The Undocumented Subjects of el Hueco: Theorizing a Colombian Metaphor for Migration

Jennifer Harford Vargas, Bryn Mawr College


This article theorizes the trope of el Hueco that Colombians use to describe crossing undocumented into the United States, colloquially referring to undocumented migration as entering “por el Hueco,” which translates as “through the Hole or Gap.” I posit that el Hueco provides a fruitful new metaphor for Latina/o studies that is directly rooted in the experience of undocumented migration and in an extended geography that connects South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. I analyze how Jorge Franco’s novel Paraíso Travel and Kofre’s CD ¡Por el hueco! figure crossing through el Hueco as a form of burial, thereby symbolically capturing the death of migrants’ legal subjectivity and of their national identities. I posit that Franco and Kofre simultaneously reconfigure restrictive notions of national affiliation by imagining affective citizenship and insurgent hemispheric belonging. Overall, the article opens up a space to consider the critical import of U.S. Colombian literary production within the field imaginary of Latina/o studies.