Dear Mexican: Why Do Mexicans Lie?

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans make up such obvious lies? Like this galán who had his sister call me and say it was him with a cold. Or my friend who pretends to be traveling the world but is really sending e-mails from his mother’s computer. Or the random person on the street who says he can give you directions and then just makes them up. Do they have something against reality, or do they believe themselves on some level?
Clara la Dudosa

Dear Clara the Doubter: “There is nothing new about Mexico’s tradition of lying, of course,” wrote Andres Oppenheimer in his 1998 Bordering on Chaos: Guerrillas, Stockholders, Politicians and Mexico’s Road to Prosperity. “Since as far as historians could remember, double talk and deceit had been part of Mexico’s culture.” This line has been used by Know Nothings ever since as proof that Mexicans are not to be trusted — never mind that Oppenheimer is an elitist Argentine carajo. Mexicans lie for the same reason anyone does: to protect oneself, to try to gain an advantage over someone else, and to ultimately come out on top. And if you think that’s a uniquely Mexican characteristic, then you must also believe President Obama when he says the guv’ment ain’t spying on you, or that he has the best interests of Mexicans in mind while deporting us in record numbers.

Dear Mexican: Mexico seems to be doing very well among Latin American countries as far as unemployment rates and economic growth go. Are the benefits only going to a few at the top and large corporations, or are the wages paid pathetically low with no labor unions to negotiate for better pay? What is the main factor or factors that encourage people to risk so much to get here?
Hoping to Become an Immigrant

Dear Gabacho: Although it seems obvious why Mexicans continue to come to the United States — better opportunities, as is the case with every immigrant group that has ever come here — what makes them sour on their patria is more telling. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that a third of Mexicans would migrate to the U.S. if they could — but whereas 60 percent said the economy is a big problem, 79 percent said crime is the country’s biggest issue. Also beating out the economy were corrupt political leaders (72 percent), cartel violence (also 72), and water and air pollution (70 and 69, respectively). Even corrupt police beat the economy as a topic of concern. At this point in Mexico’s history, it’s time to push the reset button and start a revolution — or we can do what we’ve been doing, and migrate to the U.S. Because why revolt in one country when you can do it in two?

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano