The Mix

Those damn American immigrants

The left-leaning Southerns and the rich white Northerners are battling it out for Mexico's soul.
Oh, Mexico. Have you noticed your rebellious neighbors to the South? Bolivia is set to join Venezuela, Uruguay, and Ecuador in electing a bona-fide fire-breathing leftist with a great name, Evo Morales, as President.

Or are you too busy dealing with all the Americans who have invaded your shores? Sure, you're familiar with the pinkened Northerners in bikinis on the beaches, but more and more of them aren't going home after their two week vacation. In 2000, the U.S. State Department said there were 500,000 Americans living in Mexico. That's about the same number of estimated undocumented immigrants, many of them Mexican, living in Arizona. Perhaps we could just call it even? Of course overall U.S. migration to Mexico is a small drop compared to Mexican immigration to the United States, which hovers around 10.5 million people. But most of the Mexican immigrants to the U.S. work. A good number of them serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, including around 30,000 of them who are still not officially citizens. (Find numbers HERE).

About half of the Americans in Mexico are retirees. They're not taking jobs away from Mexicans, but neither are they contributing much to the economy, mostly because they live in condos run by American-owned companies and frequent American-owned restaurants. "Live Better for Less Money" is the advertising call of one of the retirement communities that caters to Canadians and Americans. But perhaps
the real reason Americans are moving there is revealed in the opening of this recent article from the Economist, titled, "Go South, Old Man":
You can't really tell you're in Mexico. The menu is in English, so is the music, and seemingly every patron in the place is American—many of them extended families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving....Many of the American settlers barely speak a word of Spanish. They move south not so much in pursuit of the sun, which they could find just as easily in Florida or Arizona, but in a search for a cheaper way of life, along with the sense of community that foreign enclaves generate.
Right now, relations between Mexico and left-leaning Venezuela are at an all time low. The U.S. and Mexico are circling each other on questions of immigration and trade. But a new President will be elected next year in Mexico and 8 other Latin American countries. A left-wing former mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is leading in the Mexican polls. Will Mexico look North or South in next July's elections? And will the American immigrants, comfortable in their English-only enclaves, follow suit?
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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