Big Bend Conservancy
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Hands Across el Rio...a 1250 mile...17 day protest against the border wall
Folks in the Big Bend region want to support the Presidio-Ojinaga event on August 28th.
Saturday, September 1, Eagle Pass / Piedras Negras, 1 pm
Hola y'all...Here you are. The official itinerary for Hands Across el Rio...a 1250 mile...17 day protest against the border wall. See the border ambassadors web site.We are not launching as early as anticipated...but the launch date is going to be worth the weight. Yesterday, we received the commitment of El Paso to support our project with a press conference on August 25th and a send off on August 26th. Folks in the Big Bend region want to support the Presidio-Ojinaga event on August 28th. Both Mayors of Del Rio and Ciudad Acu?a are pledged to support the event 31st. Mayor Chad Foster of Eagle Pass is in touch with the Alcalde of Piedras Negras to receive us on September 1st.Mexican Congresswoman, Maria Dolores Gonzales-Mendivil will lead the coordination of Los Dos Laredos Hands Across el Rio on September 2nd. She is also coordinating support to the four Mexican neighboring states of Texas , the alcaldes along el Rio Bravo (mayors on the Mexican side) and Mexican consuls. We're lining up similar commitments from Roma-Miguel Aleman, Rio Grande City-Camargo, Los Ebanos-Diaz Ordaz, McAllen/Hidalgo-Reynosa on down to Brownsville-Matamoros on September 8th. We will finish our journey at the mouth of the Rio Grande at Boca Chica on Sunday, September 9th.LULAC National, Rosa Rosales , President and Jaime Martinez, Treasurer, have committed their support of Hand Across el Rio. The same is true of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. We anticipate the support of many other organizations and coalitions, from environmental, cultural, economic, political, faith-based, and tourism.With the exception of El Paso y Juarez...we will launch kayaks and canoes upriver from each principal international pedestrian bridge. Any one who wants to join our flotillas for any portion or any day of this historical event is welcome to do so. Kayaks, canoes, inner-tubes. We will paddle down river to each international bridge respectively and meet up with fellow grass roots citizens from both sides of our Rio who are opposed to the wall. As we experienced in Roma and Miguel Aleman this past weekend...we will be inviting the grass roots folks from both sides of el Rio...to form a human chain in symbol of our border solidarity and amistad.As Mayor Chad Foster says..."We're joined at the hip". Thatís something that folks like Lou Dobbs and members of Congress who have never lived inside the checkpoints do not understand. Our Congressmen and Texas legislators from the border region have spoken out against the border wall. The Texas Border Coalition of our border mayors, judges and economic experts have all spoken in our behalf...in solidarity...agains t the wall. Our border sheriffs have spoken out against the wall. No one in Washington is listening to them. Now...we the people of the Rio Grand Corridor...from both sides of el Rio...must make our voices heard. "NO Border Wall...!" "Hell NO!!!We can tell the Congress and the national media all day long that we who live on the border live in friendship with our neighbors on the other side of el Rio. We can tell them that we don't want to be in a militarized zone...on American soil...here in Texas . Now...we will show them why we donít need one. We get along just fine!En amistad and solidarityÖJay~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr(830)firstname.lastname@example.org
8/27/07'Hands' protest unites sister citiesEl Paso and Juarez residents opposing border wall join together in peaceful demonstrationBy Amanda DeBardHundreds of international friends and neighbors showed off their unique relationship Saturday by holding hands across the Paso del Norte Bridge, which connects El Paso to Juarez ?≠- its Mexican counterpart.The city of El Paso launched the first day of the 16-day Hands Across el Rio, a border wall protest that calls for residents living in 11 Texas and Mexico border cities to demonstrate unity between the two countries.The mayors of El Paso and Juarez were instrumental in vocalizing the message of the event, said Jay Johnson-Castro Sr., who started Border Ambassadors, the organization leading the protest."I'm utterly grateful the two mayors weighed in hard," Johnson-Castro said. "Mayor Cook took a championship lead - which could have reciprocity throughout the country - so from that perspective it was an utter success."El Paso Mayor John Cook and Juarez Mayor H?©ctor Murgu?≠a Lardiz?bal shook hands at the top of the bridge during the protest."We didn't have the kind of start that we had in mind," Johnson-Castro said. "The political element involved changed the original day of the week, time and location of the launch on us, which caused a lot of confusion."He said he is optimistic the next protest, to be held Tuesday in Presidio and Ojinaga, Mexico, will get the movement back on track.Regardless of the confusion, the organization and its grassroots mission has received support from several organizations, including the national chapter of League of United Latin American Citizens."We're very much involved in Hands Across el Rio," said Rosa Rosales, national president of the league. "LULAC doesn't want a wall and we're very much for comprehensive immigration reform."Rosales said the organization is supportive of Border Ambassadors because it's showing a united effort by people living on both sides of the border."They're taking a stand together and addressing the issues of good working relations with Mexico," Rosales said.President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act in October 2006, approving the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Texas and Mexico border. The act only calls for 700 miles of fencing along the Texas border, but after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security drafts its final plan for the border, the entire 2,000 miles could be fenced off.No final decisions have been made, but the fence act is a guideline, said Laura Keehner, a department spokeswoman. The department is working with U.S. Customs officials and U.S. Border Patrol through boots on the ground and local officials to determine where the wall will be placed, she said.Yoly Ramon, a Del Rio resident who works in Acuna, Mexico, said she believes building a wall at the border will ruin good working relations with Mexico."It's such a shame because we've been neighbors for so long," Ramon said. "Now we live in a century where we're building hate walls and that's not going to show any change in the racial tension and hatred."Ramon's family owns La Galeria, a Mexican-inspired home decor shop, and relies on tourists from the U.S. for business. She said illegal immigration and border fence discussions as well as drug smuggling press have handicapped her business."All of that has hurt business down here, so we're thinking about closing our store," she said. "Only making nine dollars on any Saturday is unheard of."Ramon said she supports the Hands Across el Rio movement because she does not believe a fence will stop immigrants from finding ways into the U.S."These people are coming from Southern Mexico and looking for a better quality of life," Ramon said. "They've come such a long distance that a big wall's not going to make a difference to them."Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, has been very vocal about securing the Texas border in the past couple of months, but is opposed to the 1,800 mile proposed fence in Texas because it's impractical and simply ineffective, said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the senator."Sen. Cornyn is concerned about the economic impact the fence would have for some Texas communities along the border, so he supports a multi-layered approach," Walsh said. "This would include some fencing but more boots on the ground in terms of border patrol agents."Walsh said fencing and barrier decisions should be dictated by Congress, but only after there's been full consultation of those who are living in the border communities.During the next two weeks, Hands Across el Rio events will be held at 10 additional border cities. Johnson-Castro said he encourages border fence opponents to come out and dispute the grim image he believes Washington politicians have of the border community."This event is designed to show our unity. It's designed to give a visual of how we get along," Johnson-Castro said. "The image they have is vile - drugs, cartels, illegals and dark stuff."
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