During the summer of 1975, 35 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital suffered breathing failures. Five patients died. Because of this unusually high number of incidents, and because of the fact that these incidents had occurred on federal property, the FBI, in collusion with the VA hospital administration, launched a 10-month full-scale investigation.
The investigation culminated in a grand jury indictment and arrest of two Filipina nurses—Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez, both of whom were on duty in the ICU during many of the breathing failures.
After a lengthy and exceedingly controversial trial (U.S. v. Narciso and Perez) based solely on highly circumstantial evidence, Narciso and Perez were convicted of poisoning and conspiracy. The two nurses were then sentenced to serve time at the West Virginia Federal Prison.
Eventually, at the appeal of the defense, the FBI, in demonstrating the weakness of its own shady and fabricated case, dropped its charges and the two nurses were exonerated.
To this day, the FBI has never apologized or admitted any wrongdoing, and the case remains unresolved.
U.S. v. Narciso and Perez exemplifies the elusiveness and impossibility of the so-called American Dream for immigrants of color.
U.S. v. Narciso and Perez is a textbook example of state-sponsored, anti-immigrant racism and sexism.
As you may know, one of the nurses, Leonora Perez, happens to be my mother.
It has become my life’s work to explore, examine, and make sense of this very personal, very public, very traumatic history.
Since 2001, I have attempted to study and tell this history through various forms. I’ve written unsent open letters to federal prosecutors, spoken word poems, experimental monologues based on my mother’s prison diaries, and cut-up poems using anything from excerpts of interviews I’ve had with my mother and headlines from popular and local newspapers found in our family archive. In 2005, I set out to write a novel about the case. It became a giant giant giant task.
Eight 11 years and hundreds of pages later and I am nowhere near finished with the novel, or what I’ve been thinking about as a novel. (I’m now interrogating the novel itself as both failure and possibility. More later.)
I AM STILL AT WORK.
Since 2005, in the process of writing and conceptualizing the novel, in the process of discovering my political commitments to various narrative forms, I’ve happened upon a few major projects–i.e. a performance work, a play, some film/video projects:
Currently, I am developing a trans-media archival project through which I intend to gather, share, and critically reflect upon all that I have done and will continue to do in order explore more deeply the social, political, and psychological implications of U.S. v. Narciso and Perez.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STAY TUNED! I’m thrilled about sharing/designing this project right here on/through this site and through live performance!
This will be a practice in making history.
NOTE ABOUT WORKS THAT DISCUSS U.S. V. NARCISO AND PEREZ
I, Jason Magabo Perez, on behalf of my mother, Leonora M. Perez, and on behalf of the rest of my family, do not endorse any narrative about U.S. v. Narciso and Perez that seeks to hold the FBI or federal government in any positive light whatsoever.
We insist upon the innocence of both Leonora Perez and Filipina Narciso.
We insist upon the GUILT of the FBI (and the federal government) for its blatantly violent and violating misconduct leading up to, during, and following the U.S. v. Narciso and Perez trial.
Additionally, we denounce the FBI’s continued operation as an instrument of state repression.
WE retain the right to tell OUR OWN STORIES, on our own time, in our own dignified ways.
We endorse the following works which to varying degrees study, mention, and seek to understand the political implications of U.S. v. Narciso and Perez:
NOTE: We do not endorse any works that are not included on this list.
AGAIN, PLEASE STAY TUNED!
UPDATE: December 13, 2016
In 2017, to commemorate/interrogate the 40th anniversary of U.S. v. Narciso and Perez, to work against the rampant anti-immigrant racism and sexism of the impending Trump regime, I’m a building a tour of performances, lectures, exhibitions, and workshops. This shall be the novel as performance. Again, stay tuned!