Things That Matter

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

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee / TBS / YouTube

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.

Puerto Rico, Still Recovering From Hurricane Maria, Is Losing Recovery Dollars To Fund Part Of The Border Wall

Things That Matter

Puerto Rico, Still Recovering From Hurricane Maria, Is Losing Recovery Dollars To Fund Part Of The Border Wall

realdonaldtrump / Instagram

When Donald Trump began his campaign for president, one — if not the most important — promise he made was that Mexico would pay for the border wall. Trump’s border wall, which would extend throughout the south as a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, has been his No. 1 mission as president of the United States. Now, four years after making this promise, Mexico has still not paid a single cent for the construction of any such barrier that has been built or will be built. 

In order for Trump’s border wall to get constructed, he’s still very short on funds, and since Mexico is obviously not going to pay, the president is taking money away from Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery budget. 

Credit: @Nicolemarie_A / Twitter

Trump has allocated $400 million to go toward building the wall and will take it directly from funds that were intended to help Puerto Rico and their hurricane recovery. The Department of Defense announced that several hurricane-related projects in Puerto Rico would be halted because their funding would be diverted to building the border wall. Some of those projects include a National Guard Readiness Center, a Power Substation/Switching Station Building, and an Aircraft Maintenance Hangar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

According to NBC News, a senior Defense official said that people shouldn’t worry because these projects in Puerto Rico will get done, eventually. “We don’t see ourselves delaying those projects. We’re fully committed to that recovery,” the official said since many of them wouldn’t begin until 2020.

The president still needs billions more for the wall, at least $25 billion more, so he’s taking money from various military sources in the U.S. and its territories. The total amount he’s diverting is $3.6 billion.

Credit: @ChrisLu44 / Twitter

Aside from Puerto Rico, 117 other military construction projects will be halted and/or delayed now because of funds. People might assume diverting funds away from Puerto Rico’s recovery or other sources isn’t a big deal because it doesn’t seem like tangible needs. However, people familiar with the military centers and operations know that it is a huge deal and almost appears like robbery by the highest level office. 

“I visited the current RPA training facility at Holloman earlier this year. The building is falling apart, with some equipment being held together with duct tape. To say this facility, which supports training for 100 percent of the Air Force’s MQ-9 crews, urgently needs to be replaced would be an understatement,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said in a statement, according to NBC News. 

Other projects losing funds include $160 million of construction projects at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; $85 million operations facility at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico;  $40 million for an information systems facility at White Sands Missile Facility, and much more. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is planning to file a lawsuit to prohibit Trump from taking $3.6 billion away from Puerto Rico and the rest of the country and territories. 

Credit: @ACLU / Twitter

“The fact that the government sat on these so-called ’emergency funds’ for seven months further confirms that this is nothing but an unlawful power grab,” ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a statement, according to The Hill. “We’ll be back in court very soon to block Trump’s latest effort to raid military funds for his xenophobic wall,” he added.

Despite claiming that Mexico would pay for the wall for years, Trump already said that he didn’t mean that literally. 

Credit: @realDonaldTrump / Twitter

In January, the president tried to backtrack four years of declarations that Mexico would pay for the wall by insisting that he wasn’t speaking in direct terms but indirectly. We know, it makes no sense.

“When — during the campaign, I would say, ‘Mexico is going to pay for it.’ Obviously, I never said this and I never meant they’re going to write out a check. I said, ‘They’re going to pay for it.’ They are. They are paying for it with the incredible deal we made, called the United States, Mexico, and Canada USMCA deal.”

Yes, the president said he never said what he said. We feel a headache coming on. To illustrate how many times Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, Factbase Inc. listed each of them. He has referenced the border wall at least 456 times

READ: New Border Wall Is Being Constructed In California But It Is Not The Same Border Wall Trump Promised His Voters

We Can Guarantee That If You Go To A Mexican Fiesta You’ll Hear These 18 Songs

Culture

We Can Guarantee That If You Go To A Mexican Fiesta You’ll Hear These 18 Songs

Anna Summa / PhotoShelter

Quinceañera, wedding, baptism, school dance hall – Mexicans sure know how to turn any and every occasion into a good time. 

And no fiesta is ever complete without a bopping playlist that can carry the dancing late into the night. 

Today, we’ve thrown together 17 classic songs that you’re likely to hear at any Mexican party. They should have ya (or at least dear tía Nora) throwing your hands in the air. 

Caballo Dorado – Payaso de Rodeo

We’re kicking off the list with this classic wedding / quinceañera number. 

‘Payaso de Rodeo’ to some, ‘No romper mi corazón’, to others. Whichever camp you’re in, there’s no not recognizing it once the DJ has his way. It’s a CALL TO ARMS – one that guarantees a stampede to the dancefloor and a whole lotta clapping, hopping and sliding. 

This country band may have been formed way back in 1986 but this masterpiece is destined to outlive us all. Just, watch your feet – if you get ran over, it’s your fault.

2. Luis Miguel – Cuando Calienta El Sol  

A forever classic from the sol de Mexico himself, perfect for parties under the hot sun, and for invoking nostalgic vibes of youth’s eternal-summer… yeah, and who’s ever forgetting that music vid? 

3. Selena Quintanilla – Amor Prohibido

Straight from the queen herself, this song is a bop and a half. It was famously inspired by the love letters of her abuela, a maid who worked for a wealthy family and ended up falling in love with (and marrying) their son. 

Seems like we’re all suckers for a good forbidden romance – it topped the US States Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart nine weeks in a row in 1994. 

4. Jeans – Pepe

The four teens of the original Pepe video may have grown up, but Jeans will always hold a special place in our hearts. It’s a throwback to the days of innocence, bad hair, and those tummy butterflies from crushing on a classmate. 

5. Café Tacvba –  Ingrata

An anthem for every teen in the 90s who figured they were a rebel. This Mexican band straight out of Satellite were a bunch of teens at the time but boy did they just get us. 

6. Banda Blanca – Sopa de Caracol 

So no we may never truly know what they are saying, but this song was always guaranteed to get you up and grooving at any fiesta. 

7. Los Del Río – La Macarena

This Spanish one-hit wonder of the 90s needs no intro. Put it on any speakers, and the dance moves that follow are basically reflex. 

La Macarena made the rounds again in recent years when the internet realised what the lyrics were actually saying. Turns out, the song is all about a girl (Macarena) cheating on her boyfriend with two friends, whilst he’s off in military service. Can I get a #childhoodruined. 

8. Garibaldi – Banana

With refrains like ‘Mexicana like it (banana)’ and ‘Yo tengo una bolita que me sube y me baja’ (I have a little ball that goes up and goes down), Garibaldi’s Banana is, admittedly, no poetic masterpiece. 

What is IS though, is a Latin beat that’s catchy as hell and sure to get you dancing. Plus, what’s life without a little cheap innuendo.

9. Vicente Fernández – El Rey 

There comes a time in every respectable Mexican party when it’s time to break out the ranchera.

We were torn between this song and Chente’s Volver, Volver, but, well, it’s one of the best drinking songs of all time. Scoop up two amigos around the shoulders and bellow along: “PeRo SiGo SiEnDo eL rEy”

10. Los Angeles Azules – 17 Años 

Guaranteed to have even the oldest guests getting jiggy, the infectious rhythm in this song is not to be underestimated. 

No surprise really – Los Angeles Azules are the wizards of cumbia sonidera – a subgenre that fuses the 1950-1970s with synthy electronic 90s music.

11. Maná – Oye Mi Amor 

Here’s one from the Guadalajaran pop rock band Maná – the most successful Latin American band of all time. Like, 40 million albums sold worldwide, kind of successful. 

And this song? You might love it, you might hate it, but you most definitely, probably know the lyrics. 

12. Pedro Infante – Cucurrucucú Paloma

Maybe not a mainstay of your average houseparty, but we couldn’t resist. Tomas Mandaz wrote this Mexican classic in 1954, and it’s since been covered by the likes of Pedro Infante and Luis Miguel.

And boy is it a crooner. The cucurucucú mimics the sound of a dove, and is meant to signal lovesickness. 

13. Magneto – Vuela, Vuela

Whilst Vuela, Vuela is actually a cover of a 80’s French pop song, it’s also the song that helped skyrocket Magneto into the limelight. 

Dubbed by some as the Mexican Backstreet Boys, Magneto’s song hit the charts in the early 90s and flew as high as its namesake.

14. Los Tigres Del Norte – El Jefe De Jefes

This Mexican norteño band is famous for their ‘narcocorrido’ – music that glorifies drug trafficking. It’s a genre that’s actually illegal to play at live events in some Mexican states, which has landed the band a hefty fine in the past. Regardless, at parties the song’s a hoot.

15. Molotov – Voto Latino

An anthem for proud crowds of Latinx to roar along to, this Molotov song is a classic in its own right.

16. La Chona – Los Tucanes de Tijuana

An energetic and fast-paced norteño song from a band that’s been around since 1987. They started out playing in nightclubs, so there’s no surprise that it’s virtually impossible to not dance to this. 

17. Elvis Crespo – Suavemente

Sultry and sexy, this song is pure Latin rhythm heaven. Not only is it perfect for making eyes and swinging hips across a dancefloor, it also helped popularize merengue music. 

18. Ramón Ayala – Tragos Amargos

Contested by some as the ultimate drinking song, would any list of Mexican party songs be complete without some Ramón Ayala to top it off? 

READ: 13 Songs That Made Us Do Silly Dances We Couldn’t Help But Love