Things That Matter

‘Fiesta Protesta’ Is A Massive Cross-Border Party That Gives A Whole New Outlook On The Border Crisis

Hundreds of people gathered recently along the banks of the Rio Grande for the seventh annual Voices From Both Sides festival held along the edge of Lajitas, Texas, and Paso Lajitas, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. 

On the American side, three Border Patrol vehicles watched from an overpass as festivalgoers waded back and forth through the thigh-deep water, crossing an international border.

What’s going on there may technically be illegal but police and Border Patrol are looking the other way – for now.

The 7th Annual Voices From Both Sides festival, or Fiesta Protesta, recently took place along the US-Mexico border and festival goers want more people to know about their unique community.

Credit: @ozzyfan1962 / Twitter

Since 2013, there has been an annual Voices From Both Sides festival along the US-Mexico border. The daylong event commemorates the 2002 closure of the border crossing between Lajitas and its Mexican sister city, Paso Lajitas, as well as serving as a kind of binational family reunion. More than 1,000 people cooled off in the Rio Grande, gathered for a picnic lunch and took in music and ballet folklórico performances.

For decades the American and Mexican towns enjoyed an easy interdependence. That changed after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when the American government tightened border security. Over Mother’s Day weekend in May of 2002, Border Patrol agents detained about 20 people in Lajitas on immigration charges, signaling that unauthorized passage across the river would no longer be allowed. Families with members on both sides of the river were effectively separated; before long, businesses in Paso Lajitas catering to Americans closed.

When the crossing closed in 2002, Paso Lajitas struggled; only a couple of families still live there and the restaurants all closed.

Two decades ago, Paso Lajitas was home to about 20 families and several tourist-supported eateries, a store and a few informal guide outfitters. Visitors from the United States would cross to eat tacos at a riverside restaurant. Residents of the Mexican towns would buy laundry soap in American stores or visit American doctors. Throughout the 1990s, some Paso Lajitas children even attended school in

Now, according to two women who live on the Mexican side, they only see their cousins in the US – who only live 16 miles away – once a year because the journey now involves a long 150-mile -long route.

This year’s Fiesta Protesta was even visited by Mike Rubens, correspondent for “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.”

One of the attendees described the relationship between the two border towns as “a neighborhood with a river in the middle of it.” Rubens also spoke with two Mexican women who said they grew up attending school in America, and that Americans shopped at their family’s store in Mexico.

Before the Lajitas border crossing was closed in 2002, the Mexicans and Americans thought of themselves as a single community. Co-organizer Jeff Haislip said, “If you’ve never seen the togetherness, you wouldn’t notice the separation. We used to play softball against each other. We were integrated as a community.”

The current administration’s focus on border security has added a new level of concern to people on both sides of the river. One American woman said, “I’m not necessarily pro ‘let everybody come over here,’ but I think that we have gone completely beyond the limits that are necessary for what’s going on. These people just want to see their families.”

Since so few people know about the annual event, many were shocked and excited to hear about it.

Credit: @ilektracm / Twitter

In 2013, after more than a decade of strict border enforcement, Jeff Haislip and Collie Ryan, residents of Terlingua, another small Texas town 10 miles farther east along the Rio Grande, wanted to host a Mother’s Day protest. But then they decided that a party would be more fitting. 

“We didn’t just want to protest the border being closed, we wanted to show all the wonderful things that were lost when it was,” Mr. Haislip said. And so they began planning Voices From Both Sides as an international “fiesta protesta.”

Most people don’t know about the event because few people are reporting on it.

Many viewers and residents alike point out that the whole ‘border crisis’ is entirely made up by the US government and the media. Instead of dealing with humanitarian needs in a humane way, the US has manufactured a crisis in order to respond with brute force and to demonize entire communities.

Some took to social media to share just how special the event really is.

This Instagram user pointed out just how traditionally Texas the celebration really is. Her family goes back generations in Texas and points out that people have been crossing the US-Mexico border for just as long.

During the inaugural event, attendees were initially shy about wading 40 feet across the river. According to one attendee, “the dogs were the ones that broke the ice.”

U.S Border Patrol observes the festivities and allows both sides to travel back and forth across the natural border as long as everyone returns to their respective sides of the river when all is said and done.

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Hurricane Hanna Battered Texas But Did It Actually Knock Over Part Of Trump’s Border Wall?

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Hurricane Hanna Battered Texas But Did It Actually Knock Over Part Of Trump’s Border Wall?

Jodi Jacobson / Getty Images

It’s official: hurricane season is in full swing and Texas has been hit hard by the first hurricane of the 2020 season to make landfall in the United States. And it potentially claimed a very high-profile victim: a segment of Trump’s beloved border wall.

On Sunday, a viral video started circulating on Twitter showing a segment of the wall tumbling over in strong winds. However, government officials have since claimed that the video is old news and that Hanna didn’t actually bring down any segment of border wall.

A video that went viral on Twitter on Sunday shows a section of the border wall toppling to the ground amid fierce wind and rain.

As Hurricane Hanna made landfall along the U.S.-Mexico border, ravaging towns and cities in its path – a viral video started to make its rounds on Twitter. The video showed a segment of the border wall falling over in what appeared to be very strong winds, like something you’d find in a hurricane.

The video posted to Twitter by journalist Yadith Valdez on Sunday shows construction workers standing by and watching as fierce gusts knock the steel structure to the ground.

The video served as yet another reminder that Trump’s border wall is useless and detrimental to the regions and people it’s targeting. Some pointed out that just last week, Trump was bragging about his vanity project, calling it ‘the most powerful and comprehensive border wall structure’ in the world.’

Well if this viral video is any proof, that’s simply not true.

However, some have called the validity of the footage into question, noting that it’s unclear when and where it was recorded.

Mexican news outlet Debate claimed in an article that the video was filmed at a section of wall dividing Texas from Ciudad Camargo in the state of Tamaulipas. However, Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff refuted that report in a tweet, saying that Customs and Border Patrol officials told him the video was not recorded in the Rio Grande Valley. 

‘Unclear where it was filmed, but based on desert terrain, daytime recording and style of bollards, I’m guessing these are images of a monsoon out west, prob Arizona,’ Miroff wrote.

And for their part, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement: “The video circulating on social media appears to be from June 2020 when high winds caused several border wall panels that were pending additional anchoring to fall over at a construction site near Deming, New Mexico.”

The clip became the target of widespread ridicule as critics likened the collapse to President Trump’s re-election campaign.

Credit: DAEMMRICH PHOTOGRAPHY / Getty Images

While the debate of where and when the video was recorded will continue to linger on, it is obvious that part of Trump’s expensive border wall between the United States and Mexico was toppled by strong winds at some point and people couldn’t help but make jokes about the construction that was a big part of the president’s campaign four years ago, which he vowed to make Mexico pay for.

Regardless of questions over the origin of the video, Trump critics had a field day with jokes about the collapse. Best-selling author Rick Wilson tweeted: ‘I have a Trump wall joke but it blows.’ 

Another man tweeted in response to Wilson: ‘I have a trump wall joke but I know it will fall flat.’ 

Yet another critic added: ‘I hope the Trump Wall is still under warranty. I’d hate to see Mexico have to pay for it a second time.’

Meanwhile, Hurricane Hanna inflicted major damage across Texas and northern Mexico.

Although many were talking about Hanna’s potential effect on the border wall, many cities and towns in the region were badly hit by the storm. She first made landfall near South Padre Island, Texas as a Category 1 hurricane but has since been downgraded to a tropical depression.

The storm dumped more than 12 inches of rain along the US-Mexico border as it tore through the area with winds of up to 50 miles per hour.  

The section of Texas that was hardest hit is also dealing with a severe outbreak of Covid-19, complicating efforts by officials to respond to the disaster.

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Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

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Trump, Living In Alternate Reality, Says The U.S. Has Less Coronavirus Thanks To His Border Wall

Evan Vucci / Getty Images

Trump has long framed the U.S.-Mexico border wall – his vanity project – as protection from outside forces. He’s claimed that his wall will not only deter undocumented migrants from crossing the border but it will also prevent terrorism and crime and now, it provides health security.

On several occasions, Trump has tried to link his wall with protection from the Coronavirus. However, the pandemic is raging out of control within the United States. In fact, it’s other countries that are putting up barriers for Americans as they try to protect themselves from America’s failure to halt the spread of the disease.

Trump claimed that his border wall has protected the U.S. from Coronavirus.

During a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace, Trump made an absurd claim that the U.S. was protected from Coronavirus thanks to his border wall. Wallace was pressing Trump on the U.S. response to the pandemic and how it’s number one in both infections and deaths.

“But you take a look, why don’t they talk about Mexico? Which is not helping us. And all I can say is thank God I built most of the wall, because if I didn’t have the wall up we would have a much bigger problem with Mexico,” Trump told Chris Wallace.

However, Trump must be living in an alternate reality if he truly believes that his border wall has helped prevent the spread of Coronavirus into the country. The U.S. currently has 11 times more cases and far more deaths from the outbreak than Mexico. As of today, Johns Hopkins totaled more than 144,000 deaths and 3.97 million infections in the United States.

Then there’s the fact that the Trump administration has actually been very slow to build Trump’s vanity wall project. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 245 miles of barrier have been built so far, including parts that replaced older barriers. That’s 245 miles of a 1,954 mile long border.

However, this wasn’t the first time that Trump has made such claims.

Long before Coronavirus had claimed it’s first known victim in the U.S., President Trump was already trying to connect the disease to the U.S.-Mexico border and his wall project.

At a rally in South Carolina on February 28, he argued that we needed to build more wall to keep the virus out, even though it was already in the country and spreading like wildfire.

“We must understand that border security is also health security,” Trump argued. “We will do everything in our power to keep the infection and those carrying the infection from entering our country.”

That same day, the U.S. had 63 known cases of COVID-19, and Mexico announced its first two confirmed cases. Nevertheless, Trump and some of his allies have continued trying to frame illegal crossings of the Mexican border as a top potential source of coronavirus in the United States.

Just this month at a visit to an Arizona segment of the border wall, Trump tried to credit his new wall with stopping both undocumented immigration and the Coronavirus.

“It stopped COVID, it stopped everything,” Trump said.

His comments sparked outrage on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump is known for uttering complete falsehoods – he’s told more than 20,000 since taking office. But these comments about his wall protecting the U.S. from Coronavirus (as it rages within our borders) left many shocked.

In Mexico, President AMLO was asked about Trump’s assertion that construction of the border wall has prevented Coronavirus contagion coming north from Mexico. Although AMLO acknowledged he doesn’t agree with Trump, he also wouldn’t confront him.

“I respect President Trump’s point of view,” López Obrador told reporters during a daily press conference. “Of course I don’t share his opinion, but I’m not going to confront [Trump],” he added.

Both countries have been hit hard by the pandemic, but the U.S. leads the world in infections and deaths.

It’s true that Mexico has also been hit hard by the pandemic. The country is currently ranked seventh globally in terms of the number of infections and fourth in number of deaths. As of July 22, Mexico has 356,255 confirmed Covid-19 cases and has suffered more than 40,000 deaths. Although those numbers are disheartening, they pale in comparison to the figures seen in the United States.

And although the virus has spread aggressively in both countries, Mexican governors of states that border the U.S. have called for stricter border controls to protect their residents. States along the southern border (including California, Arizona, and Texas) have become the new epicenter for the virus in the United States and Mexicans hope to prevent contagion into their states.

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