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There’s just one thing that may be capable of uniting Mexican politicians more than their obsession with trashing the United States, and that is their compulsion to buy a house in America and enjoy all those Northern benefits they seem to despise.
Just last week, we had an example of this. A political scandal was unleashed on a national scale when the son of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (who has been characterized by his discourse in favor of austerity and nationalism) was photographed during a super luxury vacation, not in the trajineras of Xochimilco or on the steps of Teotihuacán, but in the winter destination of Aspen, Colorado, a traditional refuge for stars and millionaires.
From the outset, the revelation leads us to ask ourselves where a junior politician, with no known profession or profit, gets the money to vacation in style in one of the most exclusive destinations in the United States.
It’s not only Aspen, Mexican politicians travel across America
However, the rhetoric and the sections of Mexican politicians deserves a much deeper reflection, since the presidential junior is not, by far, the first one to enjoy the sweetness of economic power in the territory of the “Yankee empire”, which they supposedly detest.
On the contrary, the list of high-profile politicians who are known to have properties (legally acquired or not) in U.S. territory includes people from all parties. Some of the list includes Javier Duarte (PRI), Carlos Lomelí (Morena), Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca (PAN), Olga Sánchez Cordero (Secretary of the Interior), Alejandra Barrales (PRD) and the infamous union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, among many others.
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Moreover, to end soon, the real estate market in cities such as McAllen, San Antonio or Houston depends, in part, on buyers coming from across the border and for whom acquiring real estate in the United States is a fundamental part of their life project.
Now, that in itself is not bad. America is the greatest nation on earth. It is quite understandable that those who can afford to buy a home in the United States would jump at the opportunity. Certainly if I were in their shoes I would have done exactly the same thing. The problem is not that, but the double standard.
Mexico, so far from God and so close to the U.S.
There is a deep-rooted custom in Mexican social and political discourse regarding insulting its northern neighbor. Intellectuals, governors and candidates take advantage of any opportunity and any debate to degrade the United States and contrast it with an imaginary moral superiority of Mexican society.
That is why, when López Obrador spat at Biden the little phrase “Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States” (attributed to Porfirio Díaz), he did nothing more than reproduce a refrain that Mexican politicians have repeated for decades and that reveals a very deep hypocrisy. Basically, politicians condemn America’s “materialism” and “lack of values”, while they resort to all resources (legal or illegal), to get a house in that country they supposedly despise so much
These attitudes have two serious consequences
The first one is to encourage in the Mexican popular imagination the unhealthy hatred towards the United States of America, which is then intermingled with admiration, to give shape to that which in my town we call envy. This is a feeling feeling justified in the minds of millions of people who blame Uncle Sam for the poverty, marginalization and underdevelopment of Mexico but whose real culprits are the Mexican politicians themselves. Those same politicians who then buy an apartment in Houston or New York.
The second is that, due to resentment against America, Mexican politicians and their voters refuse to learn from their northern neighbors. Mexico copied America’s federalism, presidentialism and the “United States” (Mexico’s official name is “Estados Unidos Mexicanos”), but they aren’t willing to understand or learn the elements of coexistence and culture that made America great and that could make Mexico great: admiration for the entrepreneur, respect for the law, the culture of entrepreneurship, the rule of law that gives certainty to businesses, order, among other values.
Mexico has been slow to develop because it has learned badly and slowly from its northern neighbors and because Mexican politicians have used tools such as anti-American rhetoric to consolidate their power in the form of monopolistic, criminal and destructive chieftainships that allow them to accumulate the money for a luxury mansion in America, while the rest of the people are left chewing demagoguery or wandering in the desert to sneak past Border Patrol and seek in the United States the opportunities they will never find in the “morally superior” Mexico of poverty, violence, and shameless politicians.
It is good that candidates and “candidotes” of the Mexican partidocracy are trying so hard to get a little house in the United States. But it would be better if, with the same determination, the powerful would make an effort to imitate the virtues of America in Mexico.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”