Taco meme on International Clarity, Mexico

International Clarity: Mexico (from Sear Rodriguez)

This week’s guest writer: Sear Rodriguez

(Gringo) Rodriguez, where are you from?
 
(Me) I’m from Mexico
 
(Gringo) Nice, I’ve been in Mexico
 
(Me) Really, where exactly?
 
(Gringo) By the Dominican Republic area.
 
True story.

 
Alright some time ago Kyle Durfee, a friend and former missionary companion, asked me to write an article about misconceptions that the U.S. has of my country so I started to gather some information and this is what I found.
 
What do American think when they hear about Mexico?  I’ll write some of the most common stereotypes about Mexico and then analyze them based on my experience, statistics and other opinion articles.
 

Mexican Sterotypes

1.       Everything below the U.S. is Mexico

Come on guys this is the silliest thing you can say about Mexico it doesn’t just show your lack of education but also your lack of interest to learn about other countries. Fortunately, most of the times I heard these kind of comments were as jokes, although it was pretty sad to realize that some people weren’t joking at all. A man explained to me that he knew that Mexico and Guatemala were different things but he didn´t think that they were different countries with different governments. He said “I’m from Utah but also from the United States so I thought it worked like that, a man is from El Salvador but he is also from Mexico”.
 
There are a lot of funny things you can say about Mexico but this one isn’t one of them. You know you are ignorant when you make comments like this.

2.       Mexico is a big desert and the weather is hot everywhere

 

This is not true, Mexico’s desert part is in the north part of the country and the weather in that area is pretty much like Arizona and New Mexico. Mexico has all kinds of climates and soils. We have deserts in the north and tropical forests in the south. 

Mexico is one of the 18 megadiverse countries of the world. With over 200,000 different species, Mexico is home of 10–12% of the world’s biodiversity.
 

3.  Mexico is the land of people wearing sombreros and taking naps all the time

A lot of American movies show this kind of scenario when talking about Mexico (for example Nacho Libre and Speedy Gonzalez cartoons). I’ve lived in Mexico for 20 years and I can tell you that the only time Mexicans wear sombreros is during the Independence Day celebration.
 
Mexicans have a reputation of being lazy and drunk people but the reality is completely different. According to a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment (OECD), Mexicans devote an average of 10 hours per day to paid and unpaid work, such as housework. That makes them the people who work the longest hours, even more than the Japanese who were on the second place on this chart. The sad part about this is that although they work really hard, most of the population is in the poor class. This means that most of their working hours are unproductive.
 
Another stereotype is that Mexicans drink tequila whenever they have the chance. Well this is kind if true, Mexicans like to drink a lot. Every situation is good to organize a party and drink with our friends. But we are not the worst; there are 30 countries that love alcohol more than we do. This includes the U.S. which is on the 14th place. Apparently the Czech Republic is the world’s biggest alcohol consumer.
 

4.     All Mexican food is spicy

Well not all Mexican food is spicy but most of it is. Mexicans love spicy food.  If something doesn’t have hot sauce on it, we feel like it is tasteless. We put chili even on candies. Kids start eating chili candies since they’re 3 or 4 years old.

 

5.     Mexico doesn’t count with laws that regulate alcohol or drugs

This is false, drugs are illegal in Mexico. So if you are planning to come to Mexico thinking that you can do all the drugs you can without any trouble you are wrong. If you get caught you’ll probably go to jail until your innocence is proven.
 
The legal age to buy alcohol is 18 years old but you can’t consume it on the street. If you are drinking alcohol on the street you’ll get in trouble with the police.
 

6.     Mexicans don’t speak English

This one is kind of true. Only 2% of the population speaks English. You’ll find Mexicans that speak English mostly in the touristic parts of the country. Spanish is the official language in the country. We also have 65 other languages spoken by Mexican Indians.

7.     Don’t drink water from the faucet in Mexico

This is true. Although the government has invested a lot on infrastructure to solve this problem, if you drink water from the faucet in Mexico you’ll probably get sick.
 
According to the CNA (Comision Nacional del Agua) of all the water from the faucet:
 
6% is not contaminated
20% is not acceptable
51% is slightly contaminated
16% is contaminated
6% is very contaminated
1% contains toxic substances
 
Everybody buys bottled water in Mexico.
 

8.     If there is a problem you can bribe anyone

This in commonly known as the “mordida”, this refers to the act of bribing some to get away with a transgression to the law or to ask for a favor. This is really common in Mexico, especially when you deal with cops. Since the police incomes are very low, they tend to ask for a bribe whenever they can. But officially this kind of behavior should be punished severely.
 
Nonetheless the worst corruption occurs within the government itself and within the highest spheres of power. I would say that nobody trusts our government because of that.
 
91% of Mexicans think that political parties are corrupt
90% think that policemen are extremely corrupt
87% think that people holding public charges are corrupt
80% think that judges are corrupt
83% think that senators and delegates are corrupt
55% think that media is corrupt
51% think that companies in the private sector are corrupt
43% think that Religious organizations are corrupt
42% think that the health sector is corrupt
42% think that the army is corrupt
(click here for the source)
So as you can see corruption is something that we see on a daily basis.
 

9.     Mexicans eat tacos and burritos

Although the tortillas are the basic food in Mexican diets, as rice is in Japanese diets, tacos are eaten just once in a while, not every day. To say that Mexicans eat tacos everyday would be the same as to say that Americans eat hamburgers every day. Plus tacos are also kind of expensive for us to buy them every day. So even though we would love to eat them every day we don’t do it. By the way Mexican tacos are far different from the Taco Bell tacos you might know.
 
Another fact that might surprise you is that most Mexicans don’t eat burritos. This food is mostly eaten in the northern states of the country. This would be more a Tex-mex food rather than Mexican.

10.  All Mexicans are brown

Mexico’s main race is “mestizo”, this word refers to people with appearance as a combination of European and Mexican Indian.
 
According to specialists of the Instituto de Investigación en Genética Molecular del Centro Universitario de la Ciénega, mestizos represent 93% of the population.  Nevertheless there are also Caucasians and, in minor proportions, native pure blood Mexican Indians.
 
We also have “mulattos” which are descendants from Africa. This is a minority. This ethnic group is located mostly in the coast areas like Veracruz and also in the state of Nuevo Leon.
 

11.  Mexico is a dangerous and violent place.

This is true, and the reason is because of the war President Felipe Calderon started against the drug cartels.
 
Drug cartels in Mexico control approximately 70% of the foreign narcotics that flow into the United States. The US State Department estimates that 90% of cocaine entering the United States transits through Mexico, with Colombia being the main cocaine producer.

Mexico is a big producer of marijuana but it is not a big consumer. According to Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) 2013, 9 out of 10 Mexican teenagers haven’t done drugs at all and 62% of teenagers say that is “cool” to be drug free. While in the U.S. 6.7 % of the teenagers between 12 and 17 are regular consumers of marijuana. More than 94 million people in the U.S. admit to have consumed it at least once. 58% of teenager between 12– 17 say that “weed” is easy to get. With such a big market it is impossible for the government of Mexico to control drug dealing and drug producing.   It is not all Mexico’s fault. How do drug dealers defend themselves against the Mexican army? They use really heavy armament such as guns, machine guns, rocket launchers and grenades. How do they get this kind of armament? From Mexican firearms producers? Mexicans have a constitutional right to own firearms, but legal purchase from the single Mexican gun shop in Mexico City is extremely difficult. A significant number of firearms that make their way to Mexico come from U.S. gunshops. These are then smuggled into Mexico across the US-Mexico border.Most grenades and rocket-launchers are smuggled through Guatemalan bordersor stolen from the Mexican police or military.   It is alleged that the vast majority of the handguns and many of the assault rifles used by the cartels enter Mexico from the United States.Consequently, black market firearms are widely available. The most common smuggled firearms include AR-15 and AK-47 type rifles, and FNFive-seven semi-automatic pistols. In 2009, Mexico seized more than 4,400 firearms of the AK-47 and AR-15 types. Grenadelaunchers are known to have been used against Mexican security forces, and M4 Carbines with M203grenade launchers have been confiscated. It is believed that some of these high powered weapons and related accessories may have been stolen from U.S. military bases.   If you are more interested about knowing about how bad the U.S. deals with gun smuggling do some research on “the project gunrunner” which was a secret project in which the U.S. allowed 2,000 weapons to make their way to Mexico. The purpose of this was to track the weapons and then find drug dealers (they were especially looking for “El Chapo Guzman”). Well unfortunately the U.S. government lost track of the weapons and the Mexican drug cartels got 2,000 new high caliber toys. The U.S. is the country with the most advanced espionage techniques but they couldn’t keep track of that load of weapons.

Just Finishing

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and I hope you cleared some questions you had and I also hope you do more research about the parts you found interesting. The truth is that Mexico is a great country and is one of the richest countries talking about culture. I love living in Mexico. I don’t wish I would have been born in a different country. It is sad for me to hear all kinds of misconceptions about my country and then realize that those misconceptions had led to racism, discrimination or just dislike. This is one thing I love about my country; we are all the same, not mattering our race. I knew that racism existed but it wasn’t until I lived in the U.S. that I felt less valuable, my opinion was less important, my comments were less intelligent, I was naturally lazier and more dirty minded just because I was Mexican. I love the U.S. as well, it is a great country, I just hope that all those stereotypes could vanish away and that we could look at each other as equals.

 
I leave this video about a documentary on Mexican culture, I hope you guys like it. Hasta luego.

From Kyle again:

If you have experience in both the U.S. and another country (for at least 3 months in each spot) and would like to write a post for the International Clarity, email me at thedurfblog@gmail.com and I can send you more information.  Thanks!   Keep seeking truth. You may also be interested in: Peru Post 10: Avoiding the Single Story Ethics and Snowden Peru Post 8: Other Health Stuff (this is the post that got me and trouble and started the idea for this whole series.)

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