November 17, 2006

Mayors Mobilize Against Border Walls

Mayors in Texas and the northern Mexican border state of Coahuila are mobilizing their opposition to the new series of border walls planned by the Bush Administration.

Supported by Mexican mayors and representatives of non- governmental organizations, a 3-day march against the walls commenced November 7 in the Coahuila border city of Ciudad Acuña. Evaristo Lenin Perez Rivera, the mayor of Ciudad Acuña, said the action was directed against both Washington and Mexico City because of the two national governments’ “incapacity to resolve common problems while trying to divide a community of neighbors with a mud wall.”

Drawing the support of Coahuila state labor, educational and commercial groups like the Canacintra and Canaco business associations, the march culminated at a November 10 rally in Piedras Negras, which is also on the Mexico-US border. The Coahuila anti-border wall march moved forward as incoming Mexican President Felipe Calderon flew to Washington this week for meetings with US Latino leaders and President Bush. A critic of the border wall plan, Calderon has called for “bridges for progress and not walls that isolate and divide.”

Back on the protest march, meanwhile, Mayor Perez, who was joined by Mayor Francisco Trujillo of Jimenez, Coahuila, said he was uplifted by the results of the November 7 election in the United States that saw President Bush’s Republican Party lose control of Congress. Mayor Perez said he was confident the new US Congress would cut the budget for the planned series of walls that will extend 700 miles along Mexico’s northern border.

On the US side of the border, Richard F. Cortez, the mayor of McAllen, Texas, said in a recent interview with the Mexican press that he and other Texas mayors from “El Paso to Brownsville” hope to meet soon in Laredo, Texas, with United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in order to convey their rejection of the fencing plans.

“Washington politicians should understand that for us, the citizens of Texas, crossing the Rio Grande is like crossing the Potomac. We have friends and cousins on the other side...” Cortez said. “The people of the United States are uninformed. They think that immigrants come to carry out crimes.”

While criticizing Washington, Mayor Cortez also scored Mexico City for not doing enough to curb emigration.

Calling on both countries to seek the “path” of dialogue, Mayor Cortez said that the Texas border economy depends on the dollars spent by Mexican consumers who shop in McAllen and other cities. “Between 35-45 percent of the sales of businesses in McAllen depend on Mexican customers,” Mayor Cortez added. “This is a very serious situation,” Mayor Cortez said. “As neighboring countries we should not be just cousins,” he added. We should get along as brothers.”

Reprinted from Frontera NorteSur an on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

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