About a year ago or so, I remember coming across a story on Facebook that you can read here.
The basics of the story involved an older American couple that began living in Mexico for 20 years since the year 2000.
And they invested heavily in Mexican society by buying local property, hiring locals, working to improve the community they were part of and through other means.
All around, they were part of Mexican society without any question.
Still, they got tired of some of the issues that come with Mexico like greater insecurity, relative lack of respect to property rights, banking issues and more.
Ultimately, they left not too long ago.
Still, while it’s an interesting story of a couple who surely had both positive and negative memories of Mexico, some didn’t appreciate the mentioning of anything.
You see, you have your occasional local down here who acts like a local in any country that gets insecure at negative perceptions held by foreigners.
And you have other gringos who, for their own reasons, dislike any negative commentary on Mexico or broader Latin America.
Be it a gringo who interprets any criticism of a place with brown people as racist or a gringo that perceives any criticism as an attack on their own personal decision to relocate south of the border.
And you had examples of some of the above in the Facebook comment section of that article.
But, if we’re being honest, sometimes gringos and locals get upset for other reasons than just those above!
To be fair, it is the case that certain criticisms are completely invalid, exaggerated or unfair in their presentation.
But, on the flip side, you also have the perspective held by many that “we are just foreigners” and that “this isn’t our house to complain in.”
That perspective was shared by a few people in the following comment section that I took screenshots of below here from Facebook.
As you’ll see, there’s a new issue in Mexico City for people to take sides on!
In this case, there’s been plans in Mexico City by the city government to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus with a statue of an indigenous lady.
Now, before we get into the meat of this article, let me just give my opinion on the statue here….
What Does Matt Think of the Indigenous Statue?
I don’t give a fuck.
In short, I see it as an example of politicians making minimal effort to pander to issues that need addressing without doing anything of substance about them.
Like how they could take the funds for the statue and use it to improve the living conditions of indigenous communities.
Or how, not too long ago, Mexican President AMLO demanded that the king of Spain apologize for Spain’s historic atrocities against indigenous people while he promotes the following:
- A train project that’ll hurt indigenous communities called Maya Train as you can read here
- Ignores forced displacement and murder of indigenous communities that have happened under his watch as you can read here.
- And carried along the efforts of the militarization of Zapatista communities in Chiapas as you can read here.
All around, while either example of the statue or the apology wouldn’t hurt anybody, they appear more like pandering when we all know that the politicians involved don’t really give a damn about indigenous people.
Aside from all of that, there was an interesting take by a Mexican in the Facebook comment section that I wished I took a photo of before the admin deleted the conversation.
In which there is a defense of the Christopher Columbus statue as he is “part of Mexican history too” and that Mexicans are Mestizo (not indigenous or European).
Now I’ll agree with the first half of that sentence and disagree slightly with the second.
It’s true that Christopher Columbus is part of Latin American history but it is a question if he should honored with a statue given his role in said history with the millions of people who died as a result of his and broader imperial Spanish legacy.
Similarly, I didn’t see any Hitler statues when I arrived to Germany years ago.
Granted, Hitler killed 6 million Jews and Columbus apparently had some role in 3 million deaths as you can read here.
Though, to be fair, I'm not sure if that number is confirmed by other sources but we all know Columbus had a hand in plenty of people dying nonetheless.
So I guess the extra 3 million is what does it for a statue for one and not the other?
Still, part of history he was!
And while Mexico is certainly a country where a majority of the population is mestizo, I never liked the framing of Mexico as a place only for mestizos.
As I wrote here, this is a common thing countries do as they try to frame what the local nationality is.
Part of that process is defining what people of a certain nationality are supposed to look like and then the real world consequences, such as discrimination, for those who don’t fit in.
Like how China is apparently committing genocide against an entire ethnic group that doesn’t fit in with the broader population as you can read here.
In Mexico, like any country in the Americas, you have non-mestizo people.
Be it white, indigenous, black or Asian people.
Though, from my observations and my opinion only, it’s only the seemingly woke liberals who bring this up but their mention of “the other” seems to stop at indigenous people.
No mention of black, Asian and certainly not white people as, if we’re being honest, this same type of crowd, at least in my experience, has an issue with white people being part of Mexican society.
Especially if they are a white foreigner.
Which brings us back to the broader topic!
Now back to the conversation at hand, shall we?
“Foreigners Should Shut the Fuck Up”
As we saw in the first screenshots way above, there is this sentiment that some have about foreigners giving their opinion on Mexico and broader Latin America.
But the conversation at hand was started by a foreigner who offered a fairly neutral comment on the issue except for the end in which he referred to the people behind the statue removal as "huevones."
That obviously triggered a bit more of a reaction from people responding to it.
With, as we saw in the first screenshots, there being this sentiment that basically foreigners shouldn’t give an opinion on Mexico.
Which, to begin, I find ironic because most Mexicans that I have any real conversation with will ask me “how do I like Mexico?”
For example, my new landlord was very nice in inviting me to a restaurant and buying me breakfast today as a way to introduce me to the new apartment.
While eating, he asked me if “I liked Mexico.”
And, being honest, he seemed really interested as to if I have any negative perceptions of the country.
Now it is pretty obvious that any amount of social intelligence would prohibit someone from vomiting all over Mexico in such a scenario.
Not the polite thing to do.
I only do that to locals that I’m actually friends with.
Still, when he asked me if “I’ve had any bad experiences in Mexico,” I did mention the story of the cops robbing me as you can read here.
And, while it’s important to be polite and some social intelligence would prohibit actually murdering the country rhetorically, I’m also never shy from giving my real thoughts within reason.
So I did mention the cop story and he found that interesting wanting to know more.
That was it.
And so in scenarios like these, should the foreigner outright give a bullshit opinion on how he finds nothing wrong with the country?
I’d say no.
Don’t vomit all over the country but do be a little bit honest depending on the context.
On top of that, I also take other issues with this sentiment about how “we foreigners should just shut up” like this seemingly foreign woman put it here.
"Calladitos nos vemos mas bonitos"
What a cuck of a woman.
Or, better said, we only serve to show up to give Mexicans money for tourism but we shouldn't EVER have opinions.
Outside of the obvious xenophobia that some Mexicans spew onto us, my other issues with this sentiment can be laid out with the following thoughts I’ve had on the subject.
The Lack of Proper Response in Mexico
As we all know, there’s plenty of Mexicans who live in the US.
Legally and illegally!
And, if we’re being fair, you have xenophobic types in the US also.
Be it the typical asshole like this dude here who bitches at some random Latinos for simply speaking Spanish in public.
And those types who, like in any country, get bitchy at the sight of a foreigner or even a local giving too many negative opinions on the country in mention.
If it’s a foreigner with the negative opinion, we tell them to go back “to where they came from!”
If it’s a local (especially a white one), we tell them that they must “hate America and are not patriots!”
This type of closed minded ignorance is common in Mexico also.
The main difference though is that Americans who have actually immigrated legally (or illegally) to Mexico don’t really have a broader “American” community to stand up for their interests in the country at large in my opinion.
To push back against the xenophobic cunts who say this.
On top of that, we also don’t really have large scale media organizations standing up for our perspectives like you have the NYT, CNN and others who stand up for Mexican immigrants in the US.
Consequently, xenophobic remarks like these and the sentiment that we shouldn’t have opinions on Mexico are not pushed back much if at all.
Of course, the explanation for the former regarding the lack of a coherent “American” community is somewhat obvious if you think about it.
Lack of American Community?
My rationale for why there isn’t really a coherent response among any “American” community against comments like these stems from a few points that come to mind.
First, as we saw in the screenshots, you have plenty of foreigners themselves who promote this line of thinking!
Part of the reason for why they do so, in my opinion, is because they are translating identity politics from their home country into Mexico.
As you can see here, liberals don’t like it as much if a man gives an opinion on issues like abortion: "
Even though, in my opinion, abortion does involve men because it takes two to make a kid and he has no control over if a woman aborts or not, making it her decision only even though it will cause him to pay child support or lose hopes out of having a family).
Still, that’s beside the point!
And, as you can see here, you have liberals who, when it comes to race issues, also think white people should never have an opinion and “only listen” even though there’s plenty of hateful black people also.
And that race issues is a two way street for how both parties interact with each other.
In short, it’s what I call “the privilege mentality.”
The amount of privilege points you have depending on the social context will determine if said liberal will take your opinion into account.
And while I hate making this about politics, I do see politics here!
Especially as anyone who leans conservative down here, at least in my experience, tends to not see eye to eye with the liberal on the topic of if us foreigners are actually part of the community and worthy of giving an opinion or if we should just shut the fuck up.
So you have that aspect to all of this which influences the belief of those thinking that we foreigners shouldn’t give an opinion.
Second, you have the fact that quite a few foreigners generally don’t see themselves as “part of Mexican society” because they don’t have any long term plans down here!
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on my website, most foreigners do genuinely leave the country after just a year or two.
Maybe three years at most.
Many of them are the self-described “digital nomads” that spend little time in a country before moving on somewhere else.
Never establishing roots anywhere.
By that definition, you could more easily see them as being “guests” to someone’s house.
The difference between them and a tourist is one stays down here longer and probably lives in a stinky hostel with naïve youngsters wearing Che Guevara t-shirts smoking weed about how “socialism has never been tried, broooo.”
And you have others who don’t define themselves as digital nomads but simply don’t see a future for themselves here.
For example, I got a friend named Blayde who plans on leaving Mexico for good in the next year or two.
One of his best friends, an Australian dude, also left Mexico not too long ago after some few years here.
In short, if you don’t see yourself as part of the community long term, then you’re more likely to have the mentality that “we’re only foreigners here” or “guests to someone’s house.”
Of course, to be fair, you do have some foreigners who do establish foots down here long term.
And, as you can see here, some of them do form their own communities!
Be it the Australian socialists in Paraguay to retired folks in Mexico.
But, as many examples would show like those above, said communities tend to be very local.
Third, some foreigners here are not as aware of the more common issues that exist in Mexican society because of how sheltered they are.
Not too long ago, I was reading some Facebook comment asking people “how much money do I need to live in Mexico City?”
Of course, it’s highly dependent on the individual, no?
But I didn’t see one response to the guy’s question that was less than 40,000 pesos or 2,000 bucks.
Some people saying he needs as much as 4,000 a month to live here!
And, keep in mind, he didn’t have kids or a wife. Single bachelor.
So why the fuck does he need 2,000 to 4,000 a month to live here?
I was blown away actually at the responses.
After all, I’ve lived as cheaply as 300 bucks a month when I wasn’t comfortable and am comfortable now on 700 bucks a month budget.
I genuinely don’t feel the need to spend anymore. I’m happy with what I got.
Still, there’s a truth to the idea that every foreigner has a degree of “isolation” from how bad Mexican or broader Latin American society can get.
And it varies by degrees between each foreigner.
I’ve probably skimmed the edges a few times at seeing some of the shittier aspects to life down here because I’ve been a relatively poor gringo spending that 300 a month with just 150 in the bank before.
But, to be fair, I guess you can say that I haven’t gone all the way so to speak by living in a shack in a poor indigenous village in Chiapas.
So I’m sheltered to a degree from how bad it can get for those rural Mexicans!
But, on the flip side, those who claim that you need 4, 000 a month to spend down here are likely MUCH MORE sheltered than I am.
For example, if I was spending 4,000 a month, probably all of my complaints about how shit some apartments can be in Mexico would go away.
Versus spending just 300 bucks a month for a place.
And the bubble can go on and on.
You have gringos who raise kids down here, have a house, try running a local business, etc.
Like that woman who had property issues mentioned in the beginning of this article?
Though she was more sheltered financially than I am, she also was way more exposed to other shitty aspects to life down here like property issues.
A reality I know nothing about because I never owned a home ever in my life (yet alone in Mexico).
I wrote more about this topic here.
Anyway, the point is that the gringo who is very sheltered in some regards will probably have more of this “you’re just a guest here” mentality because they probably have less to complain about to begin with if I had to imagine.
Unless they really get unlucky with things like property invasions or whatever else.
Fourth, you have some gringos who simply try to be humble to a greater degree than I’m capable of when it comes to this topic of “only being a foreigner.”
In doing so, some of these types will logically conclude that “we’ll always be foreigners here and seen as such by Mexican society. So might as well accept it.”
And I agree with that sentence!
I will always be a foreigner here in the eyes of Mexicans.
In short, I feel most Latinos tend to be more closed minded to seeing us as part of their society than your average American who sees an immigrant to their country.
Even though you have xenophobic people in both countries like mentioned before, you also have 40 million of the US population being foreign born as you can read here.
Consequently, more Americans are open minded to foreigners being part of our society while a lot more Mexicans don’t even consider the possibility.
Like I wrote here about some Latinos down here even seemingly being bewildered at one of us living in their neighborhood (especially if there’s no other gringos in town and it’s not a touristy area).
Still, while I agree with the premise that many locals will never see us as being part of the community and how it’s crucial to “not try to be like one of them,” I also push back against the idea that none of us are part of the community and that we can’t have more nuanced opinions on society down here.
And, logically speaking, I’d say most locals in Latin America agree with me but not in the way they think.
Should Your Primo Shut the Fuck Up Also?
As I said before, you have plenty of Mexicans who live in the US legally and illegally.
For the illegal ones, you even have sanctuary cities giving them some form of protection!
Any loveable mayors in Mexico giving any of the 1 million Americans – many illegal as you can read here – some form of sanctuary?
Granted, to be fair, many Americans don’t need it because the circumstances are different.
Mexico isn’t trying to deport illegal Americans unless one gets caught up somehow by authorities.
You do have some though that get deported like you can see here.
But I would argue also that is also because Mexico follows the same principle of most countries, including the US.
That principle being “if you got money, come on in! Don’t got money? Stay the fuck out.”
As you can see here, Mexico has done a strong job on deporting Central Americans.
Granted, it is also fair, as some would point out, that the US had a hand in pressuring Mexico to do so but Mexico is a independent country with its own autonomy to do what it wants.
And it chose to deport the poor Central Americans so some responsibility is on Mexico for that one.
And, as I wrote here, it’s not uncommon for Latinos in various countries in Latin America to get angry at the poorer Latinos from nearby countries migrating illegally.
Like with the Venezuela situation as you can read here.
Still, that’s beside the point.
As I said, the US has plenty of its own immigrants from Mexico and around the world and most Americans are more open minded to them.
Even accepting the comments (positive and negative) that they make.
With a team of more left leaning liberals who, among some of them, are self-hating and will agree with whatever an immigrant says despite how logical the statement is or isn’t.
All around, you get the idea – plenty of Mexican immigrants (legal and illegal) living in the US also.
Are they part of our community?
Despite what the bigots say, I’d say yes!
Can they give an opinion on the US – even if they are just visiting tourists perhaps or illegal?
Say whatever you want!
We may not agree on everything but I’m not so insecure about my country that I’ll scream into an autistic foaming at the mouth rage at the sight of any criticism -- small or large, fair or unfair – of my country.
But can we be honest for a moment?
In here rests the hypocrisy.
If said Mexican immigrant were to make a criticism of the US while living there, anybody who tells him to “shut the fuck up, foreigner” would be called a racist.
There would be massive pushback.
As I hinted at before, you might even have large scale media organizations like the NYT cover it.
Said person might lose their job.
And while said pushback is needed against a xenophobic person, the point here is that said Mexican might just as likely be xenophobic himself.
If he ever returns to Mexico, he might see some foreigner making a criticism – no matter how small – and get pissed about it.
Said foreigner might say something fair like “why is traffic down here so bad?”
Which is a fair point!
And it would not surprise me if said Mexican were to get as angry as the people in those first screenshots way above.
That’s the hypocrisy that I speak of.
So you are allowed to be part of our country (the US) and make whatever criticism you want but we can never be part of your country and give our own respective criticisms?
Sorry, can’t have it both ways.
You choose right now.
Either nobody can live in the other person’s country making critiques on the side about said country…
Or you shut the fuck up about foreigners making critiques in your country and understand that they can and quite possibly might be part of the local community just like you are.
Be it by owning a home, raising kids in the country, being married to a local partner, paying taxes, having a local job, having local friends, spending significant time in the country, doing normal day to day activities like buying groceries and whatever else.
If your illegal immigrants can be “part of the community” in the US, then, at the very least, the legal American immigrants in Mexico who do much of the above should be given the same respect.
And, beyond that, I’d say the illegal Americans should be treated as such also if they’ve spent a significant time in the country.
Hell – I’d say even the tourists in either country also. Be it the Mexican critiquing the US or the American critiquing Mexico.
If a simple critique by said foreigner is somehow earth shattering to you, then you got a small ass dick, bitch.
Wrapping it Up: And What About Me?
Personally, I do take more offense to the idea that “I’m just a foreigner” and that “I should shut the fuck up.”
After all, I live here god damn it!
With about 6 years under my belt in broader Latin America and counting.
I guess it hits a little bit deeper because there doesn’t go by a year in which I get messages from folks back home to “go home already.”
So I don’t need self-hating gringos and xenophobic Mexicans telling me as such also!
But, on top of that, the hypocrisy of a few Mexicans is always a bit annoying to me.
They’d stand up in anger at someone telling a relative in the US to shut up but yet they engage in the same closed minded ignorant behavior against those they might have bigotry against also.
Or, at the very least, see as only a useful ATM machine or an English practicing tutor.
Still, it doesn’t bother me too much but has been a topic I’ve been itching to break the ice with for a while.
On top of that, I guess it’s a question – do I see myself as part of Mexican society?
Well, I agree absolutely that 99% of Mexicans will never see myself as such.
Even if I were to get a house with a local wife and local children and 50 years living down here, you’ll still have Mexicans who see me as such and nothing more.
Never part of the local community even though, in that scenario, I’d arguably be “more part of the community” than quite a few Mexicans (at least the younger ones if I’m 77 years old in that scenario).
But I do see a difference between “seeing yourself as Mexican” or trying to be like one and seeing yourself as part of the local community in some capacity.
In the same way that you have immigrant communities in every country of the world that see themselves as both being part of their new country but still retaining their personal identity.
Which, in my opinion, is the more respectful and logical way to carry forward.
Nobody will ever see you as not an American.
Nor do I strive to be a Mexican or a local as I’m proud of my heritage and you would be stupid for trying to forget where you came from.
On top of that, nobody respects those types who disrespect their roots either.
But, as I said, I do believe you can retain that personal identity and your roots while still seeing yourself as part of the broader community you moved to.
When it comes to Mexico though?
Well, as I said elsewhere on my blog, I could see a day where I move away to another Latin country for long term living.
To settle deeper roots.
I would like to travel a little more though before doing so.
But when the day comes, being honest, I see it as either being Mexico or Chile for where those deeper roots are planted.
One or the other.
Both countries I like quite a bit.
And when I do turn 77 years old with 50 years old here and a wife and kids…
If someone says to me then “you don’t belong here,” I’ll hit them like Mickey did to Rocky here!
Didn’t see that one coming, did yeah?
No Mickey, I didn’t!
At any rate, leave any comments below in the comment section.
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Thanks for reading.