“Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States,” so the saying goes.
Mexico blames a lot of its problems on the United States but whether rightfully so or not I have a feeling that only Mexico can change that — that is the people of Mexico.
But Mexico is plagued by a culture of corruption that seems impossible to eradicate. Many Latin American nations, well most, suffer or have suffered from that throughout their history. But Mexico is the subject here.
I am of course no expert on the subject. I just pick up pieces of information by what I read and by comments from Mexicans and people who have visited there. I have been in Mexico a few times myself but not very far and the visits were brief.
My first visit may have been in the late 1940s or early 1950s, but since I would have been a baby that really does not count, and my late mother could not recall whether they took me along or left me with her sister. The family visited Ensenada.
My first real peek was when I was in high school and on summer vacation. We crossed into Mexico at El Paso into the neighboring pueblo of Juarez. There was no hint of violence at that time in the mid 1960s. But oh, the poverty. We passed encampments of cardboard shacks. But the streets of the city were bright and colorful and teeming with people and not at all unpleasant as I recall. A little boy offered to take us on a tour, but we declined. An old newspaper friend of my father’s was conducting the tour himself. We went out of to a palatial soccer stadium but I guess it was not game day. No one was there. I doubt those people in the cardboard shacks attended the games. I gathered from what our newsman tour guide said that the stadium was a gift from the then current president and no doubt some kind of boondoggle that did little to nothing for the people as a whole — the contractors sure. I’m not sure it was even ever used.
We ate at a nice little restaurant. We had frog legs, I remember. Just like chicken folks. That was not something entirely new to me. I had eaten them at home. My best friend and I had gone frog giging at a local pond and his mother fried them up.
Over the more recent years, the past two decades, there has been incredible violence in the border towns, including Tijuana (and everywhere in Mexico). But in the early 90s my wife and I actually rode on a local bus right through that town and although we felt a tad uncomfortable (fish out of water) — and I won’t go into why we wound up on that bus — there was no sign of any problems. Just dumb luck of the accidental tourists? But this was before the ongoing drug war started.
That drug war pits the government and the army against and the drug cartels and is also between the cartels themselves, with the people caught in the middle. Since 2000, there have been an estimated 100,000-plus killed and thousands wounded and some 30,000 declared missing.
For decades there was no sign of democracy in Mexico. It was under the control of one political party that rigged the elections by intimidation and bribery. And then finally in 2000 the cycle was broken. But did that change things? No.
I talked to a young man working at a warehouse here in the United States recently. He said his family had run a shoe store in a Mexican town but was forced out by the demands of protection money by local gangsters.
He said there had been hope when the cycle of one-party rule by the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) was broken. But the new office holders were just as corrupt.
And I have to say this delicately and I would not want anyone to misinterpret my feelings — but I have to think that corruption is built into the traditionally patriarchal culture there. Historically Mexico has lacked a large middle class. Those at or near the bottom of society depend upon the good graces of the patrón, the boss, the big landowner.
Public officials historically have been underpaid so they are susceptible to bribery and other forms of corruption.
It has become so bad and so hopeless that in many pueblos the citizens have taken matters into their own hands vigilante style.
(I know when people talk about such things here in the U.S., such as forming militias, I often think — gee I am just as afraid or more so of a militia than corrupt or inadequate authorities.)
Anyway, the hopelessness that pervades much of the Mexican society forces people to attempt illegal border crossings into the U.S. Most come legitimately for work and safety for themselves and their own families but of course as in any society the bad actors come too, like parasites on a host.
Personally I tend to be extremely liberal toward immigration even though I don’t like the idea of unfair competition for our jobs. But I have compassion for people.
However, I think it is the responsibility of Mexico to take care of its own people. What is seen as an immigration crisis at our border could be resolved if the politicians in Mexico did their job. Blaming the United States might be good politics for them but it does not solve the problem and it is really more excuse than truth.
There is an ongoing presidential election campaign in Mexico right now. The election is on July 1. You will see little to nothing about it in our own news media. Not only do we not see about much of the rest of the world in any detail we hear almost nothing about our neighbors in our news media. The audience is not interested I guess. My own father did a masters’ thesis on that theme back in the late 1930s. Nothing has changed.
I have been trying to follow the Mexican elections but am hampered by the paucity of coverage in English and my limited (but getting better) Spanish. But from what I have read so far the several candidates are rather vague about how they would resolve Mexico’s major problems. The front-runner is such because even though many of the voters have little idea if he could or would do anything, they just want a change. In turn he presents a mixture of liberal and conservative proposals and switches his alliances within the political system.
I didn’t mention any names because my knowledge of the candidates is so limited that I figure if you are interested you would be better off to read for yourself. Good luck with that, though. If you get any good information let me know.
But I wish the Mexican public well and I hope that they can finally elect someone who will make a difference. I also hope they don’t wind up with a Donald Trump-like figure as a result of going for someone just because he promises a change.
Whatever, I think Mexicans are the ones who can save themselves and they ought to do it rather than run away from it — which is not to say that I personally am unwelcoming to those who want to come here for legitimate purposes. In fact I think the immigration process ought to be simplified for them.
And in turn anything we can do on this side of the border to not complicate the lives of Mexican citizens would be good too.
Lumping a whole people together, good with the bad, in a characterization of them is not helpful and is not accurate.
Despite our president’s claims of unfair trade practices, all I know is that a lot of people on both sides of the border depend upon the commerce between our two nations and I don’t think we should do anything to hinder it. The current North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) can always be fine-tuned of course.
I think there are four remaining candidates in the Mexican election at this time. I could only wish that we had more candidates each time rather than be presented with, say, Hillary or the Donald.