The Adventure Continues

Our Church Council granted me a sabbatical for three months during the summer of 2010. My intention was to learn Latin American Spanish and to explore Latin American cultures here and abroad. Now that I have had some opportunities to lead mission trips to Yuscaran, Honduras, and to visit Mexico three times, the adventure continues.

Seeking New Horizons

Seeking New Horizons

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Perspectives on Mexico

The last time I posted a blog was when I was in Cuernivaca. In Mexico City and then in Pepperell my access to the internet was very limited. Now that our phone line at home has been repaired, I am eager to share the framework of some new perspectives I have found from looking at immigration issues from the Mexican side of the border.

I vaguely remember the history of the Mexican-American War. The part I remember most was the story of the Alamo in the Walt Disney series "Davy Crockett." From the other side of the border, that war is known as the "North American Invasion." Mexico at one time included not only present day Texas, which I think every US citizen already knows, but it also included several other current US states. The northern border of Mexico was in present day Oregon! There is still resentment there over that war which had the expanding US take nearly half of the country of Mexico.

Many people in the US who are of Mexican descent say their ancestors never crossed the border into the US, but rather the border crossed them. Many of them had ancestors here since the 1500's, which is before the first English settlement in Jamestown. When Cortez conquered the Aztecs, it was with the help of thousands of indigenous peoples who had been subjugated by the Aztecs. Cortez writes that he had 1000 Spanish conquistators and 50,000 native warriors in his invasion force. Today there are at least 65 languages spoken in Mexico, most of them being the ancient indigenous languages. This is especially difficult for Mexican workers who migrate to the US and speak neither English nor Spanish.

The US - Mexican border had been "porous" for centuries, with workers, usually farmers, moving north in the harvest season and moving south when the harvest was over. With the passage of NAFTA in 1994, the number of workers trying to migrate north doubled to 500,000 annually, since the large multinational corporations took over the agricultural sector of the Mexican economy and put so many poor farmers out of business. I was amazed at how hated is the NAFTA agreement among the people in Mexico. There was even an armed uprising among peasant farners just before it was approved. They said it was a death sentence for them. They were right, as many of them died trying to come north since their own economic livelihood at home had been detroyed. The borders were closed more tightly as part of the NAFTA program. Capital would now move more freely across the borders, but people would move less freely.

I don't know what I think about US immigration policies, but I do think about it more now, and from some new perspectives. I have friends in Mexico, and I often understand what they are saying in their own language, at least if it is in Spanish!