Posts Tagged ‘mexico’

Over the past several decades the impact of Mexican influence on America has become scrutinized in various conversations. The rhetoric has become ever more loud as some groups call for the deportation of all undocumented and thus illegal aliens while on the other side of the conversation the American border should be wide open to anyone desiring to enter and live in our great nation. A more moderate message that garners a more practical approach is a worker program allowing undocumented workers that perform a vital role in America to remain on work visa’s but who are not considered citizens. Citizenship is not a wholesale right guaranteed to everyone nor does the Constitution of the United States guarantee rights to non-citizens of the United States that live outside the borders of the United States.
While many may look upon Mexico as a country that distributes its poor to the southern American borders in an effort to pass its’ problems to the United States while never providing anything of substance to our country; nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that Mexico provided direct support to our great nation and helped the United States win two major wars. This has taken place since the beginning of our nation.
In 1776 the British colonies in the Americas declared its’ independence from England. At the time of the revolution Spain claimed most land west of the Mississippi. Following the turning point of the American revolution, the battle of Saratoga; Spain, France and Holland joined American in its’ war with England. An army from Mexico that swelled to over 7,000 began a campaign along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Valley.. Since an army marches on its’ stomach, herds of Texas beef were driven into Louisiana to feed the Spanish army, This was the first cattle drives of this type in America and predated the famos western cattle drives by over a hundred years.
In 1779 Spanish troops won battles at Manchac, Baton Rouge and Natchez. A year later the Spanish forces, from Mexico, defeated the British at Fort Charlotte at Mobile. A year later the Spanish forces captured the English fort at Pensacola. By opening this southern front the Mexican troops held English troops in battle in the south and thus aided George Washington in his victories in the North, This aided in the success for the war for independence.
One hundred and sixty years later Mexico once again provided much needed support for the United States and the free world. When America was attacked at Pearl Harbor Mexico was one of the first countries to pledge support to America and cut ties with the Axis nations. America sent much needed funds and technology to the Mexican mines that produced mercury, zinc and copper. America purchased Mexican oil and Mexico’s newly updated army was supplied with American weapons. Mexican Americans answered the call for the army and an estimated 500,000 filled the recruiting statins across America. Many of these were not born in the United States and were granted citizenship following the war.
Mexico also provided another resource for the war effort, farm labor. With the traditional farm laborers leaving the farms and going off to war, America needed a way to harvest its’ crops. Without this ability America would feel the pangs of hunger. A formal program was launched and Mexicans known as “braceros” crossed the borders to assist America. Following the war they were allowed to stay and seek citizenship. Many remained and brought their families to a new life that promised a better future.
Mexico was instrumental in helping America win its’ war for independence and then followed up its’ support by helping America do its’ part to make the world free for democracy.

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Last week I returned from a week in Mexico.  A trip to the Mexican Riviera; i.e., Cancun south to Tulum, connotes thoughts of free flowing liquor, dancing and one long party.  While his does happen and can happen almost anywhere in the world, there is far more to see and do while vacationing on the Rivera Maya; another term used to describe the vacation spot of the Caribbean in Mexico.

Anyone desiring to visit the remains of a monumental civilization that collapsed and eventually having its’ massive structures swallowed up by the jungle can easily visit reconstructed Mayan cities.  No less than six city states can be visited via tour busses that pick up the tourists at their hotels.  A seventh set of ruins are available four hours south of Cancun but you will need to rent a car to get to it and that is what I explored this year.  Concerns for public safety on the Mexican Riviera or within the Yucatan Peninsula is a myth.  Very seldom do I take a tour bus any longer but instead opt for a rental car.

Instead of an archeological excursion, a tourist can pick a day for a snorkeling tour.  This includes both salt water or fresh water or a combination of both.  One can board a boat that takes a swimmer to various locations that are loaded with fish and you can immerse yourself in a multitude of swimming brilliant colors.  Or a person can take a tour of one or more cenotes, sink holes that are fed by underground rivers and who’s cool crystal clear waters are a refreshing change to the hot humid jungle. 

Water and/or adventure parks abound.  The Travel Channel selected Rio Sigreto as one of the top ten swim locations in the world while XPLOR was selected as one of the top ten water parks in the world.  Both are within twenty minutes of each other. 

The true essence of my trips to Mexico do not lie with archeological ruins or water parks or viewing fish in their nature habitat.  As fun and relaxing as this may appear, the true experience rests with the friendship experienced with the trip.  While sitting on the pool deck of the hotel where we were staying, I stated that this was really a nice trip.  My friend Jeff Davidson who traveled with us with his wife Dianne said that it is not the location that matters.  It is the friendship that makes it special.  A lot to be said for that.

Whether it is on the back porch with a radio playing while sipping ice tea or going out for a movie or sitting on the pool deck of the Royal Hacienda in Playa Del Carmen, it is the friendship that make that point in time so special.  There is nothing more comforting while enjoying some type of outing than to be surrounding by friends.  There is nothing more sad than to witness an individual, either with or without abundant financial funding, sitting alone with no one to experience life with.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines friendship as “the state of being friends, the relationship between friends”.  The problem with a dictionary term is the sterile definition that doesn’t capture the true essence of a meaning.  I prefer to think of friendship as a further expansion of the word as a “relationship that can survive the test of time and remain unconditional”.   Friendship does not demand continual interaction but instead knowing that someone has your best interest and not theirs’ while you all ways have their best interest in mind and would sacrifice to insure they are taken care of.  In todays’ world “having someone’s back” is a term that expresses true friendship.

While Mohammad stated that, “If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything”, Aristotle refers to friendship as, “A friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

This week I have had the good fortune to be on vacation in one the most economical historical locations I could find. That would be on the southern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula; Cancun. While most think of Cancun as a place to go to party and lose oneself in a week of self-indulgence, there is far more to this part of the world. Yes, the party atmosphere is alive on the Mexican Riviera but the historical aspects of the Yucatan Peninsula leaves no question that a very energetic and developed society had carved an advanced civilization from the thick jungles of Mexico. A new state-of-the art Archeological Museum has been erected in the middle of the Hotel Zone and hotels are now identifying themselves as family friendly instead of party pads for American youth.
I had planned to write about my last visit to the area two years ago and how I awoke to hear that the Cancun airport had spontaneously erupted in applause when it was identified that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. Since then the story of the organization and planning that took place to execute this operation provided enormous pride in what America can do when focused on a specific mission. But then the destruction that took place in Boston flashed across CNN and another truly remarkable feat of coordination unfolded. I sat in amazement as I watched Federal, State and Local agencies immediately merge to form a unified force that shut down one of the most vibrant and active cities in our country. This level of planning would normally take weeks but in a matter of hours the city was in lock down and a manhunt ended in the capture of one terrorist and the death of a second. How proud we should feel that we can mobilize and execute such a force from around the country in such a quick period of time. This sense of security is one aspect of our nation that makes me proud to know that we are sleeping under a free moon provided by the sacrifices of so many. But then I saw some things in Mexico that gave me time to pause and reflect on some concerns that could be brewing with how confidence in America is being perceived. Could Mexico be a barometer?
Throughout my travels over a quarter century the United States dollar was welcome. Many countries had a black market where dollars were traded for an inflated fee and thus the dollar was highly sought after by the local merchants. This has changed in the Mexican Caribbean. The first night we went to the local pharmacy to discover that U.S. Dollars could not be used. They only accepted Mexican currencies. I thought that they just didn’t have change. Then the next day my friend Jeff Davidson and I went to the museum and we were told that only Mexican Pesos were accepted. We had to cross the street to the money changers. And then I noticed that there were money changes around town where none use to exist. This made me wonder if the dollar was losing the luster it had once been revered by foreign countries. One of the worst things that can happen to a country is to have confidence lost in its currency. Then when going through the new museum I noticed that the majority of the descriptions on the various artifacts were missing English translations. In the past this was the norm. So in a time of internal pride with what we have accomplished it is sobering to see that we are not being viewed by other countries in the same light. It is disturbing to see that the perception of America and the world leader could be waning.