Traditional Hacienda in Mexico

Traditional Hacienda in Mexico

I recently received a very intellectual, well thought-out and explained response to my frustrations in Mexico from one “Fernando” (which, by the way, is supposedly the name of my personal angel … but that´s another story!). Thank you, Fernando!

This particular comment got me thinking about how the history of Mexico has influenced the culture and society here today. As Fernando pointed out, Mexico is really not like a US or Chile, in that the Europeans who came to Mexico did not practically eliminate the native peoples, as occurred in the history of many countries in “the new world.” Yet it is also not quite like a Bolivia, for instance, where the native populations remain in the majority and still maintain a strong cultural identity/language/customs. No, Mexico is unique.

An interesting POV on Latin American History

An interesting POV on Latin American History

As Eduardo Galeano described in his book “Las Venas Abiertas a America Latina,” in Mexico it was the native Aztecs who enabled the Spaniards to take over and control the land, and it was the Spanish-blood Criollos who in turn freed Mexico. A bit of a twist from the classic “Colonizer – Native” story. Mexico was built from a mixed population with cultural, genetic and geographic influence from a wide variety of native peoples, several groups of Spaniards with varied interests in business, religion and the search for a better life, and more recently from the capitalist, consumer-driven culture of the USA. These varied cultural influences converge in Mexico, a nation that never really settled on a singular identity and has had a long history of drastic social class differences that constantly pulled the country and culture apart.

Of course, we can ask if there is really any country that has a singular identity today. Probably not. But still, it seems to me, as an outsider, that Mexico struggles to find the common principles on which to base their cultural beliefs. I could say that in the US, the idea of “you can do/be anything” is a unifying cultural belief. Even Switzerland, a country with several different languages and distinct cultures has some unifying cultural identities. But what are Mexico´s unifying cultural identities? What is Mexico known for around the world, and what do they want to be known for? (No, tequila and tacos do not count as unifying cultural beliefs, in my opinion.)

Perhaps if Mexico could continue this self-exploration and develop a unified point of view on what the country and people should stand for, they could more easily overcome the sociocultural issues that everyone here seems to complain about but no one seems willing to change. Or is this unified vision just a silly daydream? Can profound sociocultural evolution come without a vision of where Mexico wants to go and who it wants to be?

Ideas/thoughts dear readers?

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