Memo From Mexico | Is Mexico Really "North American"?

Is Mexico a part of North America—or is it part of Latin America?

It's an important question. The SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership) is drawing the U.S., Canada and Mexico into ever-closer union. It could well culminate in some sort of North American Community/Union along the lines of the European Union across the pond.

So which is it?

Geographically, of course, Mexico is part of the continent we call North America. But culturally, Mexico is part of Latin America.

The U.S.-Mexican border, what's left of it, anyway, is not only an international border between two nations. It's a socioeconomic border between the First World and the Third World. And it's a cultural border between  Anglo-America and Latin America, two cultures that still, despite globalization, have profound differences.

As I reported in an earlier VDARE.COM article, there is opposition here in Mexico to the developing SPP, just as there is opposition to NAFTA.

Why do Mexicans oppose integration with the U.S.?

In the first place, Mexicans don't want to become Americans.

They also fear that NAFTA and the SPP are tricks for the U.S. (called "The Colossus of the North") to steal Mexico's natural resources.

Another objection:  if Mexico is going to integrate, it should be integrating with the Latin American "sister nations", not with the Anglo-Saxons of the north. That's an argument of Miguel Pickard, prominent Mexican opponent of the SPP. He writes:

"Deep integration would mean foregoing an independent future. For Mexico it would forever cancel the Bolivarist dream of a united Latin America, with Mexico spurning its historic relationship with the rest of Latin America. The North American identity to be forged would be spurious and forced. The right of Mexicans to decide the future of the Mexican nation is at stake…" [What Is ASPAN And Why Do Mexicans Oppose It?]

The "Bolivarist dream" refers to "El Libertador", Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), the great South American general/politician who had a vision of a Latin American federation. Bolivar's dream failed—even his Gran Colombia broke up into 3 countries—but it provides a reference point for Latin Americans, of various persuasions, who favor some sort of Latin American integration.

(Interestingly, James C. Bennett in his book The Anglosphere Challenge gives new life to this notion by arguing that the internet is placing a premium on common language, so that linguistic blocs—what he calls the Anglosphere, the Hispanosphere, the Sinosphere—will inevitably emerge regardless of government ambitions).

Mexico's government, nevertheless, has been pursuing free trade and growing integration with the U.S. since the 1980s.

Carlos Salinas, president from 1988-1994 and sponsor of the corrupt privatization drive that, among other things, made Mexican telephone monopolist Carlos Slim the richest man in the world, was a tireless supporter of North American integration and one of the architects of NAFTA. Salinas was hailed at the time as a great reformer. Then after his fall from grace, he was just as vociferously blamed for all the troubles facing Mexico.

Steve Sailer described the post-Salinas meltdown on VDARE.com in 2000

"Meanwhile, having secured the election of the PRI's replacement presidential candidate Ernesto Zedillo, ex-President Salinas was looking forward to an active retirement as the human emblem of the New World Order. Clinton was backing Salinas for the presidency of the World Trade Organization. Dow Jones, the owner of the Wall Street Journal, elected him to its Board of Directors.

"Then, as so often happens to Mexico's ex-presidents as soon as power slips from their fingers, the ex-President's shiny reputation collapsed. Three weeks after Salinas left power, his economic house of cards fell and Mexico plunged into a depression." [Shackled to an [ungrateful] corpse, May 5, 2000]

Salinas retired to Ireland, where the climate and extradition laws are good for his health. And he's no longer a director of Dow Jones.

What motivated Salinas' international dealmaking? Harvard's Samuel P. Huntington in his celebrated 1993 Foreign Affairs article "The Clash of Civilizations?" characterized Mexico as a "torn country", divided between belonging in North America or Latin America. (Huntington said that Turkey was also a "torn country", betwixt Europe and the Islamic World).

Huntington had some personal contact with the Salinas administration. He reported an interesting conversation:

"In 1991 a top adviser to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari described at length to me all the changes the Salinas government was making. When he finished, I remarked: 'That's most impressive. It seems to be that basically you want to change Mexico from a Latin American country into a North American country.' He looked at me with surprise and exclaimed 'Exactly! That's precisely what we are trying to do, but of course we could never say so publicly.' "(The Clash Of Civilizations, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993 Free Version)

If Salinas and successors were trying to make Mexico into a North American country, did they succeed?

And if they did, would that be a good thing?

Economically, Mexico is tightly linked with the U.S.A. already. Currently, all of Mexico's trade with other Latin American nations is dwarfed by its trade with the U.S. This made NAFTA seem like a natural to Mexico's leaders.

And there is undoubtedly much American influence in Mexico, which is both eagerly sought after and resented.

American corporations invest billions of dollars in Mexico. This year has seen an increase in such investment. There are factories galore, but even more obvious to the average Mexican is the growth of American retailers and fast food restaurants. Wal-mart is now the country's largest private employer, at 1.7 million workers. Wal-mart employs more people in Mexico than the world's richest man Carlos Slim, who, despite his vast wealth can only manage to hire a quarter of a million Mexicans.

Mexican shoppers can also shop at Home Depot, Office Depot, H-E-B, Woolworth, Ace Hardware, the list goes on and on. And for fast food, you can eat at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Subway, Pizza Hut, and so forth. The quality of the food is, to me at least, indistinguishable from that north of the border.

Occasionally, though not often, such establishments are targets of protestors. I recall in 1994 when a McDonald's in Mexico City was broken into and vandalized in reprisal for the passage of Prop 187 in California. It didn't matter to the vandals that the restaurant was a Mexican-owned franchise outlet—it was still a symbol of the U.S. and thus a target.

More recently, on May Day of 2006, protestors called for a boycott of all American businesses in support of illegals in the U.S. This boycott was a failure, but it indicates that all American businesses are considered a threat to Mexican sovereignty (whether owned by U.S. corporations or franchises is irrelevant to the protestors).

Hollywood movies are very popular in Mexico. In fact, the Mexican public prefers them to Mexican-made films. Likewise, U.S. television programs are widely watched. American movies and TV shows are major influences on how Mexicans view their northern neighbors—which is not necessarily a good thing.

English-language pop music has many fans among young and middle-age Mexicans. My Mexican students know more about contemporary pop music than I do.  Many Mexican youth are fans of American teams in major league baseball, the NBA and NFL.

Even some American holidays, such as Halloween, Valentine's Day, and some Christmas customs have been assimilated into Mexican society. Various English words have become loanwords in the Spanish language.

This bothers some Mexicans who resist American influence and are afraid Mexico is losing its identity. That's part of the uneasiness over NAFTA, SPP and continental integration.

Nevertheless, much of the American influence is rather superficial. Many Mexican young people learn English in school, and learn it quite well. That doesn't mean they've become Americans.

Despite American cultural (mostly pop culture) influence, Mexico is still firmly grounded in Latin America.

Sure, Mexican youth enjoy English pop music. But they also love rock en español, a vast industry highlighting pop stars from Spain, Mexico and Latin American countries.

The Spanish language is a powerful glue that unites Latin Americans, despite their racial and social diversity. Nowadays, the language of Cervantes can be accessed on the Internet, movies, TV—in every medium you can use English, you can also use Spanish.

Mexican education confirms the country's links with Latin America. Since they speak the same language, poets and authors from other Spanish-speaking countries are easily studied.

A language is more than a code for communicating. It's a lens for viewing the world.

Open a Mexican atlas, go to the European section, and the first map is of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Open an American atlas, go to the European section, and the first map will be of the British Isles. It's a natural orientation for each culture.

As I've pointed out before, Mexicans are taught there are 5 continents, not 7, and one of them is América, by which they mean the whole hemisphere. That's why they think it's wrong for U.S. citizens to call ourselves "Americans."

This may seem like a minor point. And it would be—if we didn't have millions of Latin American immigrants, many of them illegal, whose geographical orientation may predispose them to delegitimize American citizenship, and to say things like "America is a continent not a country."

Mexicans call other Latin nations naciones hermanas- "sister nations". They don't refer to the U.S. and Canada as "sister nations." They call the U.S. a "neighbor" but not a "sister".

The legal systems of Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries are based upon European Roman/Napoleonic Law. The legal systems of the U.S. and Canada are based on English Common Law. That's a big difference.

Everybody knows there's too much corruption in the Mexican judicial system. But imagine if the corruption could magically be eliminated. Even then, the Mexican legal system would be incompatible with ours.

But movers and shakers pushing continental unions (on both sides of the Atlantic) don't really care about cultural differences or incompatible legal systems.

That's the globalist delusion in a nutshell. To these people, culture and roots don't matter—only big money and big government, often working hand in hand. If the political and corporate elite are together, who cares what the people think?

Our own President, George W. Bush provides a prime example. For the six years of his presidency, Bush has actively worked to stymie all serious efforts to get control of the border and defend U.S. sovereignty.

But nobody should have been surprised. In 2000, after his nomination, Bush openly announced his desire to join the U.S. with Latin America. Whether his vehicle is open borders, multiculturalism, or the SPP, the man has been faithful to his globalistic vision of a Hispanicized United States.

This is what Bush said in his Miami speech in 2000

"American has one national creed, but many accents. We are now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We're a major source of Latin music, journalism and culture.  

"Just go to Miami, or San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago or West New York, New Jersey….and close your eyes and listen. You could just as easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago, or San Miguel de Allende. For years our nation has debated this change—some have praised it and others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the new America."  Texas Governor George W. Bush on U.S. Policy for Latin America, August 25, 2000

These statements were quite remarkable for their arrogance, elitism, and crass frankness. Bush celebrates cultural and linguistic Balkanization, and the transformation of the historical American nation. And he has the gall to say this change was properly debated.

When was it debated? It wasn't. But Bush used his nomination as a mandate to further transform his native country, to which he seems to have so little connection. Still, in 2000, what prominent Republican spoke out against this?

Bush's Miami speech also highlighted his specific goals for Mexico:

"I have a vision for our two countries. The United States is destined to have a 'special relationship' with Mexico, as clear and strong as we have had with Canada and Great Britain. Historically we have had no closer friends and allies… Our ties of history and heritage with Mexico are just as deep."

Of course, after 9/11, it was Britain and not Mexico that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq at the United States' side. But Bush appears not to have noticed.

Practically speaking, for George Bush, what has this "special relationship" with Mexico meant? It's meant the encouragement and justification of illegal immigration to the U.S., and the political marginalization of those who oppose it. It's meant the encouragement of Spanish as a de facto official language. And it's also meant that George Bush has not once reprimanded the meddling by Mexican consular officials on U.S. soil.

But you know what? Despite all this—or maybe even because of it—George Bush is highly unpopular in Mexico. Just the other day, a student of mine wrote in a paper that Bush is one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.

Bush is hated in Mexico. Ironically, our globalist president is blamed for the mostly non-existent border fence and the recent perceived crackdown on illegal immigration. (Yes, I know it's probably a ruse on Bush's part, but here in Mexico it's presented as a great crackdown).

So what about Mexico's Calderon, what's he up to?

Calderon's predecessor, Vicente Fox, was attacked in Mexico as being too pro-American. So Calderon announced he would orient Mexico toward Latin America.

Here's what Calderon said at his recent Informe [equivalent to the State of the Union]:

"Mexico has entered into a new dynamic in these [recent] months in its relations with the sister nations of Latin America. Beyond our differences, we know that indestructible bonds unite Mexico with Latin America. In the first months [of Calderon's administration] we have mended and strengthened our relations with all the countries of Latin America, without exception. Mexico must fully exercise the leadership responsibility that corresponds to her [Mexico], based upon history, culture, economics and its geographical position on the Continent."

Maybe a lot of this is rhetoric, to appease his critics. But Mexico has already mended fences with Cuba and Venezuela. Traditionally, close relations with Cuba have been cultivated by Mexico in order to demonstrate its independence from the United States.

But simultaneously Calderon is moving ahead with the SPP and more. Calderon has openly called for something similar to the European Union . Of course, this is to be used as a framework for continued emigration to the U.S. (and Canada). Calderon also wants his rich partners to finance development in Mexico.

Like his predecessor, Calderon continues to bash U.S. immigration policy, as in his recent Informe.

President Calderon is shrewd and ambitious. By orienting Mexico both north and south, though in different ways, he is attempting to leverage Mexico's unique location to its advantage. It's totally understandable.

Nevertheless, Calderon's vision is not to every Mexican's liking. Political re-alignments in Mexico may yet modify this strategy.

And hopefully, enough Americans will defend our culture and sovereignty from the ambitions of a globalist elite, which—sad to say—includes our own president.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.