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Foam cup antagonizes at border

June 18, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Some residents here think soccer fans at Calexico's downtown Port of Entry acted immaturely when they placed a foam cup with a U.S. flag poking out of it on a table to remind border-crossers of the U.S. win over Mexico in the World Cup.

A message scrawled on the foam cup asked for donations, or "propinas" for the U.S. team, which defeated Mexico's national team, 2-0.

Why the U.S. team would need tips after its win, considering the endorsements the guys are likely to receive, wasn't clear.

What was clear to Calexico City Councilman David Ouzan: he thinks someone at the Port of Entry was rubbing the U.S. win in the faces of border-crossers and he doesn't think it's a joke.

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After residents called him and told him of the cup, Ouzan walked into the downtown port Monday evening to demand that the allegedly offending cup be removed. Ouzan was told that it was only a joke and that it wasn't a big deal, he said.

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service inspectors working the port Monday night didn't tell Ouzan who placed the cup on one of the tables inside the downtown port.

Ouzan wanted to take the cup as evidence but it was thrown away, he said.

Ouzan plans to write a letter telling INS officials of the potential for fights when soccer fans are antagonized.

"Did you see what happened in Russia?" he said this morning.

In Russia a number of people were killed in a riot following a World Cup soccer match that Russia lost.

At the Tecate Port of Entry there wasn't a foam cup Monday morning but someone has affixed a handwritten sign on one of the booths that read, "U.S. 2 Mexico 0."

The INS port director for Imperial County, Michael Freeman, said of the foam cup incident, "I've never heard about this."

He said he had turned down requests he received from people asking to place soccer messages at the port.

"Personal sentiments are to be kept at home. There is no sense in bringing your private views into the office," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or aclaverie@aol.com

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