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Boquillas One Month Later

10 May 2013

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The crossing between Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park and the village of Boquillas in the Mexican state of Coahuilla was closed in May of 2002, part of a shutdown of traffic across the US-Mexico border in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite the efforts of a number of activists to re-open the crossing in the style of automated facilities like those found on the US-Canada border, the port of entry at Boquillas stayed closed, fueled in part by the debate over immigration and the explosion of violence elsewhere in Mexico.

As a result, Americans were forced to forgo tacos and beer after a day of hiking or rafting in the park: An idyll documented most famously by Robert Earl Keen on the titular song from his 1994 album, Gringo Honeymoon:

Meanwhile the residents of Boquillas were left without access to groceries or the basic educational and medical resources that they had come to depend on from their American neighbors in Rio Grande Village on the other side of the knee-deep river. While RGV is a few short hours on well-maintained roads from Terlingua, Presidio, Marfa and Alpine, the nearest Mexican town to Boquillas — Melchor Muzquiz — is five hours away on rough dirt tracks. The nearest port of entry between Ojinaga and Presidio is at least a 10 hour drive.

The tourist dollars that were the backbone of the local economy disappeared and Boquillas’ population shrank from 300 to just under 100 people, turning the already impoverished village into a harsh laboratory for many of the ideas explored at the first Marfa Dialogues in 2011, namely a demonstration of the the effects of strangling long-established cross-border exchange between neighbors and families.

That changed on April 10, 2013 when, after years of delays, the crossing re-opened as an automated class-B port of entry. Hundreds of Americans made the trip over to Boquillas in the month that followed. Here’s our primer on the coverage the crossing has received since then: