¿México? ¿Dónde está eso?

Saturday, September 08, 2007
Mexico seems to be popping up a lot lately. Or perhaps it's just me. Regardless, I've been noticing references to it in the media, books I'm reading, movies, etc a lot more than the past few months or years. And it suddenly dawned on me...I know almost nothing about modern Mexico.

Oh sure, I took a class or two in university on ancient Meso-American cultures (the Aztec, Olmec, and Maya) and did some reading/research on my own (you all know how much I love nonfiction!). There have been movies, documentaries and television specials but they all deal with Mexico's distant cultural past and end at roughly the same time - European conquest/contact. I could talk for hours on end (not necessarily accurately) about ritual sacrifice, chocolate, body modification, the Mayan calendar, non-Egyptian pyramids, etc. But if you were to ask me about modern Mexico, I'd be completely lost.

When I tried to think of the name of Mexico's current president, my first thought was Vincente Fox although I knew this was no longer correct. I also know that Mexico City is one of the most populous cities in the world. And I believe Mexico is a republic (Estados Unidos Mexicanos). What else? The language is mainly Spanish and the food is fantastic. They also treat their soap opera (Telenovela) stars like gods. Can I think of anything else? Nope. Nada. And I began to wonder why. Checking with friends and co-workers, I have quickly realized that sadly I'm not the only one who is at a loss when it comes to the current state of affairs in the country.

When many of my fellow Canadians think of this beautiful country, they automatically begin talking of beautiful beaches, cheap souvenirs, and copious amounts of tequila (oh great tequila god, how I have missed you...). Part of the problem is that travel agents and vacation providers tend to promote the "all-inclusive" resort vacation to places such as Cancun and Puerta Vallarta as the perfect getaway for those of us snowbound in the far north. Then you'll get one or two who have actually visited one or two of the ancient ruins that are located throughout the country in between getting drunk and getting sunburned. Sadly, the next most popular response seems to be them muttering something about "illegal immigrants", George Bush, and border fences.

Considering that Canada is a memeber of NAFTA along with the United States AND Mexico, we really should know more about our trading partner than most of us do (Note: I do know now that the current president is Felipe de Jesus CALDERON Hinojosa). America has certainly benefited from the free trade agreement, and it has been argued that at least Western Canada (with our "abundance" of oil and lumber) has also done well (this is debatable depending on who you talk to) but what about Mexico?

We're inundated with (and influenced by) news from the United States about how great the elimination of trade barriers would be for all three nations. Funny how Bush wants to promote the ease of trade restrictions but has such strong views on immigration and the "defense" of it's borders. Now, there's the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) that Bush, Harper and Calderon are pushing. I readily admit I don't know much about the details of the partnership but from what I've gathered, once again it's the US who stands to gain the most from the venture. Getting back to Mexico, many up here in Canada (at least those friends of mine who are not Conservatives) feel that Stephen Harper is a baby-Bush in training. This makes me wonder about Calderon. Does he have the same sort of outlook on the future of Mexico that Harper has for Canada? If so, things don't bode well for anyone throughout North America...

I previously mentioned that I was going to be paying a lot more attention to Hugo Chavez and his actions both within Venezuela and internationally. You can be guaranteed that I'll be doing my research into Mexico. After all, given that we're both part of North America and how closely connected we are via trade and commerce, shouldn't we know something about them and their history?

And finally, here's a little cartoon for you to enjoy. My brother is sure to have a laugh. Less than five years and counting folks...


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Those poor Mayans are going to have to make a brand new one in 2013.

I probably don't know as much about modern Mexico as I should either, and cannot remember Fox's replacement.

Jocelyn said...

I always enjoy your posts, as they have fun-yet-serious inquiry in them...and I always learn stuff.

Sounds like a trip to Mexico for you--not to a resort town--is in order. The culture and people are in such an interesting moment, I think...with new classes emerging, etc.

sp said...

Mexico is such a beautiful country. Sure the beaches are nice, but there are so many lovely little towns throughout.
I traveled all over Mexico by bus without going to any resorts and had an amazing time.

I've always wanted to go back.

Wandering Coyote said...

You're right - we probably should know more about Mexico, but we probably don't because they're most likely getting shafted worse than we are by the whole NAFTA debacle. I suspect the new Mexican president is just attending these tri-lateral meetings as decoration. Colour me cynical.

Unfortunately, I am put off by most of what I hear about travelling to Mexico for vacation purposes. Crowds, heat, possible Montezuma's revenge from water...the list goes on.

I do highly recommend Hunger's Brides for a great dose of early Mexican history, blended well with some modern and some ancient and some literary, and it's relationship with Spain early on, etc. I've learned a lot already.

mister anchovy said...

Good point. Aside from knowing a little about the peculiar musical form known as the narco-corrido, I don't know that much about modern Mexico either.

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