Protests against border wall both sides of the line

From the AP, Nov. 7:

Hundreds protest border fence in Mexico

CIUDAD ACUNA, Mexico — The mayor of a Mexican city on the Texas border led about 400 people on a 55-mile march Tuesday to protest U.S. plans for new border fence.

Evaristo Perez, mayor of Ciudad Acuna, said the march along the Mexican side of the border to the city of Piedras Negras – across from Eagle Pass, Texas – aims to unite border communities against the U.S. plan to build 700 miles of fencing on the border.

“We want to raise consciousness, to awaken the border giant that lives from Tamaulipas all the way to Baja California,” Perez said of the march, which began Tuesday. The marchers were expected to arrive in Piedras Negras on Thursday or Friday.

Last month, President Bush signed a bill to build the fencing and add more vehicle barriers, lighting and infrared cameras.

President Vicente Fox has called the plan “an embarrassment for the United States.”

Marchers also hope to capture the attention of Hispanics voting in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections, Perez said.

“They have to think if they want to vote for those (politicians) who push for bills that divide and discriminate, or those who support unity,” Perez said.

From the Houston Chronicle, Oct. 26:

Border wall protester finishes 200-mile walk in Brownsville

BROWNSVILLE – It wasn’t exactly a hero’s welcome, but the mayor joined him in walking the final mile.

Jay J. Johnson-Castro, 59, paced into this southernmost border town late Wednesday and finished his nearly 200-mile walk to protest Washington’s controversial plan to add 700 miles of new fence to the most vulnerable spots along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I feel like the mission is accomplished,” he said. “We didn’t have masses of crowds, but we did have people honking and waving all the way along.”

Johnson-Castro, the owner of a bed-and-breakfast in Del Rio, set out on his walk Oct. 10 from the main square in Laredo. He ended it in Brownsville with Mayor Eddie Treviño escorting him into the palm-shaded Dean Porter Park shortly before 5 p.m. They were accompanied by Brownsville police and met by 30 enthusiastic supporters.

“He’s become a symbol of the voices who are opposing this whole idea of a fence,” Treviño said. ”His walk has worked to garner attention that this isn’t wanted by the people of South Texas.”

Johnson-Castro, tanned and visibly leaner, said the mostly Hispanic border residents were both insulted and offended by the proposed fence.

“Most people relate to it as a Berlin Wall,” he said.

President Bush today is expected to sign a bill authorizing the fence, which could cost more than $6 billion.

Johnson-Castro called the fence a foolhardy measure and an “act of aggression” against neighboring Mexico.

Mexican officials plan to send a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council, claiming that the planned fence will drive migrants into remote, dangerous areas where they are more likely to die crossing the border.

Johnson-Castro and his small entourage had originally planned to spend their nights camping along the road. However, their cause drew the support of immigration activists, Catholic Church members, business people and others who put them up in hotels.

As he approached Brownsville along U.S. Highway 281, Johnson-Castro waved to supporters who honked or stepped out from their homes along the Rio Grande.

“He has a good cause, we’re just going to throw money away on a fence,” said Dione Harris, 18, who stood at her mailbox after Johnson-Castro walked by.

“It’s money we could use on other things — like helping the elderly.”

See our last post on the struggle for the border.