René Peralta, architect and urbanism specialist, calls for serenity and solidarity. In his column, the migratory crisis could be a starting point to reinvent Tijuana and make it better.
Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.
- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Many people believe there’s a city out there just like Calvino’s. It is said that in the early twentieth century, African Americans (who were already free in the United States) were still victims of racism and could not open their own businesses in several cities of the south, -stories documented by Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain-, and they choose to migrate to Tijuana to open their own cabarets, where they brought the rhythms of jazz same that originated the beginnings of border jazz, currently well-known in Mexico.
In the middle of the 20th century, through the Bracero program, our countrymen arrived to cross the “line” to work in the agricultural fields of California during WWII, and when they returned, they formed the old colonies of the city of Tijuana.
Refugees from a lot of wars where the United States has been involved, have sought refuge in our city: Japanese, Chinese, Jews, Armenians, Haitians, and not to mention the compatriots who have migrated to seek employment in this industrial city, after the globalist policies have ended with agricultural production in the country.
Migration will not stop! Today more than ever world population will migrate again. Climate change will make the citizens of the wealthiest countries also migrate. Inhabitants of areas in constant danger of fires will have to choose to migrate to urban areas; residents of the coasts will have to move to areas and cities topographically higher due to flooding and the ocean elevation caused by climate change.
The neoliberal policies that appropriate natural resources in different countries will make the global population migrate to look for other opportunities. These phenomena are changing our cities.
I dedicate to studying cities and I see a radical change in our metropolis: human beings moving, looking for new opportunities. Which city do we want? A city that closes to the global reality or one that provides an example of a cosmopolitan city?
For a long time, Tijuana was classified as a hybrid city! Our city is characterized by its way of being, in solidarity with the migrant. Facing a new challenge, we have to introduce a new paradigm of an inclusive city in the face of so much inequality in the world.
Cerrada la garita de San Ysidro desde las 4 am por hondureños queriendo cruzar. #caravana— Rene Peralta (@Rene_Peralta) November 19, 2018
René studied architecture at the New School of Architecture and at the London Architectural Association, in England. He has taught architecture and urbanism at UCLA, SciArc and Washington University. He is currently director of the Master’s Program in Urbanism + Landscape at the Woodbury University School of Architecture in San Diego and a research professor at UCSD’s Urban Studies Department in La Jolla. He is co-author of the book Aquí es Tijuana (Black Dog, 2006) and he online report Worldviewcities: Tijuana, for the Architectural League of New York. He has lectured at the University of Harvard University, as well as other institutions in the United States, Mexico, Nicaragua, Bolivia and South Korea.