When walls do not divide: Mexico and the United States
On the border between Mexico and the United States, the Youth for a United World organize a run for peace on both sides of the wall that separates one country from the other, showing that there are no real barriers.
Mexicali and Calexico are located in the northernmost point of Latin America and the southernmost point of the United States, respectively. From an airplane or through Google maps, it can be clearly seen that it is a single town divided by a wall. As Noé Herrera, one of the Youth for a United World of Mexicali, tells us: “It is literally a fence that crosses the city from East to West.” In fact, he explains that ‘Mexicali’ is formed by the union of the words Mexico and California, and the same thing, but the other way around, happens with the name ‘Calexico,’ which is found on the U.S. side.
“Many beautiful things are experienced in this context. This wall, this clash of countries has created a new culture, almost creating our own new language, since we alternate between Spanish and English all the time. And we all understand each other.” Even when it comes to food, habits, or ways of acting, everything is the same, but even so, “it is a difficult context, and one of the difficulties is this very wall. We see many situations of divided families; people who were deported from the United States and can no longer cross over to the other country to meet their relatives. I have seen people talking with the wall between them, and it is painful. You also see many migrants arriving from South or Central America, sacrificing everything to get to the United States, when they realize they cannot pass and you see them in the street asking for money, and that is sad too. All of us who are from here know that to cross over to the United States, if everything is fine, you need 1 to 4 hours, depending on traffic, just to cross the border. If you are crossing with your car, they search you in depth for drugs, with dogs, and with racist attitudes. These are some of the difficulties of being here.”
That is why the Youth for a United World are seeking to make clear what unites people, showing that we have many things in common, such as the desire to go beyond borders and live the same ideal with people who are on the other side. “We’re going to run together on both sides of the wall. This year with more time, preparation, and determination, we were able to apply and get permission to run from both sides. We expect to be around 150 on the U.S. side and about 300 on the Mexican side.” The event will be held on Sunday, May 6, at 9 am, in Mexicali and Calexico at the same time. It is a 4 km race that will end at a local television station. They will be our hosts. There will also be a musical band with songs, dances, and a closing ceremony.
How did you get the idea?
Noé Herrera tells us that the activity began to be implemented two years ago. “We used to set up the ordinary Run4Unity, at a school in the city, as it is done all over the world. However, because of our geographical situation, a few years ago they thought we would run along the wall. We were surprised because it had never been done before, and then we realized that this is what we should do next year, not only from the Mexican side, but also from the other side. And we did. This year, though, we wanted to do even better to generate an even stronger message.”
That is why this year, the Youth for a United World and the Teens for Unity of Mexicali got in touch with their counterparts from the United States, from the communities of Los Angeles and San Diego. Therefore, they will travel about 300 km to participate in the event. “We have been organizing this project with a group of ten youths for a long time. Very happy and excited, we posted advertisements on Facebook to reach as many people as possible, we went to talk about the event at different schools in Mexicali and Calexico, and we hope to have more youth than last year. We are looking forward to many people coming and we are very excited,” Noé explains clearly, “There are many people who want to express the same thing we do and I think that through this initiative they find a way to do it. (…) The idea was to display this symbol of peace and brotherhood between both countries: that we are many, we are friends, we have families, we get along very well, and that a wall will never stop us from going ahead living this unity with our brothers and sisters from our neighboring country.”