Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gringolandia


All Mexicans and Latinos are welcome to the USA as long as they bring their Visa cards. The only restrictions they will find are aimed at those who cross the border illegally to work in the fields, sewing shops, hospitals, or collecting garbage and cleaning out the sewers. We prefer to save these jobs for our own citizens.

SPEAKING SPANISH

Our visitors from the south should not be worried about Americans speaking Spanish. We always understand such words as "hola," "wot's up, mon," "Vaya con Dios" and "Los Ángeles." In addition, most Americans can count up to ten: "uno," "dos," "cinco," "nuevo," "cuarto," etc. For their part, visitors should bone up on such key phrases as "Here's my credit card," "How much is that Mercedes in the window?" and "I've been mugged."

BAD LANGUAGE

Visitors should be very careful of their language. A man who calls a woman a "chick" (gallina) or a "girl" (niña) is required to do six months of sensitivity training and spend a year in alternative service as a Mexican nanny (cuidaniño).

JOBS

If you have legal work papers, there are many jobs for you in the United States. You can be a farm worker where you get to test pesticides directly in the field.
You can be a construction worker and tear down the scenic older parts of our cities. Sales are very attractive to some people. Many unskilled workers go into "telemarketing." This means they call people on the telephone during dinner or while they are performing brain surgery and try to sell them something. Car salesmen sell you cars permitting you and your descendants to make payments until 2095 or so. Time-life salesmen take up your time, sometimes for life (toda la vida) selling you things you may not even need until the next life.

SWEATSHOPS

You can also work in a sweatshop, making sweat. The most popular sweat is used by businessmen being investigated by the IRS, or mothers with a dozen or so four-year olds at an all-day birthday party. High-test designer sweat (called "perspiration") is available to upper-class people as they tend their gardens, run on treadmills, or lie in the sun working on their melanoma. Finally, there is your industrial-strength sweat used by steel workers, roofers, field hands, or drivers stopped for a broken tail-light who at the moment are carrying illegal drugs under the seat. The most popular sweatshops are located in the Bronx or southeast Los Angeles, in nondescript run-down industrial or apartment buildings. They can be recognized by storm fences topped with accordion wire, and pit-bulls who chase workers trying to get out on vacation.

POOR PEOPLE

There are some poor people (gente pobre) in this country. Most of them are unwed mothers who receive money from a Welfare Office where social workers talk mean to them and threaten to cut off their payments if they don't stop working or having babies without permission or living with men who are not their husbands. Poor people are also required to watch daytime TV because they can't afford to go shopping or go to the movies. When poor people are not watching TV, having babies or pretending not to work (or being talked at by their social worker), they raise large black Norwegian rats in their apartments as a hobby. Poor people's rooms are so small they often have to go outside to change their minds. For that reason, many of them prefer to live in the streets. Supermarkets loan them shopping carts so they can carry their clothes, bags, food stamps, bottles, husbands and children around with them.

RICH PEOPLE

America also has some rich people (gente decente). Rich people live in houses that have guards, high walls, barred gates and windows, alarm systems and machine-gun towers. They don't mind living like this because the guards let them out once or twice a week to visit their lawyers or have their hair done. Rich people are also allowed out to go to country clubs where the men play golf and conduct "deals" and tell dirty stories while their wives stay inside the clubhouse and play bridge and drink sherry and talk about their poodles and nannies and the undocumented Mexicans sneaking into the country, living off welfare.

AMERICAN FAMILIES

Our way of life may confuse some of our visitors. Most American families consist of a father who works, a mother who works, a boy who watches TV, and a girl who does her hair. There are sometimes one or two younger children who also watch TV, do their hair, and run the family computers. American families believe that Mexican women make great nannies. In fact, several famous and important American women have given up their jobs in politics so they can be at home with their nannies to help raise their children. Unlike Mexico, American families do not include grandparents, cousins, uncles or aunts. These relatives stay in their own homes, watching TV and doing their hair. When parents reach fifty-five years of age, their children send them off to places called Happy Acres where they can be with their own kind, playing shuffleboard and talking about their prostates (the men) or playing gin-rummy and talking about their ungrateful children (the women). Their favorite occupation is stealing Social Security from their children. When they do this too often, they are punished by their children who send them to nursing homes for the rest of their lives.

A Tale of Many Mexicos


By John Russell;

IN THE MATTER OF Mexico, I hold a position that is committed but incomplete, fragmented but constant, and lopsided but affectionate.

I am, for instance, perfectly well aware that Mexico City is, in demographic and ecological terms, a disaster. The capital, which was in the 16th century described by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a companion of Cortes, as a floating metropolis with a more than Venetian abundance of canals, is today literally sinking under its own weight. Buildings old and new have trouble standing up straight on ground that is basically unstable. Progressive overcrowding (at a reported daily increase of 1,200 more human beings), a level of pollution that is almost beyond measurement, a garbage dump from which thousands of people scratch a miserable living -- all these suggest a catastrophe in progress.

For this and other reasons, there are sensitive souls who can't wait to get out of Mexico City. After a pit stop at the National Museum of Anthropology, with its majestic presentation of pre-Columbian art, they hit the road. But even then, there will be disappointments. Time, aided by overpopulation and quick-profit, slash-and-burn cultivation, has also dealt harshly with the landscape.

Yet the countryside remains abundant and hospitable. To witness this, the visitor has only to take the road that leads out of the dozy, sweet-scented and intermittently palatial city of Merida southwest toward Chichen Itza. Walk in any small-town market and you may find no fewer than 11 different kinds of bananas. Walk through a Mayan village and you may be invited into a one-roomed, mud-floored house of pole-and-thatch construction in which the few sticks of furniture have been pushed against the floor and the hammock (for sleeping only) has been hung close to the ceiling.

Your hostess, dressed in bone white and newly laundered cotton, has the fine manners common among Mayas. Her garden is not large, but if you take a look outside you will be offered your choice of the citrus fruits and berries that glisten in the sun. (You may also make the acquaintance of a large and stately turkey, with black silk-stockinged legs, that stalks around from time to time.) And when you are done, a bowl of perfectly clean water for you to wash your hands will appear as if from nowhere.

On that same road, and with the help of an experienced guide, you can also glimpse the secret resource of Yucatan, the hidden waters, deep below ground, that were fundamental to Chichen Itza, the great city that roughly 1,000 years ago was shaping as a political, military, architectural and cultural center of the first importance. (The name Chichen Itza means roughly "at the mouths of the wells of the Itza.")

The visitor is led from the road along an unmarked path through featureless brush, overhung by scrawny trees. The guide parts the branches with a practiced hand and motions toward what looks at first sight like any other hole in the ground. But that hole reveals itself as 50 or 60 feet deep. At the bottom, in darkest shadow, water lurks. And not water only: after a few moments, a shoal of apparently centenarian catfish comes to the surface. Every mouth is raised, every eye a-swivel in search of a bite from above. Hopes clearly rooted in antiquity -- these were sacrificial wells -- are revived, only to be dashed when, curiosity satisfied, you head back to the road.

Once reached, Chichen Itza turns out to have been cleaned and tidied up to dazzling, if anachronistic, effect. Housekeeping is exemplary, even when visitors by the thousands have trooped in for the day. Lawns worthy of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge have taken the place of the jungle.

And the stupendous monuments? Well, we know from the drawings made on the spot by an English draftsman, Frederick Catherwood, that in around 1840 they were arresting, but ruinous. Even where the stones were more or less intact, they were bearded, mustached and eyebrowed with patches of jungle that just wouldn't let go. Today, they come clean-shaven. What you see has little relation to the thriving cosmopolitan metropolis, thronged with gaudy and tumultuous people, that existed a thousand and more years ago: Chichen Itza today is, in effect, a perfectly run sculpture park in which visitors by the thousand maintain, on the whole, an awed silence.

That awed silence is well founded. In these formidable surroundings we never know at what moment a new vision of human possibilities will take us by surprise. The Mayas were past masters of measurement. They set themselves to measure time and to have a privileged relation with the heavens. But knowing that is a different thing from seeing it. We get quite a different sense of that grand design when we wait indoors in deep shadow and can foretell to the nearest second the moment at which a bright sliver of golden light will slice through the darkness and streak across the floor.

In that grand design we are all of us accomplices. And in those complicated stones, with their plumed serpents cut deep in manic and repetitive decoration, we glimpse, as the philosopher and poet Octavio Paz once said, a buried part of our own being and peer into our own abyss.

Dedicated restoration has had the impact of major cosmetic surgery. Today the celebrated and potentially murderous ball court at Chichen Itza -- once the home of a deadly ancestor of basketball -- is neat enough for the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon. The high walls are in good order, as are the stone rings through which the masked and heavily padded players tried to maneuver the heavy rubber ball. The bleachers are intact.

The elegant simplicity of the building known as Caracol -- often called the observatory -- was equally obscured by vegetation. Even the outline of the rounded and now knoblike tower -- a novelty in Mayan days -- was hardly legible. Today, the Caracol has a limpidity of geometrical statement that makes us accept it, whether mistakenly or not, as a place in which the only thing that mattered was the search for truth. Climbing in and around it, you might conceive of it as a Mesoamerican Institute for Advanced Study -- a Princetonian think tank in the jungle where savants, unknown to us by name, worked out a cycle of 18,980 days during which notated time would make a complete rotation, thereafter to start again all over.

A fantasy, perhaps? Yes: but one reinforced by the fact that the neighboring four-sided pyramid of Kukulcan has in all 365 steps and still gives a specific signal, at the time of the autumnal equinox, that another year has been completed.

What Chichen Itza has long lost, and what even the most enthusiastic restorers have not dared to reproduce, is the brilliant color that characterized it in its heyday. The Whistlerian whites, the silvery grays and the dusty, sun-bleached mottlings look just right to us, in the same way that the Parthenon, shorn of all its original color, looked just right to us until the pollutants got to it. But in their glory days the makers of Chichen Itza did not stint on paint.

That is a trait still current in Mexico. The stronger the feeling, the brighter the paint, and nowhere more so than where the dead are in question. On that same road from Merida to Chichen Itza there is a little local cemetery. Slathered with colors that range from turquoise to tangerine and back again by way of marigold yellow, rose pink and scarlet, it is anything but funereal. Buried bodies there may be, on this big patch of ground, but the bone box predominates.

Those boxes (sometimes racked one on top of another) take on a wild range of architectural forms. Some are distantly related to the neighboring antiquities, but most are free fantasias on colonial architecture, with huge sprawling inscriptions of recent date and painted flowers that would make a visiting seedsman fall in a dead faint. There is a prevailing confusion, in which each set of bones seems all set to socialize with the others and John Donne's famous injunction "Death be not proud" finds flamboyant expression. This, too, is Mexico.

There is, of course, a Mexico in which antiquities play no part and colonial after-echoes are paramount. Like many another English-speaking visitor to Mexico, I have been drawn back by friendships old and new to the town of San Miguel de Allende, close on 200 miles northwest of Mexico City.

So pervasive is the American element in San Miguel that the French-language Guide Bleu now describes the little colony of American retirees as being "in a permanently seraphic state, thanks to the joy of living that San Miguel irradiates." (The guide also applauds their readiness to go back to school in the noble 18th-century building that houses the Instituto Allende.)

Seen en masse on social occasions, these retirees are so trim and chipper, so good-humored, so thoughtful for one another and so evidently delighted with their lot that they evoke a lost age of innocence.

But San Miguel has also a cosmopolitan society in which people live privately and very well behind high walls. In that society, the new movies arrive on videotape even before they open in New York. An expatriate Russian pianist may be overheard as he polishes up Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" in a room set aside for him in the academy of fine arts. Elsewhere the talk is of horse races run long ago in Vienna, ballet companies in upheaval in New York and an insider's view of affairs of state during the heyday of General de Gaulle.

Nobody shows off in San Miguel, because there is nowhere to do it. The town (now ranked as a national monument and protected as such) has enough beautiful old buildings to keep the esthete in high spirits, but its life in general moves at a slightly sedated pace. For the foreign visitor it is, in fact, what the south of France was in the 1920's -- a source of harmless disorientation, ideal for hanging out, open to the arts at an easygoing level and the reverse of extortionate when it's time to pick up the check.

Although it bears in part the name of a revolutionary hero, Capt. Ignacio Allende, what cannot be felt in the pre-eminently pacific township of San Miguel is the high drama of a Mexican history that postdates Mesoamerican times. For that, you have to go to two cities not far away: Guanajuato and Queretaro.

When Napoleon's armies invaded Spain, in 1808, the moment seemed right for revolution, for a determined attempt to march on Mexico City and shake off the Spaniards once and for all. Guanajuato especially would benefit enormously from independence, in that it had been known for centuries as a center of silver mining and was, in a sense, made of money -- which was shipped to Spain. (One of its nearby mines, La Valenciana, at one time produced up to 25 percent of all the silver in Mexico.)

But the rebels were no match for the armies loyal to Spain, and in 1811 the leaders of the revolt were executed. As a warning to the people of Guanajuato, the heads of four of them -- among them those of Captain Allende and of a priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo -- were salted and put into cages. For 10 years, those cages were hung high on the walls of the Alhondiga de Granaditas, a monumental granary that was the scene of bitter fighting at the time of the rising. The hooks from which the cages were hung have stayed right there on the four corners of the building.

Guanajuato still feels like a rich town, which engenders a real animation among cafe tables set out by the score in the shade of Indian laurels. It also has a handful of old-style hotels, mercifully unrenovated, near the main square and hard by the opulent late-19th-century opera house.

In the late 19th century, too, Guanajuato had a tradition of local painting that owed nothing to anywhere else and was not at all arty. When you look at the oaken features of the self-portrait of the painter Hermenegildo Bustos, in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, you see an authentic likeness of a proud and self-sufficient individual. And when, in the House of Culture in San Luis Potosi, you look at the painting by Antonio Becerra Diaz of a rich landowner with his high-yield acres all around and, by way of piety, the local church far away in the background, you realize that this was a countryside that made a great deal of money for people who meant to hang on to it.

Just under 100 miles from Guanajuato is the city of Queretaro which was, if anything, even more important to the rebellion of 1810. It was here, among a group of creole litterateurs, that the notion of independence took fire, the independence that was proclaimed by Father Hidalgo that September in the nearby town of Dolores (now called Dolores Hidalgo).

In 1847, while Mexico City was under the control of United States troops, Queretaro functioned as Mexico's capital, from which the Mexican Government opened the negotiations that led up to the treaty that ceded California and much of the Southwest to the United States. And it was once again in Queretaro that in June 1867 the Emperor Maximilian was taken prisoner and later executed on a little hill on the outskirts of the city.

Yet it is not for its role in Mexican history that Queretaro is most rewarding. It is for its stature as a matchless colonial ensemble in which great mansions, churches, convents, fountains and traffic-free side streets allow us to lead a Spanish life at a Mexican pace (or the other way round). We can stroll around at leisure, unhurried and uninterrupted. We can take a sip of this or that. We can put our noses inside very handsome public buildings and feel like the distinguished visitors of a hundred and more years ago. And we can dream of renting, for the winter, a small villa on one of those quiet lanes, where purple bougainvillea comes foaming over the garden wall.

In the center of the city nothing is overbearing, nothing is too large and not everything is on show from the street. Every house is the neighbor, not the rival, of every other house. Branches heavy with flowers bend down to greet us. Hotel entrances are scaled to the passing horseman. Plain facades mask dazzling interiors. Unhurriedly, we walk in a dream. This is a Mexico at peace with its past.

From Vatican, a tainted olive branch


THE SINGLE most eloquent expression of the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council in 1965 was a preposition - the word “in.’’ The title of the council declaration “The Church in the Modern World’’ could readily have been expected to be “The Church against the Modern World,’’ reiterating a long-held opposition. Or, a little more positively, it might have been “The Church and the Modern World,’’ defining a gulf between the sacred and the secular that devalues both realms. But instead, the council fathers stated their conviction that the church, neither above nor detached, is integrally a part of the contemporary human condition - happily so. The decree’s Latin title “Gaudium et Spes’’ translates as “Joy and Hope’’ - an even stronger signal of the council’s affirming mind-set.

Last week’s anti-Anglican salvo from Rome shows how far the Catholic leadership has fallen from the heights of Vatican II. The invitation to “disgruntled’’ members of the Church of England’s extended family to abandon the Thames for the Tiber is a rejection of contemporary human experience, a resounding response of “No!’’ The church against the modern world, after all. Not only a cruel assault on a fellow Christian communion that is valiantly struggling to strike a balance between liberal and conservative impulses; not only an insult to loyal Catholic liberals who will be denied what converted Anglicans are offered (notably a married clergy); not only a slap at women and homosexuals whose progress toward equality is a global measure of justice; not only a stark contrast with the common Anglican practice of fully welcoming alienated Roman Catholics, while eschewing any pressure on them to convert - there is more.

Equally damaging, the Vatican’s preemptive exploitation of Anglican distress explicitly ducks the large and urgent challenge facing every religion and every religious person, which is how to positively reconcile tradition with the massive changes in awareness, knowledge, and communication that come with the scientific and technological breakthroughs that daily alter the meaning of existence.

From the misfit fringe of another denomination, Rome recruits the naysayers it needs to bolster what has become its own place on the margin of Catholic life. First there was Opus Dei, with its crypto-fascist origins, then there were the Holocaust-denying lovers of Latin - and now the Anglo-fundies. Come on over, guys!

While the Vatican and its recruits just say no, the rest of us attempt to apply tested modes of ethical reasoning to revolutions, for example, in genetic science that separate reproduction from sexuality. While the Vatican just says no, the rest of us reckon with the ways in which the worldwide status of women emerges as the key to development and a hoped-for eradication of poverty. While the Vatican just says no, the rest of us see the link between triumphalist rejection of pluralism and the intolerance that undergirds most of the world’s violence.

The story of the Vatican raid on the Anglican communion was front page news because these issues go deeper than religion. Nothing less than the survival of the human species is at stake. Will 21st-century fundamentalism thwart science across the globe? Will old habits of tribalism, nationalism, and excluding religious denominationalism prevent a new world humanism from emerging? Will the ancient wisdom of moral philosophies embedded in the great spiritual traditions be available as guides to future decisions? Or will rational, self-critical, ecumenically minded religion self-destruct just when humanity most needs its positive influence? Positive is the point.

Catholicism is only part of this story, yet the affirming spirit of Vatican II was a resounding yes to the human future. The Catholic Church, with due modesty, embraced its role as a builder of that future in equal partnership with other believers and all people of good will. That meant not just tolerance for differing religious bodies, like the Anglican communion, but a compact of mutual advancement.

That respectful mutuality is now betrayed, but only partly so. The affirmative spirit lives on outside the Catholic Church - notably among Canterbury’s affiliates - but it is alive inside Catholicism, too. Nothing defines the ongoing triumph of Vatican II more clearly than the way the Catholic people - who are the church - are taking this latest demonstration of the Vatican’s rampant fallibility. Rome has spoken. Now, let the conversation begin.

Mexican by birth and choice


Inside México: Do you consider yourself to be Mexican?

Denise Dresser: I define myself as Mexican. But I am not a traditional Mexican. I'm more outspoken and combative.

What I love about Mexico is the warmth, the social graces, the love of the aesthetic, family traditions, the history, enchiladas suizas, bougianvilleas, the houses of Luis Barragán. I love the way Mexicans say hello to each other.

There's a long list of what's wrong with Mexico, and the book [México: Lo que todo ciudadano quisiera (no) saber de su patria, by Denise Dresser and Jorge Volpi] tells it.

But this is still a country under construction. It's an incipient democracy.

IM: Do Mexicans think of you as Mexican?

DD: I have been called La Gringa and told that I'm not really a Mexican.

Maybe my vantage point is a bit like [Alexis] de Toqueville's [the French writer and politician who wrote Democracy in America] when he was in the United States. Since I'm something of an outsider, not 100 percent Mexican, maybe I can see the country more honestly.

I was on a political talk show and someone said, "You and your gringa ways." I got very upset. At the break the person said, "You are running ahead. Wait for Mexico to catch up to you."

I am saying, "Hurry up." Sometimes I can't sleep at night when I think of all the invisible people with their hands out, the 20 million people who live on $2 a day.

How do you create change? You yell, demand, push, suggest, and advocate.

I can't be a conformist. I have no intent in being a member of the establishment.

IM: Where do other people/countries, and particularly the United States go wrong when they look at Mexico?

DD: The US has a problem acknowledging that Mexico is many Mexicos. You have to visit the many Mexicos: Chiapas, Oaxaca, Monterrey with its vibrant, North Americanized entrepreneurial Mexico. The Sierra de Chihuahua.

And, the US needs to start thinking of Mexico as a North American country and a partner. If it did this, it would have to take Mexico seriously. The way the European Union did with Spain and Portugal. What I'm alluding to won't happen in my lifetime. But if the US wants to solve the problems between the countries it has to help Mexico grow.

IM: Should entrepreneurship be encouraged in Mexico?

DD: It's a critical task. We are a country of employees, not of entrepreneurs. There are such bureaucratic hurdles and high costs that many Mexicans would just prefer to go to work for someone. This is one of the projects and causes I support.

Being an entrepreneur is about two things: taking risks and solving problems. Mexicans aren't educated for this. We are educated to conform. To say "yes."

IM: What is the role of public intellectuals in Mexico?

DD: Public intellectuals exist in Mexico. In the US you can be a pundit, a professor, but not necessarily a public intellectual.

That said, I have a very ambivalent view of Mexican intellectuals. The fact that intellectuals are so revered is a problem. It will be better for the country when they are just another group in the society. The reverence with which Mexico underscores its intellectuals is elitist. A country in which there is a broad middle class wouldn't allow this. They don't need to be interpreted for themselves.

As the media democratizes and there are more choices of information, the preeminence of the elites will begin to fade.

IM: Do you have Mexican heroes?

DD: People whom I admire? Yes. I'm not going to talk about Madero or Juárez. But the artists and scientists. Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñarritu, Julieta Ferro, Ricardo Legorreta, Elena Poniatowski. These are people who have gone against the grain, who are anti-heros, unorthodox.

IM: You have said that your work can feel lonely: what do you mean?

DD: If feels lonely when I say things that seem so self-evident but are so controversial to others.

There's a common Mexican phrase - you hear it everywhere - that I condemn. It's "Por lo menos - At least." When the bar is set so low, no one feels the need to change anything. How do you create participants? That's the question.

I live in a state of permanent indignation. That's how things get better in the world. I'm indignant and I don't accept that "Las cosas son como son (things are as they are)."

IM: As such an outspoken critic, do you ever worry for your safety?

DD: I'm not powerful enough to matter. What I worry about is not making a difference, of not leaving a mark.

IM: Will you keep being a professor?

DD: I will never stop teaching. It's an essential contribution to creating a more critical citizenry. My work is about the daily construction of Mexico. Of citizenship.

Denise Dresser is a professor of Political Science at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), where she teaches comparative politics, political economy, and Mexican politics. Educated at the Colegio de México and with a Ph.D. from Princeton University, Dresser writes for Reforma and Proceso. She has published two bestselling books, Gritos y susurros: Experiencias Intempestivas de 38 Mujeres, and most recently a book of political satire entitled México: lo que todo ciudadano quisiera (no) saber de su patria, with novelist Jorge Volpi.

Mexico: a country in search for its identity


“En todas sus dimensiones, de frente y de perfil, en su pasado y en su presente, el mexicano resulta un ser cargado de tradición que, acaso sin darse cuenta, actúa obedeciendo a la voz de la raza...“”

(Octavio Paz).

In all his dimensions, in front and in profile, in his past and present, the Mexican is burdened with his tradition, that, without even realizing it, he acts obeying to his race...

(Octavio Paz).



Mexico is a country full of contradictions: melancholy vs euphoria; solitude vs collectivity; a religious sense of life vs cinicism are just some of its many dichotomies.

The country rose from the union of two different cultures (Indigenous and Spanish) and yet Mexicans deny their local origins, experiencing a never ending “sense of lack”.

Since they feel they are constitutionally missing something, their life is a continuos quest.



Like the Mexican poet Octavio Paz did with “The Labyrinth of Solitude”, Victor Hugo Cabanas' illustrations represent his country's most contradicting issues with the strong objectivity and rationality due to the geographical distance between Treviso and his Motherland.

Five illustrations telling about what being Mexican means, in a evocative language that fits well with the contemporary situation of this wonderful, problematic country.



1. The Mexican identity

Mexico's identity is very recognizable worldwide. Apparently Mexicans are proud of their Spanish roots, of tequila, of chili, of their aesthetics and their relation to death.

On the other hand, since they have a mixed ethnicity (“Mestizos”), resulting from the union of Spanish and Indigenous people, they feel ashamed of their origins and avoid every contact with the native population.



2. To be Mexican

Most Mexicans suffer from a inferiority complex and are "malinchists": they deny and mock the Indigenous culture, even if it's at the roots of their present.



3. To be an Indigenous woman in Mexico

The Indigenous woman has no precise identity: she is not purely Spanish, and neither purely Indigenous anymore. As a victim of denigration and humiliation, her life swings between these two poles, waiting for the future to provide her with a function in society.



4. Repression in Mexico

Even if Mexicans love to celebrate the Revolution Day and their liberation in 1910, repression is still present among their lives.

Repression is not only a question of governements, it's also a question of society. The people themselves can be self-repressive.



5. Education in Mexico

The leftover apple, as metaphor of the educational system, shows ignorance as one of Mexico's main problems.

Equality is far from being a reality as well: whereas the Mexicans read one book a year in average, the Indigenous have rarelly access to education.

Día de Muertos en México


Para los mexicanos el Día de Muertos o Día de los Fieles Difuntos representa algo más que la veneración de sus muertos, podría decirse que para los mexicanos a diferencia de otros países, lo reflejan burlándose, jugando y conviviendo con la muerte. Esta convivencia ha dado lugar a diferentes manifestaciones de su arte popular, a través de expresiones muy originales como lo son; las calaveras de dulce, el pan de muerto, dibujos que se burlan de la muerte, versos en los que se ridiculiza a cualquier personaje vivo, de las artes, ciencia y en especial los de la política y las tradicionales ofrendas, las cuales se preparan con respeto por los familiares para recordar a los que se han ido, alimentos, flores y objetos personales del difunto son parte esencial del altar y según la creencia, los seres queridos regresan este día para gozar lo que en vida más disfrutaban.

Haciendo un repaso de la historia, en las culturas mesoamericanas los nativos consideraban a la muerte como el paso a seguir hacia una nueva vida y fue hasta la llegada de los españoles que trajeron consigo las nuevas creencias con respecto a la vida y la muerte. La muerte producía terror, pues en el juicio final los justos recibirían su recompensa y los pecadores su castigo... Y lo difícil era no contarse dentro de los pecadores.

En la cotidianeidad del mexicano la muerte aparece salpicada de picardía, y en este día en particular, todos los cementerios del país se llenan de gente que esta ansiosa de compartir esta sagrada fecha con sus difuntos. Familiares y amigos llegan a la tumba de su ser querido, con flores y escoba en mano, ya que ha pasado mucho tiempo desde la última visita, algunos llevan comida para disfrutar en compañía de sus difuntos, otros hasta músicos llevan para alegrar el momento que pasan en el cementerio con sus seres queridos y muchas veces los familiares y amigos deciden continuar la fiesta en la casa de algunos de ellos, quizás pensando en el ya célebre dicho popular: "El muerto al cajón y el vivo al fiestón".

Sus tradiciones culturales se han seguido conservando gracias a la religiosidad y fervor de su gente, las cuales se han transmitido de generación en generación a pesar de que estas tradiciones están en peligro de desvirtuarse debido a la influencia y mezcla con otras costumbres extranjeras.

Es por eso que en el extranjero es aún más importante que se conserven estas tradiciones, ya que mantienen el espíritu de unidad y nacionalismo entre las personas de un mismo país y de aquellos que sin importar el lugar de donde provienen se sienten identificados con esta bella expresión cultural.

Éste es un festivita antiguo que se ha transformado mucho con los años, pero que fue pensado en México prehispánica celebrar niños y los muertos. Por lo tanto, la mejor manera de describir este día de fiesta mejicano es decir que es una época cuando las familias mejicanas recuerdan a sus muertos, y la continuidad de la vida.

La celebración original se puede remontar a los festividades sostenidos durante el mes de el dios Azteca de Miccailhuitontli , presididos ritualmente por la diosa Mictecacihuatl (" señora de los muertos "), y dedicados los niños y los muertos. Los rituales durante este mes también ofrecieron un festín dedicado al deidad principal de la guerra de Azteca, Huitzilopochtli . En el calendario de Azteca, este ritual bajó áspero en el final del mes gregoriano julio y el principio de agosto, pero antes de la conquista fue movido por los sacerdotes españoles del de modo que coincidiera con el día de fiesta cristiano de todo santifique víspera (en español: " Día de Todos Santos, ") en un esfuerzo inútil de transformar esto " de un profane " a una celebración cristiana. El resultado es que el mejicano ahora celebra el día de los muertos durante los primeros dos días de noviembre, más bien que al principio del verano, pero recuerda a muertos que todavía lo hacen, y el festival moderno es caracterizado por la mezcla mejicana tradicional de características cristianas aborígenes e introducidas antiguas.

Generalizando ampliamente, las actividades del día consisten en visitas de las familias a los sepulcros de sus parentescos cercanos. En los miembros de la familia enganche a ataviar encima , a adornarlo con las flores, a precisar y a gozar de una comida campestre, y a obrar recíprocamente social con otros familia y los miembros de la Comunidad que recolectan en el cemeterio. Las familias recuerdan salido contando historias sobre ellas. Las comidas preparadas para estas comidas campestres son suntuosas, generalmente ofreciendo platos de la carne en salsas picantes, un especial huevo-estropean el pan, las galletas, el chocolate, y los dulces azucarados en una variedad de formas del animal o del cráneo. Los altares de la familia se adorna profusamente con las flores de las flores , y se adorna con amuletos religiosos y (en aldeas más pequeñas) con ofrendas del alimento, de los cigarrillos y de las bebidas alcohólicas. Debido a este ambiente social caliente, el ajuste colorido, y la abundancia del alimento, de bebida y de la buena compañía este conmemoraciones de los muertos tiene insinuaciones agradables para la mayoría de los observadores, a pesar del fatalismo abierto exhibido por todos los participantes, que interacción festiva con vivir y absolutamente en un ritual social importante está una manera de reconocer el ciclo la vida y la muerte que es existencia humano.

La observancia tradicional llama para un banquete durante las horas tempranas de la mañana de noviembre las 2das, el día del apropiado muerto, aunque las familias mejicanas urbanas modernas observan generalmente el día de los muertos con solamente una cena especial de la familia que ofrece " el pan de los muertos " (pan de muerto). Es buena suerte ser el quién muerde en el esqueleto plástico del juguete ocultado por el panadero en cada pan redondeado. Los amigos y los miembros de la familia dan a uno otros regalos que consisten en los esqueletos del azúcar u otros artículos con un adorno de la muerte, y el regalo es más estimado si el cráneo o el esqueleto se realza con su propio nombre.

Dos cosas importantes a saber sobre el día mejicano de los muertos son:
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Es un día de fiesta con una historia compleja, y por lo tanto su observancia varía absolutamente un pedacito por la región y por el grado de urbanización.
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Es una no ocasión mórbida, sino algo un rato festivo.

El día de los muertos puede extenderse de un acontecimiento cultural muy importante, con las responsabilidades sociales y económicas definidas de los participantes (que exhiben el comportamiento social que iguala que los antropólogos sociales llamarían banquetear en la isla de Janitzio en el estado de Michoacan ), a una observancia religiosa que ofrece la adoración real de los muertos (por si los sacerdotes católicos de ella o no, , Cuilapan, Oaxaca), simplemente a un día de fiesta únicamente mejicano caracterizado los alimentos especiales y los dulces (el caso en todas las ciudades grandes.) Vea el mapa de México (busque Michoacan y Oaxaca en la porción al sudoeste del país).

En general, cuanto más urbano el ajuste dentro de México la importancia cuanto menos religiosa y cultural es conservado por los turistas, mientras que el más rural e indio el lugar mayor es la importación religiosa y económica del día de fiesta. Debido a esto, esta observancia es generalmente de mayor importancia social en México meridional que en la parte norteña del país, que es caracterizado por más influencia cultural india diluída.

México pedirá a Austria la devolución del tocado de plumas de Moctezuma


La Cámara de Diputados apoya la repatriación del Penacho de Moctezuma.

La petición que hace la Cámara de Diputados para que regrese a México el Kopilli Ketzalli o penacho de Moctezuma, ya la tiene en sus manos el Presidente Vicente Fox. Se le envió desde el pasado 4 de noviembre, luego de que fuera aprobada como punto de acuerdo durante el último periodo de sesiones, según indicó el diputado panista Ernesto Herrera.

Explicó que el legislador Jorge Triana Tena fue quien presentó al pleno de la Cámara la iniciativa que exhorta al Presidente de México a solicitar al gobierno austriaco el regreso de este símbolo de la cultura mexica.

“Esperamos que en próximos días o semanas se vean cristalizados nuestros deseos, esperamos una respuesta favorable y comprensible del gobierno”, dijo.

Herrera señaló que esta propuesta impulsada por el grupo parlamentario del PAN, se realiza en un momento oportuno.

“Nosotros sabiendo que el penacho de Moctezuma es un símbolo, que en su momento fue de poder, de hecho es un antecedente de lo que es la banda presidencial. Cada emperador iba pasando este Penacho como un símbolo de poder y de identidad. Me parece que es de vital importancia hacer las gestiones para que regrese a nuestro país”.

Indicó que este objeto milenario que se encuentra en Austria desde 1524 no aporta nada a la identidad del pueblo austriaco, sólo es significativo culturalmente para el pueblo de México.

Xokonoschtletl Gómora quien —a decir de sus críticos se ha aprovechado de su supuesto interés por el regreso a México de la Corona imperial de Moctezuma II, para escribir más de cuatro decenas de libros y viajar por más de 40 país—, lleva 20 años de luchar por el regreso de esta pieza, dijo que existen enormes posibilidades de que el gobierno de Austria ceda ante la petición de México.

“Tenemos 85 por ciento de posibilidades de que regrese, pues a fines de este mes abordará el tema el Parlamento austriaco”.

Señaló que este objeto cotizado por los austriacos en 50 millones de dólares, tiene un valor cultural que sobrepasa ese monto económico.

“Para nosotros si cuesta un dólar o cincuenta veces más de lo que ellos dicen, eso no nos interesa, porque para nosotros su valor es total y absolutamente espiritual”.

Historia de una petición

En 1993 se pidió la devolución del Kopilli Ketzalli o penacho de Moctezuma de manera Oficial.

Con fecha del 4 de marzo de 1991, el entonces director del INAH, el arqueólogo Roberto García Moll, hizo la petición oficial a Erhard Buses, Ministro de Ciencia y Arte de la República de Austria.

“Como es de su conocimiento, el penacho del emperador Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, que formó parte del presente que el Emperador envió a su similar Carlos V de Alemania y I de España, y que se exhibe actualmente en el Museo de Etnología de la ciudad Ciudad de Viena, en Austria, es de gran significado para los mexicanos.

“Grupos y pueblos indígenas diversos de este país han solicitado a un sinnúmero de instancias el que inicien gestiones que concluyan en la devolución del Penacho para incorporarlo a nuestro Museo Nacional, donde se custodian diversos bienes, símbolos de la grandeza nacional. Sustenta nuestra petición la relación fraterna y lazos de amistad que han vinculado a ambas naciones”.

En esa ocasión no se tuvo respuesta porque los austriacos no entendían la jerarquía de esta dependencia. “Ese ha sido nuestro máximo problema, pues siempre nos indicaron que se debería de hacer la petición a través del Presidente de México, y de la Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores”, señaló Xokonoschtletl Gómora.

Incluso e diciembre de 1991 Maria Rauch Kallat, diputada de la Cámara de Diputados de Austria le escribió una carta al Presidente de México Carlos Salinas de Gortari para que hiciera un escrito oficial dirigido al gobierno Federal Austriaco. “Esto haría posible que las plástica acerca del Penacho se consolidaran. Este objeto cultural es muy importante para el pueblo de México, histórica y emocionalmente. Y debe regresar a su país de origen”.

Pero esa petición jamás salió de México. Sobre el posible retorno del Penacho de Moctezuma, el diputado Triana Tena argumentó que durante la visita de Heinz Fischer, Presidente Federal de la República de Austria, el tema se puso sobre la mesa.

Aunque el mandatario austriaco apuntó que estaba consciente de que era un tema “que no sólo afecta a Austria, sino a la Europa entera y todos los museos de Europa, que se verán afectados por esa cuestión en el manejo y trato de objetos que provienen de culturales y países extranjeros… esa una cuestión que debemos encarar y discutir”.