San Diego, CA - Site Visit

Friendship Park, San Diego

Written by: Sister Elaine Betoncourt, CSJ

June 14, 2013

Friday morning we awoke to the news that the bus had a flat tire. Fortunately, we were staying at the University of San Diego, and were able to borrow two vans to get us to Friendship Park on time. Since the road to the park was narrow and somewhat rocky in spots we realized that the flat tire was a bit of a blessing.

At Border State Park, our contact, Dan Watman from the Coalition of Friends of Friendship Park, gave us the history of the building of the secondary wall 120 feet away from the primary wall between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego. He explained that about 30 environmental laws were disregarded as Homeland Security ordered the building of the second wall that extends into the Pacific Ocean. The buffer zone prevents people from visiting with each other through the wall.

Near the ocean between the walls is Friendship Park where gates on both sides get opened on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. allowing people from both nations to visit with each other. They have created an International Garden in Friendship Park with plants from the U.S. and Mexico as a symbol of hope and relationship, and every Sunday a priest comes to celebrate Mass with all who gather. Hearing of the compassionate work of the American Friends Service and Border Angels here at the Tijuana border was very inspiring.

Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels, stirred our hearts with his mention of the six-month anniversary of the Newtown, CT shootings, juxtaposing the reality of the continuing deaths at the border as people try to cross over seeking a chance for a better life in the U.S. How horrifying both realities are!