On April 10, Big Bend National Park will hold an official celebration of the international crossing between the park and Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico, the Gazette has learned.
In a statement to the Gazette, Cindy Ott-Jones, Superintendent of Big Bend NAtional Park said, “I am absolutely thrilled that the opening of the Boquillas Point of Entry facility, along with our binational conservation efforts, will be celebrated with Secretary Jewell and Minister Guerra Abud on April 10. Park and community residents on both sides of the river will welcome these dignitaries with the usual warmth and compassion that the Big Bend Area is known for. I feel very lucky to be a part of this.”
At 9:30 am at the Boquillas crossing located in Big Bend National Park will gather to celebrate the two year anniversary of the crossing opening. At 6 pm at the Basin Campground group sites Q and R the public is invited to join officials for a celebration dinner.
The Boquillas Port of Entry, as the crossing is formally known, opened two years ago (on April 10, 2013) to great celebration and relief for citizens on both sides of the river, as it marked the re-opening of travel at this historic crossing, albeit now such travel is restricted to individuals with proper documentation of citizenship (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant documents include passports, passport cards, etc.).
Historically, the international border between Boquillas del Carmen and the national park was fluid, allowing for informal passage back and forth from the U.S. to Mexico, to the delight of park tourists and Boquillas residents alike. In May 2002, sudden enforcement of U.S. policy for international travel in effect shut down all legal crossings at this site, except for those with special dispensation, such as Mexican Nationals hired to work in the U.S. as forest firefighters. The closing of the border, as it’s often called, resulted in near economic death for the village of Boquillas, largely dependent on tourism for income and on access to Rio Grande Village in the national park for food and gasoline re-supply.
During this year’s celebration, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will make her first visit to the park and meet Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Juan Jose Guerra-Abud. Also on hand will be U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne.