Skip to comments.Wall seen as ominous U.S. symbol (Miami Herald)
Posted on 02/27/2006 8:57:03 AM PST by devane617
MEXICO CITY - ''The wall'' does not yet exist, and it might never be built, but already its 700 miles of fencing and electric sensors loom like a new Berlin Wall in the Latin American imagination.
The proposed barrier along the Mexican border was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in December and is scheduled to be debated by the Senate next month. In Spanish, they call it el muro.
El muro has been a focus of news for weeks not only in countries such as Mexico and El Salvador that are increasingly dependent on the dollars migrants send back home, but also faraway Argentina and Chile. Across the region, el muro is seen as an ominous new symbol of America's unchecked power.
''The U.S. government has fostered an atmosphere of collective paranoia, given a green light to its spies . . . and institutionalized torture,'' Salvadoran novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya said. ``The only thing missing was a wall.''
The brainchild of Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., H.R. 4437 envisions two ''layers of reinforced fencing,'' new lighting, cameras and underground sensors similar to those in place near San Ysidro. One new stretch would seal off nearly all of the 350-mile length of the Arizona-Mexico border.
The beefed-up barrier aims to bring order to the chaos caused by an estimated 1 million people crossing illegally each year.
The bill also elevates illegal crossing from a misdemeanor to a felony and includes new provisions to limit hiring of undocumented workers.
The House approved the bill by a vote of 239-182.
In the lands south of the proposed barrier, news of the vote has been greeted with expressions of confusion, sadness and official concern. On Monday, the foreign ministers of 11 Latin American countries meeting in Colombia agreed to formulate a plan to lobby the U.S. Senate to kill the plan.
Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein, whose center-right government is close to the Bush administration, made an unusually strident statement against the bill last month.
''It seems to us a real affront that a government that calls itself a friend and regional partner only wants our money and our products . . . treats our people as if they were a plague,'' Stein said.
Only a minority of commentators have suggested that Latin American governments share at least some of the blame for the disorder on the U.S. frontier.
''The diatribes (against the wall) are a poor substitute for adequate policies,'' Sergio Aguayo Quezada wrote in the Mexico City newspaper Reforma. ``The long era of open borders is over, and the escape value is slowly closing.''
Others point out that the walls already in place for more than a decade in Tijuana; El Paso, Texas; and other border communities have driven illegal crossers into the Sonora Desert, where hundreds have died of exhaustion.
Fearing that more fences will result in more deaths, Archbishop Renato Asencio León led a prayer Mass in Ciudad Juárez against the proposal. ''We pray to the Lord that this wall not be raised,'' the archbishop said.
The president of Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights, Jose Luis Soberanes, called the proposal an act of ``idiocy.''
The Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre took a sounding of the country's artists and athletes, who unanimously condemned the fence.
''It's one more slap in the face from the gringos, an example of their cynicism,'' actress Patricia Orantes told the newspaper. ``The walls are falling now. Berlin's fell, and [the Americans] still haven't learned yet.''
Bristling over repeated comparisons across Latin America between the Sensenbrenner fence and the wall built by East German Communist leaders, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza responded with an angry letter last month.
''Comparisons of proposals to alter our border policies to the Berlin Wall are not only disingenuous and intellectually dishonest, they are personally offensive to me,'' Garza wrote in a release issued by the U.S. Embassy here. ``The Berlin Wall was built to keep its own people trapped inside, and was created by an oppressive authoritarian government.''
The United States, Garza wrote, has an inherent right to defend its security.
I'm OK with "ominous".
The Berlin Wall was about imprisoning your own citizens so that they could not flee a dictatorship.
The proposed wall is about secure borders so that our laws regulating immigration can be respected.
" but already its 700 miles of fencing and electric sensors loom like a new Berlin Wall in the Latin American imagination."
probably asking too much for paper to remind us what the function of the berlin wall was, who built it, and compare and contrast that with any hypothetical wall on the mexican border.
The Berlin wall was constructed by those wanting to keep its people from leaving. Big difference.
They keep forgetting the Berlin wall was not to keep people out it was to keep people in...
S...T...F...U you hyperbolic MF.
Uh... One teensy weensy little difference...
Our wall will not be there to keep our own citizens captive.
well quoting the ambassador is half-way ok, though it might just be his opinion.
Fear not illegals, you will be allowed to leave anytime you want.
The Berlin wall kept people IN East Germany, this wall will keep people OUT of America. Bush better not veto this bill if it comes to him. And any senator who is running in 08 and votes no, I won't vote for. Hillary or no Hillary
''The U.S. government has fostered an atmosphere of collective paranoia, given a green light to its spies . . . and institutionalized torture,''
If we're that bad, then why would you want to come here? If your countries are so bad that you would liken a U.S. border protection wall to the Berlin wall, you'd do better service to your countrymen by staying and revolutionizing your own governments.
Hell of an imagination -- the Berlin Wall was created to keep the people IN, not out.
Think of it at the "Great Wall of the United States" -- eighth wonder of the world!
What about the one we're helping the Dominicans build across their island?
We could make the wall a lot shorter if we invade Mexico and build the wall across the skinny part.
Actually the walls are going up a heck of lot faster than they are falling. We are extending ours near San Diego. Israel is building theirs as fast as they can. And India is building one along their border with Pakistan.
The reason countries build walls is because they work. Anybody who is arguing against this wall is arguing for a continuation of status quo illegal invasion.
...well...in the imagination of Hector Tobar anyway
(Nevermind that the Berlin Wall was erected to lock in would-be refugees trying to escape from the communist prison that was East Germany and the Mexican Border Wall is designed to keep out a tsunami of would-be immigrants attracted to the Capitalist Miracle that is the U.S.A.
The distinction is lost on Tobar--or, perhaps more precisely, he hopes it will be lost on you.)
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