From the ‘Gap’ to the White House

Hundreds of them sacrifice themselves each year on 6 meter-high walls that are being raised on 1,000 kilometers of the border between the two countries. Or in the desert, when they gain access to it. But, in turn, the demographic explosion of non-whites in the U.S., in particular Hispanics, whose largest component is Mexicans, is provoking a revolution capable of bringing a Latino to the White House. And it won’t be because of the new contingents of immigrants, but because of the natural growth of those already settled there. The threat that frightens opponents of Obama’s immigration reform comes from within the country, not from without, says Adriana La Rotta. It’s a telling sign that the wife of a presidential candidate with that much power is a native of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Maybe this resulted from the exchange between border populations, against which the infamous walls have no power. The accommodating neoliberal globalization effort cannot control this either, although they ration the flow of the world’s workforce according to the brutal interests of those who are stronger.

It was in the casinos of Tijuana where Rita Hayworth sprung to fame in the 1930s. Nothing more natural. For decades, this Mexican city and San Diego, in the U.S., were sister cities. Nothing impeded crossing the border at that time. María Antonia García writes (El Tiempo, Oct. 4, 2010) that Californians switched from whiskey to tequila with the same ease with which a Mexican now switches from English to Spanish; that tacos were mixed with hamburgers, chicanos with gringos, ranchera music with electronic music. But drug trafficking, Bush’s immigration controls and contraband brought a metal wall that separated these two territories with a single stroke.

On the two sides of the border there are two worlds: there, the ascetic San Diego with its broad avenues; here, the tumultuous Tijuana, dominated by drug cartels, its natives in a permanent trance from crossing the wall and dying in the stampede. Wall or no, as happens in border areas, the cultural mixing remains. Although tourism in Tijuana collapsed, in every corner of the city the presence of the neighboring country is felt. But “the domesticated plains on their side of the wall seem like a harsh aesthetic change, compared to the untamed flowering grasses and overpopulation of houses on Tijuana’s side .… The gray wall stretches along the length of both cities, and in the end, just when it arrives to the ocean, graffitied silhouettes with crosses in the center are a useless scream that evokes the drama of the emigrants that, having crossed the ‘gap,’ die in the desert,” the reporter writes. She also documents the volunteer service of Americans that keep watch over the border and hunt the “invaders,” gun in hand. With the same viciousness, it would seem, with which they cut off half of Mexico’s territory.

Today in Tijuana, those who have been deported are only allowed to see their family from afar, on Sundays and with a wall between. But here there is a double standard: one, segregation, slightly softened by a precarious contract between the border communities, and the other, the potential threat of a population that is having more children than the white population. In 2011, La Rotta says, more children were born to Hispanic, black and Asian parents than white: the new constellation of minorities has become fact. And the conflict will get worse. Obama has compared the fight for immigration reform with the battle for civil and women’s rights. Perhaps the U.S. won’t take long to elect a Hispanic president. It would symbolize the re-conquest of stolen lands.

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