Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Most Hated Gringo in the World Report – 21

The question has been asked, and more than once I might add, why I seem to have more than a passing fancy about Gringo life in the most amazing Gringolandia in the world, San Miguel de Allende. In all fairness to that question, I confess I have indeed written a bit, a mere sprinkling of text about SMA (San Miguel de Allende) since moving to Guanajuato. And, I have many wonderful faithful and astute readers in SMA who, from time to time, send me such well meaning, wittily crafted, brilliantly constructed, and highly intelligent reader's comments (mostly death threats) such as:

"Why does this guy have such a hard-on for SMA?"

Well, my goodness, indeed!

This guy, yours truly, has decided after a considerable absence from any significant screed about SMA to get back into the saddle, hard on and all, and begin writing anew about my favorite subject.

And, just where do I begin?

I've already written about the most incredible parochially paternalistic belief expressed to me by a Gringo in SMA in which he informed me, after reading one of my articles, that the one goal in life predestined for Mexicans in SMA is to serve the Gringo population and that if the Mexicans didn't like their destiny they were welcome to leave and go elsewhere.

Some three years or so after posting this in an online article, not one member of SMA's illustrious Gringolandia has ever responded so such a horrid statement by one of their own.

I've also written extensively about the chief characteristic of Cultural Imperialism – the superimposition of the language and culture of the stronger invading culture over the more vulnerable, weaker culture the stronger one has infected.

"Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting, distinguishing, separating, or artificially injecting the culture or language of one nation into another. It is usually the case that the former is a large, economically or militarily powerful nation and the latter is a smaller, less important one. Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active, formal policy or a general attitude. The term is usually used in a pejorative sense, usually in conjunction with a call to reject foreign influence." (Cultural imperialism, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

You can live in SMA and never have to utter one word of Spanish.

Every travel article, online website, chat room forum, or guidebook paints the delusion that San Miguel de Allende remains a charming Colonial Mexican that will afford the traveler a genuine Mexican touring experience. An exotic, you-can-escape-America experience awaits you. That's the Concept of Mexico that is presented. The Reality of what you get is Anywhere America. On your way to downtown SMA, you will see views such as the gigantic American-style Superstore with a mega mall-sized parking lot loaded to the brim with cars. Just like in America. Once you get downtown you will see the very genuine and thrillingly Mexican Starbucks coffee shop that awaits to give you American-style coffee at American prices. The genuine Mexican vista will soon be filled with a Wal-Mart.

One has to ask, not only of SMA but of every Mexican city in the Republic (including Guanajuato), just when the balcony views will be full-frame with McDonalds, multiple car dealerships, KFC outlets, and anything else American Imperialism can flood the landscape with.

I just have to ask why spend all that time and money to come to Mexico, and in some cases traveling thousands of miles, to vacation in a city and in a country that is no longer Foreign? Some cities I've been to in Mexico are as about as foreign as Anywhere, America. What exactly is the point? You come to Mexico to tour or live and it isn't any different than home. You can run down to the Wal-Mart to pick up some Oil of Olay or some Martha Stewart hand towels.

What is the friggin' point—that's all I am asking!

But, what is happening in SMA is happening everywhere in Mexico. American colonization through economic might instead of military power.

America has created and is importing a philosophy of unfettered capitalism that is entirely without one iota of consideration for culture. How America's retailing concepts impact culture is not a second, third, fourth, or fifth thought. It doesn't even enter into the equation.

Yet, America keeps it up at a fevered pitched pace, bringing into cities in Mexico its retail outlets, cities older and RICHER than the United States itself.

If anyone doubts that the importation of culture-destroying American retail outlets is not targeting Americans, listen to this person's comment about living in SMA:

"I live in San Miguel de Allende. I moved here three years ago with no Spanish. It has been an easy transition. There are many friendly and helpful people that live here. There is so much to do. I feel like I am living on a cruise ship because there are activities offered here everyday."

Do you think for one moment if there had not been the premeditated crafting of SMA into a "Cruise Ship" existence that anyone would pay those prices to survive in that town? It has become a Central Mexican resort with American this and American that to complete the gig.

Gringolandian's desire for a Cruise Ship existence has changed forever San Miguel de Allende. The only thing that ties the town's separate but parallel dimensions, Mexican and Gringo, together is money. One group puts food on the table. The Mexicans know it, the Gringos know it, and the Gringos have the Mexicans "over the barrel," as the saying goes.

Mexicans as an ancient and precious people have withstood conquering armies, murderous floods, starvation, and thirst but that which has won the day, and in less than a decade, that which the Mexicans cannot resist, is the culture-destroying American greed and the Americans' money.

Do you think for one moment that the importation of American retail outlets is targeting Mexicans? Tourism studies have shown that Americans will tour a country that is different but not too different. They want some sameness as home. They are attracted to cities in countries with KFC's, Wal- Marts, Sam's Clubs, and, of course, McDonalds.

In December of 2004, we were in Puerto Vallarta watching the cruise ships come in. It was something we had never seen before and I was awestruck to see the size of these floating hotels. Where the passengers disembarked there were a line of taxis ready to ferry them into the Historic Center of town. Perhaps less than half a dozen taxis were hailed. The rest of the passengers made a beeline for the Wal-Mart and Sam's Club directly across the street from the boat dock. We followed them into the stores to spy. What they did was load up on every conceivable American name-brand product they could carry in bags back to the ships. Afterwards, we watched them cross the street and re-board the boats. In somewhat of a state of shock, we caught a cab and asked the cabbie in Spanish if this was an unusual thing to see. His response was:

"¿Me está bromeando?"

Are you joking?

Our hosts, friends with whom we were staying, confirmed the story again.

My wife recently read online of a man who went touring about the country and ate exclusively at the McDonald's that were generously scattered throughout the Republic.

Potential property buyers are also attracted to where there is a lot of "sameness" as home. They want as much American-style life that can be squeezed into a culture without having to change the name of the country to "Little America."

I am not convinced the Gringolandians wouldn't want that!

And, there you have why I have written so much about San Miguel de Allende, and really all of Mexico. It is a textbook example of how a city has been targeted to attract Gringos with money by offering to them the sameness from back home. You don't have to give up anything to live here, the pitch will go, look what we've got for you – Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and whatever else you desire.

I find it all so appalling.


Guanajuato, Mexico

A Walk Through Mexico's Crown Jewel – A Guanajuato Travelogue

by Doug Bower,

is now available through Unlimited Publishing.

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