by Cristopher Rubio
In the years following President Felipe Calderón’s 2006 election, drug-related violence in Mexico has soared to nearly unfathomable heights. It’s almost as if things can’t get any worse…and yet, they do. It’s to the point where doing everyday things like going to school or attending a sporting event has become a risky endeavor.
And for every horrifying report we hear about murders and mutilated bodies, we are left to wonder about the things not being reported. It all amounts to an extreme sorrow for the deplorable living conditions for many of our friends, and relatives, our hermanas and hermanos.
(Before I continue, I want to make it very clear that those who are truly suffering are the people living south of the border, not those living in the U.S.)
We don’t often talk about how the drug violence affects the millions of Latinos in the U.S. living along the border, and how this is affecting us culturally. If you’ve never been the southern parts of our border states, going to Mexico was like going to another town, it really was that easy.
During my childhood, I’d probably visit Mexico at least once a month for things like visiting family, making trips to the dentist, attending a wedding or a funeral, or enjoying a meal. It was so normal to go to Mexico that high school kids would skip class, chill in Mexico for the day, and still make it back in time for dinner (I never did that of course!).
Every few summers, we’d venture further south, past the border state of Tamaulipas. Mexico is a rich country of diverse people and regions. Words can’t describe the beauty of places like Zacatecas, Guadalajara, and Quintana Roo.
But it’s just not worth the risk anymore.
While not all of Mexico is (essentially) a war zone, the most accessible parts of Mexico are pretty much off limits. You hear stories about something bad that happened to someone you knew in high school, or the family member of a coworker. True or not, you don’t want to be the subject of the next story, so you don’t risk it.
The result is a generation of Mexican-American kids that may never experience Mexico during their formative years. It’s almost as if a chunk of someone’s culture and heritage has been taken away.
My Tío Jesse said recently, “You used to be able to take your kids across the bridge and say, ‘look M’ijo, not everyone has it as good as you do,’ but you just can’t do that anymore.” For me, trips to Mexico helped foster my cultural pride, highlight my privileges as a U.S. citizen, and appreciate the opportunities I have in this country. Will my children be able to say the same, or will they never have the opportunity to fully appreciate their culture?
To learn more about Cris, visit El Kamino Real.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.