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National Observer Home > No. 57 - Winter 2003 > Articles

Montezuma's Revenge: Mexico, the United States, and Demography


Good fences make good neighbours.
— Robert Frost, "Mending A Wall"

Mexico, like the United States, underwent an epoch-making presidential election in 2000. In contrast to the notoriously inconclusive American outcome, Mexico's poll saw the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (P.R.I.) — which had kept power for seventy-one years — forced dramatically from office on 2 July by Vicente Fox, candidate for the National Action Party (P.A.N.). Fox — or, to give him his full surname, Fox Quesada — won 43 per cent of the popular vote, the P.R.I. candidate Francisco Labastida 36 per cent, and third-party candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (Mexico City's long-serving Mayor, cheated of victory in the 1988 Presidential election by spectacular computer fraud) 16 per cent.

The average P.R.I. ruler has been — as Trotsky called Stalin — a grey blur. Fox differs from his predecessors even in appearance, looking more like a silent-movie matinee-idol than like the boring apparatchiks who for more than half a century occupied the Chapultepec Presidential palace. At two metres (six feet five inches) in height, he may well be the world's tallest head of State since De Gaulle. Born in the nation's capital in 1942 — he turned fifty-eight on the very day of his election — Fox studied at the Jesuits’ Mexico City Ibero-American University, and afterwards at Harvard, and worked as Coca-Cola's Chief Executive Officer for Mexico (hence his soubriquet "the Coca-Cola Kid") before acquiring, through his distaste for the obstructive national bureaucracy, more conventional political ambitions. In 1988 he obtained for the P.A.N. a seat in the Mexican Congress's lower house, and later he ran unsuccessfully for the governor's office in Guanajuato State. At his second attempt to gain the latter job, in 1995, he won it.

Throughout this apprenticeship, Fox campaigned consciously as an outsider. He thereby helped his own progress against an increasingly self-satisfied and stale P.R.I. elite, which between 1929 and the mid-1980s monopolised most state governor-ships as well as the Presidency. After that time P.R.I. pretensions to unchallengeable competence looked ever more absurd, not least following the dreadful Mexico City earthquake of September 1985, which claimed seven thousand lives and showed the true extent of P.R.I. corruption. Not only did the catastrophe take a disproportionate toll on newly-constructed "earthquake-proof" government buildings, but the emer-gency services proved little more than a shameful joke, forcing Mexicans to realise that ultimately they need expect no help from Big Brother. Such relief funds as officialdom eventually organised soon disappeared amid the general graft — not that they would have amounted to much even if uniformly decent civil servants had administered them. On the day President Miguel de la Madrid took office in 1982, an American dollar bought only forty-two pesos. On the day he retired in 1988, that dollar bought three thousand pesos.

The 1990s brought a further clutch of P.R.I. scandals, including the discovery that Carlos Salinas (President 1988-94) had accidentally killed a small girl with his own hands, receiving no punishment except enforced psychotherapy; the outbreak of a revolt by Indians in the Chiapas region, which for 1994's first few months attracted world headlines and swept all before it; the murders, also in 1994, of Presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and of P.R.I. Secretary José Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the latter crime carried out on the orders of Salinas’ own brother. In these circumstances, almost any presentable candidate could have won the 2000 Presidential election, provided that he campaigned on an anti-P.R.I. platform.

Republican Mexico's Early Decades

On 19 June 1867, the luckless Habsburg Emperor Maximilian — along with his two most loyal followers, ex-President Miguel Miramón and General Tomás Mejia — faced a firing squad. With Maximilian perished all hopes of non-American nations’ lasting influence over Mexico’s politics. From then on, every aspect of Mexican governance would be dominated by alternations between fear of, and contempt for, that boisterous behemoth to the country's north. Fox now sees America as the great opportunity; the leading statesman of early republican Mexico, Porfirio Díaz, saw it as the great threat. "Alas," Díaz famously lamented, "poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States!"1 Yet at least Díaz — President from 1876 till his banishment in 1911, save for one period of four years when he ran the country through a surrogate — left office too soon to be affected by the first disastrous twentieth-century American intervention in Mexican affairs: the 1913 military expedition to Veracruz, ordered by the newly-inaugurated Woodrow Wilson. In a spasm of that humbug which the world soon grew to recognise as his trademark, Wilson patiently explained his policy to British Ambassador Walter Page, via some of the most gratingly complacent verbiage ever uttered by an adult: "I am going to teach the South [sic] Americans to elect good men."2

Against such didacticism — "nonsense on stilts", to quote Bentham's phrase from another context — the perfect disinfectant can be found in the observations of Evelyn Waugh, who with his 1939 Mexican travelogue Robbery Under Law subjected Wilson to some of his fiercest invective:3

"‘I am going to teach’; that is to say: the Mexicans are still in a state of tutelage; it is the duty of the American government to instruct and discipline. ‘I’, the party momentarily in power at Washington; what if a different party, with the same coercive powers, shall aspire to teach a different lesson?

To elect’; the basic American assumption, in face of much foreign and democratic evidence to the contrary, that ‘election’ is more than a convenient method of providing a government; it is divinely ordained. Elections, even in countries of homogeneous race, widespread education, and a tradition of disinterested public service are a capricious guide; in Latin America they have always been farcical. There are, in various parts of the world, various means of securing election; the candidate may buy votes in the old English way of ready money down, in the new English way of promises to pay from the public funds when elected; he may evict opponents from their cottages or shoot them up with machine-guns in the streets of Cicero [Al Capone's Illinois headquarters]; the Mexicans, for the most part, prefer to leave the voting papers uncounted and draw from the lists made up at the party headquarters. To whom and in what terms was President Wilson proposing to teach this elusive art of election?

Good men’; good for what? To be a strong and independent nation with its own institutions developed from its own traditions and needs, or a political no-man’s-land of conflicting foreign influences, with orderly habits, balanced public finances, or a republic on the United States model which one day will earn inclusion in the Union, or a political experimental farm where revolutionary ideas may be tried out with a view to importation into the United States? . . . All these aims have variously been attributed to the ‘good man’ in Mexico and all have received support from Washington at one time or another."

Obviously Waugh, for all his show of disingenuousness, knew perfectly well what Wilson intended by his rhetoric. Wilson aimed at nothing less than the turning of Mexicans into Wilson-type Americans: canting, fidgety, conscientious in a desiccated manner, filled with moralising uplift, parochial to the greatest extent compatible with cognitive function, and capable of no religious belief whatsoever which makes the smallest physical or intellectual demands upon its adherent. Thus, when the Mexican revolutionists of the 1910s switched their main attention from extirpating each other to extirpating Roman Catholics, the Wilson Administration reacted with a curious mixture of tedium and approval. Tedium, because as every good Wilsonian (in Australia as well as in America, and in the twenty-first century quite as much as in the twentieth) believes, Catholicism is a laughable relic of ancient superstition; approval, because the relic in question is better hounded than indulged. "After prostitution," burbled one of Wilson's aides, "the worst thing in Mexico is the Catholic Church. Both must disappear!".4 And disappear the Mexican Catholics did, both from the wider American public consciousness during their nation's anti-Catholic mass murders of the 1920s, and subsequently from generalist history books. This vanishing is, naturally, in accordance with the iron rule of modern media Realpolitik which states that genocide is morally neutral — indeed actively meritorious — when mere Christians are being slaughtered like hogs.

The Jacobin oligarchy in Mexico which between 1926 and 1929 led the campaign against Catholics — Cristeros, as they called themselves and as their enemies called them — provided, among its other feats, an inspired adumbration of Political Correctness: it banned such religious words as Adios, "If God wills," or "God forbid."5 It ensured (like the French revolutionaries beforehand, and the Maoists afterwards) confusion among the devout by setting up a bogus "patriotic church". Moreover, it bequeathed to the Mexican populace a legacy of scepticism towards centralised power, over and above the political cynicism noticeable in Mexican intellectual and artistic circles since Díaz's later years. No Mexican in modern times has ever uttered the doctrine "I’m from the government, I’m here to help you" in the expectation of being taken seriously. (After the 1985 earthquake, such sentiments were largely unimaginable outside mental asylums.)

By the Second World War Mexican politics had calmed down so much — the calm in question being, admittedly, little different from the calm of the graveyard — that P.R.I. boss Manuel Avila Camacho (President 1940-46) could, without fear of controversy or reprisals, say "I am a believer."6 Vicente Fox, for his part, freely admits to being a practising Catholic (albeit a divorced one). Numerous 1920s laws against Catholic associations and Catholic worship remain on the statute books, but every day millions flout them, and no officials seem to mind.

Fox's Planned Reconquista

Whatever Fox's religious affiliations, they have never stood in the way of a good bare-knuckle fight on the world stage. The President takes more pleasure in making his wants known to Washington than any other Mexican ruler has done since Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas's father Lázaro Cárdenas, who left the Presidency in 1940. Fox exploits a demographic trend in American life so dramatic (and so recent) that it remains hard to acknowledge, harder still to analyse: the population explosion among Mexican-Americans.

Until 1970 no-one knew even approximately how many Mexican-Americans there were. The criteria which takers of successive U.S. Censuses used kept changing. Sometimes the census-takers lumped all Mexican-Americans together with other Spanish-speakers (regardless of whether they spoke Spanish or English as their first language). On other occasions they merely assumed that everyone with a Spanish surname was Mexican-American, or at least Latino (regardless of the fact that Spanish surnames were, and are, common among Native Americans). Moreover, Americans in those days were so apt to use "Mexican" as a pejorative, that Mexicans seldom wished to identify themselves as such. At last, with the 1970 Census, some order prevailed. That survey reported only around 800,000 Americans of Mexican origin. They had little political power, even by the standards of such fellow Latinos as the Puerto Ricans in New York and the anti-Castro Cubans in Florida. (Firebrand union leader Cesar Chávez remained for years the only Mexican-American of nationwide political stature.) Nowadays Mexican-Americans number more than ten million, only half of whom have a legal right to residence.7 Far from deploring this widespread illegal migration, Fox and his leading confidants actively rejoice in it.

Even before he took office, as well as later, Fox demanded that Washington remove sanctions against Mexican illegals north of the border (the very word "illegal" for such migrants is now falling into official desuetude, the preferred euphemism being "undocumented"); 8 demanded that America’s official guest-worker programme be expanded to the tune of several million additional Mexicans; and demanded that those Mexicans eccentric enough to seek out migrant documentation at all should be aided still further in obtaining permanent American residence. This package Fox considered non-negotiable: he insisted that America accept not simply elements of it, but what his first Foreign Minister, Jorge Castañeda, breezily called "the whole enchilada".9 (Castañeda and Fox both, incidentally, are on the public record as wanting all drug use to be decriminalised.)10 Fox announced in his 2001 Five-Year Plan that he considered himself the spokesman, not only of those hundred million Mexicans still so unfortunate as to live south of the Rio Grande, but also of "the more than eighteen million who live abroad."11

Castañeda eventually ceded the Foreign Ministry to Luis Ernesto Derbez (he has now hung out his shingle as an historian of sorts), but not before flatly stating how he would make American border control impossible: "You know the age-old saying about how to eat an elephant. You do it a bite at a time."12 The "bites" consisting, in Castañeda's case, of winning over — or simply threatening — municipal officials in America before risking a head-on confrontation against the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. Derbez promptly announced that "I see no substantial change" between his own policy and his predecessor’s.13 Lethal Mexican-born thugs on death row in American penitentiaries have been championed by the Fox regime as victims of judicial "racism". Predictably, America's Catholic bishops (whose capacity for moral outrage — one might optimistically have thought — would be better expended upon their own genius for first ordaining, and then concealing, sodomites) have chimed in with a collective plea that American border controls be scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Juan Hernández, the Fox-appointed chairman of the Presidential Council for Mexicans Abroad, had proclaimed on the extremely popular American current-affairs television show Nightline — in case any of the detested gringos still failed to perceive the correct message — that "I want the third generation, the seventh generation [of Mexican-Americans], I want them all to think ‘Mexico first’."14 Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo mildly pointed out to Hernández that "when it [immigration] happens in a way that violates our laws, it’s by definition illegal immigration." But Hernández smilingly replied, "Congressman, we’re not talking about two countries — it's just one single region."15

Who in American public life is favouring this sanctimonious bunkum? Ask rather, who in American public life is not favouring it? Patrick Buchanan, certainly; Tom Tancredo, as already noted; precious few others. In the United States as in Australia, opposing mass immigration is an elaborate form of career death-wish. Again, in the United States as in Australia, the mass-immigration lobby is a distasteful blend of unctuous humanitarian social engineering with the slum-landlord mentality that relishes prospects of atomised peons driving wages through the floor. Uniting the slum-landlords with the so-called humanitarians provides a fundamental contempt for legislation as such. To the former brigade, border control laws are tiresome pettifogging restrictions upon the inalienable, N.A.F.T.A.-guaranteed right to cheat underclass labour; to the latter brigade, these statutes carry unpleasant connotations of the dreaded nation-state that keeps threatening to trip up progress toward one big happy world-government family.

Fox, primarily aiming at the tycoons, nevertheless talks also in the language of the more conventional one-world-government advocates. In May 2002 he told a Madrid audience of his dream for a "new global agenda" (nueva agenda global): "Eventually our long-range objective is to establish with the United States, but also with Canada, our other regional partner, an ensemble of connections and institutions similar to those created by the European Union, with the goal of attending to future themes [such as] the future prosperity of North America, and the movement of capital, goods, services, and persons." Only one exasperating obstacle irked him: "what I dare to call the Anglo-Saxon prejudice against the establishment of supra-national organisations."16 Such remarks as these prompted New York attorney Howard Sutherland to write: "The spectacle of a superpower being colonised by its impotent neighbour is without precedent in modern history."17

For light relief we can profitably examine the Mexican-American lunatic fringe, La Raza ("The Race"), which bears the same relation to the Fox machine that the Italian Red Brigade bore to orthodox Italian Communism. Especially voluble among such Raza fringe-dwellers is La Voz de Aztlan ("The Voice of Aztlan"), a fervid agent of Greater Mexican consciousness-raising. This irredentist outfit, relying on largely invented "Aztec" mythology, disseminates — in language suggestive of D. H. Lawrence on mescaline, with numerous references to something called "the bronze brotherhood" — anti-Anglo-Saxon and, when inclined, anti-Jewish diatribes via its radio, print and Internet outlets. (The last-named, www.aztlan.net, as well as including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Spanish, calls Osama bin Laden "the Pancho Villa of Islam": this description being intended as praise.) La Voz organises recruitment drives among the more conspicuously gullible American undergraduates, and has a noisy following upon the University of California's Berkeley campus.

Elements of Modern Mexican-American Culture

So what are these Mexican-Americans whom Fox, Castañeda, Hernández and the rest (not to mention La Voz) purportedly represent, actually like? A few statistics deserve citing.

First, and most importantly, Mexican-Americans have children. Millions of them. They usually call themselves Catholic, and however much they might modify conventional Catholic doctrine in other respects, it appears that they endorse Catholicism's teachings against contraception. As of February 2003, they account for nearly all of the thirty per cent Latino population in California, which in turn accounts for an outright majority of that State's recent births. Among Californian babies, "José" is now the most common Christian name.18 This trend goes beyond California, as José Angel Gutierrez — Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas in Arlington — scatologically gloated in a 1995 speech:19

"We have an ageing white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. The explosion is in our [the Mexican-American] population. It's a matter of time . . . Se estan cagando cabrones de miedo! [They are dirtying their trousers with fear!] I love it."

Secondly, Mexican-Americans tend to reveal a conspicuous lack of interest — even by the standards of America's other Hispanic minorities — in attending college. Only seven per cent of them possess a university degree, as opposed to 11 per cent of Puerto Ricans and 25 per cent of Cuban-Americans.20 (This is surely an encouraging sign, when one considers the malicious role that the United States’ tertiary institutions during the 1960s and 1970s played in propagating such Third World misconceptions as Black Power. Maybe the best weapon against La Raza is simple apathy within its target audience.)

Thirdly, the current role of Mexican-Americans and other Latinos in America's popular culture surpasses anything conceivable as recently as a decade ago. When literally millions of American adolescents — most of whom have, or will shortly have, the vote — deify such iconic entertainment heroines as Salma Hayek (Mexican), Jennifer Lopez (New-York-born Puerto Rican), Cristina Aguilera (New-York-born Ecuadorian), and Shakira (Colombian), the likelihood of major anti-Latino sentiment in the U.S.A. has received, at the very lowest estimate, a serious setback.

Besides, it is all very well for Anglophones to insist that Mexicans and other Latinos assimilate when in America; but this demand immediately provokes the question, which America? Hollywood's America? Oprah Winfrey’s? Jerry Springer’s? The America where public school prayers are outlawed and public school condom vending-machines compulsory? The America that each year butchers more than a million defenceless children in the womb?21 The America that annually gouges $300 billion in taxes towards education, only to achieve worse results on international tests of literacy and numeracy than pauper nations Iceland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic?22 The America where what now passes for policy on Mexico can be summed up in the words "We do not dare stop you"? Or the old, austere, predominantly dignified, genuinely republican America? The America of Presidents Washington, Adams, Madison, and even Jefferson — in fact, the America of almost every pre-Wilson Chief Executive — which, however worthy of respect, suffers in 2003 from the decided disadvantage of being dead, forgotten, probably unrevivable, and thus scarcely an option for even the most dutiful Mexican newcomer?

The Mexican-American Future

Americans’ legitimate umbrage at the antics of President Fox and his legions — who surely represent a graver long-term menace to the United States than La Raza’s crackpots — should not be interpreted to justify racial violence against Mexicans as Mexicans. (Wilful Mexican lawbreakers are, of course, another matter entirely.) Even the late American writer Wilmot Robertson, who warned back in 1976 against a future Mexican demographic reconquista of American territory — who, in addition, had little enthusiasm for non-Nordic races in general — found himself conceding:23

"With its fiestas and flowers, its ancient and modern art forms, its rich and varied resources . . . Mexico adds grace and beauty to an increasingly drab world."

Everything about Mexicans appears, to one who is neither Mexican nor American, larger than life. Visitor after visitor in Mexico has testified to the courtesy with which the locals treat him, however great the language difficulties, and however tactless his displays of wealth. Individual Mexicans have shown themselves capable of vast malevolence and vast heroism. Emperor Maximilian's nemesis, the vengeful dictator Benito Juárez, took sadistic pleasure in making the Austrian ambassador beg degradingly for permission to remove the monarch's bullet-riddled corpse from Mexican soil. At the other extreme, we behold the Cristero martyr Tomasino de la Mora, who in 1927 responded to the offer of a government pardon: "Really, you would be making a mistake: free, I would continue to fight for Christ the King."24 Rather than run that risk, his captors hanged him. He was seventeen years old.

This is a people that deserves far better than whatever meretricious pseudo-benefits Fox's posturing will provide. For Fox obstinately refuses to realise the truth blindingly clear to others: that his drive to make his subjects into immigration criminals — preferably exercising squatters’ rights as lifelong pensioners of Uncle Sam — is an insult to them, as well as to Americans’ generosity. Former diplomat Ellis Briggs provided, as early as 1964, the approach that principled Washington officials would have adopted in the face of Fox's demagogy:25

"The American Government should stop worrying so much about its image in foreign countries. On this issue, the Latinos are more sophisticated than we are; they are bewildered by what seems to them to be an irrational Anglo-Saxon desire for popularity."

Why is this commonsense attitude impossible nowadays?

1. Patrick Marnham, So Far From God: A Journey to Central America (Jonathan Cape, London, 1985).

2. Patrick Buchanan, "Shields Up", The American Enterprise, March 2002

3. Evelyn Waugh, Robbery Under Law (Chapman & Hall, London, 1939), pages 135-136.

4. Oliver Lelibre, "The Cristeros: Twentieth-Century Mecico's Catholic Uprising", The Angelus, January 2002.

5. Lelibre, op. cit.

6. Lewis Hanke, Mexico and the Caribbean (Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1967), page 106.

7. Howard Sutherland, "Mexico's Northern Strategy", The American Conservative, 10 March 2003.

8. Sutherland, op. cit.

9. Sutherland, op. cit.

10. "Mexican President Quoted Suggesting Eventual Legalisation of Drugs", Associated Press, 19 March 2001.

11. Sutherland, op. cit.

12. Eduardo Porter, "Using a Bottom-Up Approach, Mexico Pushes ID for Migrants", The Wall Street Journal, 25 October 2002.

13. Sutherland, op. cit.

14. Jerry Kammer, "Mexican Immigrant Office to Be Absorbed", The San Diego Union Tribune, 17 July 2002.

15. William Norman Grigg, "The Border War", The New American, 1 July 2002.

16. Grigg, op. cit.

17. Sutherland, op. cit.

18. Lisa Richardson and Robin Fields, "Latino Majority Arrives — Among State's Babies", The Los Angeles Times, 6 February 2003.

19. Joseph E. Fallon, "Waging War on America", The American Renaissance, June 1998.

20. C. D. Brindis, A. K. Driscoll, M. A. Biggs, and L. T. Valderrama, Fact Sheet on Latino Youth: Education (University of California, San Francisco, 2002), page 2; Roberto R. Ramirez, The Hispanic Population of the United States (Census Bureau, Washington D.C., 1999), pages 1-2.

21. U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Abortion Surveillance: Preliminary Analysis — United States, 1997 (Washington DC), 7 January 2000.

22. Thomas A. Burzynski, "Bad News for U.S. Schools", The New American, 13 April 1998.

23. Wilmot Robertson, The Dispossessed Majority (Howard Allen, Cape Canaveral, Florida, 1976), page 194.

24. Lelibre, op. cit.

25. Hanke, op. cit., page 146.

National Observer No. 57 - Winter 2003