Part of Berlin Wall finds new home in Tijuana
A 3-ton portion of the original Berlin Wall found a new permanent place in Tijuana, just a few feet away from the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall was installed Aug. 13 on the Mexican side of Friendship Park.
In many ways, it is an ideal location, said Marcos Cline-Marquez, an L.A.-based producer who helped bring the Berlin Wall to Tijuana.
“You draw parallels between the Berlin Wall, a wall that was built to divide not protect, and the wall on our southern border,” he said.
Cline-Marquez has lived on both sides of the border. He spent childhood summers driving from Mexico City to visit family in Southern Illinois.
“I’m American and Mexican,” he said. “I don’t call myself Mexican American because I grew up in Mexico even though I was born in the States. I’ve always carried both passports.”
The bicultural experience taught him how to find common ground with people who have different opinions. It also made him uniquely qualified to get involved with the Berlin Wall project back in 2019.
The original idea was to drive the 3-ton slab of concrete to the White House and present it to President Donald Trump.
“I thought this was brilliant, this was amazing,” Cline-Marquez said.
The White House rejected the donation.
So then the Berlin Wall needed a permanent location. Cline-Marquez and his partner on this project, Sergio Alcocer, were adamant about it being accessible to the public, particularly to immigrant communities.
“We didn’t want the wall to be behind a specific barrier,” he said. “Whether that barrier be a physical one or not a physical one, like costs involved to be able to see it.”
Cline-Marquez said there are also barriers in the U.S. immigration system, such as limits on legal migration that prevent temporary workers from entering the United States. So placing the Berlin Wall near the U.S.-Mexico border is meant to be a sign.
“A sign telling the people who are looking for a better life, who have struggled to be here, that there are groups of people who are paying attention to this and talking about getting rid of barriers,” he said.
The placement at Friendship Park is also significant. The park was the only section of the U.S.-Mexico border where people who could not cross the country legally could visit family members on the other side. Cross-border visitation was stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic and has not been restored.
During the Trump era, the border wall was expanded, and its height grew from 18 feet to 30, which has led to a dramatic increase in fatalities from people falling while attempting to cross illegally.
President Joe Biden has continued to replace existing portions of San Diego’s border wall with Trump’s taller version. This, despite promising during his campaign “not another foot” of border wall.
Volunteers with the group Friends of Friendship Park have criticized the Biden Administration and tried to stop construction.