By Ricardo A. Samaniego

I am very privileged that renowned Mexican sculptor Pedro Francisco Rodriguez and his team recently visited my office to ask me to lead their initiative to have their Border Alliance art sculpture placed at a location along the U.S. side of our border with Mexico.

I’m honored that the site they preferred would be at our iconic Ascarate Park so that the new sculpture aligns with “La Equis” or “The X,” the nearly 200-foot tall red sculpture in Juárez.

Interestingly enough our El Paso County Commissioners Court’s progressive and extensive master parks plan includes a recommendation of having an art structure along the Cesar Chavez Border Highway to emphasize the futuristic landscape and collateral activities of the park. The park’s master plan also calls for an amphitheater.

The proposed Border Alliance art sculpture incorporates an amphitheater into its design, thus meshing with our parks master plan.

The driving motivation for the artist is to symbolize the alliance between our two very symbiotic nations. He especially wants to emphasize our mutual collaboration to heal from the Aug. 3, 2019, tragedy; our unity to address a refugee humanitarian crisis; and our struggle to fight an insidious and relentless virus from a regional perspective.

A Border Alliance structure that symbolizes our threshold to the future will also enhance the beautiful Community Healing Garden at one end of Ascarate Park and the Mexican “X” on the other end — forming a strong triangle of unity, peace and collaboration between two tightly woven and historically grounded communities.

But there is more to the symbolism of threes.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego led the effort to plant a healing garden in honor of the victims of the 2019 mass shooting. The garden at Ascarate Park features native plants and 23 Italian cypress trees that serve as a living tribute to each of those killed during the hate crime. (Angela Kocherga/El Paso Matters)

These three synergistic structures, each with their own story, will culminate into an international phenomenon not found anywhere else. The three art pieces can be seen and visited on their own merit and can also be seen and enjoyed in their holistic entirety.

Philosophically, these three artistic symbols will be characterized by the comprehension of their parts individually, and also as intimately interconnected and explicable in reference to the whole. The whole is the artist’s vision: a glimpse into a future full of possibilities and a celebration of hope.

As my dear friend Manuela Gomez, a professor at the El Paso Community College, said, “It will send out the message of: ‘Que pues? Que no ves? Somos tres?’”

Beyond our U.S. and Mexico sisterhood, we are also a united triangle between Texas, Chihuahua and New Mexico, and we form a powerful front.

It is my goal to help fund this project just as we did with the Healing Garden — with donations, sponsorships and other support. Once completed, our community will have the privilege of visiting these artistic landmarks.

The Border Alliance structure will forever stand tall to remind us, as the Healing Garden does, that our community will always find ways to rise like the Phoenix and come out much stronger. 

In addition, the structure will encourage us to appreciate life coming out of a pandemic that took the lives of close to 10,000 people in our region. It will also keep us focused on the post-pandemic challenges to come and, most importantly, it will serve as a profound reminder that our first line of defense for a pandemic or any other unprecedented crisis is our mental and physical well-being.

It is a beacon of hope, but also a beacon that we must unite all our resources in order to be much more proactive as an international community so as to not be blindsided.

Sometimes the stars just seem to line up for our beautiful community.

The Border Alliance sculpture and plaza will undoubtedly link the three projects as one or “las tres a la vez” as an artistic wonder that will be enhanced by our Star on the mountain at night.

Let’s work together as a community to catapult the unique and historical collaborations into an internationally magnificent attraction.

Ricardo A. Samaniego is El Paso County judge.

Note: “Border Alliance” is the present proposed name given by Pedro Francisco Rodriguez, but there is an interest in getting our community to participate in proposing a different name as well as active community participation on other aspects of this initiative which are forthcoming.