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WHAT A PHYSICAL WALL BETWEEN COUNTRIES DOES TO INDIVIDUAL FAMILIES ...
Kamran Ali has bicycled from Ushaia at the southern tip of South America for the past 2 years. He finally reached Tijuana, Mexico last week. HIs greatest shock was the physical fence on the border between USA and Mexico. Nowhere along his trek of 25,000 km or so covering all of those countries that make up the South America did he see this sight. There were no fences any where according to him.
Below are some of his observation with regards to a harm that is done to families that are trying to survive with the wage earner stuck in USA while the family is stuck in Mexico. It is a painful burden and has long lasting impact on the population.
The question becomes why is there the divide? Is it because US government feels guilt about annexing Mexican Territory into the union. Or is it that Mexico is being deliberately being kept at a poverty level so as to reap the benefit of cheap labour.
What ever is the reason with to day's wealth in the USA and Europe, it seems very odd that a country just across the border is so poor, that they risk their lives to cross the border into USA. Many are shot down or die of starvation and thirst during their long walks in the desert. Or being exploited by people who charge them large sums of money to take them across and then dump them in the middle of a desert somewhere.
All I can think is ... there has to be a solution to this dilemma of human abuse.
I have a Mexican gardener who is now the citizen of USA. He comes to my house 2 days a month. His job is to clean all the pavements, pick up all the leaves, trim bushes and then mow lawns in the front yard and the back yard. He does all this in about an hour and charges me $40 for each visit. He has been doing this for us for the past 20 years. He works hard and there is never a time when I have to complain to him. He knows what is needed and does it. He is perfect in his accounting .. he asks to be paid every 3 months. at the rate of 80 dollars a month. He is now getting slow... due to age and complaining of arthiritis. I suggested perhaps he should find a young man to help him. So he now has a young helper. He has never over charged us or never said that is too little for any additional work I may wish for him to do. It has been a pleasure all along. We have a professional relationship and he never exceeds that boundary. It is wrong to brand Mexicans as bad people, Just like all of us they are trying to make a living so their children grow up to be better in livelihood than they are. long strapless prom dresses
Here is Kamran's final story from the south. Today he enters the true north. The North America and beyond to Canada and Alaska. Kamran is a man if imagination and sensitivity. He is a true source of knowledge. If you wish to meet him. He will be in San Diego, Lost Angeles and then in San Francisco in February and March. Please send me or Kamran a Message for his finalized schedule. Or just say hello.
It is my last day in Mexico. I spend another day along the Mexico-US border wall in Tijuana and cycle west to the coast. My journey takes me to the beach where the border fence meets the Pacific ocean. There, a historical monument marks the initial point of the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Near the monument where the fence gets much higher, I see a woman with a young girl and a baby boy sitting on picnic chairs facing the wall. They are all neatly dressed with their faces shining. At first, it appears as if the family is talking to the wall, but then I hear an adult male voice from behind the wall. I try to see through the wall but the mesh behind the fence is so thin that I can barely see the other side unless I put my eye close to the hole in the mesh and even then it is a very narrow view.
The man speaks to his wife and, once in a while, speaks to the little child who is barely able to utter a word. Even the little fingers of the boy are not able to pass through the mesh. There is no urgency in the conversation. Sometimes, the woman takes the phone out and plays something on it and then the conversation takes a different course. It is as if they are talking to each other at home, but in reality, there is a massive wall between them. You cannot see the other person, you cannot touch, you can only hear.
This family is only one of the many million Mexican families split across Mexico–US border. A significant number of Mexicans cannot visit their families across the border due to legal issues. Some people do have a legal permit to stay in the US but if they leave they will not be able to enter again. Others have been deported to Mexico but left their children behind in the US and now cannot see them. Sometimes, years or even lifetimes pass by before the families reunite.
Until a few years ago, people from both sides were able to simply walk to the wall and talk to their family members across the fence, but this is no longer permitted on the US side as the authorities fear that money or illegal items might be exchanged during such meetings. Considering this, the family reunion near the historical monument is a special occasion, albeit it was only possible after getting a special permission from the US Border Patrol. But, how can you call this a meeting? where you cannot hug your loved ones and cannot even see them. Is the presence alone sufficient?
I talked to the family for a few minutes and then watched them in silence for some time. The wall may have its pros, but this sight is heart-breaking and makes me realise the pain that families split across the border go through every day. This is not just a wall, it is a divide between families. This is like a prison, the only difference here is that parties on both sides of the bars are locked up.
Nearby, the Tijuana beach is full of Mexicans who have come here with families and friends for a picnic. Couples dance to live music and hug and kiss. Kids dig holes in wet sand and splash water on each other. Dogs run wild from one place to another. On the other side of the wall, the beach is completely empty with no souls in sight; only a few seagulls sit on the sand looking into the ocean with their empty eyes. Border guards patrol the empty shores on quads as a reminder of their presence.
As the sun sets on the Pacific, a woman asks me that if given a choice which side of the beach would I choose to be at. "Obviously, Tijuana!", I reply earnestly. As I say this, I realise this would be my last sunset in Mexico on this journey. I want the sun to stay a bit longer above the horizon but it slips from the sky and sinks into the ocean. I stand next to the wall for some time and see waves split by the giant metal bars. While Mexicans are still making noise on this side, there is dead silence behind the wall. Tomorrow, I have to go to other side and see what life looks like from there.