Politica | 12.09.2017

23 years of the Tortilla Wall

It was the year of 1994 when former President Bill Clinton authorized the 'Guardian Operation', the one act that started a turmoil, where families would be destroyed, dreams would be crushed, economies would fall and more importantly hope in humanity would lessen.
Street Art di Jean René
Immagine: Jean René (jr)

«The wall has always been there» I said to a European friend, a silent bewilderment could be sensed as I, a Mexican citizen, continued on elaborating the idea.

While the Mexican economy (1994) was suffering from the denominated ‘December Error’, where the purchasing power of our currency (MXN) was close to none; an operation called Guardian Operation, began. The operation, lead by the U.S government, consisted on the construction of a 20 Km long wall meant to ‘protect’ the border of the American State of California. The result was a thick impenetrable concrete wall with just one heavy metal door, that door has only been opened 3 times since its construction more than 20 years ago. Mexico was too busy at that time to pay attention to what would be sensed as the beginning of a Modern Berlin Wall.

Ten years later, a second hit came to civil vicinity between Mexico and the USA. On 2006, as a mere continuation of the Guardian Operation, former president George W. Bush instated the Secure Fence Act, destining over 3 billion USD to the construction of a 1,100km long fence around the southern border. The despicably named Tortilla Wall, started then growing exponentially. The reason the U.S gave for building such fence? Drug trafficking, which did not stop resulting in a costly fiasco.

Why has suddenly the Trump Wall gained so much fame? Various factors came together. As a new wave of Nationalism arose in the U.S with the Trump campaign, an aversion to foreigners has appeared and the Wall is the most tangible representation of such. Secondly, President Trump plans to build a wall three times bigger than the existing fence (3057km total), only being surpassed by the Great Wall of China. The construction of the wall comes at the same time as President Trump declares he wants to end the 20 years-old free trade agreement between Mexico, U.S and Canada (NAFTA).


Poor Mexico, so far away from God and so close to the United States. Immagine: Max P. Gómez


One of the first issues appeared as Mexican companies have been offered the concession for the construction of the 8 billion USD worth wall, leading them to a position in which they find themselves divided between being ethically responsible or making a big profit. On the other hand, we have the American Companies, such as Kansas City Southern, with big investments in Mexico from where 60% of its profit comes. Such companies are playing a key role on the detainment of the Trump Wall and at this point they have more leverage on the subject than the Mexican Government.

The Trump allegations on Mexico paying for the wall are not far from impossible. For example, Mexico will easily be obliged to pay for such wall if the U.S decides to increase taxes on U.S-Mexico remittances. Why do remittances play a key role? Simply because the amount of remittances sent to Mexico from the U.S (by fellow Mexicans) accounts to $60 billion USD per year.

From a logistical point of view, the Wall is a nightmare. Trade would be directly affected by the changes in transport for importing and exporting goods. Hard to say but Mexico relies on the U.S as much as the U.S does in Mexico. The need U.S has for Mexican labour force equals the need Mexico has for American Corn, which is a basic element in the Mexican diet. Moreover, the environmental problems arise as the natural flow of rivers, creeks, waterways and animal migration would be affected to unprecedented magnitudes.

Ultimately many things are at stake, but one thing is for sure, at this point in time, the construction of the wall would not only divide Mexico and the U.S but the entire world. And like the saying goes «Poor Mexico, so far away from God and so close to the United States» (Former Mexican President Porfirio Díaz).