Sunday, October 14, 2012
First there is a barrio, then there is no barrio, then there is
I ran into a friend who told me all about his new lot in that new neighborhood. He spoke in his usual rapid-fire ADHD-like spanglish so it was difficult keeping track but the gist was that people were excited about the new 'hood because there was city water and electricity was only a year away. In order to have a lot there you could not own any other property and you had to build something right away and occupy it. He spent over $400 U.S. on wood and built the basic structure for his home. As a way to bring the neighbors together he threw a huge birthday party for his little boy, furnished all the beer, soft drinks and food - carne asada, tortillas, beans. They built a fire, played music, danced.
Two days later the barrio was gone.
As fast as it had gone up it came down. The government said they couldn't be there, it'd all been a mistake. Lo siento amigos. If they didn't remove the buildings they would be razed. My neighbor and photographer, Jan Henriksen, took this photo after the exodus.
The barrio is back. Whatever the sticking point was, it was worked out. Sort of. We walked over there yesterday and chatted with a friend who's camped out on his lot. We said we'd heard that the people had paid the back taxes on the property and that it was now theirs. He said that wasn't true. They hadn't yet paid but they would once it was sorted out how much was owed and who all was actually living there. Each morning a woman comes around taking names, making sure that the people who are there are supposed to be there, that they have no other homes. The first time the barrio opened up, some gringos from New Kino ran over and marked off their lots as "future investment", you know, for the day the phantom marina goes in and Kino becomes another Rocky Point or San Carlos. Our friend said that can't happen now.
Still there's some uncertainty and the new neighbors are afraid that once again they'll be forced to leave. There were at least eight federal police trucks in town the other day, each truck carrying four officers. The people watched anxiously as the trucks drove up the road to New Kino. They feared the federales were here to evict them. Our friend said the people would not go without a fight. They had plans to form a human chain - men, women and children - and would have to be dragged from their homes. But the federales left town. Maybe they were just here for a seafood dinner, maybe for a little kumbaya police bonding time.
We were given another bit of news. One of the barrios on the outskirts of town has been cleared out, shut down. Can you imagine that? One day you have a home; the next day it's torn down. You don't even have a car you can move into.
I'll keep posting on the progress of the barrio. Hopefully it's here to stay.