In its effort to respond quickly to citizen complaints about graffiti, city workers in Nogales, Sonora recently painted over a 16-year-old mural just south of the border.

Deceased local painter Alberto Morackis painted the mural, known as "La Serpiente," in 1996. It was on a wall about three blocks south of the border, a block west of the main drag, Avenida Obregón. 

Ignacio Riestra, director of the city's "Urban Image" office, told the local newspaper El Diario de Sonora that he asks his employees to respond to citizen complaints within three hours.

"The truth is it was a mistake, from us trying to respond well to the community," Riestra told El Diario.

It's unclear whether the complaint was about the mural or something nearby.

Morackis was a pioneering artist in Nogales, Sonora, having started the Taller Yonke (Junk Workshop) with Guadalupe Serrano. Morackis died in 2008 at age 49. The two became known for putting up artwork along the border fence, and they displayed some of this work at the University of Arizona. 

The director of Nogales, Sonora's art museum, Juan Amparano Gámez, told El Imparcial newspaper that Morackis initiated the public art movement in the border city.

"Historically, Morackis was the most important artist in Nogales. All of we local artists were practically born with him, " Amparano Gámez said.

Serrano said the mural, formally titled "México Opuesto" (Mexico in Opposition), intended to show the snake in the claws of an eagle featured in Mexico's national symbol. But the snake is seen from below, Serrano said.

Added Amparano Gámez: "It's a piece that screams of identity, justice, democracy and many other things that are always in play in the identity of the U.S. border area." 

Nogales, Sonora's mayor, Ramón Guzmán has committed to paying to repaint the image, Serrano said.