Sunday, April 10, 2016

Nogales: The Growth of a Wall

Nogales in 1899. The telegraph wire down the middle of the street marks the US/Mexican border.
Until the Gadsden Purchase in 1853, the scrub land that became Nogales was part of Mexico. The US wanted to build a railroad through the land and told the Mexican government to sell it to us or we would up and take the land and a whole lot more besides.

The twin cities of Nogales (Arizona and Sonora) grew up during the latter part of the 19th century as, effectively, one community. As the photo above shows, nothing prevented people from crossing back and forth across the border.
Circa 1918.
By the 1910's the United States had some concrete posts to mark the border and, with the outbreak of World War I, added armed border guards. That second addition caused a disaster.

On August 27, 1918, a Mexican carpenter crossed the border going home carrying a parcel. A US guard shouted at the Mexican to return to the US side so his parcel could be examined. A Mexican guard told the carpenter he could stay in Mexico. A US guard pointed his rifle at the carpenter. Somewhere, there was the sound of gunfire. The terrified carpenter hit the ground. The Mexican guard pulled his sidearm and shot at the US guards, killing one. Americans returned fire killing two Mexicans. The US military invaded Mexican Nogales, Mexican civilians grabbed their guns and fought back in defense of the homes. As many as 125 Mexicans were killed in what has gone down in history as the Battle of Both Nogales.
Circa 1950.
In the 1920's a chain-link fence was strung down the center of the road separating Mexican Nogales from American Nogales.  The days of freely moving between south and north were over. That not too oppressive fence was good enough for several decades.
The same street as above in 2008.
Over time, the fence was "upgraded" by the United States into a rusting twelve foot tall monstrosity that was, in places, in danger of falling over because its shoddy construction.
Nogales, Sonora 2015.
By 2011, the Border Patrol was proud of their new Nogales fence. Now thirty feet tall in places and more befitting a prison than the border between two democracies, the fence is still tiny compared to the one Republicans want lining the border.
This final picture is of mother and daughter separated by this latest Nogales border fence following the mother's deportation. The evil in the hearts of fence builders know no boundaries.

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