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Susto de guerra?

16 September 2012


Ironically, since I live on calle 16 de Septiembre, mine is the only house flying the bandera nacional today (and a modest one — tangled in phone wires — it is).  Of course, like migrants anywhere, I tend to overdo it when it comes to giving out signals that I feel I belong where I am.  It’s not that I think my neighbors are “un-patriotic” or that they find the symbolism silly, but that Mexicans in general are ambivalent about the nature of the Mexican state.

Is a government that came into office with support of only a third of the voters, with serious questions raised about its legitimacy, only to be followed by one widely assumed to have been elected through massive fraud, the same as the nation… or even a reflection of the will of the nation?  Local returns were overwhelmingly PRI (and local PRI headquarters is just around the corner) but the number of votes didn’t come anywhere near matching the number of residents.  But low voter turnout, and even indifference to politics is not the same as indifference to national identity.

Are my neighbors simply reflecting the globalist perspective, in which nation-states are less important than economic interdependence?  The two major economic engines in Mazatlán dependent on foreign trade — tourism and narcotics exports — are not particularly major employers of those of us living on calle 16 de Septiembre.  Anyway,  one expects a sense of being forced into colonial (or, neo-colonial) economic status usually brings out the nationalist in people.

Or maybe people just feel disconnected to the state right now.  Or, after the orgy of green-white-red that lined the street for the bicentennial (when the government delivered every household a flag) was enough.

OR …

Although I haven’t been paying much attention to it, or written about it, there have been calls by what is  presumed to be the “left” to boycott the national celebrations in rejection of the political and economic policies (and proposals by the incoming administration) they see as a betrayal of Mexico.

I don’t sense any loss of patriotism, nor of consciousness of Mexicanidad as something to be celebrated, but I do sense the always deep distrust of the present state — and the sense that the political and economic system is in serious need of an overhaul — goes well beyond the active “yo soy #132” activists and those that see the state’s fixation on de-nationalization and on prosecuting a “war on drugs” that has turned into a fratricidal blood-bath to no good purpose and a militarization one associates with insecure and repressive regimes.

The evidence of things unseen is troubling, but at the same time, I find those gritos AGAINST the present administration, and AGAINST supposedly necessary “reforms” a hopeful sign.  It means Mexicans are giving thought and acting in defense of their country, their culture, their Mexicanidad… and not simply flag-waving.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Allen Graham permalink
    16 September 2012 3:42 pm

    Like the author of Mexfiles , I live in a quiet upscale colonia. Not only am I the only Canadian on the street, but the only one flying the bandera Mexicana, the flag.
    My vecinos, friends and neighbors, who are vocally, strong PAN supporters, are very upset with the PRI returning to power. Their reaction is upsetting. Many of these people are employers , and they have developed a hardened attitude.
    Yes, the times, they are a-changin´.

  2. tijuana permalink
    16 September 2012 7:51 pm

    It could be a little bit of what you expect from your own country. I grew up in many different middle class neighborhoods in La paz, Mexicali and Tijuana, and the household where rarely decorated in flags. We started to put a flag after 20 years of not doing it, and where but one of a handful to do it among a 500+ complex.
    But here in the US is different. Now, how many do attend celebrations, either downtown for the “grito”, or in private households, or my preferred trough my years in Mexico…nightclubs.
    Perhaps that is the mexaican tradition, and not to put a flag in the household. Actually, for many years it was viewed as disrespectful to handle the flag in a not serious manner. (and in many ways unlawful).

    • 16 September 2012 8:15 pm

      Ever since I moved to Mexico, over 10 years ago, at Independence day there have been flags everywhere — on buses, taxis, office buildings, shops and homes and even on dog collars in profusion. I’ve lived in this house for a couple of years now, and this is the first time there were NO flags on my street except mine.

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