MEXICO CITY – Dozens of red hearts were painted Saturday on the metal barrier that separates the Mexican city of Tijuana from San Diego in the United States as part of a recurring project by independent artist Enrique Chiu to spread a message of love and brotherhood.
Children, adolescents, and adults arrived at the venue on Mexico’s border frontage with paintbrushes and full of enthusiasm to take part in the project called “Muro de Hermandad” (Mural of Brotherhood) that began three years.
The Mexican artist, who spent more than a decade in the US before settling in Tijuana, said it was not a political movement and did not seek funds, but was based on love and efforts of common citizens.
Chiu invited people on social media to take part in the event aimed at filling the metal bars with hearts to mark February, the month of love.
The painter said he was happy with the three-year-long project, which has become popular over time, with new paintings being created every month.
Many celebrities have joined the activities. Those include Mexican actor Eliza Gonzalez, who has been to Tijuana at least four times to paint messages or drawings on the border barrier close to the Tijuana beach.
Chiu said dozens of other artists had also participated in the extended mural, and he expected other big names such as singer Alejandro Fernandez and Luis Fernando Pena to join shortly.
The artist had sought permission for the project from the US government before starting it and was allowed to proceed on the condition that the paintings should be carried out only on the Mexican side.
Each mass painting event is accompanied by live music, food and attended by families. University students and people from other public and private institutions also take part on occasions.
Chiu said he had spent around $9,000 on the project so far but was happy to see the results and the unity among people, who do not want more walls to divide them.
The US-Mexico border has witnessed heightened tensions in recent years due to President Donald Trump’s administration hardening its policies against immigrants and releasing funds to build a massive border wall, one of his major campaign promises.
Apart from writing their names or messages, the participants were also allowed to use colors of their choice to paint their hearts as they feel. For example, black to signify sadness, blue to represent autism, orange for the fight against cancer or the classic red, the color of love.