Saturday, July 14, 2007

Two Countries

It was the best of times to see their heritage, culture and natural wonders. The rich there have large haciendas with huge villas on them. The other half lives in shacks made of pressboard, tar paper and corrugated steel. We notice the class struggle between the rich and poor, but we tend to ignore it. Perhaps we briefly stop to toss a coin toward the mother and child begging on the side of the road. Often, the sharp contrast is reflected with statements like "If the poor wanted to work, they would" and "It's amazing what money can buy".

Some of their more motivated people come up to work in our country harvesting our crops, building our homes and babysitting our children. Some of them want to come here so bad that they will cross the border illegally. For the longest time this too was ignored since the hard workers from the south provided much needed cheap labor. I've loved Mexico ever since taking regular spring break trips during my college days. I often feel myself drawn back to Mexico as if there was a magnet pulling me. For some reason I like the place. It's not so much about how many toys you have, but all about family.

Things changed recently. Since 9/11 we fear that our country will be invaded by terrorists and illegal aliens. A Great Wall of Mexicoproject is underway. Over 700 miles of wall are being constructed of concertina barb-wire fence with room for patrol vehicles, guard towers, military police, guard dogs, etc. There are even rumors of mine fields, tanks and jets to patrol this border. No one seems to mind the wall since we are told it will preserve our jobs. But people feel that it will not help the war on terrorism.

Meanwhile the border to the north is pristine and kept that way. There is a 1925 treaty that enforces a “boundary vista”. The border commission has the legal authority to demand removal of any structure that encroaches within 10 feet of the border from either side. A few months ago, a family that built a fence to keep their dogs from running off to Canada was determined to have built their fence too close to the border. The knee-high wall had to be promptly removed. However, things took a different turn recently when Bush had the commissioner fired for not preserving the property rights of the people with the fence and the dogs.

Although building a wall on the Canadian border has been brought up, construction has never been authorized.

So what is this wall between Mexico and the US really for?

1) Combating terrorism - no. They can just come in from Canada.

2) Combating illegal aliens - no. They can come in through Canada. They come in on boats from Cuba and Haiti.

3) Maybe it's to keep us from leaving? run to Canada

4) Maybe it's in preparation for a war. But what kind of a war?

A war of aggression to take Mexico's oil? - maybe

Another Mexican revolution? - maybe

What happens when oil becomes more expensive? The cost of transportation goes up. Will China be able to deliver their stream of goods to the US? Their goods will be much too expensive once fuel costs go up. What if things were made in Mexico again and the labor costs were forced down further to match China wages? What happens in Mexico once their oil runs out - a bunch of unhappy people.

Maybe this is why they want the wall so bad - so that we can feel like we are on the other side of a class struggle - Just like the days of Charles Dickens.

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