Activists in Texas border city oppose Trump’s wall with street art

By Ana María Alarcón

Houston, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Texans unhappy about President Donald Trump’s plans for a wall separating the United States and Mexico painted “Defund the Wall. Fund our Future” on the street in front of the federal courthouse in the border city of Laredo.

Members of the No Border Wall Laredo Coalition, artists and concerned residents came out last weekend to emblazon the slogan in letters 30ft (9.15m) tall across a 450ft (137.5m) stretch of Victoria Street, accompanied by an image of a yellow rose to represent Texas.

US Customs and Border Protection has awarded contracts worth more than $560 million to a pair of companies from out of state to build 31mi (50km) of wall in the Laredo area.

“For the cost of a single mile of wall, Laredo could afford to build and operate a new trauma center for three years rather than airlift people to nearby cities for emergency treatment; one mile could also fund a $4,000 salary increase for all public school teachers in Webb and Zapata counties; or provide full tuition for an associates degree at Laredo College for all graduating Laredo seniors for the next 10 years,” the coalition said.

The federal government does not own the land along the proposed route, which would cut through parks and ranches, according to the No Border Wall Laredo Coalition.

“Some in Laredo are unhappy about letters painted on the street, but they don’t have a problem with the construction of a wall that would have the same dimensions,” artist and coalition member Tony Briones told Efe.

“We hope that the message empowers other border cities from Brownsville (Texas) to California and maybe motivates others to organize and fight against this wall,” he said.

Work on the mural began before sunrise and went on until nearly midnight on a day with a high temperature of 110 F (43 C). Participants wore masks and observed social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, which is hitting Texas hard.

Though the Laredo City Council approved the mural, inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” street art that has appeared in dozens of US cities, the project received no public funds.

“The yellow color is so bright that we thought it was ideal for the mural,” Laredo artist Shellee Laurent said. “It’s hard not to see it, especially from an aerial view. Besides, it’s very nice esthetically.”

Coalition member Melissa Cigarroa is president of the board of directors of the Rio Grande International Study Center and the owner off a ranch that sits on the proposed path of the wall.

“The wall is a slap at our entire history, culture and identity, and also threatens the only source of drinking water we have,” she told Efe.

One of the designers of the mural was Laredo native Brenda Tijerina, now studying architecture in Houston, expresses confidence that the actions of her home town will inspire other border communities. EFE


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