Comparisons between walls and border fences: What about Bulgaria?

Written by on January 31, 2017 in Perspectives - Comments Off on Comparisons between walls and border fences: What about Bulgaria?

Which walls do we know? Yes, the Chinese Wall. The wall Humpty Dumpty was sitting on. We know “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. We know the Berlin Wall. And, yes, the one which has been talked about a lot in the past 18 months.

During his election campaign, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, repeated one thing over and over: How he was going to build a “beautiful” wall and how Mexico was going to pay for it. Since, former Mexican President Vicente Fox has used the F-word in an interview with Fox News, in order to effectively bring his country’s message across, according to which it will not pay for the wall. Today’s President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, cancelled a visit to the White House, just three days ago, pretty much for the same reason.

People across the world are joking about walls, by saying Pink Floyd will pay for it. Anyone who has Mexican friends (or a Mexican girlfriend) would tell them they would have to pay for it, personally.

As funny as that might be, walls and border fences are generally not funny at all, especially when they are compared to the Berlin Wall. This is what the Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, just did. In a statement handed out to the press on Friday, it said Berlin could “not just stand by without comment when a country plans to erect a wall”. Müller did not mean Humpty Dumpty’s wall. “We, the Berliners, know best how much sorrow was caused by barbed wire and a wall, which cemented the separation of an entire continent.”

Müller is a good guy, but his comparison turned out to be a bit odd. The Berlin Wall, along with the fence between Eastern and Western Germany, was erected to keep people in. Eastern Germans were kept in their country like in a jail. Sure, some might have taken a vacation at the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, but, all in all, they were locked in there. The wall and that fence were the Iron Curtain.

Any wall or border fence between the United States and Mexico, on the other hand, is meant to keep people out. That wall already exists, in part. While Trump himself does not seem to have a clue what he is doing, the conservatives around him want to curb illegal immigration. Sure, there is a huge discussion going on, but whatever either side thinks: Trump’s wall is or would be very different from the Berlin Wall.

Sure, in an ideal world, in which we would all live together as friends, no matter where we are from, there would not be any walls. But reality looks somewhat different.

We live close to a wall, in the shape of a fence. 169,309,121.00 Leva. That is how much Bulgarian tax payers have spent on the fence along the country’s southern border, so far. The price tag is about a million Leva per kilometer, while the construction of roads along the fence, e.g. for border patrols, costs extra. Again, this wall or fence is meant to keep people out, to keep refugees out of Bulgaria and out of Europe. It is a wall (or fence), which is supposed to curb illegal immigration.

The interesting aspect about our “wall”, the fence along the border in southern Bulgaria, is that its purpose was the opposite before 1990. During those times, any Bulgarian who would try to approach Sinemorets, maybe in order to test the nice beaches down there, would be stopped by police and either sent back or put in jail. That area is close to the southern border. Therefore it used to be part of the “security zone”. Bulgarians or foreign nationals who made it to the area around Rezovo, or any spot very close to the southern border, would be arrested for sure. That is because most Bulgarians were locked in as well (except for those who were more equal than the others). They were locked in by the same border fence the country now uses to keep people out.

This means that the border fence in southern Bulgaria was comparable to the Berlin Wall until 1989, while today, it is comparable to Trump’s wall, except that Pink Floyd will not pay for it. Neither will my Mexican girlfriend. Or Vicente Fox.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.