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Mexico City, 2017

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Jonathan Revusky and I were in Mexico City for eight days. Though Jon had been there twice, this was my first taste of this extremely complex, exhilarating and sophisticated metropolis. For $85 a night, we had a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Cuauhtémoc. It was cheaper than, say, Spokane, yet here we were in a world-class city.

Prior to this, my only experiences of Mexico were limited to border-hugging Tijuana, Juarez and Ojinaga. At Candelaria, Texas, a town of 70 people a good 257 miles from El Paso, the nearest city, I also crossed an illegal footbridge into San Antonio del Bravo, but all I saw were a few dusty cars and trucks, so I walked right back. It was certainly not a good idea to putz around a well-known drug transit point in the middle of the ChihuahuanDesert, but there was no bar in Candelaria to park my ass. Since I had no cellphone then, I would have been literally toast had my rented car broken down coming or going.

Modeled after Champs Elysées, Paseo de la Reforma is actually more elegant, with several magnificent monuments. Crossing it from our apartment, we ended up in Zona Rosa. There in 2005, my friend Ian Keenan saw “two guys breaking into a car and trying to start the transmission, alarm blaring, while two female cops were at the street corner, with their backs turned.”

In 2007, another Philly buddy, Steve, was lured into a Zona Rosa bar with another American. Promptly, two sweet-voiced, pretty ladies appeared to keep their company, and you can guess what happened next. The bill for a few drinks came to over a thousand bucks, and when our gringos refused to pay, a couple of beefy guys “as big as Samoans” wrested a $5,000 watch from Steve’s friend’s wrist, as the victim screamed and bled. Back out into the cool, pleasant street, festive with drunken carousers, the two Yanks found a cop who smilingly told them to go back in to retrieve the Cartier themselves.

Shit, man, the above scam is also practiced in Istanbul, Budapest and, well, hundreds of other cities. If a foreign knockout suddenly finds you irresistibly sexy, just remember you’re not all that, you beer-bellied loser. Zona Rosa is certainly not that bad now. Though touts still offer “Chicas?” or “Lap dance?” at night, the neighborhood is solidly middle-class, with an upscale mall and plenty of nice restaurants, including 15 Korean ones. With a thousand Koreans in Zona Rosa, this Pequeño Seúl boasts all sorts of businesses, including a famous hair salon patronized by many Mexican celebrities.

In Ukraine last year, I was surprised by how popular sushi was, and it’s big in Mexico City also, with sushi being sold from street stalls even. Sushi Itto is a Mexican chain of 120 restaurants in nine countries, with 16 in Mexico City alone. In the US, Mexicans make every sort of ethnic food because they can quickly grasp and appreciate its complexities, subtleties and appeals. I find this openness truly remarkable. In California, I’ve seen many Mexican families at Vietnamese eateries, but never vice versa. In Tijuana, there are four Vietnamese restaurants owned and operated by Mexicans.

Just South of Zona Rosa is La Condesa, a hipster haven and home to many American expats. Walking through, Jon and I did hear more English spoken, but it’s striking there were so few white faces in Mexico City, even in the most touristy areas. Last year, 23,000 Mexicans were killed in its drug wars, and perhaps it’s this perception of Mexico as an insanely violent and chaotic place that has scared away many visitors and immigrants. In 2016, nearly 60,000 Americans also died from drug overdoses, so our inability to endure life without pills, powder and dope is causing war-like casualties on both sides of the border. Without its sick northern neighbor, Mexico would be a much healthier place.

On my first visit to Juarez, I saw soldiers perched on a tank at the foot of the international bridge, a sight that didn’t alarm as much as charmed me. Walking into town, the city’s bustle and colors reminded me of my birthplace, Saigon. At a restaurant, a girl of about nine, in her school uniform, went from table to table to beg, quite matter of factly, without obsequiousness. Perhaps out of pride, she skipped me, the only foreigner. In baby Spanish, I burped a few mangled words at the friendly, middle-aged waiter, who advised me to be extra careful. I was in Juarez.

Wandering around Juarez before dawn, I saw tired prostitutes resting on couches in darkened doorways. Though I was starving, the city was just waking up. Like a dream, a large, bright eatery appeared that was filled with customers. “Comida China,” it advertised. I waited for the goat and tripe vendor to open.

Home to legendary drug lords Manuel “The Viper” Carrasco, Shorty Lopez and Pablo Acosta Villareal, “The Ojinaga Fox,” Ojinaga made the news in 1976 when its entire police force and their families fled to the US to escape being killed by Pedro Avilés Pérez, the Sinaloan kingpin. In 2006, I found the town pleasant if sleepy, with excellent caprito in its restaurants. Returning stateside once, my car and I were thoroughly inspected by a very suspicious officer. He did everything but peer up my exhaust pipe.

In Tijuana, I was hosted for a day by an American Jesuit priest and fellow Philadelphian. At the beach, he showed me the border fence where illegal immigrants to the US could talk to their relatives. The tall and tightly meshed metal barrier was even painted and decorated on the Mexican side. At dusk, I saw Mexicans dressed like ninjas, all in black to avoid detection, as they prepared to cross. If caught, they could try again another night.


In Mexico City, the only daily signs of the drug wars are the horrific photos in Alarma!, the gore tabloid. After much walking, Jon and I popped into El Péndulo, as civilized a bookstore as you’ll find anywhere. Among the books prominently displayed were editions of Borges, Céline and Bolaño, and two monographs on the German Neo-Expressionist, Georg Baselitz. Nursing a fine wine, one could sit on the balcony, a couch or at a table, and there was also an area for full-course meals. The softly played music ranged from Billie Holliday to Chet Baker, to the Catalan Joan Manuel Serrat.

In Italy, the biggest book chain was founded by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who also created the militant Gruppi di Azione Partigiana. Feltrinelli accidently died from his own explosives while trying to cut off electrical power to Milan. In Mexico, Mauricio Achar believed that many of Mexico’s problems resulted from its citizens’ lack of reading, so he founded the first Gandhi bookstore in 1971. Now there are 36. Judging from the many well-stocked newsstands and packed bookstores, Mexicans are devouring the written words. Borrúa is another thriving chain. My only poetry collection that’s been translated was handsomely published in Mexico City in 2012.

I visited the Borrúa in Bosque de Chapultepec and found that it catered to the most serious readers, not just casual ones, with plenty of art books, and a large section for kids. The space itself was high-ceilinged, bright, cheery, with vast views of trees and a lake, just outside. Over its entrance, “all the flavors, all the mysteries, all the passions are in Porrúa.”

On Donceles, I ran into a charming mural advertising a dead bookstore, “TEACH THE SPIRIT WITH THE TRUTH. You want to be wise? Read daily! You want money? Read and work! Reading provides knowledge and is power / And wisdom that gives you freedom. READ!” A finger points at you.

Yes, I know that Mexico City isn’t just bougie cappuccino sippers, sushi aficionados and Argentinian steak connoisseurs. There are underage whores in Buena Vista, armed muggers in Barrio Norte, expert burglars and car thieves in Saint Felipe de Jesús, no-nonsense kidnappers Los Kinkones in Chimalhuancán, not to mention the universally-feared drug-pushing, truck-jacking, mostly illiterate and quite young Los Rappers in Desarrollo Urbano Quetzalcóatl, but dude, I dwell in Philadelphia, where the murder rate is twice that of Mexico City.

Ignoring advices from several locals, including an Uber driver who laughingly assured we would be mugged, Jon and I decided to visit Tepito. It can’t be worse than, say, Camden, New Jersey, I figured. From The Zócalo, we began our 1.3 mile walk, and on this sunny Saturday, Aztecas Street was flooded with downscale shoppers. Midway, we paused for blasé cups of coffee at a sad Chinese eatery, then in Lagunilla, we descended four concrete steps into a tiny and signless neighborhood bar for bottles of Indio.

The walls were butter-colored and a not-too-garish red. A bluish print showed a hovering angel comforting a kneeling Jesus. Eight pinball machines had names like Rumbo a Sudafrica and Futbol del Elefante. From an eyehook dangled a horseshoe. Creed, with an old, bulbous-nosed and muttering Sylvester Stallone, was on TV and mostly ignored. Not counting the two foreigners, there were nine men and one woman, the waitress. Four of the guys sat at a table, intent on dominoes. One wore a faded beige T-shirt, “The difference between style and fashion is quality.” The place’s casualness, cheapness and slight seediness reminded me very much of Vietnam.

In Tepito, you can buy guns, hire hitmen or recruit foot soldiers for your embattled pharmaceuticals enterprise, but most Mexicans merely go there to purchase knockoff clothes, shoes or purses, as well as pirated CDs or DVDs. I saw many copies of Cómo ser un Latin Lover, but also, rather surprisingly, Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, la ira de Dios. Particularly enterprising was a thumb drive with 3,000 songs, on sale for only 50 pesos ($2.75). With such a deal, you can groove nonstop until somebody shoots you in the head. Here and there was a death shrine, just like in Philly, but usually more elaborate, if not tacky. I chanced upon a miniature two-storied castle, complete with turrets and battlements. Through an arched doorway, the deceased scowled at me from the second floor, while Our Lady of Guadalupe radiated from the first.

After plowing through so many bodies in Tepito’s endless flea market, Jon and I were glad to rest our respective blubber in Micheladas Route 66, a ramshackle beer joint blaring banda. Packed in among the smiling faces, I thought of a Mexican hangout in my Philly neighborhood. With so many men and no woman, fights often break out, thus the place is nicknamed “Stab and Grab.” How miserable it is compared to even the worst Mexico City bars.

On different days, Jon and I met two Mexicans who had lived illegally in the US. One spent 14 years trimming trees in Atlanta, Tallahassee, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The other worked various jobs for 11 years around Concord, CA. The first man’s wife, a kitchen worker, had also returned to Mexico.

A 2012 Pew study reported that net migration from Mexico to the US had fallen to zero or less since around 2007, and the trend continues, with 89% repatriating voluntarily. Mexico’s unemployment rate is only 3.5%, and whether in Mexico City, Toluca (pop. 819,561), Tepotzotlán (pop. 39,374) or San Juan Teotihuacán (pop. 21,577), I saw help wanted signs everywhere.

The American Southwest was robbed from Mexico after a war Ulysses Grant considered “as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.” The gringos got their foot in the door when Mexico allowed them to settle in Texas.

Crossing the Rio Grande, Mexicans now find their former land a debt-financed paradise of strip malls, vast parking lots, better plumbing and state-of-the-art kitchens. According to a 2014 Pew survey, 65% of Mexicans would not live in the United States.

We asked an Uber driver, a man of about 27, if he had relatives in the US, and he said no, unfortunately, for this prevented him from having access to the latest sneakers, “They arrive here three years later, and cost way too much,” Manuel lamented. Like most Mexicans we encountered, he came off as very relaxed and assured.


Arriving in San Jose, CA in 1978, I was introduced to cholos, those well-tattooed real or pseudo gangsters wearing a bandana, buttoned-up flannel shirt and oversized Ben Davis Gorilla Cut pants. Aping these Mexican-American toughs, cholos are popping up in Japan, Thailand and even Vietnam, incredibly. Roaming many miles through Mexico City, I didn’t run into a single cholo, however. It’s an American phenomenon. Similarly, the most obnoxiously aggressive Italian I met during my two years in Italy was a guy who had spent 25 years in Brooklyn.

The owner of our apartment, Noel, spent a semester abroad in Boise, has visited many other American cities and even has a house in Florida. He’s perfectly happy in his hometown, “This is twice as good as New York for a visitor. In New York, you visit Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, Wall Street and then what? We have so much more history and so many more monuments. Plus, we’re Latinos!” His wife added in perfect English, “Mexico City is like New York, London, Paris and Rome, all in one place!”

Since 1995, a year after NAFTA, Mexico has racked up a steady trade surplus with the US, so it is, in fact, the more productive economy. Our empire status has masked our true poverty, but as our racketeering ends, a flood of American refugees will try to escape the capsized ship, with Mexico the likeliest destination. With its relative social cohesion, pride in a shared heritage, family values and work ethics, Mexico is much better prepared for the future than us seething, bickering, smug, self-absorbed, alienated and righteous dopeheads. Do tell your kids and grandkids to learn Spanish immediatamente.

A million Americans already live in Mexico. A vast majority of them are illegals. Mexico will need a border wall more than we do.

Linh Dinh’s Postcards from the End of America has just been released by Seven Stories Press. He maintains an active photo blog.

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Mexico 
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  1. Escher says:

    Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side.

  2. This is probably why more Meso-American immigrants are coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, as the Mexicans cynically spirit them across their country to go be somebody else’s problem.

    Global capitalism is raising living standards and distributing middle class toys to the far ends of the Earth. There is no urgency behind the Third World’s mass migration to the West, and we increasingly do not need their labor. They should stay home and make their own countries great again.

  3. n230099 says:

    “His wife added in perfect English, “Mexico City is like New York, London, Paris and Rome, all in one place!”

    And they must be doing something right in that no one is driving trucks down the sidewalks , flying planes into buildings or bombing the metros. It really is like heaven.

    • Replies: @Kyle a
    , @fitzGetty
  4. Kyle a says:

    Us didn’t steal any land region from Mexico. We beat their arses and payed them very well for a land mass that the Native American owned and worked for longer than the mestizo. The American Indians hated Mexicans then as much as they do today, and most of what the Mexicans claimed to own in the southwest, was actually SPANISH missionaries with Mexican peasants doing the heavy lifting.

    • Agree: whoever
    • Replies: @Wally
  5. Kyle a says:

    So the big city is safer than the suburbs and the sticks in Mexico. How reassuring for a rootless cosmopolitan such as yourself. Are you Korean poster?

  6. Truth says:

    I’m really hoping you people don’t go down to Mexico and ruin that good thing they have going there.

    • Replies: @Carroll Price
  7. Hmmm. Not a word about obesity, but check out the photos.

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  8. Always interesting to read your postcards. Thanks for the work.

  9. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi Talleyrand,

    Yes, it is a problem. At newsstands, they even sell magazines devoted to people with diabetes, Diabetes Hoy (from Mexico) and Diabetes (from Spain).

    In Tepotzotlán, I saw a goofy poster about fat shaming:

    Take care of your Health

    Eat Fruits and Vegetables

    No To Discrimination
    Against Fat People.

    Calling somebody FAT does not make her skinnier and does not make you smarter

    Happiness is not how many kilograms you have



  10. Linh,

    You knocked it out of the park again with this column. I’ve been living in Mexico for 4 years now. Couldn’t agree with you more. Looks like I better prepare for the new wave of illegals coming my way.

  11. utu says:

    I didn’t run into a single cholo, however. It’s an American phenomenon.

    Difference between Mexicans and Chicanos. The 2nd generation is worse. That’s what American does to some groups.

    • Replies: @Wally
  12. Malcolm X’s grandson was killed in Mexico City in 2013 over a $1200 bar tab. He had gone to the Palace bar in Plaza Garibaldi.

    Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, la ira de Dios is available on YouTube.

  13. @Triumph104

    I thought it was just a bar brawl. What do you know about this bar tab? Do you have any further info?

  14. Frio says:

    “… relative social cohesion…”

    In the US a casualty of diversity.

  15. Wally says:
    @Kyle a

    And the US offered citizenship to the ‘Mexicans’ in the purchased land.
    The vast majority accepted.

  16. Wally says:

    A freeloader just like his grandfather.

    But that is one helluva “bar tab” for Mexico.

    • Replies: @Anon
  17. Wally says:

    “Difference between Mexicans and Chicanos. The 2nd generation is worse. That’s what American does to some groups”

    Yep, and that’s why they keep coming.

  18. What I did not read is how drugs export tot the USA has completely corrupted Mexico society.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  19. republic says:

    Mexico city has some of the worst traffic jams in the world. I have actually driven
    there from the US border. Mexico has some very good super highways, but are private
    and expensive . Mexico city is not very dangerous. Not like Northern Mexico.
    Very heavy police presence in the Capital. At least 20 daily newspapers are published
    In Mexico,DF. Most illegal Mexicans in the US are from the very poorest states like Chiapas
    People who run Mexico, around 15-20% of population are pure white. Very poor public education, Anybody with money goes to private schools and universities.
    A big Middle class in Mexico, many Mexicans have multi entry 10 year US visas. Middle and upper class Mexicans are very polite toward Americans, lower classes are rather hostile.

  20. If the Federal government would leave us alone, we could make America as good as Mexico, especially in the Western states, where we have a lot of potential for intelligent development.
    Problem is, the Feds own roughly half the real estate out here, and they have no plans to let the people live on it. And they have idiot-collaborators like Jerry Brown helping them.

    Those who can’t accept the truth about Mexico can keep calling the USA “the greatest country in the world” until the Feds come haul them off.

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  21. As I was reading this gem of an article, I was repeatedly urged to comment, but there are so many good points that I decided I had nothing to add. However, you saved the best for last and I can contain myself no longer. Like May West, I can resist anything but temptation…

    This, bears emphasis. It’s a pearl amongst pearls.:

    Our empire status has masked our true poverty…

    • Replies: @Reverend Leo
  22. @anony-mouse

    And visiting isn’t the same as residing.

    True, but you may want to read comment #10 which was apparently posted almost 3 hours prior to yours.

    • Replies: @Frez
  23. Sandmich says:

    A little bit of a quibble:
    Without its sick northern neighbor, Mexico would be a much healthier place.
    This is more wishful thinking than anything else. It may have been the case some time ago, but no longer, as you yourself point out the nonstop crimewave unrelated to drugs and cops who will do nothing about it. It reminds me of the mayor of Cleveland lamenting that inner city youths would have nothing illegal to do if only they were unable to get illegal firearms.

  24. Che Guava says:
    @Bro Methylene

    Well, perhaps the US population is exploding too much?

    In the end, whatever the deniers of Malthus can see in terms of agricultural technology, everything will come to a grinding halt at some point.

    The optimal population of humans is two thousand million or so. Enough to do great things, not enough to wreck everything on the planet, which is what the population explosions in the whole crescent from India to Sth. Africa will do.

    It is screaming up to eight thousand million, I can’t be bothered to check the timing now, but it is very close.

    Linh, I enjoyed your article as ever.

  25. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Malcolm X was a “freeloader”? How so? Because he was black?

    Malcolm believed in black self-determination and self-reliance. How that is freeloading is beyhond me. Please explain.

    • Replies: @Wally
  26. RudyM says:

    “This is twice as good as New York for a visitor. In New York, you visit Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, Wall Street and then what? We have so much more history and so many more monuments. Plus, we’re Latinos!

    What is this supposed to mean?

    • Replies: @Remonster
  27. OutWest says:

    No mention of the Spanish peon/patron system that was much of Mexico’s problem. Is it along with a dozen kids a fading fashion?

  28. Wally says:

    What jobs did freeloader, black supremacist, Malcolm X have besides robbery? Do tell.
    Same for his loser grandson.

    And yes, much is beyond you.

    • Replies: @Anon
  29. Agent76 says:


    Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón came to the U.S. and criticized the Arizona law. Since many in the Obama administration have not read the Arizona law but have attacked it, Mark Levin decided to read to Obama and Calderón the Mexican immigration laws (article by article) to show how strict they are.

  30. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    We in the U.S. get mostly poor, uneducated illegals and criminals from Mexico. The cost of both to the U.S. is enormous. Illegals from U.S. into Mexico are not a burden, far from it.

    Why would Mexico want to build a wall?

    • Replies: @Bragadocious
  31. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Since it’s clear that you’re a white supremacist, I can’t understand what issue you’d have with anyone being a supremacist for his own race. Doesn’t that strike you as vaguely hypocritical?

    Malcolm was released from prison on parole in 1952 and lived another 13 years. For 11 or 12 of those 13 years, he was employed by the Nation of Islam. In exchange for his employment, he was given a home and support for his wife and three daughters (a fourth was born after his death). Presumably, after his leaving the NOI, he supported himself on the lecture circuit, where he was already popular and was even more popular after leaving the NOI.

    There is zero evidence that he ever either applied for or received welfare payments or any other kind of public assistance, which he was repeatedly on record as being against.

    So it would seem calling him a freeloader is the wrong thing to call him, unless you want to argue that all clergy who accept payment for their work are also freeloaders. Do you?

    • Replies: @restless94110
    , @Dan Hayes
  32. fitzGetty says:

    … 10 severed heads “‘found”‘ in Cabo last week …

  33. What in the world do you do for money?

  34. @Anon

    And this has nothing whatsoever to do with his grandson, who never knew him and could and probably did have an entirely different personality.

    Again, how did he die? Why did he die? The accounts that I read, while paltry, implied that he was a hot head acting out of his element in a country that doesn’t much dig black people. There are so few.

    How did the guy die? Who knows this?

    Drop the Malcolm X nonsense it’s irrelevant (btw, he did have a book he wrote that was popular and still is, so that would account for more income for him while living).

    • Replies: @Anon
  35. Wow, self-hating American goes to Mexico for a few days, denounces the U.S. and now we’re supposed to care. He must have read Fred Reed’s travel primer.

  36. @Anon

    Linh Dum-Dum doesn’t actually believe this (I think); he’s just being glib. This is a favorite rhetorical tactic by the left. Turn things on their heads to make a “point,” hoping no one notices that every assumption on which your point rests is utter bullshit.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Anon
    , @Anon
  37. Dan Hayes says:


    Just a little family history concerning Malcolm X. When semi-retired, my late father worked as a bank guard in East Elmhurst, Queens County, New York City. Malcolm was a customer. My father engaged in several conversations (maybe more?) with him. One of the black bank tellers exclaimed in private to my father “You talk to that man!”. You must remember that this was before the black consciousness movement really took off.

    My father never discussed the subject of their conversations. Those should have been real interesting as my father served in Ireland’s Civil War in the IRA. Maybe some of their unconscious rapport was due to Malcolm’s genealogy (e.g., his red hair).

    • Replies: @Anon
  38. Dumbo says:

    Jonathan Revusky and I were in Mexico City

    Should have joined with Fred Reed too, and then drink some tequilas with señoritas.

  39. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    He died before it was published. Royalties went to the widow and daughters and to Alex Haley, who essentially wrote it.

    • Replies: @restless94110
  40. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Dan Hayes

    He was a quarter white, as the result of the rape of his mother. That accounted for the hair, IIRC.

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
  41. @Anon

    Did not realize that.

    Still has nothing to do with Malcolm’s grandson.

    I’m gonna go with grandsonny was an asshole and didn’t want to pay his bill, so he got beat.

    Thanks all!

    • Replies: @Anon
  42. A lot of praise for a near-failed state.

    Favorite quote from the article: “Mexico is much better prepared for the future than us.” Yup, with all that tech innovation and sophisticated culture, all those high-quality universities, a world-leading per capita income, and a deep and long history of democracy and low corruption, Mexico will be leading the way.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  43. “The gringos got their foot in the door when Mexico allowed them to settle in Texas.”

    The Gringos got their foot in the door when almost bankrupt Mexico energetically recruited them along with quite a few Germans to settle in Texas and act as proxies for a government and a population that couldn’t deal with the Apache and Comanche Indians and couldn’t otherwise exercise effective control over the territory they fantasized about having.

    There, fixed that.

    • Replies: @Jake
  44. Jake says:
    @Jim Bob Lassiter

    All of that is true, but to be fair, it starts a bit late.

    The key is knowing that the Mexican Revolution against Spain could not have come about without England. Once Spain – for various reasons, including desire to reap some of England’s great wealth from controlling the oceans – decided to make deals with England, the English planted themselves in New Spain. There they started both a Mexican version of the Scottish Rite Freemasonism and York Rite Freemasonism.

    Those two necessarily Anglophile ‘clubs’ were the two groups that ran the Mexican ‘independence’ revolution. In fact, they are the sources of the 2 Mexican political parties PRI and PAN (though I don’t remember which goes with which).

    So the Mother Ship of WASP elites (and they wanted major influence in Mexico to use against these United States – as they were known then) were necessary prodders to the Mexican revolution, which made certain that Mexico would be a bumbling mess incapable of consolidating its control over its northern lands. Quite simply, too many Mexicans were fighting phases of the Revolution against other Mexicans to plan ways to control the rampaging Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache.

    Under those circumstances, a bunch of Southerners, tough as nails and unapologetic hillbillies and rednecks who would not have understood the very possibility of being ashamed of who they were and of their ancestors, were certain to wrest the Southern Plains Indians to at least a draw and chafe under the arrogance of the ‘successful revolutionaries’ of the Mexican leaders.

    Mexico got off to a terrible start as an independent nation, and it was the silver tongue of the WASP Elites that made certain of that.

    • Agree: utu
  45. Frez says:
    @jacques sheete

    What’s supposed to be taken from that post? More semi (atleast) serious snark about how great Mexico really is? How is more having drug users (I doubt this is really the case, Mexico certainly isn’t devoid of many of them, and has worse issues with drug driving than us, which we’re certainly well acquainted with via illegal drunk drivers) is worse than having large parts of your country ravaged by monstrous drug cartels that are closely intertwined with your government? Does anyone here actually believe Mexico will be first world, or within miles of it, anytime soon, and that latin america’s storied history of political and economic instability (along with the fact it has a much lower IQ and much more backwards culture) makes this an impossibility?

    Still, I’d like someone to explain this to me- I do think by most measures, the Mexican economy has been improving, and illegal immigration from Mexico has been steadily declining. But what’s driving this exactly when Mexico has been suffering a devastating drug war and ruthless cartels control large parts of the country? Is the growth in Mexico concentrated in the south, away from the cartel-ravaged north?

    It’s a really weird discrepancy I’ve never really seen an explanation for. I have no illusions this is going to be sustained and won’t at best peak, contrary to liberals who go trot these arguments out- “Heh, illegal immigration isn’t as bad as it used to be, so who cares about securing the border? And wanna know one of the reasons why? Because the Mexican economy has been improving! And it’s going to keep going this way! So we should keep our border gaping open with a region that’s been wracked by extreme instability for centuries and we’ve been having immigration problems with for decades! And give amnesty to the illegals, even though Mexico is supposedly continually getting better!”

    • Replies: @Carroll Price
  46. @Triumph104

    Promptly, two sweet-voiced, pretty ladies appeared to keep their company, and you can guess what happened next.

    Same scam in Frankfurt @ 1985. Looked at the bar tab with this guy I was travelling with a few days. WTF! We looked around, laid down the face-value of the drinks and scooted. Luckily the bouncers were not Samoan-sized, and in my mid-20s I was pretty darn fast. They gave chase for a few yards and then called it off.

    I guess every young man has to learn that lesson first hand.

  47. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    True, but it’s also partly Napoleon’s fault for creating the vacuum in the Spanish world eventually filled by English interests. Truth be told, the Spanish Bourbons were no great shakes (vastly too afrancesados, which contributed to the empire falling apart after Napoleon did his thing) but at least they had been a stable power actually based in Spain.

  48. If the Pew statistic is correct and 65% of Mexicans won’t live in the U.S. that means that more than 1/3rd of Mexicans would like to live in the U.S.

  49. Dan Hayes says: • Website


    Thank you for your response.

    Wikipedia (yes, I know not the most reliable of sources) states:

    “Malcolm X was referred to as “Detroit Red” because of the reddish hair he inherited from his Scottish maternal grandfather.”

    Whatever it source, he obviously received red hair from outside the negro gene pool.

  50. anon • Disclaimer says:

    The Spanish, Mexican, Hispanic, Spanish-speaking population of the southwest was extremely small. It was an almost empty place. Even today there are huge areas of the southwest with almost no people. Mexico just de-facto inherited Spain’s empty claim to the area after it became independent from the latter.

    As far as drugs go, there would be no supply if there was no demand. Blaming drug dealers for overdoses is a little bit like blaming bar tenders for alcoholics.

  51. anon • Disclaimer says:

    “..pride in their shared heritage..”

    So your saying that diversity and immigration are bad, right sport?

  52. observer4 says:

    Reading this, it strikes me as very sensationalist writing. I really like Mexico, it’s a very intersting country, and this article doesn’t do it justice.
    Some 20 million people survive living in Mexico City everyday, without this drama.

  53. @Jake

    I’m very appreciative of the additional background perspective you have supplied, however I’m still scratching my head over the following:

    “All of that is true, but to be fair, it starts a bit late. ”

    “Those two necessarily Anglophile ‘clubs’ were the two groups that ran the Mexican ‘independence’ revolution. In fact, they are the sources of the 2 Mexican political parties PRI and PAN (though I don’t remember which goes with which). ”

    I’m having some sequential political history timeline problems with this. PRI and PAN to the best of my memory came into existence long after the events under discussion here.

    Can you please explain it to me as if I were a child? I’m a mere gonzo dilettante here.

  54. @Jake

    I’m very appreciative of the additional background perspective you have supplied, however I’m still scratching my head over the following:

    “All of that is true, but to be fair, it starts a bit late. ”

    “Those two necessarily Anglophile ‘clubs’ were the two groups that ran the Mexican ‘independence’ revolution. In fact, they are the sources of the 2 Mexican political parties PRI and PAN (though I don’t remember which goes with which). ”

    I’m having some sequential political history timeline problems with this. PRI and PAN to the best of my memory came into existence long after the events under discussion here.

    Can you please explain it to me as if I were a child. I’m a mere gonzo dilettante here.

    • Replies: @Jake
  55. @Truth

    For the same reason, I fear for the future of Cuba. Yankees have a unique skill for recognizing and admiring superior cultures before screwing them up.

  56. @Frez

    But what’s driving this exactly when Mexico has been suffering a devastating drug war and ruthless cartels control large parts of the country??

    Perhaps it escaped your notice, but a ruthless cartel called the Federal Reserve controls 100% of America.

  57. Thanks Linh Dinh for another super-good article.

  58. sad2 says:

    Mexico’s culture of corruption will make it more adaptable to the upcoming technocratic future where 0.01% of the population own everything. America on the other hand is incredibly greedy. The American demands a high wage and great benefits for doing the same work a poor Mexican, Chinese, or other poor Asian will do. America won’t make it to the technocratic future. It’ll descend into chaos over income inequality.

  59. Che Guava says:
    @jilles dykstra

    Hello, Jilles.

    You may recall that the US admin. under Obummer, had an official covert programme named ‘Fast and Furious’, codenamed, in very bad taste, after the shitty movies with the same title (have not watched one, adverts with still pix are enough to keep me away).

    The main result was the delivery of many assault weapons to the Mobs in northern Mexico.

    I am unable to work out a rationale for it.

    Also, shaming of gross fatties is never inappropriate, almost all are deserving.

    Saw a monster with arms the radius of at least four times mine, all fat, a hippopotamus may want to mate with her, no other being (except an extremely obese male) no way.

  60. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Also– $85/diem for two people is cheap? The last time I stayed in a motel in the USA (in Rochester) it was $40 for a room with bathroom and breakfast, and they suggested it would be less if I stayed for more than a week.

    But quality (especially in the Third World) is important and of course good hotels often run far higher, so I guess the price wasn’t bad.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Revusky
  61. @jacques sheete

    The poverty in Britain in 1900 at the peak of Empire was vividly exposed when they tried to find healthy, normal sized men in their fetid cities, to fight the Boer War. Empires impoverish the lower classes in the homeland.

    • Replies: @Jake
  62. Mexico is great as long as you have money. Life is definitely better in the US but as long as you’re at least middle class in Mexico you’ll have some “peasant” from the south cleaning your house, washing your cars and doing all the hard labor and dirty work for you.

    I could only endure a few paragraphs of the article but I’d like to see the author live in the “real” Mexico where you don’t have USD to spend. That’d be the Mexico of 80% of their population.

    That’s where it’s shitty, there’s crime everywhere, schools are in terrible shape (or they don’t exist at all) and people live from manufacturing or low level jobs.

    It’s always good to remind people that almost 50% of mexicans live in poverty. And that’s mexican poverty, not “I still get to have a smartphone” US poverty.

    This while their politicians own multiple properties in Mexico, the US, Spain and other places, and their offspring travel the world and drive Ferrari’s.

    I lived in Mexico for 30 years. I know the country extremely well. It’s as bad as many people say and it’s unfortunate and sad.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Revusky
  63. @Mexican Expat

    I lived in Mexico for 30 years.

    Interesting. Where specifically did you live?

    • Replies: @Mexican Expat
  64. @Anon

    The last time I stayed in a motel in the USA (in Rochester) it was $40 for a room

    Hmm. Out of curiosity, I just looked quickly at and the cheapest place available in Rochester, NY was the Motel 6 Rochester airport, for 60 dollars a night. No mention of any breakfast. That motel 6 has an average guest rating, based on 262 reviews, of 5.9/10. I use a lot and I think I’ve never stayed anywhere with such a low rating. It also states that that motel 6 is 54% cheaper than the average room in Rochester. So I extrapolate that the average hotel room in Rochester is about $130 a night. Here is one review of that $60 a night Rochester motel 6:

    Sink was dirty from previous patrons. Locks to motel were broken. Halls were filthy. Floors were sticky. Blankets with holes. Halls smelling of cigarettes. WE should have been paid to stay there. The car would have been better. The owner should be ashamed of him/herself. A disgrace. They say they’ll leave the light on for you. Good thing because the bugs or rodents would probably scatter otherwise. Never again. Drop this place.

    Here is another:

    I loved that the entire motel smelled of Marijuana and cigarettes. I also enjoyed the semen which was crusted over on my bed skirt. The heater not working was another wonderful perk!


    I will never stay there again. The cops was there every nite

    The above are all “verified reviews”, i.e. the reviewers really stayed there.

    The 85 dollars a night accommodation in Mexico City was a very spacious, well equipped two bedroom apartment a block off Paseo de la Reforma, one of the best addresses one could stay at in Mexico City. The place was spotless.

    So it really seems to me that the comparison with a motel in Rochester is not quite apples-to-apples.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Jim Bob Lassiter
  65. @Jonathan Revusky

    Mostly in Monterrey which is one of the more Americanized cities. Still there’s a lot of poverty even though one of the suburbs is the first or second wealthiest county in Mexico.

    And of course, people in that county only use the brown mexicans from the south as servants. That’s always a fun fact.

    The states of Veracruz and San Luis Potosi export a healthy dose of maids to the northern states of Mexico. Down there is not racist to treat them bad though.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Revusky
  66. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Revusky

    I stayed at the Microtel. I guess it was technically in Henrietta; I don’t know if that would screw up your search. I had no problems whatsoever. Well, the tea wasn’t very good, for whatever reason. But that was all.

  67. @Jonathan Revusky

    Just knowing a little about Rochester kind of made me suspicious of Anon’s assertions about lodging there.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Jonathan Revusky
  68. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Bob Lassiter

    Of what are you suspicious? For Heaven’s sake, I even named the place! Downtown Rochester, of course, from all I’ve heard, is a place to avoid at all costs except for certain sections.

    • Replies: @Jim Bob Lassiter
  69. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Thank you for your (needlessly insulting) comment, but what did the writer turn on its head? Does he not contradict the reality of the situation? For more of that, here’s a recent article by Justin Raimondo about our southern neighbor and its relationship to the U.S.

  70. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    p.s. — I could post links supporting what you call “assumption” but you can do the research; look for genuine statistics and articles by genuine authorities (assuming you’re able and willing to tell the difference).

  71. @Anon

    Hell, a $60.00 a night motel room most anywhere in the Rochester orbit (at least post-Eastman-Kodak) is worse than some “pensiones” across the street from a brothel in Mexico City.

  72. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Bragadocious – I think I misread your comment. If you agree, please accept my apology for both of my replies. I hope the moderator will delete them.

  73. @Jim Bob Lassiter

    Just knowing a little about Rochester kind of made me suspicious of Anon’s assertions about lodging there.

    Well, to be clear, I don’t particularly doubt that the person stayed at a motel in Rochester at some point. Why not?

    The point is simply that that is not a relevant reference point to compare with what was described in this article. Linh and I were in a very clean two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment one block off of Paseo de la Reforma, a block or two from the U.S. embassy for example. An equivalent address in the U.S. would be much more like the Upper East Side of Manhattan than a cheap motel in Rochester.

    But this reflects the poverty of thinking of some people. They just reason in black and white and figure all of Mexico must be the same, so if you describe some classier areas of Mexico City, like Condesa or Polanco, then they start talking about drug cartel violence in some area of the country that is another world entirely really.

    Look, the point of the article is not to deny any negative sides of Mexico, but rather, to assert that Mexico really is a very big, complex place. The people who live in nice neighborhoods in Mexico City have no more contact with all of that drug mafia violence than you or I do! They just read about it in the newspaper — assuming they’re so inclined…

    • Replies: @Anon
  74. @Mexican Expat

    Mostly in Monterrey which is one of the more Americanized cities. Still there’s a lot of poverty…

    Is it your view that the author of the article was asserting that there is no poverty in Mexico?

  75. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Revusky

    To repeat, the motel I stayed in (about a year ago) was perfectly clean (there was maid service on some odd schedule, I think every other day), there was decent and edible food, though not fancy, and so on. All the controversy frankly baffles me, and I’m not disputing that in general cost-of-living in Mexico is lower than in the U.S.

    But this reflects the poverty of thinking of some people

    OK, fine, whatever. If you say so.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Revusky
  76. @Anon

    All the controversy frankly baffles me,

    I don’t know if there’s a controversy. All I’m saying is that you are comparing two things that it makes no sense to compare.

    Just for the benefit of anybody looking at this… Here is where Linh and I stayed in Mexico City:

    And this is where you stayed in Henrietta, New York:

    Even without comparing the accommodations per se, just look at the location in Mexico City. Five short blocks in one direction is the United States Embassy and the same distance in the other direction is the Mexican Senate.

    Just look carefully at the above two links and tell me with a straight face that they are comparable places.

    Oh, and maybe you could compare these two and tell me if they are the same:

    THIS and THIS.

    Not much difference, right?

    • Replies: @Anon
  77. Anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Jonathan Revusky

    Well, OK. But Mr. Dinh made a particular (though extremely minor) point about how cheap the place was, as compared to a hypothetical Spokane (hardly NYC itself). So I thought I’d mention that it really wasn’t much cheaper, if at all, than a motel in, say, upstate NY, since I’ve never been to Spokane. I wasn’t saying you got ripped off, or any such thing.

    By the way, Rochester is also quite an interesting little city, full of history and quite nice in many parts, though a shadow of what it was (I’m told) before the riots. The surroundings are also often quite beautiful, especially Irondequoit.

    I’m not doing anything so stupid as a “comparison of experiences” in the two places.

  78. Jake says:
    @Jim Bob Lassiter

    Each of the 2 Mexican parties was born from a Masonic lodge. The lodges provided the ‘genteel’ part of early Mexican revolutionary fervor. There, men talked of the duty to rebel against the Spanish empire. Over time, such informal groups in the lodges became organized as the two parties.

    Remember, this is early in the revolutionary cycle. And in Mexico. Parties are organized after the first round is over. Parties are not organized to effect the revolution’s first stage. That was true of the French revolution as well. The Jacobin Club was a club, not a political party. But the Jacobin Club was very tight with Freemasonism, and also was filled with men who were impatient with everything to do with France before the height of the Enlightenment.

    The informal pro-revolution talk in a club naturally became formal revolutionary party.

  79. Hibernian says:
    @Hairway To Steven

    I think the point is we’re getting worse and they’re getting better.

  80. Remonster says:

    It means they do not walk around like they have their life savings tucked between the cheeks of their ass.

  81. Pangloss says:

    Lin , you are a talented writer but stating that the Paseo de la Reforma is more elegant than the Champs Elysees in Paris is the mark of a deranged mind . I have walked both scores of times . This is what happens when a nice guy like you tries a little too hard to make a point . Stick to what you know that is Vietnam and Philly and forget Mexico . Some other comments also show a total ignorance of Mexico history and culture . Go in peace and learn when shutting up makes more sense than blabbing like a fool !

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