In a powerful statement against the construction of the U.S. border wall, Mexico has laid the remains of the Berlin Wall in Tijuana, just steps away from the new barrier. The 3-ton piece of pockmarked, gray concrete now stands between a bullring, a lighthouse, and the U.S. border wall, extending into the Pacific Ocean. The installation, titled "A World Without Walls," features an inscription below the towering relic that reads, "May this be a lesson to build a society that knocks down walls and builds bridges." The idea behind the installation is to symbolize the need for unity and inclusivity rather than division.
For Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero, the U.S. border wall holds personal and political significance. Caballero, who considers herself a migrant, moved to Tijuana from Oaxaca in southern Mexico when she was just 2 years old, fleeing poverty, abuse, and illiteracy with her mother. The mayor's ties to migration are further emphasized by her marriage to an Iranian man who is now a U.S. citizen. Caballero and her 9-year-old son used to cross the border between Tijuana and San Diego, but due to security threats, she has been living in a military barracks in Tijuana since June.
The installation of the Berlin Wall relic was unveiled on August 13, with Caballero and Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico's former foreign secretary and current leading presidential candidate, in attendance. The relic was brought to Tijuana by Marcos Cline, a Los Angeles-based producer, who found an ally in Caballero to house the artifact. Cline believes that the social and political conflict represented by the U.S. border wall is similar to that of the Berlin Wall, and both walls serve to divide and create conflict between nations.
The U.S. border wall, which has been a contentious issue since its inception, has undergone changes under the Biden administration. President Joe Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office to halt wall construction, but some small, already-contracted projects have moved forward. One such project includes replacing a two-layered wall in San Diego with a taller, longer version that extends to the ocean. This wall runs through Friendship Park, a cross-border site that symbolizes binational ties. Over the years, the park has allowed families separated by immigration status to meet through barbed wire and chain-link fences. However, access to the park has been restricted by the U.S. government, limiting activities that once took place there.
The Berlin Wall installation in Tijuana has received positive feedback from visitors, with many drawing comparisons between the two walls. Lydia Vanasse, a resident of Tijuana who works in San Diego, expressed her hope for a world without walls, emphasizing the unity between the two sister cities. However, critics argue that the reduced height of the remaining wall in Friendship Park is merely a token gesture, and the park has become a one-sided party on the Mexican side.
Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero has been a vocal opponent of the border wall, stating that she is against violence, family separation, and division. She acknowledges the need for border security but believes that these issues should be addressed collectively by governing nations. Caballero has warm relations with U.S. officials, including Ken Salazar, the ambassador to Mexico, even heeding his recommendation to evict migrants who were blocking access to a U.S. border crossing in 2022. The mayor's stance reflects the sentiment shared by many residents of Tijuana, who view the border wall as a symbol of division rather than protection.
themes: Joe Biden Military California Mexico