Even though the last two years have been the hardest for Angie’s Place, a Mexican arts and crafts store on Revolution Ave., Angelina Velazquez refuses to give up. She is 77 and determined to turn around the store her parents sacrificed so much to buy.
Days go by without selling a single item, but she still manages to pull through. Some weeks she pays her employees only part of their salary.
The point is to stay open, she says.
“I do it to honor my parents.”
She reminded me of how much we’ve lost as border residents in the last 10 years.
It wasn’t long ago that I would go to Tijuana just to eat some street tacos, the best in Mexico. I used to go to restaurants, movies and I would cross at a moment’s notice to see friends and family.
The only downside was a long but tolerable wait to cross back into San Diego.
But now things are about to get even harder for people whose livelihood depend on tourists or visitors from north of the border, and generally for people who cross the border on a regular basis.
The long waits of late to cross into Mexico will become permanent in January when the Mexican government completes a port modernization that includes new security measures designed to stem the flow of weapons and money from the U.S.
The purpose is to weaken Mexican drug traffickers.
I wonder how effective these new measures will be given the U.S. spends billions of dollars more in border security, but only manages to intercept a small quantity of drugs and other contraband.
The long waits to cross into Mexico are just another blow to our border lifestyle, which has been slowly dying.
The new security measures put in place after the September 11 attacks made the long lines crossing north longer and slower. Then came the kidnappings and beheadings, which scared many away.
The recession took away our disposable income, and if that wasn’t enough, the U.S. government made us spend time and money getting a passport just to cross back to San Diego.
A passport to go to Revolución?
Now we’ve come full circle with long lines to cross into Mexico.
One more excuse not to visit Baja California.
I sympathize with the thousands of families that will now have to spend more time in their cars instead of with their families. It seems Mexico City, like Washington D.C., forgets that people work and live on both sides of the border.
Some, like Velazquez, refuse to give in.
Her store on 4th and Revolution has given her a comfortable lifestyle and helped finance the college education of several family memberS, some of whom live and work in San Diego.
These days, Velazquez says Europeans are keeping her store alive.
It seems they are the only one who still get excited about taking a photo in Mexico wearing a sombrero and sitting on a donkey dressed as a zebra.
I’m glad someone still has the luxury to cross to Tijuana just to have fun, even if they have to come from the other side of the Atlantic. And that’s a good enough reason for Velazquez to stay open.
“I wouldn’t like to see Europeans visiting Tijuana and nobody there to welcome them.”