Art

Where the night lasts the longest (on the grim magnetism of the border)

Shortly after wandering along the north side of the peninsula, it is clear that here things, although with a family air, contain a particular energy: something that happens between the vastness of the desert and the bellows of the ocean, in the transnational metropolitan area most populated in northern Mexico

Because of the San Andrés fault of almost 1, 300km that crosses from California in the United States to Baja California in Mexico, the area from Los Angeles to La Paz records an annual displacement of 4.5cm between the North American plate and Pacific plate, what originates, without haste but without pause, the separation of the peninsula from the Mexican Republic to transform it into an island adrift, while the city of Los Angeles slides towards the bay of San Francisco, causing the creation of the bay of Arizona (as Tool predicted in his master record, Ænima ): such is the reason why the ground floor of California is barely stepped on, it is evident that we enter a different magnetic field; territory in which at 4 in the afternoon, in winter season, it suddenly darkens, installing the night in broad daylight, to watch the stars longer.

The first surprise I had when leaving Tijuana airport was the solicitous invitation to smoke pot from my hosts, a variety known as the very strong Blue Moon that had me in orbit for more than 8 hours. On an express question about the legality of the product, I got a known answer: since 2009 in the state of California, marijuana with therapeutic and medicinal uses is for legal consumption, as long as an optional prescription is available, which is quite relative. Only in San Diego one can go to one of the more than 160 medical dispensaries to buy all kinds of marijuana varieties (indica, sativa, hybrid) and its derivatives - sweet, resins, creams, oils - that are advertised in multiple magazines and even on radio and television, making the consumption of medical and recreational marijuana a constant and sound business due, in addition to the addictions of a consumer society, to the extraordinary delivery service. According to the LA Times, medical marijuana delivery services have tripled in recent years, as can be checked on the Weedmaps website, an online directory for companies operating in the region.

The fact contrasts with the Mexican reality, since while the neighbors of the north are doing the business of their lives by treating the use of marijuana as a public health problem, the erroneous policies of the Mexican government - which obey transnational interests - criminalize the production, consumption and sale of a product that Americans are more than making use of, leaving bowel wars, terror and death for their neighbors. Therefore, smoking marijuana genetically modified and smuggled into a country where its consumption is illegal can only intensify its brightness: a good part of American society lives to get high and does very well, privileging above all causes an unquestionable quality .

Going from the city of Rosarito to Ensenada it is possible to cross through the Guadalupe Valley, the wine region of the country that thanks to its Mediterranean climate is conducive to such activities. In the area there are remains of the old Franciscan missions, which were destroyed by the natives of Baja California (cochimíes, cucapás, paipai and kiliwas among others). Something similar to the Apache phenotype, if one goes deep enough it is possible to access Kumiai communities, where people live in colonies of about 200 individuals who do not like the outsider to take photos of their cemeteries, “because the dead can no longer stop to say hello. ”

Shortly after wandering along the north side of the peninsula it is clear that things here, although with a family air, contain a particular energy: something that happens between the vastness of the desert and the bellows of the ocean, in the transnational metropolitan area most populated in northern Mexico (5 million).

Tijuana or the border condition

"You don't know the amount of people I know addicted to the border, " a cicerone told me that knows what he is talking about. Tijuana is the most populous city in Baja California and the 5th in Mexico. It is estimated that more than 50 million people cross into San Diego every year, which makes it the busiest border on the planet.

Important cultural and commercial center - the city contains numerous buildings of multinational companies - Tijuana has built its own legend and an export image fed by its own and strangers that conceives it as a Latin American Babylon, epicenter of corruption and vice similar to Sodom and Gomorrah, where the queen rot, drugs and all known variants of prostitution.

That character between the fascinating and the perverted has made it a sort of Disneyland of debauchery, mythology that was fed during the last quarter of the twentieth century by crowds of Americans and other decadent people of the world who came to commit all kinds of excesses under cover of Corrupt authorities, congenital poverty and a population in need of foreign exchange. Until a few years ago, the combo that includes brothel, hotel and pharmacies where drugs are obtained without a prescription was called by the gringos as “happy little box”. Tijuana, In addition to being one of the most stimulating social and artistic laboratories in the world, it is also a large brothel with affordable prices, as Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and other busted people knew who found their bones in the chasms of Zacazonapan.

Social landscape built by and for the narco-realist crime, to limit and in many ways more real than the real one, is in Tijuana where Latin America officially begins, a place that stands out, coming from the other side, due to the precariousness of its constructions, the dirt of its streets and the eternal pilgrimage of Mexican migrants and most of Central America, which shows one of the most scandalous asymmetries on the planet: on the one hand, the lights that arrive from San Diego, with the promise of opportunities and material progress that Do not allow countries of origin. On the other, the countless miserable migrants seen on the Mexican side of the border, all kinds of needy and deported people living in El Bordo, a Tijuana satellite nestled in a dry channel of the river of the same name, where poverty, addictions and the multiple conflicts of misery have established his kingdom.

El Bordo has a population of more than 2, 000 inhabitants who are dedicated to cleaning glass, recycling garbage, handicrafts and especially homelessness. There are countless migrants, nationals and foreigners, who do not have identification or protection papers of any nature, so they constantly suffer police abuse, which violate them in multiple ways (the caves in which they live, known as ñongos, are periodically burned by the police; the beatings that they give them are usually brutal).

The criminalization of the migrant, exacerbated after September 11, is current currency in a territory where the government does not govern, a place that if it were not for civil society - specifically by groups such as Tijuana Migrant Alliance and Angels Without Borders - would be another circle from hell where there is no room for hope.

For the pilgrim in his homeland, it is conflictive and overwhelming to try to understand the multiple contrasts that occur at the border, that which happens on the other side of the wall of infamy that separates the countries into the ocean, remembering, despite the myopia of Mexican upper and middle classes that are going to leave their money to American stores, that migrants seeking work are not well received on American soil.

It is still eloquent, now that Obama has decided to reestablish relations with Cuba - canceling the embers of the former Cold War - that the extended night on immigration reform for Mexican and Central American migrants continue in the freezer, delaying a dignified dawn between nations that are not seen on the horizon, does not take anyone's sleep away and does not show signs of the slightest improvement.

Author's Twitter: @Ninyagaiden

Photographs by Jesús Robles