About four dozen people stood in a row holding hands as a symbol of camaraderie Saturday morning at the international bridge that divides Presidio, Texas, and Ojinaga, Mexico. West Texas residents from Terlingua, Marfa, Marathon and Alpine drove an hour or more to join the sister cities’ residents and city officials.
Presidio High School art teacher Laurie Holman organized the event, saying she felt Donald Trump’s presidential win will negatively affect the region’s primarily Hispanic community and wanted to do something to show unity.
“I just wanted to do something positive,” Holman said. “I know there’s a lot of angry demonstrations. People are mad. People are angry. They’re frustrated and I do not blame them at all. I think it was important to show the world and show the area that we live in peace.”
Nearly 83 percent of Presidio County’s 6,800 residents are Hispanic, according to census data, and the county has the lowest voter turnout in the state. Sixty-six percent of voters there turned out for Hillary Clinton, while Donald Trump received 30 percent of the vote.
Presidio City Council Member Dimitri Garcia said he wanted to reaffirm to Ojinaga after the election that they will stick together as a community.
“We’re not going to allow fear to go ahead and dictate the pace of what we’re going to do here in Presidio, Texas and West Texas,” Garcia said.
Attendees carried signs that said “Build bridges, not walls,” “Viva La Frontera” and “Love is unity.”
As they walked from Saint Teresa Church in Presidio to the bridge, the group of 35 Americans carried signs painted by Holman’s high school art students, wore safety pins as symbols of solidarity and waved at drivers and pedestrians as they passed by from both sides of the border, sometimes receiving a wave or a thumbs up in return.
Urí Muñoz, Ojinaga city secretary, said he was was proud to see American citizens join the 15 Mexicans on the international bridge and hopes it’s not the last time.
“We demonstrate that if we can do it together, we can do a lot of things,” Muñoz said. “Separate, we cannot do it.”
Garcia said he would have liked to see more of his constituents at the event. There were more attendees from the surrounding areas than from Presidio itself.
“The fervor here is strong, but I would have liked to see more people from Presidio,” he said. “I think it’s just counter-intuitive to the culture that we talk about it. We have very strong opinions about what what’s happening today, but there could have been more of us that showed up.”