The closure of the Friendship Park distorts the meeting space of the United States and Mexico
San Diego (USA), September 7 (EFE). – A large family from Michigan arrived in California to get as close as possible to their grandmother, who traveled from the Mexican state of Michoacan to the border to say goodbye, where she had very little life time. She was one of the last people to see her relatives before the border guards closed the Friendship Park.
“The grandmother had very advanced cancer, and this was probably the last time her children and grandchildren living in the United States would see her life,” Pedro Rios, director of the Health Services Commission’s US-Mexico border program, told Efe. American friends.
The family, which includes members of the United States and Mexico, often watched each other on cellphone video, but seeing the new children in person was different for this sick elderly woman.
From both countries they made a long journey to see each other for a moment, because the Border Patrol has a very strict schedule to open and close the binational park, where families, couples and friends used to meet, separated only by a metal fence with small holes.
said Rios, who is also a human rights advocate and a member of Friends of Friendship.
Daniel Wattman, another member of Friends of the Park and one of the space’s most tenacious advocates, said the place was “initially intended as a meeting place to make friends between people from both sides of the border; hence its name.”
When then-first lady Pat Nixon opened the park in August 1971, the borders were marked with centers about 3 feet high, spaced at least 10 feet apart, and three barbed wire in between.
“The park has done its job fully. It has allowed many people, mostly from San Diego and Southern California, to establish direct contact with the residents of Tijuana and Baja California without having to cross the border,” Whatman said.
But he lamented that “over time, the US immigration policies, increasingly militarized at the border, gradually surrounded the park with walls and restricted the passage of people little by little, until we came to the closure that we have now.”
The Border Patrol, responsible for guarding the area, banned direct contact with the fences, then reduced the hours to four hours on Saturday and Sunday so people could get close.
Finally the park closed completely in March 2020 under the pretext of the covid-19 pandemic, and now intends to replace the old barriers with new ones with nine-meter steel poles.
Causes of the patrol
One casualty of the lockdown was the Sunday Mass that Reverend John Fanstel of more than 10 years of California celebrated with Reverend Guillermo Navarrete in Tijuana.
Patrol prevented parishioners from reaching 600 feet of the border fence to hear mass from the American side, eventually preventing access to the park from a distance of about 4 miles. Since then, the block has only continued on the Tijuana side.
Ironically, the United States raised the barrier about a meter inside its territory, so that if someone came to the fence from the south, he would enter American territory. The altar for Mass is placed every Sunday on the “Mexican” side of the California Territory.
Rios explained that the Patrol “first presented the epidemic as an excuse to close the park, then came up with the fact that it did not have enough staff” to assign two officers to monitor the park for four hours on weekends, “and recently says the wall is too old and could fall on the your agents or park visitors.”
Robert Vivar, an advocate for deported veterans as well as friends of the park, said the site closure put an end to the countless displays of friendship and brotherhood on both sides of the border.
“Imagine a fandango where many people play and dance to music at the same time in both countries, a traditional December inn, a garden and a botanical garden that has grown as a symbol of friendship on both sides next to the wall, masses, cultural encounters. Here we were not separated by borders, but by our unity. EFE
Ministry of Education / MA / Mah
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