Myth One: Mexicans are lazy, good-for-nothings.
I mention this one first because it is one of the vilest myths and an excellent example of Americans’ xenophobic stereotyping. The idea that Mexicans spend their lives under a big tree trying to sleep off a 10-day drunk is a massively common, American-perpetuated misconception. Modern Mexico is a wonderful mix of professionals and agrarian people who are some of the most industrious people I have ever seen. Where America, and especially Hollywood, gets off portraying hardworking Mexicans as lazy bums is beyond me.
Myth Two: Authorities look the other way regarding drugs.
Ha! Ha! Ha! Watch me roll on the floor laughing! Just try bringing your party-hardy illicit-drug-taking-butt down here and test that theory. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Myth Three: Try bribing a policeman.
This won't work anymore. If you get yourself into trouble, do not think money is going to get you out of it. Times have changed—drastically! The new generation police officers do not accept bribes. There are, of course, exceptions, just as in the United States. Graft is everywhere and not just in Mexico. Nowadays Mexican police are tested for their honesty and, if caught accepting bribes, suffer severe consequences. There are also severe penalties for the one doing the bribing!
Myth Four: Mexican food is a belly burner.
There certain dishes which are traditionally prepared with hot, spicy ingredients. Some are not. In a family meal, the wife cooks the meal according to the tastes of her family members, which may or may not be spicy. In restaurants, the spicy sauces are served on the side. But, not all Mexican food is spicy.
Myth Five: Mexico has a hot and arid climate.
Mexico has a little bit of every climate. There are deserts as well as wonderfully chilly mountain climates that can become rather cool at night. There are jungles as well as moderately temperate climates. At the higher elevations, we even have snow.
Myth Six: English is widely spoken in Mexico.
This is simply not true. American tourists are used to being catered to by resort-town Mexican populations who were forced to become bilingual due to lazy Americans who would not learn Spanish. Three cheers for the Mexicans! While it is true that you can go to Puerto Vallarta and other beach resorts and not have to speak Spanish, it is NOT true in the rest of Mexico. This is something that is very hard for many Americans to accept.
Myth Seven: Drugs come from Mexico.
Drugs come through Mexico from other countries south of it. Remember the drug trade is highly successful only because of the Americans who buy the crap! America creates the market.
Myth Eight: All migrant workers are illegals from Mexico.
"Under 10% of migrant workers are undocumented immigrants. The vast majority are U. S. citizens from Texas. Report on Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers in MN, October 1995, University of MN Migrant Program. "
Myth Nine: In Minnesota, migrant workers abuse the welfare system.
"If that were the case, they'd stay for the whole year and the hell with the sugar beets. Armando Cuellar, Migrant Worker Counselor in Crookston, MN. Migrant workers have come to Minnesota to work since the early 1900's before the welfare system even existed. “
Myth Ten: Migrant workers are destroying the economy.
"Minnesota's agricultural economy actually depends on the labor of migrant workers. Migrant workers pay taxes. Migrant workers stimulate local ecomonies by buying services and products (e. g. gas, housing, clothing, food, utilities, etc. ). "
Myth Eleven: Migrant workers are taking American jobs.
"Eighty to 90% of migrant workers in Minnesota are U. S. citizens. Reported on Migrant and Seasonal Farm workers in Minnesota, October 1995. University of Minnesota Migrant Program. Migrant workers do the labor that 90-97% of surveyed U. S. residents say they will not do. “The Ties That Bind". Maryknoll Products, 1996. “
Doug Bower is a freelance writer and book author. His most recent writing credits include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Transitions Abroad. He lives with his wife in Guanajuato, Mexico.
His new book, Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World Country, can be seen at http://www.lulu.com/content/126241