As Mexico prepares for a government transition, diplomatic efforts with its northern neighbor are on hold. But one innovative company in Tijuana, where the two countries meet, has turned the breakdown of international relations into an attraction.
CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.
While Mexico has chosen its new leader, the future of its rocky relationship with the United States remains in doubt.
In a move that many saw as a political provocation, President Donald Trump had eight border wall prototypes erected in the desert, facing Mexico.
“It makes me very angry. I don’t like them, they should be removed,” said Javier Reyna, a recent deportee from California, who looks at the prototypes every day from his job as a security guard on the Mexican side.
“I’ve been deported, my family’s over there, and I’m here staring at that. I’d love to blow them up.”
Yet the structures have turned into objects of fascination for the American side… since they can’t be seen from any public perch in the U.S.
It’s an interest that a Tijuana tour company has turned into a money-spinner.
Founded by Derek Chinn, Turista Libre Mexico Tours now offers to take tourists to visit the prototypes.
“The tours started because as a resident of Tijuana now for eleven years, what was always fascinating to me was the proximity of the border, and the way that the border has shaped this local reality here,” he told CGTN.
“This human concept of lines in the dirt that separate realities, so to get folks into the city so they can learn more about the current state of the border and also its history and where we’re coming from.”
Derek says in all he’s taken more than ten thousand people to see the wall that separates the two countries.
“Everyone has a different reaction. I think most people that come on the tour with us, given that the majority are US citizens,” he said.
“I think the first thing they feel is shame, disgust, rage, anger, and some are even reduced to tears. But from what I’m seeing, I just see a huge waste of money.”
“There’s an old saying that good fences make good neighbors, but I think this is going a little too far.”
Only a small fraction of the 25-billion dollars President Trump has requested for the border wall has been approved by the U.S. Congress – and right now that’s being spent to fix existing portions.
Whether any of these prototypes will see large-scale production will depend on whether Trump can win that broader funding.
As Mexico’s new administration prepares for government, the hope here is that these prototypes will stand as monuments to a low-point in the Mexican-American relationship, rather than a greater barrier between the two countries.