12 September 2013

The Northwest Corner

Mexico's northwest corner is a neighborhood in Tijuana called Playas.  It is notable for its beautiful beaches, its American population, its seafood, and its wall.  La Fronteriza begins, or ends, here.

This is the border.  Once, both San Diego and Tijuana were seen as one region, and the two countries were only separated by a marker.  It still presides over the border, and the walls curve slightly to accommodate it.

After the marker came a threadbare barbed wire fence, and then a wall.  As the U.S.'s border becomes more militarized, it builds more barriers. Now at this particular shared corner of the countries, there are bars, a mesh fence, and a third fence, all of which end about a hundred yards into the ocean, crowned with a panopticon of security apparati.

Beneath this thicket of cameras and floodlights is a park.  Until 2009, you could go to Friendship Park and shake hands, hug, or share an international kiss through the bars.  Now there is barely enough space to press the tip of a finger through the fencing.  There is a system of gates by which transborder friends and families can walk into a common area and hug and hold one another under the watchful eyes of border agents, but more often than not, they remain closed.
"Here is where dreams become nightmares."

The American side of the wall is free of graffiti, but the less heavily supervised Mexican side is adorned with art, scrawled messages, and names of deportees.
A list of names of deported veterans of the United States military.
 
Beneath the cameras and floodlights and alongside the names,  the desperately scribbled messages and phone numbers, and protest art, stands one stark question on the rusty wall: ¿Estas de mi lado?

Are you on my side?


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