Despite all the talk about a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border, there are 2 places along it where harmony truly reigns–Boquillas and Chamizal.
People visiting Big Bend National Park in Texas were once freely able to cross the Rio Grande and visit the small Mexican town of Boquillas. Each year about 15,000 made the crossing. When the border was closed in 2002, Boquillas del Carmen really suffered. A solution was sought. In 2013 a visitor station opened. It became a port of entry so that U.S. citizens with passports were allowed to cross the river in boats and ride horses or burros to the town and return easily. Problem solved.
In 1864, a major flood changed the course of the Rio Grande between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The international border was affected because a piece of land formerly in the U.S. was now in Mexico. Cordova island, agricultural land that Mexico claimed, was now jutting into the United States. Diplomacy and technology solved the problem. Thanks to the Chamizal Convention both nations agreed to the construction of a permanent concrete channel and the relocation of American citizens living in the disputed area. In 1967 the Presidents of both countries met on the international bridge between the 2 cities to open the new channel and authorize the disputed land to be used for recreation and culture. In 1974 it became the Chamizal National Memorial run by the National Park Service. Problem solved.
Today Chamizal is for music, the arts, dance, drama. etc. It has become a true cultural bridge between 2 nations. A 500 seat theater offers performances most nights. One regular attraction is a local company of the ballet fólklorico, which I wrote about yesterday. It’s very popular. So is the Siglo de Oro Spanish Drama Festival held each March. So is summer’s Music Under the Stars. So are the visual arts galleries that exhibit for-sale art like “Duelo” below. The entertainment spans both cultures. Country singers and rock bands are likely to perform. There’s a visitor center, a courtyard with a garden, a picnic area, etc. The Chamizal National Memorial will be remodeling its museum and adding more projects to celebrate its 50th anniversary and the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Refreshment will make this 55 acre site at 800 South San Marcial Street in El Paso a better but still free local and visitor magnet.