Who is really paying for Donald Trump’s border wall?
17/317 Massoud Hayoun @MHayoun
Beyond the sensationalism over who will pay for the wall many are already paying dearly – on both sides of the border.
Tijuana, Mexico/San Diego, United States – Former Mexican President Vicente Fox made international headlines when he tweeted to US President Donald Trump, “Mexico is not going to pay for that f****** wall.”
But beyond the sensationalism over who’s going to foot the bill for Trump’s project – reportedly set to cost as much as $21.6bn, local businesses say they are already paying dearly.
On the Mexican side, shops usually crowded with tourists are empty. “People are afraid to come,” said Elia, 48, who estimates that her business has decreased by 60 percent amid Trump’s talk about the wall.
Businesses in Zona Centro, considered one of Tijuana’s main tourist attractions, have seen a decline in sales since Trump entered office – Jessica Chou/Al Jazeera
“I would like to hit him with this one,” she said shaking a baton she uses to reach merchandise sitting high up on her store shelves. “He’s crazy.”
Sebastian Alexis, 16, sells woven ponchos, Frida Kahlo memorabilia, terracotta pots, papier-mache statuettes and other traditional Mexican goods at wholesale prices. He used to have many customers from the United States who bought his items as souvenirs or for resale across the border, he explained.
“[But] the action for the wall has made less people come,” Alexis added.
A string of pharmacies in the city centre that usually sees a constant flow of foot traffic from US citizens looking to supplement expensive healthcare with cheap pharmaceuticals were also suddenly empty.
“We won’t have problems [with business]. The problems will be on the other side of the frontier. Medicine is expensive there, not here,” said Arturo Roya, 54, one of the pharmacy workers.
Another nearby pharmacy worker, Esteban Ochoa, 64, estimated that his business had decreased by “20 percent because of the proclamation”.
Ochoa said he is concerned for people over the border in the US without the means to pay for healthcare. “It’s possible that people won’t be able to survive. There are many people who come here who can’t afford medical care there,” he explained.