Coming back from the Las Fronteras trip, I am able to take back the stories that people have told us over the past week. When I first decided to come on Las Fronteras, I joined so that I could find out for myself about what the border situation was like near Mexico rather than just trust the reports that I heard on the news. While on the trip, I met Astrid at the Primeria Alta Historical Museum who told me about the history of the border and about her life away from it as part of the State Department; Michael who told me stories about his life and about living in a migrant shelter; Sonya who talked about being a student protester in Nicaragua and walking up to Nogales, Sonora; the Border Patrol agents who described their side of things; and so many more.
Out of these stories, the one that resonated the most was with Astrid and her story of the history of the border fence. When listening to Astrid, I learned from her story that during her mother’s youth, there was not a fence at all and that during her youth, there was only a Mexican cattle fence through which they bought sodas in Mexico if they were cheaper there than the US. This fence stayed for a long period over which they had festivals at the border and had a parade on Cinco de Mayo with floats going down the border and people on both sides celebrating. Then, September 11, 2001 came and a new, larger fence was put up made of surplus helicopter landing materials which in recent years has been changed to be a see-through fence with more surplus military supplies.. Not too long ago mesh was added on which makes it not almost impossible to do communion or share a meal through the fence as many faith groups would do before the mesh.
According to Astrid though, the worst part of the fence is the newly added in the last year by the US Army: constantina wire. This type of barbed wire is placed in 2-3 swirls at the top of the US side of the border. Astrid said that the wire looks so horrible right now as it seems as though the Americans are being kept in, rather than the Mexicans being kept out. One of Astrid’s friends from West Germany once told her that it looks like the Berlin Wall just without landlines. Now sharing this story is important for currently, this fence is keeping cultures from blending and being fluid as they were in the past. Astrid herself does not believe in the fact that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, but she does say that this looks like history repeating itself.
-Kieron, St. John’s, Saugus