Column: Smug American Expats in Mexico Must Face the Truth

The dusty truck bobbed up and down the narrow streets of Jomulquillo, the village in the Mexican state of Zacatecas where my father was born. It sped past empty houses, slowed past a church, and finally came to a stop in front of ranch the only corner store.

There I stood next to my father and a group of older men, what was left of the population of Jomulquillo, since almost everyone else left for East Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley several decades ago.

We looked at the man who slowly got out of the pickup truck – middle-aged, white, wearing sunglasses, a polo shirt, jeans and a smile. He asked no one in particular, in broken Spanish, if there were houses for sale. Everyone was so confused at the sight gabacho in tiny village in the mountains of central Mexico that we were a bit silent.

Then came the chorus of a polite but firm “No.”

I asked in English what he was doing so far from the United States.

“I want to move here,” said the man, who did not give his name. “It’s too expensive at home.”

He suddenly complained about liberalism, about how the US was a failed country, and about how he wanted to spend his retirement in peace. He asked if we knew houses for sale in Sherrythe city to which Jomulquillo belongs.


The man got back into his truck and sped off. didn’t even say thank you.

Although the meeting took place 22 years ago, I remember that Ugly American as if it happened yesterday in my yard.

Every time even my own friends talk about moving to another country because the US is too much, the image of this guy’s smug face and his expectation that the dying city will welcome him always pops up in my head.

I advise my friends not to be swayed by this most American of religions, which seems more popular than ever, its imaginative pews filled with followers both conservative and liberal, young and old, but all have the money to move.

In Portugal, my colleague Javid Kalim found an ex the inhabitants of the Golden State enjoy the temperate climate of the Mediterranean country and taking advantage of the economic situation of the country, one of the poorest in Europe. This week my colleague Keith Linthikum filed a similar dispatch from Mexico City.

In both places, the natives complained loudly that these new Americans were overcharging their houses and not bothering to study the local customs and traditions. Javid and Keith have documented the protests against the newcomers through online shaming campaigns and calls for local authorities to intervene. At the very least, the old-timers argued, Americans should understand that their presence does not automatically improve life wherever they are.

What did the many Americans interviewed by Javid and Kate say? Not just indifference, but disobedience.

“There was too much stuff in the house, but I didn’t want to leave everything to do with Los Angeles behind,” said one of the transplants. told Javid about Portugaladding, “We could leave the parts we liked and leave the rest,” as if navigating society was as easy as changing shoes.

“It reminds me of friendlier, at times cleaner Brooklyn,” said another Keith from Mexico City—as if one of the world’s great metropolitan areas is no better than the New York area.

The Ugly Americans trail is certainly nothing new. The so-called snowbirds have long since become San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato and Zihuatanejo in Guerrero in the Leisure World suburb south of the border. New York hipsters have long haunted Mexico City as much as Los Angeles. Half of the middle class in San Diego appears to have retired. apartment in Rosarito or Ensenada.

I have no problem with people who leave their homeland in search of a better life elsewhere – vaya con dios, and so on. But that’s not what’s happening with this new generation of expats. They symbolize the type of people that I call California quitters: privileged people who want everything easy and nothing complicated and run away for what they consider a better life at the slightest hint of inconvenience.

The fact that they find themselves abroad and living in grand style while their new neighbors are struggling is terrible, but so fitting for this type.

And they are completely different from immigrants, as some of these emigrants insist. But the differences between two seemingly similar groups are as varied as between a refugee and a tourist.

The expats have the financial capital to pursue the good life. Immigrants will never be able to. Expats know that if they fail, their home country’s pillow will break the fall; immigrants know there is no turning back, so they must move forward.

Expats can move whenever and wherever they want. Immigrants cannot. Expats are connected to the countries they live in in the most superficial way and add little to it; immigrants become part of their new homeland and fundamentally change its course.

Expat extract; Immigrants are getting better.

The relocation of Americans to Mexico, in particular, reminds me of what happened at the turn of the 20th century, when American industry moved en masse and usurped billions of dollars of wealth while adding nothing to the country, except for exploitation. So after I read Kate’s article, I called Adrian Felix, UC Riverside professor of ethnic studies and research assistant. Heresano who specializes in the study of Mexican migration, specifically from Zacatecas.

He laughed when I told him about my old anecdote about Jomulquillo, and said that in recent years he had heard similar stories from others. ranch around Jerez. And he admitted that he hates the term “immigrants”, which for him is “radically different from people who have been forcibly displaced” for economic or military reasons.

Felix pointed out that the Americans who come with their money are fundamentally changing the local economy, making it more dependent on dollars, which can easily go into what he calls the “mining industry.” But what’s even more deaf, Felix argues, is that these new residents travel around Mexico in a mobile cocoon that largely shields them from the real world around them.

“Neighbourhoods and permanent residents have been hit hard by violence and poverty,” he said. In general, “Expats are immune to this.”

This is a game of life on a foreign server with cheat codes.

It’s a privilege given to American expatriates, and allowed, but they should at least be honest about their hellish advantage.