Mexican Amusement Park Offers Fake Border Crossing Attraction

Irina Zhorov, PBS, June 24, 2013

An unusual amusement park attraction in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo offers visitors the thrills and chills of an illegal border crossing. The attraction takes visitors through a fake United States-Mexico border, complete with fake smugglers and fake border patrol agents.

The aim is to dissuade would be migrants from making the trip. The coyote, or smuggler, leading this simulated illegal border crossing used the name Simon and wore a face mask. Before setting off, he addressed his charges that evening, about 40 students from a private school in Mexico City.

“Tonight we’re going to talk about migration,” Simon said in Spanish. “But for us it isn’t just something rhetorical, but rather the opposite. Because we have endured, we have suffered, of hunger, thirst, injustice, heat, cold, we have suffered from everything.”

Then, under the cover of night, Simon herded them into the woods, toward the fake frontera.

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But for those who want to simulate the experience of fleeing across the border, without the real danger, the latter attraction is for you. For three hours, tourist groups endure sirens, dogs, chases and the fake border patrol yelling threats.

Maribel Garcia works as an administrator for the park. She says the purpose of the Night Walk is simple.

“Our objective is to stop the immigration that exists amongst our citizens, principally from the state of Mexico to the U.S.,” Garcia said in Spanish.

Garcia says traditionally this region subsisted on agriculture, but that wasn’t bringing the community what it needed.

“Because we didn’t have sewer systems, light, telephone, roads,” she said.

So people went north. The HñaHñu community has lost about 80 percent of its population to the U.S., Garcia estimates, mainly to Arizona and Nevada. Garcia says it was the HñaHñu youth returning home after crossing the real border who thought up this tourist attraction as a way to create income for the community and encourage others to stay in Mexico.

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The tours cost the equivalent of about $20. The visitors are typically middle-class Mexicans or, like tonight, students from private schools–in other words, not the most likely group to attempt an illegal crossing into the U.S.

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Garcia said it’s difficult to quantify how effective the tours are for other visitors. But as the park’s tourist offerings expand and the number of visitors grow, she said there is a new hope that enough money will come in and that the attraction will encourage more community members to stay put.

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  • Spartacus

    “The HñaHñu community has lost about 80 percent of its population to the U.S.”

    80%!?!?! Jesus !

  • The whole experience should end with them looking right at the USS Cyclops, five Avenger torpedo bombers right next to it, the PBM5 Mariner that went looking for them, Flight DC3, Flight 441, and the Ellen Austin.
    Maybe they’ll get the hint.

  • Nathanwartooth

    The middle class is exactly what Mexico wants to keep inside Mexico.

    Did you know that during the last 10 years there has been a nice decrease in poor people in Mexico and an increase in the middle class?

    Hmmm… I wonder why? Maybe it’s because all of the poor people left to go to the USA for free handouts they couldn’t get in Mexico.

    • Nick Gherz

      Mexico has been dumping their poor in our foolish laps for about thirty years now.

      • The__Bobster

        We should return the favor.

        • Nick Gherz

          The “Bantus to Mexico” bill is a good start.

  • I think more than likely this is a training ground, sort of like boot camp for border-crossers.

    “Because we didn’t have sewer systems, light, telephone, roads,” she said. So people
    went north.

    No other reasons?

  • bigone4u

    OK, how about an amusement park in the US offering all the thrills and chills of crossing into Detroit? Actors playing gang members, rappers shooting it out with each other, drugs and hookers everywhere. For $20 you get the danger but you come out alive in the end, unlike in the real Detroit. In fact, this would make an interesting computer game as well–call it Escape from Detroit.

    • MadMike

      Or they can have the USA Welfare Office theme park, where they navigate though a fictional bureaucracy and get their benefits at the end.

      • Homo_Occidentalis

        Funded of course by the U.S. federal government.

      • Or a post office, DMV, unemployment office ….

        Or they could just give tours of City Hall in Chicago.

  • KingKenton

    “Our objective is to stop the immigration that exists amongst our citizens, principally from the state of Mexico to the U.S.,” Garcia said in Spanish.

    Shouldn’t that be ’emigration’?

    • Wethepeople

      Yes

  • Nick Gherz

    Do they have a revolving door too?

    • MadMike

      Yes with a large floor mat saying ( Bienvenidos a los Estados des Unidos ).

  • The__Bobster

    “Because we didn’t have sewer systems, light, telephone, roads,” she said.
    ______

    I’m sure the richest man in the world could pay for the services.

    Wait a minute! That’s how he became the richest man in the world, by dumping his poor on us and not paying for anything.

  • If they can go to amusement parks and such, they should definitely stay home.