My family has always been cross-cultural, living in Latin American as well as in America – and they were not all that unusual – just a little strange. I have been reflecting on the cross-currents between the two cultures after WWII – while my cleaning lady cleans up my apartment here in Costa Rica.
I suppose my case is rather extreme – but not really. Both cultures have found it convenient to move back and forth – although the North has greatly restricted movement into it now that conditions in the South have deteriorated so badly.
In the late forties and early fifties our family often when to Mexico for our Christmas vacation – even though it was a very long drive from Illinois. Looking back on it, I can see we were desperate for a cultural break – and determined to get it. Latin America was still a nice place to live and many American families did so – as part of an extended cultural break. At the same time, many Latinos were taking a cultural break of their own up North. People went back and forth all the time, and nobody thought anything of it. That is just the way it was.
Have things changed! Now desperate Latinos will do anything to get across the border and get an American job. And Americans are equally desperate to keep them out. In its saner moments – which are not many – the American government realizes it must help Latin America just to help itself. But, as in most other matters, its ability to help itself is so pathetic it is not much use in helping anyone else.
Update March 14 from the NY Times
TRONCONES, Mexico — Gunmen believed to be drug traffickers shot an American consulate worker and her husband to death over the weekend in the violence-racked border town of Ciudad Juárez, and killed the husband of another consular employee and wounded his two young children, the authorities said Sunday.
Strengthening its travel warning for Mexico, the State Department said: “Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”
Although President Calderón has maintained that the government has control over the entire country, the State Department’s warning suggests otherwise. Because of a surge in assaults, murders and kidnappings, the American Embassy restricts diplomats from traveling anywhere in the state of Durango, south of highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River in the state of Coahuila, and in the northwest part of the state of Chihuahua and southeast of Ciudad Juárez.
American citizens are becoming more frequent victims of the violence. In late 2009 and early 2010, four Americans visiting Durango were killed in cases that like most in Mexico remain unsolved.