Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ABSOLUT...ely....58% of Mexicans believe...

AOG, Madrid

An ad for Absolut vodka in Mexico has sparked a small outrage in the US because it, according to some, suggests that the border between both countries should be re-drawn.

Here is the ad itself:

As you can appreciate, it somewhat follows the border between both countries as it stood before the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

A war in which Mexico
lost more than 500,000 square miles (about 1,300,000 km²) of land, about 40% of its territory and for which the US Government paid Mexico US $ 15,000,000, — less than half the amount the U.S. had attempted to offer Mexico for the land before the opening of hostilities.

All other borders are, in fact, contemporary, so the ad plays a dangerous game between historical fact and concurrent political borders. Certainly not an oversight.

I first came across it a couple of days ago when my cousin, living in Cancún, sent me a petition of support on Facebook. I thought it was cute and rather daring on Absolut's part.

I gave it little thought and saved the image for a post. Then, this morning, doing a bit of online research for this post, I came across a few disparaging comments concerning the ad.

It appears that most Americans are surprised by it. Somehow they thought that Mexico was quite happy for things to stand as they are and thought nothing of the war they fought and lost against the US back in the XIX century.

How wrong they are.

I remember back to when I lived in Mexico as a child. I remember the text books where Mexico had two really bad enemies and it was because of them that Mexico was in the state it was: One, the main evil culprit, was Spain. And the other, the US.

I understand, now, as an adult, why Mexicans need these two countries to be their nemesis. How else would they explain the state of their country? I have to say that, since independence from Spain in the 1820s, Mexico and Spain have come a long way in reconciling their differences. Though that is not to say all is well in their particular little patio.

I am not so sure the same can be said about the US and Mexico. Economic power aside, it is painfully obvious that the US sees Mexico as a bit of an inferior country. Mexicans, unfortunately, are not the best treated foreigners in the US. And, while on a personal basis, most Americans have no problems with individual Mexicans, it is true that, as a whole, Mexicans get a bad rap in the US.

Part of this is America's ignorance of its neighbors. Most Americans think Mexico is a country which extends all the way down to the Tierra del Fuego. In the US, to most people, regardless of where you come from, you are Mexican if you happen to be Hispanic. Unless you are black. In which case most Americans don't know what to make of you.

This is not to say that Mexicans are better than the Americans at understanding their neighbor. Perhaps the only truly anti-American country in the Americas is Mexico. Their love-hate relationship goes back a long way.

I am not surprised to hear that it was a publicity agency in Mexico City which came up with Absolut's campaign. It obviously plays a part in the national conscience. It is not something which they came up with. It was already there.

I always stress the need for greater education. On both sides of the spectrum.

Here is CNN's take on the whole issue:

I have to say that at times I feel like slapping Lou Dobbs with an enchilada.

But I am not surprised to hear that to 58% of Mexicans, believe that the American West is rightfully their land. Even if they lost it in a war. Even if the US then paid them for it. Even so. It is that thing which is so in vogue these days in Europe, Historical Memory. We see it everyday in the Balkans. And here in Spain.

I have to say that such an advert in Spain would have caused a diplomatic row. But for now, all quiet on the Mediterranean front.

On the US front, however, many are calling for a boycott of Absolut vodka in the US. And here is a link to that little piece of madness combining national outrage, immigration issues, and a whole lot of ignorance.

The Los Angeles Times has dedicated this page to air the views of its readers regarding this issue. Some of the comments are frightening. On both sides of the spectrum.


Timbo said...

Well...interesting I suppose. Up until very recently I had no problem with Mexicans in this country. of late it seems that there has been some sort of rush at the border. As you know, I live in a fairly out of the way part of the country. But lately, it seems if there are Mexicans EVERYWHERE! On every street corner standing about waiting for day jobs. It is getting to be a bit too much. History aside, I am beginning to feel a little worried about the whole thing. I am starting to rethink several issues that I had always felt that I was at peace with.

Goriaïnoff said...

Why are you worried?

Which issues are you rethinking?

Keefieboy said...

So that's where Mexico is!

Timbo said...

Well...think about it....there is a rapidly rising anger concerning the sudden influx. If this influx continues...I can assure you there will be a vicious and perhaps violent backlash. As for my issues...I have no problem with anyone legally entering a country...BUT....the vast majority that are here now (Mexicans) are not legal. The system can not handle such an overload. There needs to be a solution soon.