How Trump’s Border Wall Perpetuates the Legacy of Colonialism on the Rio Grande

Source: The Intercept

IT’S FRIDAY AT DUSK on a long stretch of dirt road in Hidalgo County, Texas, about a mile north of the Rio Grande and Mexico. Orange light gleams through a single palm tree towering over hardwood mesquites. Land speculators imported palms to the Rio Grande Valley a century ago to attract white American settlers to the region, and they loom especially high above dense thornscrub below.

I’m walking to my car with Christopher Basaldú, who’s lived in a nearby tent for over a month in anticipation of wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border. Basaldú, of Brownsville, and about two dozen others formed the Yalui Village campsite on the site of the 19th century-era Eli Jackson Cemetery, a state-designated historical marker in the path of the proposed border barrier. A sign at the entrance of the camp announces the presence of the Carrizo/Comecrudo tribe (Estók G’na), a reference to groups indigenous to the valley. The occupation began in late January, shortly before Customs and Border Protection said wall construction could begin.

A wave of anxiety crept through the camp the previous night after some campers raised the possibility of Patriot-type paramilitaries storming through. Weeks of intense surveillance by Border Patrol agents, whose green and white vans are constantly encircling the encampment, have also frayed nerves. Basaldú visited Standing Rock at the height of pipeline resistance, and other campers with similar experience have traveled to the valley from Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.

“People were freaking themselves out around the fire thinking about being shot and killed,” said Basaldú, an adopted member of the tribe. It’s an unlikely possibility, but Basaldú said he personally is ready to die stopping the wall — or tearing it down. Unlike other places in Hidalgo County, including a butterfly center and a historic Catholic chapel, the cemetery on which the camp stands was not exempted from construction by a February border wall funding bill signed by President Donald Trump.

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