Ask a Mexican

Note to Salvis: Can't we all just get along?

Dear Mexican: For most of my life, I was oblivious to the hate that Mexicans have for Salvadorans. I became aware of it when I made the huge mistake of marrying a Salvi. Once I became engaged to my Salvi girlfriend, or whenever I would tell any Mexican that I married a Salvi, I was bombarded with so much hate for Salvis! I'd get responses like "Eww, a Salvi," or "Damn, I feel sorry for you — you married a Salvi!" I've since divorced and can't stand anything associated with El Salvador. My question, though, is where does the Mexican disgust for Salvis originate?

Former Pupusa Eater

Dear Mexican: Growing up, I never noticed the difference between any Hispanic person. Yo pensaba that if you spoke Spanish, it meant that you were Mexican (I was little, okay?). Of course, as I grew up, I started noticing all different kinds of Latinos — in particular, Salvis. I don't know how to explain it, but it's like this feeling that was always there, this dislike and rivalry toward them. I mean, don't get me wrong: I don't hate them, I just dislike them. And I wasn't the only one! I found out that many Mexicans feel this way, too, as do Salvadorans toward us. So is this a universal feeling? Am I wrong for feeling this way? Are Mexicans and Salvadorans rivales? If so, ¿por qué?

La Gordis de Guadalajara

Dear Wabs: Historically, the Mexican-Salvadoran rivalry that so many readers correctamente note has a strong basis. Shortly after Central America gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico tried to swallow the region into its burgeoning empire. The fiercest opposition against this annexation? El Salvador. Eventually, republic-minded Mexicans stopped their country's ambitions and allowed El Salvador and the other Central American provinces to create the United Provinces of Central America. That lasted into the 1830s, by which time Mexico was too busy dealing with another imperial power to care much about recouping its former holdings. And if you know anything about Mexico, it's que we don't take thefts of our lands lightly.

But that was then — this is ahora, and there remains no reason for the two countries and their raza to hate each other. Presidents Felipe Calderón and Mauricio Funes met this summer and reached quite a few accords and bilateral agreements. Stateside, wabs and Salvis might compete for the same resources like other recent immigrants, but we're both wetbacks in the eyes of the gabachos (and in the case of Salvis, to echo the legendary Los Tigres del Norte song, tres veces mojado). Let's make peace, Salvadorans: Our rivalry is pointless, and the fruits of a union are much richer. Besides, hatred between nosotros merely blinds us to the menace between our ancestral lands: Guatemala.

Dear Mexican: In Northern California, we have many Latino-themed murals on walls, buildings and storefronts. However, I'm told that in Mexico, such murals are generally on the inside of the buildings (specifically churches), where only the faithful or other insiders can see them. Is this true? Do Mexican mural artists hide their talents away, while those in California are happy to have their work on display for everyone?

Rivera Raver

Dear Gabacho: Not true. Maybe the Catholic Church wants to withhold its artistic treasures like damning pedo-priest personnel files, but the point of the Mexican muralism movement was to create art for the masses and for public consumption — and it remains so today. For more info on perhaps the United States' best collection of such murals, visit

CORRECTION: A couple of weeks ago, in explaining the discrepancies between English and Spanish in pronouncing the letter x, the Mexican stated that St. Francis Xavier founded the Jesuits. The order's true founder, of course, was Ignatius of Loyola. The Mexican apologizes for his error and blames the United States for stealing half of Mexico.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano

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