Tear Down this Wall!
November 6, 2009
By Rev. Mari Castellanos
On Monday November 9th the world will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. There will be editorials, commentaries and speeches everywhere; the news coverage will be extensive and we will all exult in a glorious moment of human history.
We should remember and celebrate the end of an infamous barrier that separated friends and families and divided a nation into East and West. We will hear John Kennedy's words "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner.) and Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" repeated in every newscast. As well we should. That infamous wall claimed the lives of 136 persons over it's 28 years history. When it was torn down pieces of the wall were collected as icons of freedom.
As we celebrate that joyful day we should remember another Wall, 660 miles of stone and steel separating old neighbors, families and friends; bisecting regions, ecological zones, animal migration routes; splitting a Native American nation into north and south.
This still growing monument to fear and folly has claimed 5,600 lives since 1994. But it has not stopped the flow of undocumented migrant workers, nor the traffic of illegal drugs to their northern markets. For a capitalist country we don't seem to understand supply and demand too well. According to the Government Accountability Office, the Wall has cost $2.4 billion thus far. The estimated cost of maintenance over twenty years is $6.5 billion. That does not include the cost of all the wild life refuges and corridors that have been destroyed. And not even the GAO can estimate the cost in human suffering.
Yes, let us celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. But let us also echo Kennedy's words in a new setting: Todos somos de la frontera. We are all Border people. And let us repeat Reagan's urgent demand to a new leader: Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!