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Friday, 23 June 2017

'Tear down this wall': US-Mexico border protest joins Dresden Sinfoniker with local musicians

AFP , Sunday 4 Jun 2017
Mexico wall protest
The musicians took part Saturday in a "Tear Down this Wall" event organized by the Dresden Sinfoniker orchestra at a park in the Mexican city of Tijuana (Photo: AFP)
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German and Mexican artists staged a show on the border with the United States in protest at Washington's plans to build a wall, thrilling hundreds but infuriating supporters of the controversial plan to stop the flow of illegal migrants.

The musicians took part Saturday in a "Tear Down this Wall" event organized by the Dresden Sinfoniker orchestra at a park in the Mexican city of Tijuana at the foot of the metallic fence that divides the two countries.

The show was originally due to take place on both sides of the border, but US authorities denied permission to hold the crowdfunded event on their side, citing security concerns.

Just before the concert began, orchestra director Markus Rindt shared his thoughts on the barriers that separate people around the world.

"Pieces of metal are for recycling and when they are on a wall, we should instead use them to build musical instruments, not to separate people," he told the audience.

Mexico wall protest
(Photo: AFP)


Rindt was a young man in 1987 when Ronald Reagan urged the then-Soviet Union to "Tear down this wall" in Berlin -- the quote that inspired his project.

Next to the Tijuana Lighthouse, artists and their assistants observed a minute of silence in memory of the migrants who died trying to cross the barrier built more than two decades ago.

US President Donald Trump made expanding the border wall with Mexico one of his leading campaign themes, claiming criminals and drug traffickers were flooding over the southern US border. He also insisted that Mexico would pay for the new wall.

Mexico has so far steadfastly refused, and Trump has yet to secure any of the billions of dollars in congressional funding needed to start his flagship project.

While a dozen American protesters shouted "President Trump, build the wall for our safety!" from their side of the border, musicians on the Mexican side used pieces of the metal barricade to make music.

Fabian Romero used a cutter and emery board, while one of his companions wielded an industrial hammer to hit a small container as hundreds of people looked on.

Mexico wall protest
Trump made expanding the border wall with Mexico one of his leading campaign themes, claiming criminals and drug traffickers were flooding over the southern US border (Photo: AFP)


Demonstrators used a telescopic ladder to place the American flag at the top of the barrier, while playing the US national anthem over a loudspeaker. But that tune was overshadowed by the cheerful music played on the Mexican side.

"I see a contradiction. Here, in Tijuana, people are gathered peaceful, united, while over there people are intolerant, aggressive," said Daniela, a 27-year-old who improvised a painting she called "a world full of love."

Speaking before the concert, Rindt said: "We are more against this wall than they are, but we only see five people on the other side protesting while we are hundreds."

Some children painted their names on the dividing mesh, constructed of recycled material from the Gulf War. Others wrote messages to Trump.

"I will wait for the walls to fall" singers sang in one song, which ended with the phrase "Love, that we need!" The audience loved it so much that they asked for an encore.

By then, wall supporters had already left and US border agents monitoring the area listened to the melody from beginning to end.

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