Rio de Janeiro, La Paz, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires were hit but other than an influx of refuges from those areas, the invasion wasn’t a real problem for Mexico. As Caridad was born after the invasion, life went on.
Being the oldest, she helped her parents raise the younger siblings, taking care of them at night when her mother worked. Many things often fell to Caridad’s shoulders; housekeeping, laundry, cooking. During all this, she managed to complete her schoolwork and teach her siblings and father how to read and write.
School, for Caridad, was a release from her life. She loved her family dearly but Caridad believed in a world past Costa Sur and she was afraid she would die there, in the same house she was born. School meant there was more to life than raising children, cooking and cleaning and hand-me-down clothes. For her parents, she was the visionary and they wanted to give her what they had been denied. When Caridad was 16, her mother wrote to Rosalinda, a sister-in-law who had immigrated to America a few years back. She wrote about Caridad’s drive, her passion and her fierce spirit.
Impressed, Rosalinda paid for most of Caridad’s college education, sending her to Universidad de Guadalajara. For Caridad, being away from her family was scary but again, she had school to help stave off homesickness and eventually completed a degree in structural engineering.
A year ago, Rosa and her mother convinced Caridad to come north, to America. Since she was traveling alone, her mother requested that Alberto, the second oldest, accompany Caridad. Rosa assembled the necessary papers and funds and sent them on. Miguela knew a man who knew Enrique Colada, who would take Caridad and Alberto to the border safely, where they would cross with their paperwork and take a bus to San Francisco.
That was the plan but Enrique had other intentions. With the ruse of camping for the night, he drove Caridad and her brother into the mountains near the border. The ‘camp’ was actually a staging area for smugglers taking young women into the United States. There, Alberto, along with a handful of other men, were shot and killed in front of the women, to ensure cooperation and silence. Caridad’s belongings, including her papers, cell phone and money, were confiscated by Enrique, a human trafficker specializing in moving women across the border into the United States for slavery and prostitution.
Scared out of her wits, Caridad acted on instinct, ‘mothering’ the younger girls, until the idea of escape became a necessity and not just a dream. Waiting, biding her time, Caridad paid attention to the smugglers, sharp eyes and memory learning their smuggling tactics and methods.
As was her lot lately, Caridad’s plan for escape did not happen as she wished. Instead of watching and waiting, making her escape a planned maneuver, it became a spur of the moment, run for her life. Four days into the United States (two weeks in this journey in hell) and having crossed the border successfully, Enrique decided to ‘sample’ his wares, in the form of a 13-year-old girl. When she fought him, Enrique began to beat her savagely and Caridad intervened, jumping him from behind. He threw her off, rounding on her with fists and his belt, whipping and beating her. Another girl jumped in as Enrique was pulling a gun to shoot Caridad. The gun fell to the ground, where Caridad scooped it up and without thinking, shot Enrique.
The shot would bring the others and death, she was sure so Caridad ran, right then and there. Having studied a map for months prior to coming north, as something to do, to whet her excitement, she had a basic idea of how to get to San Francisco. She spent three days running, barely sleeping before she collected her wits and figured out where she was. Food and water came in the form of what she could pilfer from dumpsters and trash along with any money she found. Rosa’s number had been memorized earlier but the threat of being found kept Caridad off the traveled routes for three weeks, until she reached a small all-night truck stop in Utah. From there, she was able to get a hold of Rosa. Already frantic over her niece and nephew’s disappearance, Rosa left within the hour to come and get her. Six weeks after her ordeal began; a disheveled, shell-shocked young woman finally arrived in San Francisco.
Six months later, Caridad and Rosa are trying to establish her immigration status but without the original papers and the government being the government, the process is long and tedious. Insisting on paying for her way, by money or labor, Caridad works with her aunt, cooking and serving in one of the mobile food trucks. Meanwhile, she keeps her head down, doing whatever necessary to not draw attention to herself or Rosa because without documentation, Caridad is considered an illegal immigrant.
A strong young woman, Caridad is more mature than her years and not without cause. Raising her siblings, she was always the one to make decisions, to help out and to stand up for others. While that hasn’t changed, her personality has. Much quieter now, she fears being found and returned to Mexico, where certain death would await her once Enrique’s collaborators discovered her return. She no longer sleeps well or easy and while she still believes in defending others, she doesn’t trust anyone easily or quickly and it shows in how she keeps to herself and shuts people out.
Height: 5’ 4”
- Mother – Miguela Esteban
- Father – Jesus Mercado
- Brothers – Alberto, Juan, Donzel
- Sisters – Corazon, Mejia, Eleanora
All of the family, except Alberto, lives in Costa Sur, Jalisco, Mexico. Alberto is dead. Aunt and uncle – Rosalinda and Carlos Hernandez, who live in San Francisco.
A healed lash mark across the lower back, small marks on the soles of her feet, a short, small scar on her left cheekbone. All of them are recent.
Place of Birth: Costa Sur, Jalisco, Mexico
Works for her Aunt Rosa’s Coche On Wheels; a mobile food service and catering company.
TRAINING OR EDUCATION:
- Engineering Degree; Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalara, Mexico