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Who needs to paint a wall, when thousands of families are mourning their dead?

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Just when there was no reason to remember the existence of an inoperative wall on the southern border, since the biggest worry in this precise moment is and must be the containment of the lethal coronavirus pandemic, one of the most insufferable and recurring topics of conversation from today’s United States leader has re-emerged.

Even beyond his awful political choice to bring to the table, once again, discussions over the wasteful idea, which the Washington Post has reported includes some $500 million to paint said wall black, is the persistent intention to provoke a certain medieval terror among those who dare to cross into U.S. territory without permission.

Already on other occasions he had referred to the matter at hand, saying that the construction must be made of metal so that it would heat up and no one would dare to touch it, or even that on his “big and beautiful” wall one would be able to fry an egg; plus with spikes at the top to pierce the flesh of anyone who continued the attempt. The color black, of course, was proposed so that the metal would absorb more heat and, in short, serve as an effective repellent.

It has been a monotonous discussion that, being so trite, has become the most successful failure or least-kept promise of this administration, since the president initiated his campaign almost four years ago and promised that our neighbor to the south would pay for it, without specifying how and even when.

But as the November elections are getting closer by leaps and bounds, the president spares no chance to turn back to his old political playbook that catapulted him among those who pine for a markedly discriminatory past, and who as far as can be seen have not ended up accepting the demographic reality that has passed them by a long time ago and resulted in a 21st Century country, culturally amalgamated, but one that cracks every time that xenophobic discourse becomes one of the multiple metaphors on immigration.

Because in addition to a wall painted black, that which the presidential imagination can muster up is that the strangers from the south are also potential “carriers” of illnesses, in such a way that his “protector” discourse implies that he will save his compatriots from some possible terrifying evil.

And here is where the court of facts prevails and silences the fantasy of always blaming others, as comparatively speaking the United States is the country with the most cases of COVID-19, exceeding more than a million infected and more than 76,000 dead, and counting. Canada, for example, reports more than 64,000 cases, with more than 4,000 deaths, while Mexico has more than 29,000 confirmed cases, with more than 2,900 deceased. And also counting.

This is nothing to celebrate, of course, as each country is taking measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, but what is clear is that the pandemic has already manifested and spread throughout U.S. territory far earlier than other countries. The illness was already here and was described by this same White House as a “hoax” from his opponents.

Returning to the theme of the border wall when thousands of families are mourning their dead and immigrants are sustaining his own family’s finances—and not a few of them are also on the front lines as medical personnel or service workers—turns out to be imprudent and of little efficacy as a campaign matter, and unveils in its entirety a leader whose only concern is painting a wall black, like someone checking off a poorly-done task, and who is not interested in becoming a statesman at the height of this pandemic of historic proportions.

To read the Spanish version of this article click here.