Friday, July 20, 2007

'Hands across el Rio' border wall protest

Here's the official itinerary for Hands Across el Rio -- a 1250 mile, 17 day protest against the border wall:

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 Acuña 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 form a human chain in symbol of our border solidarity and amistad.

As Mayor Chad Foster says..."We're joined at the hip". That’s 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 solidarity...against 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 in Texas. Now...we will show them why we don’t need one. We get along just fine!

En amistad and solidarity…



Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Sr

Border protests in Texas
Email from Jay Johnson-Castro

A smashing success...!!!
On Saturday (July 14)...two significant protests against the wall were held. Thought I'd give a brief summary on both.
On Saturday morning, Betty Perez and company...or the Lower Rio Grande Valley area...coordinated a flotilla of kayaks and canoes. Betty was the coordinator of this event...which was hosted by "noborderwalls"...a group of environmentally savvy folks ( ). To my knowledge...this is the most cohesive group on the US-Mexico border so far. It includes some caliber minds from around the Valley who are using their creative juices to collectively oppose the wall.
We launched up river from Roma in a secluded village along the banks of the Rio Grande called Fronton. Media was converged in ample numbers...including AP, Reuters, San Antonio Express News, Univision, local CBS and a diverse group of local journalists.
We floated down to the historic suspension bridge that connects Roma and Miguel Aleman. The Miguel Aleman Mayor joined the flotilla. His family was on the bank downriver as we paddled by. When we got to the suspension bridge...there was a rally, press conference...and then...a "Hands Across the River". A human chain that virtually stretched across the international bridge.
In the evening, we attended a protest in Brownsville. I was coordinated and hosted by a group called CASA, under the direction of Elizabeth Garcia. Again, the media was plentiful. After a rally, there was another human chain...which felt more symbolically a human wall along the banks of Rio opposition to the border wall. After the chain...there was a march from the park through downtown to the campus of the University of Texas Brownsville (see photos at Unidos Contra El Muro).
In both cases, elected officials showed up in support. The diversity of participants reflected those of us who reside on the border. There was no lack of color, size, age, religious affiliation. There was not lack of opposition to the wall. Lots of interviews were taken. Lots of pictures and video. Lots of sound bites...of diversified feelings about the wall. Mission accomplished!
This took the collaboration, coordination and willingness on the part of many folks...who may not have been heard or had their quotes or pics in the paper and on TV. Hopefully you can feel the reward of seeing the fruits of their labor. We're grateful to you...

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