“Gimme your dinero, gringo!”

Mexicans are fun-loving bandits with large hats and moustaches. When they aren’t lazing around in the shade of their sombreros, they’re either robbing banks or swilling tequila and playing guitar, which usually contains a concealed weapon of some sort.

This is how Mexicans were portrayed in the cowboy movies and comic books I grew up with. More recently, Mexicans in popular film and fiction have undergone a transformation of sorts: Those who aren’t members of gangs are either attempting to swim across the Rio Grande or are performing menial labour in American kitchens, gardens and fields. In all instances, their activities are somehow illegal.

If Dutch people were consistently portrayed as cheese-eating, dope-smoking bisexuals, tiptoeing through the tulips on our clogs to euthanise our parents, I think our government would hire the very best legal team to sue movie companies and publishers, while our ambassador to the United Nations would engage in overt and covert diplomacy to ensure that such prejudicial stereotypes were rectified.

If the Mexican government has indeed undertaken such action, it seems to have had little effect. I have limited space, resources and, yes, intelligence at my disposal, yet I am foolhardy enough to attempt to use this space to correct these perceptions on Mexico’s behalf. I know there must be some Mexican readers out there who will be tempted use the unlimited comment space below to set the record straight by sharing some interesting facts about their country.

To get the ball rolling, I’d like to take a closer look at the two 20-peso banknotes that my wife, the professional traveller, brought home from her last trip to Mexico City. As I mentioned in one of my first blogs, about Almaty, my father claimed you could tell a great deal about a country from its banknotes.

Mexico

The first thing I noticed is the little plastic window in the banknote. I have seen coins with holes in the middle, but this is an entirely new phenomenon to me. When I showed the bill to my sharp-eyed daughter, she pointed out that the number 20 is embossed in the plastic window, which is strangely asymmetrical. I checked a map to see if the window matches the shape of Mexico, but it does not. So, what does it resemble, if anything?

The man on the banknote is Benito Juárez, who served five terms as president of Mexico from 1858 until 1872. According to Wikipedia, Juárez was of Zapotec origin and the “first full-blooded indigenous national ever to serve as President of Mexico.”

In the background, we see the Mexican coat of arms, which features an eagle holding a snake. The eagle is perched on a prickly pear cactus, with oak and laurel leaves below.

The image on the back of the banknote is the Hemiciclo a Juárez monument in Mexico City, featuring a sculpture of the president guarded by an angel and Liberty (I think), with a lion on the left.

All this leads me to conclude that Benito Juárez was of great importance to Mexico, but I think I need to read a good book on Mexican history to find out why. Any suggestions would be most welcome. As would any interesting facts about Mexico and its most popular artists, musicians, authors and filmmakers. Anything to balance out four decades of Westerns with hard-riding pistoleros roaring “Gimme your dinero, gringo!”

Richard de Nooy

Posted by:   Richard de Nooy  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Louis Greenberg

Nice one, Richard – I grew up with all the same preconceptions about
Mexico and Latin America. Then my wife and I visited Colombia in 2003
and Argentina in 2005, and our lives and imaginations are richer.

For the record, Y Tu Mama Tambien is my favourite Mexican film, Cafe
Tacvba a fab Mexican rock band (while Alex Syntek sings a rendition of
“Ricas Frutas” on the Mexican Sesame Street that the boys enjoy.)

Richard

Thanks for those suggestions, Louis! I’m typing really fast and rhythmically as I listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEfaxwK3mn4.

promotional bags

 hello everybody, i know all are well. This is a very nice blog all comment are good. Please share more..Thanks to all.

rpm gear

 Thanks for your post. It is a nice blog for information and you can get many many knowledge from here.

Lore_river

but alex syntek its not a good artist! we have a lot of REAL musicians :)

Louis Greenberg

Nice one, Richard – I grew up with all the same preconceptions about
Mexico and Latin America. Then my wife and I visited Colombia in 2003
and Argentina in 2005, and our lives and imaginations are richer.

For the record, Y Tu Mama Tambien is my favourite Mexican film, Cafe
Tacvba a fab Mexican rock band (while Alex Syntek sings a rendition of
“Ricas Frutas” on the Mexican Sesame Street that the boys enjoy.)

Richard

Thanks for those suggestions, Louis! I’m typing really fast and rhythmically as I listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEfaxwK3mn4.

promotional bags

 hello everybody, i know all are well. This is a very nice blog all comment are good. Please share more..Thanks to all.

rpm gear

 Thanks for your post. It is a nice blog for information and you can get many many knowledge from here.

Lore_river

but alex syntek its not a good artist! we have a lot of REAL musicians :)

DanielGutierrez

Hello
My name is Daniel and I’m mexican.
I’m kind of amused for the note, it makes me feel shame for the people with that foolish stereotype idea.
Benito Juarez, like anyone, did good stuff and “not so good stuff” , mostly the good stuff is what you Will find in history books.
Unfortnely, Aztecs were invaded by the lowest leveled people, i guess thats were all started (i say that because of the “gimme tour dinero..”)

Richard

Unfortunately, this foolish stereotype is what people outside Mexico get to see. Thanks for giving me/us a little more insight into Mexican history.

DanielGutierrez

Hello
My name is Daniel and I’m mexican.
I’m kind of amused for the note, it makes me feel shame for the people with that foolish stereotype idea.
Benito Juarez, like anyone, did good stuff and “not so good stuff” , mostly the good stuff is what you Will find in history books.
Unfortnely, Aztecs were invaded by the lowest leveled people, i guess thats were all started (i say that because of the “gimme tour dinero..”)

Richard

Unfortunately, this foolish stereotype is what people outside Mexico get to see. Thanks for giving me/us a little more insight into Mexican history.

jcake

As Mexican, I have to say we don’t have it easy when my country is portrayed around the globe. I lived in Germany for a short time and everyone kept asking whether it was true that drug dealing is THAT serious as they see it on the news. I always had to say ‘NO, it isn’t.’ News exaggerate many things because whole Mexico is not like that. I, for instance, come from a place where is really calm, relaxing, quiet but very touristic. We country is full of culture everywhere you go because in every state, we have different ways of thinking, food, dances, folklore, buildings, background… pff! Recently, one of my German friends came to visit me and his mind changed completely. My suggestion: Go to Mexico and see it for yourself. 
As for Benito Juárez… yes, he is a very important character of our history and when it comes to the twenty pesos banknote, they recently changed to the one you saw. These new banknotes have more ‘security’ locks in order to avoid fake ones,  like the little plastic window you saw. 

Richard

Thanks for adding further perspective to my/our insight, jcake. I definitely intend to visit Mexico in the future and welcome any suggestions from readers. Being from South Africa myself, I know exactly how stereotypes and preconceived ideas can keep people from discovering the truth about a country and each other.

jcake

As Mexican, I have to say we don’t have it easy when my country is portrayed around the globe. I lived in Germany for a short time and everyone kept asking whether it was true that drug dealing is THAT serious as they see it on the news. I always had to say ‘NO, it isn’t.’ News exaggerate many things because whole Mexico is not like that. I, for instance, come from a place where is really calm, relaxing, quiet but very touristic. We country is full of culture everywhere you go because in every state, we have different ways of thinking, food, dances, folklore, buildings, background… pff! Recently, one of my German friends came to visit me and his mind changed completely. My suggestion: Go to Mexico and see it for yourself. 
As for Benito Juárez… yes, he is a very important character of our history and when it comes to the twenty pesos banknote, they recently changed to the one you saw. These new banknotes have more ‘security’ locks in order to avoid fake ones,  like the little plastic window you saw. 

Richard

Thanks for adding further perspective to my/our insight, jcake. I definitely intend to visit Mexico in the future and welcome any suggestions from readers. Being from South Africa myself, I know exactly how stereotypes and preconceived ideas can keep people from discovering the truth about a country and each other.

Fa Mdg

Benito Juarez saved my birthday since I was born, because he is THAT important that his birthday (which happens to be the same as mine) is a national holiday so we get the day off at school, and therefor I never had to get up in the morning to the alarm clock but to my parents and siblings singing happy birthday to me.Today Benito Juarez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation’s indigenous peoples, his antipathy toward organized religion, and what he regarded as defense of national sovereignty. 

Richard

Great story, Fa! And thanks for offering further insight into Benito Juarez.

Gonzzita

Somebody likes wikipedia! LOL!

Fa Mdg

Benito Juarez saved my birthday since I was born, because he is THAT important that his birthday (which happens to be the same as mine) is a national holiday so we get the day off at school, and therefor I never had to get up in the morning to the alarm clock but to my parents and siblings singing happy birthday to me.Today Benito Juarez is remembered as being a progressive reformer dedicated to democracy, equal rights for his nation’s indigenous peoples, his antipathy toward organized religion, and what he regarded as defense of national sovereignty. 

Richard

Great story, Fa! And thanks for offering further insight into Benito Juarez.

Gonzzita

Somebody likes wikipedia! LOL!

Richard

A general reminder to people who may be offended by the stereotypes discussed above: the point of my blog is to raise questions and display my ignorance regarding countries and cultures around the world. I leave it up to readers from those countries and cultures to rectify my mistakes and to offer alternative perspectives and opinions, as they have done here and elsewhere. Thanks.

Richard

A general reminder to people who may be offended by the stereotypes discussed above: the point of my blog is to raise questions and display my ignorance regarding countries and cultures around the world. I leave it up to readers from those countries and cultures to rectify my mistakes and to offer alternative perspectives and opinions, as they have done here and elsewhere. Thanks.

Unfair_8

I think the most important is he defends mexico in french intervention, he was an indian and i think in that times it will be difficult for indians to study and i think its like an example if you want something you could get it, i like his quote : Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace. I think i will send you my history book from elementary school,btw in some baknotes on the back you could find a poem,

We have problems like many others countries, but we are a country with pretty places, delicious food and good persons the most important.

Richard

Thanks for adding to our insight! Interesting that there are poems on some Mexican banknotes. The banknote I discussed in my blog on Almaty featured a portrait of one of Kazakhstan’s greatest poets.

Unfair_8

You’re welcome if you want to know more about our country or doubts about it just ask me have a nice day or night

Unfair_8

I think the most important is he defends mexico in french intervention, he was an indian and i think in that times it will be difficult for indians to study and i think its like an example if you want something you could get it, i like his quote : Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace. I think i will send you my history book from elementary school,btw in some baknotes on the back you could find a poem,

We have problems like many others countries, but we are a country with pretty places, delicious food and good persons the most important.

Richard

Thanks for adding to our insight! Interesting that there are poems on some Mexican banknotes. The banknote I discussed in my blog on Almaty featured a portrait of one of Kazakhstan’s greatest poets.

Unfair_8

You’re welcome if you want to know more about our country or doubts about it just ask me have a nice day or night

Rafahelcamacho99

Benito Juarez fue un Muy Venerable Gran Maestro de las Logias Mosónicas, todo un gran hombre, de la estatura de Lincolm, Benjamín Franklin, Simón Bolívar, Jorge Washinton o Francisco de Miranda; no soy mexicano sino venezolano, pero si masón y conozco algo de la história de México, entre otras cosas, el escudo de México al igual que el de Estados Unidos tiene un águila, el de los Estados Unidos con un as de flechas y el de México con una serpiente sobre un nopal, (espiritu y materia) la nobleza muy distinto al américano que es de guerra, en fin hay muchas cosas ocultas en esa cultura que vale la pena estudiar, pero con los ojos del buscador del espíritu, no de la letra muerta.
Saludos.
Rafahel Camacho

Richard

Thanks for the linguistic challenge, Rafahel, which Google helped me overcome. Interesting indeed that different cultures/countries choose such similar symbols for their coats of arms. And you are right that it is better to see things with one’s own eyes, but ‘dead letters’ also help to guide one’s steps.

Ana Perla

 I apologize on behalf of the fellow Mexican “readers” that didn’t understand the point of your blog. I completely agree with it, you are trying to set the record straight about how stereotypes are ignorant by making a mockery out of them. I…ndeed my country is passing thru horribly troubled times, but that does not over shadow the rich history that our country offers and the overwhelming splendor of our culture and our people. If you are looking for good authors that relate some of our folklor I would sugges Carlos Fuentes although I don’t know how much of his work is translated. If you want to know about our filmmakers you can look into the work of Alejandro Iñarritu & Guillermo del Toro. We also have a great variety of artists including composers because our music diversity is vast, check out Armando Manzanero, Alejandro Fernandez and Aleks Syntek. In fact, many of the very famous “latin” pop sensations that aren’t of Mexican descent came to our country as a launching pad for their international stardom, including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias… Benito Juarez indeed was an important figure to Mexican history because he undertook the reform of government and advocated equal rights. As we’re faced with the calamity of our Country’s current state, we have the fortune of seeing the average citizen awaken and work for a prosperous future. As a country, we will overcome our troubles but just as you wouldn’t kick an individual that is already down, foreign people should stop judging our affairs. The main source for our problems is the drug war, which is a business of exportation… how can other countries judge us when they are the culprit of our dismay?! VIVA MEXICO!!

Richard

One of the greatest joys of writing this blog is that it allows me to engage with people such as yourself, from all corners of the globe, who offer food for thought, new insight and even a measure of solace. Thank you. I will definitely look up Carlos Fuentes and  hope to read his work as I explore Mexico.

Gonzzita

After reading your blog I picked up a new book today, The Memoir of Ex President Vicente Fox and let me tell you it is great! Well, so far. I recommend it as further insight into our culture.

Richard

Thanks! And pleasant reading.

Rafahelcamacho99

Benito Juarez fue un Muy Venerable Gran Maestro de las Logias Mosónicas, todo un gran hombre, de la estatura de Lincolm, Benjamín Franklin, Simón Bolívar, Jorge Washinton o Francisco de Miranda; no soy mexicano sino venezolano, pero si masón y conozco algo de la história de México, entre otras cosas, el escudo de México al igual que el de Estados Unidos tiene un águila, el de los Estados Unidos con un as de flechas y el de México con una serpiente sobre un nopal, (espiritu y materia) la nobleza muy distinto al américano que es de guerra, en fin hay muchas cosas ocultas en esa cultura que vale la pena estudiar, pero con los ojos del buscador del espíritu, no de la letra muerta.
Saludos.
Rafahel Camacho

Richard

Thanks for the linguistic challenge, Rafahel, which Google helped me overcome. Interesting indeed that different cultures/countries choose such similar symbols for their coats of arms. And you are right that it is better to see things with one’s own eyes, but ‘dead letters’ also help to guide one’s steps.

Ana Perla

 I apologize on behalf of the fellow Mexican “readers” that didn’t understand the point of your blog. I completely agree with it, you are trying to set the record straight about how stereotypes are ignorant by making a mockery out of them. I…ndeed my country is passing thru horribly troubled times, but that does not over shadow the rich history that our country offers and the overwhelming splendor of our culture and our people. If you are looking for good authors that relate some of our folklor I would sugges Carlos Fuentes although I don’t know how much of his work is translated. If you want to know about our filmmakers you can look into the work of Alejandro Iñarritu & Guillermo del Toro. We also have a great variety of artists including composers because our music diversity is vast, check out Armando Manzanero, Alejandro Fernandez and Aleks Syntek. In fact, many of the very famous “latin” pop sensations that aren’t of Mexican descent came to our country as a launching pad for their international stardom, including Shakira, Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias… Benito Juarez indeed was an important figure to Mexican history because he undertook the reform of government and advocated equal rights. As we’re faced with the calamity of our Country’s current state, we have the fortune of seeing the average citizen awaken and work for a prosperous future. As a country, we will overcome our troubles but just as you wouldn’t kick an individual that is already down, foreign people should stop judging our affairs. The main source for our problems is the drug war, which is a business of exportation… how can other countries judge us when they are the culprit of our dismay?! VIVA MEXICO!!

Richard

One of the greatest joys of writing this blog is that it allows me to engage with people such as yourself, from all corners of the globe, who offer food for thought, new insight and even a measure of solace. Thank you. I will definitely look up Carlos Fuentes and  hope to read his work as I explore Mexico.

Gonzzita

After reading your blog I picked up a new book today, The Memoir of Ex President Vicente Fox and let me tell you it is great! Well, so far. I recommend it as further insight into our culture.

Richard

Thanks! And pleasant reading.

Lore_river

my dear richard!! this stereotype about mexico its not new for me… and as u mention about dutch people, that image that u discribe is the image our kids are learning about other cultures! LOL when i was younger i thought about Dutch people as u mention, with a lots of tulips and wearing clogs!! but when u grow up u notice that the world is not like that :) i love ur enthusiasm about my country! and you need to renew ur 20 pesos bills! about that little window hehehe, our goverment do it because we are really smart at copying things!

Lore_river

my dear richard!! this stereotype about mexico its not new for me… and as u mention about dutch people, that image that u discribe is the image our kids are learning about other cultures! LOL when i was younger i thought about Dutch people as u mention, with a lots of tulips and wearing clogs!! but when u grow up u notice that the world is not like that :) i love ur enthusiasm about my country! and you need to renew ur 20 pesos bills! about that little window hehehe, our goverment do it because we are really smart at copying things!

FUNKYREGGAE

Hey Richard, very nice blog.

First of all I really agree
with your father, banknotes tell a lot about their country they came from. I
have just spent a couple of minutes looking at my Mexican Pesos banknotes I
always carry with me, and I was feeling nostalgic and then I must accept that
this pesos are pretty Mexican, lol.  For
example this transparent window is one of several “devices” to avoid being
falsified and this is so Mexican, because I have learned that stereotypes are
not true, but, there is some background behind them, in case of México, your
statement that we Mexicans are always related to being in one way or another in
illegal activities is sadly kinda true, we Mexicans say that laws were made, in
order to be broken, and in my opinion the reason why laws are continuously
broken in México is because we have had one after another bad governments, as
you mentioned it is really easy to figure out that our presidents have never
really care about México, otherwise they should have done something to avoid
the reproduction of all this stereotypes around the world, but they have done
practically nothing, but this another story… And about the shape I did a small
research on internet and it seems that the window shape has no particular
reason, lol as many things in Mexico.

Then we have in the banknote a
national hero, a very particular one indeed, as you correctly figured out
Benito Juárez is a very important character in Mexican history and also has a
quite interesting impact on world history. First since we are posting in KLM
blog, it is mandatory to mention that the airport from México City is called
Aeropuerto internacional de la Ciudad de México, Benito Juárez, where the KLM
flights from Amsterdam land. Then a lot of people is gonna tell you how
fantastic this president was, but he has a dark side which is usually not
mentioned, he was from zapotec  (a Mesoamerican culture, usaully just referred as Indian) descendent, but he didn’t make any law to
improve the living conditions of the indigenous population of México. And yes
he fought against the French invasion, but in order to acquire money and
weapons, he was willing to sell the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (the shortest region
between Pacific Ocean and Gulf of México) to USA in order to build there a ship
canal, but the deal was finally not signed and USA invest their money in Panama
Canal instead. Then he had in mind being reelected as long as possible, but he
died and couldn’t do it. And finally another interesting fact about Benito
Juárez, is that the son of an Italian worker with socialist ideas was named
after him and later this kid grow up and became one of the most infamous fascist
dictators in history aka El Duce.

Then some comments about your
post, the eagle on the 20 pesos banknote, is not the current official Mexican
coat of arms, it is called the Republican eagle, the current one has some small
modifications. And then about the sculpture, the allegories represent the
“Mother country (la Patria in Spanish)” and the “Law”, but I must confess I
checked on Wikipedia to know that lol.

About your requests, I’m feel
very sorry but I don’t know any particular good History book about México and
particular about Juárez in English.

And about interesting facts
about México there quite a lot, since I love food, I´m gonna tell you about
some worldwide known products that come from México, first Chocolate , the Swiss
ones are quite famous and actually they invented the mix of chocolate and milk,
but chocolate was consumed since prehispanic times and the name has a nahuatl
(a Mesoamerican language) origin: xocolatl. Also the avocado has its origin in
México, the nahuatl word is ahuácatl and Mesoamerican cultures already have
guacamole and tortilla chips since long time ago. 

Chewing gum also is a Mexican product,
it is still called “chicle” in México, from the original word tzictli, but one
American called Adams make chewing gum a big business and globalised it.

For sure everyone has enjoy
Italian pasta or pizza, well without tomatoes, Italian cuisine will be quite
different, and tomatoes are also a Mexican contribution (There´s still some
discussion if tomatoes were first cultivated by Incas in Peru or by
Mesoamerican cultures in México and Central América, but at least the word
tomato is a derivation of the Mexican nahuatl xitomatl.

And in order to make this not so boring, I’m just gonna list other food products from México and its original
name: turkey (Hueyxolotl), a few species of Chilies, e.g. jalapeño (chīlli o
xilli) corn or maize (elotl /cintli) and all the products you can make with
corn like tortillas, tamales or popcorn (Mesoamericans already consumed popcorn when the Spanish arrived) and also alcoholic beverages like
Tequila and pulque.

So next time you go to the cinema and buy some pop corn, a chocolate bar
and chewing gum, remember all this was originated in México.

About musicians, artists and
filmmakers, well it’s kinda complicated because México cultural scene is quite
wide, but a personal recommendation would be:

Music

Pop: Julieta Venegas, Maná

Rock: Caifanes aka Jaguares

Alternativ/ska/urban: El Gran Silencio,
Cartel de Santa, Panteón Rococo
Electronic: Moenia, Selectro On

Mariachi/Rancheras/aka Mexican regional
in USA:  Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Mariachi
Vargas de Tecalitlán, Alejandro Fernandez

Norteña/Banda:  Tigres del Norte, Intocable

Writers

Octavio Paz a Nobel prize
writer, Carlos Fuentes and Jorge Ibargüengoitia, but I don´t know how far you
can enjoy them, because you need sometimes to have been in México to understand
what they are talking about.

Artists

Frida Kahlo

The muralists: Diego Rivera,
Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco

And my fave ones:  José Guadalupe Posada and his draws of “Calaveras”
skulls.

Remedios Varo
(Spanish-Mexican) surrealist painter.

About filmmakers there are
quite good ones, that have even direct Hollywood movies like: Alejandro
González Iñárritu, Alfonfso Cuarón, Alfonso Aráu, Luis Mandoki or Guillermo del
Toro.

But if you wanna see some good
movies about México and our society, then I recommend the following films:

Amores Perros, directed by González
Iñárritu

El callejón de los Milagros
directed by Jorge Fons

Amar te duele and Todo el
Poder directed by Fernando Sariñana

Cilantro y Perejil

El Segundo Aire

Sexo Pudor y Lagrimas

Matando cabos

I don´t remember the directors
of the last 4, and I´m not sure If you can find all this movies with subtitles,
most of them are drama, but some other are romantic and comedy as well.

I’m really sorry for having
write so much, but when it comes to speaking about my country I can´t stop and hope what I
have written helps you to increase your knowledge about Mexican culture, by the
way, according to the Mayas, from the South of México you need to hurry up to
discover México because in December 21 of 2012, the world is gonna end. lol

And as lot of people use to
say, when they hear Im Mexican

Hasta la vista!

 

 

Richard

Thanks for your comprehensive and informative rundown! I only discovered this today, as I was compiling a roundup of comments for 2011. I’ll include an excerpt and direct readers here.
Thanks again!
R.

FUNKYREGGAE

Hey Richard, very nice blog.

First of all I really agree
with your father, banknotes tell a lot about their country they came from. I
have just spent a couple of minutes looking at my Mexican Pesos banknotes I
always carry with me, and I was feeling nostalgic and then I must accept that
this pesos are pretty Mexican, lol.  For
example this transparent window is one of several “devices” to avoid being
falsified and this is so Mexican, because I have learned that stereotypes are
not true, but, there is some background behind them, in case of México, your
statement that we Mexicans are always related to being in one way or another in
illegal activities is sadly kinda true, we Mexicans say that laws were made, in
order to be broken, and in my opinion the reason why laws are continuously
broken in México is because we have had one after another bad governments, as
you mentioned it is really easy to figure out that our presidents have never
really care about México, otherwise they should have done something to avoid
the reproduction of all this stereotypes around the world, but they have done
practically nothing, but this another story… And about the shape I did a small
research on internet and it seems that the window shape has no particular
reason, lol as many things in Mexico.

Then we have in the banknote a
national hero, a very particular one indeed, as you correctly figured out
Benito Juárez is a very important character in Mexican history and also has a
quite interesting impact on world history. First since we are posting in KLM
blog, it is mandatory to mention that the airport from México City is called
Aeropuerto internacional de la Ciudad de México, Benito Juárez, where the KLM
flights from Amsterdam land. Then a lot of people is gonna tell you how
fantastic this president was, but he has a dark side which is usually not
mentioned, he was from zapotec  (a Mesoamerican culture, usaully just referred as Indian) descendent, but he didn’t make any law to
improve the living conditions of the indigenous population of México. And yes
he fought against the French invasion, but in order to acquire money and
weapons, he was willing to sell the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (the shortest region
between Pacific Ocean and Gulf of México) to USA in order to build there a ship
canal, but the deal was finally not signed and USA invest their money in Panama
Canal instead. Then he had in mind being reelected as long as possible, but he
died and couldn’t do it. And finally another interesting fact about Benito
Juárez, is that the son of an Italian worker with socialist ideas was named
after him and later this kid grow up and became one of the most infamous fascist
dictators in history aka El Duce.

Then some comments about your
post, the eagle on the 20 pesos banknote, is not the current official Mexican
coat of arms, it is called the Republican eagle, the current one has some small
modifications. And then about the sculpture, the allegories represent the
“Mother country (la Patria in Spanish)” and the “Law”, but I must confess I
checked on Wikipedia to know that lol.

About your requests, I’m feel
very sorry but I don’t know any particular good History book about México and
particular about Juárez in English.

And about interesting facts
about México there quite a lot, since I love food, I´m gonna tell you about
some worldwide known products that come from México, first Chocolate , the Swiss
ones are quite famous and actually they invented the mix of chocolate and milk,
but chocolate was consumed since prehispanic times and the name has a nahuatl
(a Mesoamerican language) origin: xocolatl. Also the avocado has its origin in
México, the nahuatl word is ahuácatl and Mesoamerican cultures already have
guacamole and tortilla chips since long time ago. 

Chewing gum also is a Mexican product,
it is still called “chicle” in México, from the original word tzictli, but one
American called Adams make chewing gum a big business and globalised it.

For sure everyone has enjoy
Italian pasta or pizza, well without tomatoes, Italian cuisine will be quite
different, and tomatoes are also a Mexican contribution (There´s still some
discussion if tomatoes were first cultivated by Incas in Peru or by
Mesoamerican cultures in México and Central América, but at least the word
tomato is a derivation of the Mexican nahuatl xitomatl.

And in order to make this not so boring, I’m just gonna list other food products from México and its original
name: turkey (Hueyxolotl), a few species of Chilies, e.g. jalapeño (chīlli o
xilli) corn or maize (elotl /cintli) and all the products you can make with
corn like tortillas, tamales or popcorn (Mesoamericans already consumed popcorn when the Spanish arrived) and also alcoholic beverages like
Tequila and pulque.

So next time you go to the cinema and buy some pop corn, a chocolate bar
and chewing gum, remember all this was originated in México.

About musicians, artists and
filmmakers, well it’s kinda complicated because México cultural scene is quite
wide, but a personal recommendation would be:

Music

Pop: Julieta Venegas, Maná

Rock: Caifanes aka Jaguares

Alternativ/ska/urban: El Gran Silencio,
Cartel de Santa, Panteón Rococo
Electronic: Moenia, Selectro On

Mariachi/Rancheras/aka Mexican regional
in USA:  Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Mariachi
Vargas de Tecalitlán, Alejandro Fernandez

Norteña/Banda:  Tigres del Norte, Intocable

Writers

Octavio Paz a Nobel prize
writer, Carlos Fuentes and Jorge Ibargüengoitia, but I don´t know how far you
can enjoy them, because you need sometimes to have been in México to understand
what they are talking about.

Artists

Frida Kahlo

The muralists: Diego Rivera,
Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco

And my fave ones:  José Guadalupe Posada and his draws of “Calaveras”
skulls.

Remedios Varo
(Spanish-Mexican) surrealist painter.

About filmmakers there are
quite good ones, that have even direct Hollywood movies like: Alejandro
González Iñárritu, Alfonfso Cuarón, Alfonso Aráu, Luis Mandoki or Guillermo del
Toro.

But if you wanna see some good
movies about México and our society, then I recommend the following films:

Amores Perros, directed by González
Iñárritu

El callejón de los Milagros
directed by Jorge Fons

Amar te duele and Todo el
Poder directed by Fernando Sariñana

Cilantro y Perejil

El Segundo Aire

Sexo Pudor y Lagrimas

Matando cabos

I don´t remember the directors
of the last 4, and I´m not sure If you can find all this movies with subtitles,
most of them are drama, but some other are romantic and comedy as well.

I’m really sorry for having
write so much, but when it comes to speaking about my country I can´t stop and hope what I
have written helps you to increase your knowledge about Mexican culture, by the
way, according to the Mayas, from the South of México you need to hurry up to
discover México because in December 21 of 2012, the world is gonna end. lol

And as lot of people use to
say, when they hear Im Mexican

Hasta la vista!

 

 

Richard

Thanks for your comprehensive and informative rundown! I only discovered this today, as I was compiling a roundup of comments for 2011. I’ll include an excerpt and direct readers here.
Thanks again!
R.

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