Ask a Mexican

Why Does Mexico's Flag Resemble Italy's?

Dear Mexican: What is the reason for the colors of the Mexican flag? Is there any razón it resembles the Italian flag, minus the águila y serpent? El Girafe

Dear Male Giraffe Gabacho: What's now the Mexican tricolor is technically older than the Italian tricolore — although Italian kingdoms had used red-white-green color schemes in their flags since the late 18th century, modern-day Italy really didn't form until the Kingdom of Italy in the 1860s. Mexico's tricolor, on the other hand, dates back to shortly after the War of Independence from Spain and is based on the flag of the Army of the Three Guarantees, the unit led by Agustín de Iturbide, Mexico's first emperor; that flag was also red, white and green, although the stripes were diagonal instead of vertical.

I cycle-commute daily and follow the rules of the road, which include riding with traffic, not against it. Several times per week, I encounter characters who do this exactly backwards, riding against traffic and even making their right turns across lanes of traffic like normal people make their lefts. Invariably, they're either college students or Mexicans. Is this the normal way of riding a bike in Mexico? Thinking "Lucha Pollo" is not the Translation of "Chicken Fight"

Dear Gabacho: In 2004, the Center for Applied Research did a study for the Federal Highway Administration titled "The Pedestrian and Bicyclist Highway Safety Problem As It Relates to the Hispanic Population in the United States" that found a couple of interesting things. One stat was that Latinos were twice as likely to bike to work than gabachos; another was that "Hispanics and blacks are over-represented in pedestrian crashes." Latino deaths in bike crashes were 2.88 per 100,000 population, while the rate for gabachos were 1.78 per 100,000, and that a disproportionate amount of said deaths and accidents in general happened late at night, when most Mexi riders are returning or going to work. The report recommended educational outreach to Mexicans to correct the errors that you pointed out, but to say it's due to Mexican culture is false: Mexico City is world-renowned for its great urban cycling environment. If you see Mexicans cycling wrong, it's probably because the urban streets don't allow for a proper environment. This is a teachable moment: Get with them and advocate for designated lanes and bike-sharing programs.