It is not a secret that there is xenophobia in Mexico. Cases of rejection of foreigners, especially against Americans, French, and Spaniards, have been documented during the last 150 years. That is, with nations we have faced militarily.
The xenophobia outbreaks against Americans, French and Spanish were not accompanied by official actions promoted by the Federal Government; The xenophobic sentiment was mainly in society as a result of military interventions. During the Porfiriato, European nations along with the United States enjoyed economic privileges due to capital investment in our country. Even after the revolution, despite the founding of a revolutionary state, at least the economic interference of the United States was allowed.
However, there are two little known historical episodes that exemplify the behavior of Mexican society against foreign communities. First, between 1911 and 1934 a fierce campaign was carried out against the Chinese population in our country. Most of the Chinese at that time arrived in our country towards the end of the 19th century, attracted by a campaign by the Diaz government that originally intended to attract European citizens to modernize the country.
The areas with the highest Chinese population were located in the northwestern states, specifically in Sonora and Torreón, Coahuila. At the beginning of the Mexican revolution, there was a growing minority of Chinese who dedicated themselves to investment and agriculture, which caused discomfort among Mexicans. It must be said that one of the reasons that encouraged revolutionaries to incur an anti-Chinese campaign was the participation of Chinese citizens in agriculture.
The anti-Chinese campaign was not only to use racist rhetoric but also the brute force of revolutionary and post-revolutionary groups against merchants and Chinese citizens. Once the revolution was over, the governments of Álvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles helped states to deport Chinese citizens, Mexicans who had married a Chinese citizen and naturalized Chinese. By 1945 the number of Chinese that inhabited the country, around 5000, was five times lower than the figure of 1925. Over time the anti-Chinese sentiment was moderated by the economic growth of China and the increase in investments of the Asian country to a global scale, However,
The second episode is even more unknown than the previous one: the government campaign against Japanese citizens during World War II. According to the historian Sergio Hernández Galindo in his book The War Against the Japanese in Mexico, during those war years, the government of President Manuel Ávila Camacho put numerous Japanese citizens and businessmen under surveillance, ordered his expulsion and confined most of the Mexican citizens with Japanese ancestry in Mexico City and Guadalajara where their freedom of movement was restricted.
It is curious to see that in a country that has been characterized as a hospital nation with foreigners, strictly violent events such as those mentioned above have occurred. But how can there be xenophobia in a country where your society and your government has been determined to defend the integrity of the nationals in the United States?
An explanation for xenophobia is the subtle racism found in Mexican immigration laws that reject individuals from poor and non-white countries. Until 1996, article 37 (repealed in 2011) of the General Population Law emphasized that the Ministry of the Interior had the right to expel immigrants if “the national demographic balance demanded it”. Likewise, this same Law criminalized illegal immigration as a crime where the punishment was the payment of a fine equivalent to two average salaries, immediate deportation, and prohibition of entry into Mexico.
With this Law, the post-revolutionary government of the twentieth century managed to insert into society the xenophobic sentiment against citizens from poor countries, that is, lower nations, and at the same time protect the interests of Mexicans in the United States, a superior nation where the nationals transfer the wealth obtained to Mexico through remittances.
The study Mexico, the Americas and the world 2012-2013 , presented by the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), showed that: 42% of Mexicans would leave the country if they could, but 51% reject immigrants because they weaken Mexican customs and traditions.
It seems irrational that the rejection of immigrants from developing countries can coexist and, at the same time, that the citizens of a developing country support migrants heading to a developed country. However, it is not.
The perpetual objective of the elites and Mexican society is the modernization of the country. Therefore, negotiating work programs with the United States that employ Mexican citizens guarantees the receipt of remittances, which translates into wealth. In itself, the general interpretation is that Mexicans in the United States represent an opportunity to transform our country economically and socially while accepting immigrants from Central American countries, for example, would not contribute to modernizing efforts; on the contrary, it would make Mexico continue in the dying third world.
Therefore, no surprise that the serious humanitarian crisis in the southern border of Mexico causes, according to El Financiero, one 63% of Mexicans support the closure of the border with Guatemala and 67% are in favor of militarizing the entry points to our country and that more than 40% of Mexicans want to leave. The present question is what can Central Americans contribute to our country? It is commonly answered fallaciously since the general rejection is due to fear and ignorance of the socio-political situation in Central America.
The objectives of all sectors of society should work in favor of eradicating xenophobia, and any other act of hate, by raising awareness, education and the implementation of public spaces where the different voices of a society can be heard. It is not possible to achieve modernity if acts of hate are allowed and promoted, because the human condition is not respected, and the minimum rights conferred by the universal laws of each individual, nor is the potential that each individual can contribute to the society.
The Mazatlan Post