Looking past the misconceptions of Mexico
If you search “Mexico m” in Google, the following suggestions appear: “Mexico massacres” and “Mexico mass graves.” At the bottom of the page under “Searches related to Mexico massacre,” the following appears: “Mexico killings 2010, Juarez Mexico killings, Mexico killings 2009, Mexico cartel killings, Mexico killings 2011, recent Mexican killings, recent Mexico killings 2010, Mexico killings march 2010.” Somehow over the past four years the country of Mexico has been made out to be a death trap—a place of constant, bloody violence that no one should ever visit. Such a viewpoint could not be more wrong.
As someone whose mother and family legally immigrated to this country from Mexico, and who has been to Mexico numerous times, it could be said that my perspective is biased. The fact is, however, that the American media has continually slammed the entire country of Mexico and has gone far beyond giving it a “bad rap.”
Many U.S. citizens have not had the same contact with the Mexican world that others have, simply because of the geographic position of where they live. People’s perceptions of Mexico’s war on cartels is vastly different in Los Angeles than in New Hampshire. I am not going to go an anthropological rant on the various types of Mexicans that live within the U.S. (Chicanos, Latinos or “Pochos”) but the simple fact is that people of Mexican descent all have ties to Mexico in some way or another that are far greater than that of a seventh generation Nebraska corn farmer. These people have, at some basic, raw level, an understanding of Mexico beyond that of what Fox News tells them.
This is an understanding that exists because maybe they were born and lived in Mexico for 20-something years, or maybe the vast majority of their family lives there and they are in frequent contact with them. Unfortunately, however, when the Nebraskan corn farmer sees the latest Mexican death toll on Fox News, he has nothing else to believe so he—like much of this country’s population—are led on to buy into this one-sided view of Mexican current events. People, whose closest interaction with Mexico has been eating at Taco Bell, begin to internalize emotions and soon have misinformed opinions.
Of course, the argument is made all the time that news outlets are biased and so their viewers digest biased news as well, but many American news corporations simply leave out critical background information when reporting. This creates a situation in which the viewer gains a single, unexamined belief on the state of Mexican current events.
In an attempt to gain ratings, news outlets glorify the blood and carnage that are horrible outcomes of the violence within Mexico. Arguably the most detrimental of the American media’s news coverage is its inability to place Mexican current events in context. For example, major American news outlets reported over the summer about an incident in which a cartel massacred a train full of innocent Guatemalan migrants travelling through the Mexican countryside.
What they failed to mention, however, was that the cartel that committed this heinous crime was only putting on airs in an attempt to solidify its control of the region. They did not mention that these massacres are not a regular part of everyday life in Mexico. Consequently, people whose only access to information related to Mexico is incomplete TV news, believe that such massacres are a regular part of life for the entire country of Mexico and therefore pose a direct threat to would-be tourists. As unfulfilling and unpleasant tourism-based employment (hotel maid, restaurant waiter, tour guide operator, craft artisan) is, it may be the only source of employment for thousands upon thousands of Mexicans. At the end of the day, by not being informed and intelligent human beings, we end up hurting other people in ways we may not even understand.
The next time you or your family are considering a vacation, move Mexico to the top of your list. As long as you have an ounce of common sense, you will be more than safe. Mexico has Caribbean and Pacific Ocean beaches, tropical rainforests, ancient pyramids, gorgeous deserts and an unforgettable culture. If you want to add a little bit of spice to your life then head on over to our neighbor to the south and truly experience what it means to “live the good life.”