By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Dear Mexican: How can a formerly proud Latina like myself feel proud to be Mexican again after my beloved relative was murdered in Mexico by narcos while visiting? I still have love for my heritage, and I understand that many Mexican people live in desperate situations because they have no opportunity. But on that day, I was not proud to be a Mexican. And I wonder if I will ever be again.
Dear Reader: Primeramente and foremost, my pensamientos and prayers to your family. I can't imagine the pain ustedes are suffering, and the righteous anger you feel toward the monsters that inflicted such horror. But murders, no matter how terrible, are no more representative of Mexico or its people than it is of the United States and its gente. Feel ashamed of the drug cartels, of the corrupt government officials that let them roam, of the insane policies on both sides of the border that make the trade so lucrative and deadly, but don't apply those stains to the pride you feel for your heritage. Take yourself as an example—you're obviously a smart, caring, wonderful soul who is mexicana. You, your family, your dearly departed and the mucho millions of Mexicans like ustedes exhibit the true Mexican character and are more than worthy of adulation; don't let narcos and their actions ever make you think otherwise.
At what point does Mexico transition from being a failing state with a crushing humanitarian crisis to a failed state with no semblance of the rule of law? Don't get me wrong. I loved (that's loved in the past tense) Mexico, even lived as a mojado in Ciudad Juarez for three years back in the mid-1990s, back in the day when you could take a lady out for the evening and not worry that the narcos were going to grab her off your arm and rape and torture her to death before dumping her in a shallow hole out by the airport. And it's that love of the country and la raza that compels me to watch with horror as the whole thing slides from simple mordida and go-along-to-get-along to so many dead each day they don't even bother to dig the shallow holes any more.
Dear Gabacho: Either your chronology is wrong, or you're a liar. The serial murders of the women in Juarez (which now numbers into the hundreds) have been going on since at least the mid-1990s, that same bucolic decade you describe, and authorities on both sides of la frontera have blamed those deaths on many other individuals and groups besides the narcos. That clarification out of the way, Mexico is nowhere near a failed state or even a failing state. You want a failed state? Somalia. Failing state? California. Sí hay un chingo de problems with Mexico right now, and I honestly don't think the narco-wars will stop until—take your pick—the United States legalizes drugs or we occupy the country anew, but that's just the American in me. The Mexican in me knows this mess will disappear, la raza will survive and we'll continue the colonization of Aztlán anew.
I still like bullfights, but I don't go to Mexico, so I don't get to see them any more. Is bullfighting still popular in Mexico, or has Mexico, in addition to becoming a narco-state, become a land of PC pussies?
—Pasty in the Afternoon
Dear Gabacho: Mexico, a land of PC pussies? The nation that still uses outrageous caricatures of negritos, chinitos, mariposas y indios in mainstream television? That carried its cockfighting tradition to the United States, much to the consternation of municipal codes? That had its president as recently as 2007 describe an accusation against him as a cuento chino ("Chinese tale," which is to say, a lie)? That Mexico? Yeah, bullfighting still exists, although its popularity has declined over the years just like everywhere else. But if you want barnyard wrangling without the unnecessary death, try the charreada, the original rodeo. Prettier girls, better action and none of those pussy helmets.