Are Latin Americans' ghosts and goatsuckers made in the U.S.A.?

Dear Mexican: Why is it que cada vez that I talk to a Hispanic (not many Mexicans in New York, yet), it seems that they have a fantasma that they think lives in their house? I know that Carlos Mencia has used this in his material, but I wonder if la raza is more liable to be haunted than other ethnic groups. Also, why does the chupacabra only live in Hispanic areas (including the South Bronx) but never in rural Mississippi?

—Spooked in Soho

Dear Gabacho: This column is ¡Ask a Mexican!, not ¡Ask a Hispanic!, but I'm making an exception for you because doing so allows me to dispel a long-held myth: The chupacabra isn't Mexican. The fantastical creature that preys on livestock (hence, its Spanish name, which translates as "goatsucker") has obsessed Fortean minds and popular culture in the Americas for the past 15 years. Its first claimed sighting was in 1995 in Puerto Rico, and other witnesses across Latin America (including the American Southwest and Florida) have also reported seeing the creature. All cultures keep bloodsuckers as bogeymen—witness America's current fascination with Twilight and True Blood, or how Know Nothings castigate Mexis as perpetual leeches. But as Benjamin Radford reported in his well-researched, well-written Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore, folklorists have long considered Latin American culture a fountain of mysticism and tall tales, legends usually created as socio-Jungian explanations of life. The chupacabra, according to this school of pensamiento and as folkorist Radford cites with a bit of skepticism, is "a form of cultural resistance which many [Latinos] use to maintain social bonds and gain control over growing fears surrounding the perceived destructive effects of 'toxic' U.S. political and economic imperialism." Typical—when in doubt, blame the problems of Latinos on gabachos, the true Nosferatus.

A couple of weeks ago, to the horror of friends and family, my wife and I walked across the bridge from El Paso into Mexico for a day of wandering the mercados of Juárez in search of Salsa de la Viuda and Bohemia Obscura. A quick Internet search suggests that there were more than 3,000 murders in Juárez in 2010. Our friends said we were crazy. We are both very comfortable mixing with Latinos in general. My wife is a "Spanish" person from northern New Mexico (call her a "Mexican" at your peril). Our view was that the drug lords are killing one another and are not much interested in a couple of day tourists in broad daylight in the tourist zone of Juárez. The fact that we saw only three other obvious gabacho tourists over the course of the day shows that U.S. tourists are terrified of Juárez. Most of the tourist mercados were closed (we were the only shoppers there). Most of the usual border liquor stores were boarded up, and those that were open had scant inventory. The mercados favored by the locals, on the other hand, were buzzing. So, were we crazy to go? We had a great day even though we didn't find the beer or salsa.

—Viviendo la Vida Loca

Dear Gabacho: Your logic is the same as an American tourist walking through Baghdad during the height of the insurgency. While your reasoning is fine—narcos usually shoot for their enemies or Mexican-Americans returning to the rancho, and lay off gunning at gabachos lest the U.S. Army pull another Punitive Expedition—they're rather trigger-happy at the moment. Besides, why visit Juárez when you have El Paso—statistically and seemingly contradictorily one of the safest big cities in the United States—right across the border? They have everything Juárez has, plus Chico's Tacos: purveyors of the double-order of rolled tacos, baptized in a flurry of cheddar cheese and tomato sauce, as close to a Mexican god since the days of Quetzalcoatl.

GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! Another Chuco landmark—Cinco Puntos Press, purveyors of fine Mexican-American books, and a friend to the Mexican. Their catalog is at cincopuntos.com.

 
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4 comments
Bryan Parham
Bryan Parham

ITS NOT THAT THEY'RE LOOKING FOR DAY TOURIST, ITS THE CROSS FIRE YOU MIGHT WANT TO BE WORRY ABOUT.LAST TIME I CHECKED KIDNAPPING AMEICANS IS GROWING BUSINESS IN MEXICO, I WOULDNT GO ACROSS THE BORDER AND IM PART MEXICAN NOT SPANISH..IF YOUR FROM SPAIN YOUR SPANISH, SORRY JUST SAYIN..

Tigeo82
Tigeo82

whats wrong with the influx of? See below!!!

Lonerider46
Lonerider46

well u young buck's are all still green. ta cabra is a new thing in day's ot old u had la mano pachona, la jorona, not to forget la lechu sa. there are meany tail's in ta real messkin way of life but ta gringo's have to all way's shit ta stick. in engles so they know what i throw at them. as in there way of thinking if they don't know. condem it put it down, destroy it. an don't excepet it. they are ignorent, if they ever used there brain then they could of learned a lot from our elder's an our cuz's ta north american indian's. for we are ta only true natives in this land. all these heten's an foreigh folk's came here after they screwed up were they were at. now they don't let us make a chose of thing's to come but they do point ta finger at use every time they screw up. now they have thined out ta indian's an they are trying to start some crap between us an ta black's so we don't go an vote them out of office!! why do white girl's want a messkin. cause they see our women walking with all them kid's an they think. what a man he must be, he never quite's. my old man, never want's to or cant do it all night long. look at t.v. more white women with messkin names. they get good sex now!!! word's of wisdom from lonerider

Panchito_07
Panchito_07

not every one wants a scocer team running around

 
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