Border Report: Mexico Holds Its Breath on U.S. Election Eve
Coming on the heels of the deaths in Chicano Park and the passing of Chunky Sanchez, this year’s Día de Muertos celebrations were festive but tinged with sadness.
The United States isn’t the only country anxiously awaiting the results of the presidential election. Mexico, too, is watching and waiting to see who the next president of the United States will be — and hoping for one outcome in particular.
One Mexican official, Jaime Martinez Veloz, said that the failed Trump Ocean Resort Baja Mexico project that was supposed to be constructed in southern Tijuana never obtained the proper building permits, and should be investigated for tax fraud, reports Yahoo. (Trump settled with about a hundred would-be buyers in 2013.)
Honoring the Dead, and One San Diego Legend in Particular
Día de Muertos — also called Día de los Muertos, a back translation of Day of the Dead — is both a festive and solemn affair. Families build altars for their loved ones who have died, and visit their gravesites to talk to them. The holiday originated with the Aztec Queen of the Underworld, Mictecacihuatl, who rules over the afterlife with her husband, Mictlantecuhtli. (The celebrations once lasted a month and were held at the beginning of summer, but European priests rearranged the dates of the indigenous peoples’ celebrations to coincide with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day.)
The festivities are visually appealing: ofrendas strewn with marigolds and laid with food, stylized calacas and calaveras, presided over by La Catrina, the elegant Lady Death, an image that was created by artist and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada a century ago, and has since come to represent Día de Muertos.
The traditional Día de Muertos ceremonies have in recent years enjoyed increasing popularity (even Disney got in on it by attempting to trademark the phrases “Día de los Muertos” and “Day of the Dead” in 2013, drawing a significant backlash), but the San Diego neighborhood of Sherman Heights has quietly held its own Day of the Dead celebration for years, complete with food, music, dancing and a procession to bless the altars.
This year, the party snaked from the Sherman Heights Community Center to Chicano Park, led by Aztec dancers and drummers. The party was as festive as ever, but also tinged with a more immediate sadness as people grieved the deaths of four people killed last month when a truck plunged from the Coronado Bay Bridge into a festival at Chicano Park: Ana Marie Contreras, Cruz Elias Contreras, Andre Christopher Banks and Francine Denise Jimenez.
The community also honored the memory of Ramon “Chunky” Moroyoqui Sanchez, who died late last month. Chunky, a legendary singer and songwriter who was an instrumental part of Southern California’s civil rights movements both in his music and his activism, died on Oct. 28, two days shy of his 65th birthday.
Hundreds turned out for his memorial service in Chicano Park on Saturday, and for a celebration of his life on Sunday.
More Border News
• The Caravana Contra la Represión en Mexico (Caravan Against Repression in Mexico) arrives in San Diego on Nov. 16. The traveling group, whose last stop in the United States is here, consists of high-profile human rights activists from Mexico — such as family members of the missing 43 students from Ayotzinapa, day laborers and farmworkers from San Quintín and loved ones of missing and murdered women representing Nuestra Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Return Our Daughters Home).
They are traveling through the United States to, as they put it, “break through the wall of indifference” between the United States and Mexico and to pressure the U.S. government to change its policies in Mexico that they say erodes human rights there.
• The door in the section of the border wall that runs through San Diego’s Friendship Park is rarely opened, but on Nov. 19, a few preselected and vetted families, usually separated by circumstances and the international border, will be able to hug through the doorway. “Abriendo la Puerta de la Esperanza,” or “Opening the Door to Hope,” will allow loved ones to touch and hug for a few minutes as press from both countries and Border Patrol agents look on before the door is once again closed.
• The body of a man (identified only as Miguel Angel L.) who had been strangled, shot, and stabbed was found swinging from a footbridge in Tijuana’s Yamile neighborhood late on November 3rd. A warning message was purportedly found with the body.
• Object, a Tijuana shop that uses work from artisans all over Mexico, is “putting the city on the design map,” writes the New York Times.