Expats Speaking Well of Mexico

Let this be the first entry in a growing review of Mexico from the expat perspective.  I want your comments.  I don’t want to hear from tourists about their week in Cancún.  I want to hear from businesspeople, diplomats, evangelists, retirees, and others who know Mexico from the inside.  I want to hear if the pollution outweighs the natural beauty.  I want to know if the graft and corruption are worse than the sincerity and humility.  I want to hear if the “God willing” resignation of personal fate is too unbecoming to the self-determining Gringo mind.  In short, I want to hear if you think that Mexico is as bad as looks from here on the border. 

This little rant is inspired by a recent Knight Ridder article about Mexico hiring Rob Allyn a Dallas PR man, to clean up its public image.  The article states, “The presence of nearly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States–more than half from Mexico–has left many U.S. residents with the impression that Mexico is an impoverished, economically troubled land that can’t hold on to its own people.”  The Mexican Consul General in Dallas, Carlos García de Alba, is quoted as saying, “We want to be recognized as a reliable good neighbor, partner and friend.”  Possible?

While usually tolerant of even the worst comments, I’ll have to delete those that don’t offer evidence of true familiarity with Mexico.  It’s OK if  you have negative views of Mexico if they are based on experience.

My own experience with Mexico is as a two-year resident of the more affluent west side of Mexico City and a participant in several lengthy conferences in Mexico City and Monterrey.  Summary: I had a great time.  The smog couldn’t overcome the view of Popo on a (rare) clear day.  I could see the poverty, and I couldn’t understand how such a rich nation (oil, gold, forests, coasts), could be so bad at providing for its citizens or improving their circumstances.  But I found the people to be, on the whole, honest and hard-working, creative and caring, with a greater zest for life than I knew in my home country.

Case in Point: In my first week in Mexico, after 4 years in the Middle East, I stepped out of a currency exchange shop (a casa de cambio) and started on my way.  I was soon stopped by a Mexican citizen who had seen me drop some papers, picked them up, and came running after me to deliver them.  I was floored!  That would NOT have happened in Tel Aviv, and maybe not in Washington, DC.

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