Monday, June 11, 2007

Gringolandia: Something Not Oft Talked of

A recent, path-breaking article published in Dissent magazine described a group that doesn't learn the new language, displays its native flag, maintains its traditional customs, and even celebrates its old holidays in the new country. "Some live and work without proper documentation and have even been involved in the illegal transport of drugs across borders," stated the piece. Sound familiar?

Written by Sheila Croucher, a professor of political science at Ohio's Miami University who is studying US migration to Mexico, the article delved into the complex aspects of the new Gringolandia south of the border. Professor Croucher found that many of the same issues that surround the Mexican immigrant community in the US ring true with the US immigrant community in Mexico as well. As Croucher summarized it in an interview with Frontera Norte Sur, "The precise things that politicians and pundits are railing against in the US."

Nobody knows for sure how many people of US origin reside in Puerto Vallarta and other regions of Mexico, but Croucher said that one US State Department estimate made several years ago pegged the number at about 600,000 souls. Since 9-11, the US government has become reticent about disclosing information concerning US citizens living abroad, Croucher added.


Some lament what they regard as the contamination of Mexican culture by rampant consumerism imported from the United States. Credit cards are back in fashion in Mexico, and status symbols prevail. According to world "citizen" Denise, a money game goes on between Mexican nationals and migrants. "You get a lot of Americans here who think they can overrun Mexicans with money," she added, "but Mexicans aren't stupid. They'll charge them double for everything."

In comparison to the immigration debate-polarized US, Miami University's Sheila Croucher hasn't detected a nationalistic resentment in Mexico boiling up against the gringo migrants — at least until now. According to Croucher, natives of San Miguel de Allende maintain that the gringo presence allows the town to economically survive. Intriguingly, Croucher has heard more put-downs against the newer arrivals voiced by longer-established gringos. "The idea," she mused, "that these newcomers are messing up 'our' authentic Mexican towns."

I need to get that Next Si! Mexico Yes! written up. This is something though that few people think about much at all. That the Americans are overrunning Mexico! Damn those immigrants!

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