Skip to content

Gone, baby, gone

20 November 2015

“From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico, according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.”

(via National Council on La Raza, commenting on this story)

I’ve been hearing as long as I’ve lived here the unsubstantiated figure of a million USAnians living in Mexico, which may even be true by now, but by no means are there a million “expats”… which seems to mean retirees in the gringo ghettos around Chapala, San Miguel, and along the coats, a  sizable number of quasi-illegals (the “border runners” who try to have it both ways — living here on the cheap, but who don’t qualify for residency, and claim to be tourists, making regular trips out of the country) and the relatively large number of those who (as I was for a while), being white people with some money coming in from the outside, don’t like to be called “illegal immigrants”.

Of course, implying that the million gringo figure is people like “us” is self-serving.  When not dished up by real estate agents trying to convince someone that a house is not a house, but a financial instrument that can be sold at a profit to the supposedly limitless gringo community, it’s usually bandied about by those who complain about some minor “inconvenience” to them in the immigration procedures here — the people who somehow get the idea that spending money on rent, and housing, and maybe their underpaid “help” is a boon to the economy.

As opposed to those U.S. born (and U.S. citizen) dependents of Mexicans who have returned here, and who are likely to spend their lives here as taxpayers and will be contributing to the economy (and the culture) long after us geezers have cashed out last Social Security check, and bought our last eight-pack of Pacifico … and whined our last whine about being expected to give the kid who bagged the beer a whole three pesos.


And, as long as I’m on a roll… the U.S. is losing a million families off the tax rolls, and it freaking out that 10,000 Syrians MIGHT be coming.  Absurd.


I wonder what they talked about

16 November 2015

Reproductive tourism?

14 November 2015

That’s a new term for me.  Notice the financial figures.  The mother received 10,000 US$, but the price for surrogacy in Mexico runs about $50,000 US.  What’s the overhead?  Maybe the surrogate mothers need to unionize.

Operation Wetback

12 November 2015

Dara Lind, writing for Vox, has done a bang-up job of going into the background of “Operation Wetback” … the overly hyped (by the overly-hyper Donald Trump) “round-up” of Mexican migrants in the U.S…. the largest mass deportation in U.S. history:  maybe.

Inspection of Braceros - Braceros being inspected as they enter the United States, 1956

Inspection of Braceros – Braceros being inspected as they enter the United States, 1956

Rather than repeat what Lind says, I recommend reading her article, with the following additional bit of information that is often overlooked:

b2The Bracero Program was a war-time measure by Mexico to support the allies with manpower that would free up other men for military duty.  Because of the war, and Mexican support for the allies, the country was rapidly expanding industrial production, and… after the way… state policy favored industrial development and expanded commercial agriculture. During the War itself, as in the United States, women who had never been considered part of the work-force were hired in huge numbers.

Officially, Mexicans who were willing to fill jobs in the U.S. during the war were required to have a letter from their Presidente Municipal specifying that they were single men, for whom no work was available locally.  However, on the US side, employers (especially commercial farmers) were also facing a labor shortage, and would just “assume” any Mexican worker who showed up was a Bracero, and … of course… word got back that there was work in the US, so people otherwise not eligible for the official program went anyway.

b1Post-war, the popularity of working in the United States (generally as a temporary way to augment family income at home) continued (both for Mexican workers, and for U.S. employers), and — as in the U.S. — the women factory workers were let go… creating a perceived labor shortage for Mexican employers.  Coupled with this, the Mexican Foreign Secretariat considered the “official” Braceros worthy of their concern (and Mexican consuls were demanding U.S. employers and the U.S. government protect the labor rights of those workers), Mexican nationals who were not in the official program were considered “disloyal” to the Republic, and received no protection from their government.

Read it!

Operation Wetback, the 1950s immigration policy Donald Trump loves, explained


12 November 2015

Initial reports had 50 MORE Ayotzinapa students missing appear to be premature.  According to reports (and there is video evidence), about 600 police, mostly state police, attacked a convoy of 250 normal school students traveling in seven buses about five P.M. Wednesday evening.  Police in chase vehicles can be seen smashing windows in the buses, and hurling tear gas canisters inside.

The fifty or so missing students … this time… may be detained by the police, may be injured and seeking medical attention… or… as happened a year ago September, may be been “disappeared” .  The pro-government Milenio is claiming the students had pipe bombs, and 13 were arrested, which still doesn’t explain the attacks on the buses, nor the violence of the confrontation.

Sin Embargo

Searching for Pancho Villa… et. al.

9 November 2015

It’s often said that the first casualty of war is the Truth.  Perhaps the final casualty is our memory.   Although the  Mexican Revolution was much more than a military conflict (in reality, a series of military conflicts) involving radically conflicting visions of what it meant to be a nation in the 20th century — the forerunner of both the better known European ideological conflicts beginning with the Russian Revolution, and of the later struggles against colonialist and neo-colonialist exploitation — our “memory” of what happened a century ago is rooted in what was memorialized at the time.

But images of ideological struggles are likely to be rather dull, and do not capture the public imagination the way those of armed conflict do.  Although wars had been photographed as far back as the American Civil War, and there was always a market for such images, moving pictures were still something of a novelty in 1910 when the first phase of the Mexican Revolution, conveniently close to the United States border, created an ideal climate for presenting at least a vicarious look at war for those safely distant from the realities of the conflict.   Until 1917, when the United States entered the European “Great War”,  U.S. audiences were positively thrilled to follow the conflict “south of the border” at movie houses and theaters.  Pancho Villa, as everyone knows, signed a contract with The Mutual Film Company, to have a film made about his life and struggles.  That film played throughout the United States, at “premiere” venues (sometimes charging the then outrageous price of $2.00 a ticket — about $50 today) for a glimpse of Villa and his army.

While “The Life and Times of Pancho Villa” is probably the best known film of the era, there were others, and Villa was not the only caudillo to recognize the propaganda power of the new media.  Zapata, Obregón, and even Victoriano Huerta cooperated with foreign film crews:  Huerta, perhaps ahead of his time, offered to rent out the entire Federal Army to film directors seeking to make epic war pictures  Made mostly by U.S. companies, while we see today only clips and segments of the films, the stories they told reflect the contemporary U.S. perspective of Mexico… while, simultaneously, creating impressions of Mexico that last to this day.  The creative and progressive upheavals of the Revolution were washed out by cannon fire and lost in a wilderness of cactus and desert landscapes.  Although some European directors also tried to tell the story, they too, imposed their own meanings on the Revolution.  A Dutch film of 1916, with a pro-British slant, played up the story of the Zimmerman Note, and portrayed Mexico not as a nation fighting for its own identity, but as a pawn in the European conflict.

And then… with audiences turning their attentions away from Mexico… or — having seen the Mexico projected by what was then “mass media” forgot all but the stereotypes.  The films themselves were forgotten, and — their commercial value reduced by changing audience demands — scrapped.

Directed by Gregorio Rocha, and produced by the University of Guadalaja, “Los rollos perditos de Pancho Villa” explores the search for the missing Villa film through archives and collections in Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Along the way, researcher Frank Katz uncovers scraps and pieces of other unknown films, telling the story of the story of the imaginings of the seminal event in Mexico history.

Sombrero tip to Tony VillaZapata, who uploaded this film in four videos.




Here kitty, kitty, kitty…

5 November 2015

Never mind that within the last few days there have been six homicides and an earthquake in Coyuca de Benitez, Guerrero.  What has people rattled is a missing kitty.

Ankor, an orange striped kitty has been missing from his usual spot at the Hotel Paraíso, and is probably somewhere in the mangrove swamps.

Did I mention he’s a rather large kitty?


Ankor… a Bengal tiger… hasn’t been going hungry, having eaten at least four kids (uh… goats, not humans) since heading into the swamps last week.  I’m sure he’s doing fine.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 742 other followers