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Border & Immigration

Tijuana artists are getting to work on new border wall

In Tijuana, the Mexican side of the border wall used to be covered with hundreds of murals. But those murals were lost when the Biden administration built a taller fence. KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis spoke with local artists who have plans for the new wall.

Colorful murals once decorated the border wall separating San Diego County and Tijuana along Friendship Park. They touched on themes of border life and brought attention to special causes, like deported veterans or migrant deaths.

But earlier this year, despite a 2020 campaign promise to not erect another foot of new border wall, the Biden administration began replacing large sections with taller, more dangerous fencing.

The murals were destroyed.


Artists lamented the loss of those historic murals, and at one point activists tried to halt construction by chaining themselves to the wall.

But the new wall does come with one small silver lining.

“This one has primer,” artist Enrique Chiu said in Spanish. “It will protect the new murals.”

Chiu is a Tijuana-based artist that has been painting murals along the border for decades. He hosts traveling artists from around the globe, sets up workshops for local school children and works with nonprofits who want to commission murals.

Over the weekend, Chiu was among a small group of artists who painted their first mural on the controversial new wall.


“The sad part was when we found out the murals would be taken down,” Chiu said. “But now we are excited knowing that there is more space to paint.”

Other artists have taken notice. Next month, 30 artists from all over Mexico are scheduled to paint the new wall.

“They’re excited to bring color back to the border,” Chiu said.