Sunday, March 02, 2008

PWC's Resolution to Persecute: A Conversation With Nadia

Our conversation began on a national listserv. The following is a partial transcript of our discussion. I will be adding more as I can (Gmail is being quirky, and I can't get to all the messages).

Hi Katherine:

I lived in Virginia 16 years ago and kept visiting for the following 10 years or so. My parents in law lived in a small town called Emporia. My mother in law went back to Sao Paulo, Brazil after my father in law passed away.

I went to Virginia because I was offered a job in Mexico City to come to the States and teach Spanish in High School. My relationship to people was mediated by the fact that I was a middle class woman, a teacher and oftentimes in the company of white people. Brazil has a much wider spectrum of ethnicities than Mexico. Kevin and his family are European descendants with a mix of Jewish and Protestant heritages.

I have always been in touch with Mexican people in theUnited States and a lot of times they are the so called "illegal" people. This reminds me of Manu Chausong "Clandestine". You may want to listen to it in you tube.

The racism that you talk about is evident. The greed with which illegal workers are treated is also evident. To me the witch hunt is more a product of the candid belief that it is illegal people, those people, brown people who are coming to rob this country from its wealth and whiteness. Alas, African American can be quite resentful, too.

I honestly believe that it is always good for greedy governments to pit some groups against others. It is in the interest of businesses in the States to keep workers making much less than the minimun salary. However, as the recession seem to gain some momentum in the United States, illegal immigrants have become more and more the target to be blamed and hated. This is the saddest part. Hate really hurts and I know you agree with me because I have read your postings.

What does the Mexican government have to do with allthis? A lot. Mexico is a country with a milenary tradition, an incredible history of contesting and confronting power. Mexico has been the recipient of people in exile from Spain and most Latin American countries. This has enriched our intelectual tradition a lot. But, our history, Katherine, has been written with blood. In Mexico poverty is really democratic. You don't need to descend from a Mayan ethnicity to be poor. Surely ethnic groups are the poorest. And they are incredibly interesting. But, going back to my point. The majority of peoplein Mexico, light or dark are poor. The elite likes to have particular features and women tend to enjoy cosmetic surgery. But the Mexican "poltico" still tends to be Mestizo. Anyway, I find the Mexican government absolutely responsible for the exodus of poor people. Octavio Paz wrote in one of his first books "Zapata, is before and after neomarxists, and if Mexico doesn't die he will be after.

Thus the Zapatistas...and Subcomandante Marcos. One day I will tell you how I met him in Chiapas and even dared sending him a romantic note...

Best wishes and good day, Katherine.


Nadia, I just returned from an immigration meeting. The infamous "immigration resolution" is beginning tomorrow in our county....which means anyone who is determined to "seem" illegal can be jailed and deported, after being cited for something like driving with a broken tail light.

Nadia, my heart was breaking, just listening to the emergency plans immigrants should have in place in case they are pulled over or have the police come to their homes. Right now, there are about 400 immigrants in prison awaiting deportation. These immigrants have families and children who have depended on them. In some cases, both parents have been arrested, and children are left alone or in limbo. As I looked out into the sea of faces--workers, mothers, fathers, children, babies--I could not help but cry for them and for ourselves.

We have created another era of civil inequity, another era of marches and persecution and hatred just like we saw in the era of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the African American Civil Rights era. The people who have done this to the Hispanic and all immigrant populations are local leaders looking for political fame and a way to inflict their personal bias on the entire county. No one who has an accent or a skin color other than white is completely safe from the kind of persecution this resolution has caused. And no one who is white who wants to help the immigrant community is safe, either.

One blog in particular has openly harassed people they identify as "illegal sympathizers," posting names, addresses, and pictures on the blog, and open invitation to harass citizens exercising their free speech and right to demand social justice. The blog I am talking about demeans people with disabilities, mental illness, and those of particular religions.

Regarding Mexico, is there any way to get a delegation here to help Mexican immigrants, especially those who have worked and lived here for years, contributing to our community? I heard sometimes countries set up embassies to help their people get paperwork through. Why can't Mexico and other countries do this?
I really don't know. It does not surprise what ishappening. But, are you asking about embassies as in the Mexican Embassy in DC?, or consulates as in the consulate say in NY City or Raleigh, N Carolina? Itseems to me that the Mexican government does resent what is happening but I am not sure that they are heart broken. Unfortunately I don't live in your area so that I don't know about social movements withc onnections to the Mexican Consulate and/or Latino organizations as La Raza. What I hear from you is that a real Nazi-like movement is emerging in your county and it has become strong enough to act without fear of political, legal or social consequences. Scary.

The Mexican people you are talking about seem to be going through hell. Personally, I think it is good that they are deported with their children. They will be poor but maybe their children will be spared from hatred. This is heart breaking for me, too, becauseit is exactly what you said, a reminder of the days when blacks where lynched.

In Mexico City we have a progressive mayor, Marcelo Ebrard. The city is vibrant with popular culture and countercultures. Yes, I know there is poverty, pollution, traffic and noise like in any other big city. And in the United States there is Obama, for me the hope that something will change in this country. So, I can only think of the song "Change is gonna come".

Another thing that has been really bugging me regarding politics in Mexico is whether or not we have the government we deserve. When I look at the history of Mexico, my country, my passion, (I am visiting within two weeks Mexico City) I tend to think that the answer is negative. Somehow, I feel that theories that look at ideologies and control (however we want to call them) have a lot to explain and explore when it comes to the rise and fall of social movements. I learned a lot from an American scholar in New York, Frances Fox Piven. She wrote a book called "Regulating the Poor". It is co-authored with Richard Cloward. It is a great book to read because it analyses the privileged moment when workers united and rose during the FDR era. Then they explain the dissolution of the movement. I should read it again.
It is because of the rise of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, a day after NAFTA was signed, that I wanted so much to go to the Southeast. From the point of view of history the Mayan and non Mayan ethnicities in the region have really shown that they are a lot more civilized than the West. Yes, despite the fact that they are poor and despite the movie directed by the same creator of the Passion of Christ....

We should NEVER separate children from their families. And sending them from hatred to poverty and danger are equal in my mind. BOTH are horrible, and neither is a real choice.

Nadia, tell me about Zapatistas and your love letter. : )

Seriously, there are so many misconceptions about La Raza and other Hispanic organized groups. Rumor has it that they are terrorists, that they are trying to overtake our country, that they are one big criminal gang. What's up with them?


La Raza, terrorists? Never heard of that. It reminds me of conservative attempts to rehash on Obama's Muslim background. The love letter is the least important thing. If you want to learn about the Zapatistas read "El durito de la Selva" prologued by Saramago, the Novel Price of Literature a couple of years ago. Or read a book co-authored with Paco Ignacio Taibo II.

As for separating families I suspect the groups of Neonazis might face human rights lawyers to defend the custody of parents of their biological children. In fact the Mexican government can defend them since they are children of Mexican citizens. I hope that people like you will be able to gather some muscle, legal help, grass roots organizations, and so on.

As for a take over of your country I would not worry. Just do research regarding the IFM and the World Bank to understand what peaceful take overs look like. Again, both a government in dire need of liquidity(the Mexican government) and speculators both inMexico and the States had a great time.

Your comments are interesting but sound a bit off themark. Wouldn't it be better to inform yourself a bit, do your readings and then define your own conclusions instead of looking at silly rumors and stupidity?

Oh I'm not telling you MY comments on all this. I am repeating "the word on the street" to get your opinon and help clear things up. We have some ignorant bigots in my neck of the woods. Most of what I have learned about Mexico has been from friends, some light reading, some attempts at translating, and my visit there. (My attempts at translating were bad, as you can imagine, because I was using my basic training in Spanish I and II....a literal translation of things like philosophy!)

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