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Where’s the Mexican Marshall Plan?

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Dear
Mexican:
Suppose the United States government and the American
public were as progressive and conscious of our country’s true
self-interest as are, for example, many European countries; and
suppose this had been true in the decades immediately following World
War II, when Northern and Western Europe subsidized the development
of Southern European nations, such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece. If
the U.S. had sponsored and funded infrastructural, educational,
social and economic development in Mexico during the 1950s to the
1980s the way the more prosperous countries of Europe helped the less
prosperous nations of their region to prepare them for membership in
the future European Union, would not Mexico today be a much more
prosperous, healthy, sustainable and pleasant place to live than it
is, with less immigration into the U.S. and immigration therefore a
much less contentious issue? Would this not be even more true of the
over $1 trillion the U.S. has burned through, to no great effect, in
Iraq and Afghanistan that might instead and much more beneficially
have been spent and invested in our neighbor to the south, with whom
we share an enormous land border and many of whose population are
also members of the U.S. population?–Need a Mexican Marshall Plan

Dear
Gabacho: You’re ignoring the billions of dollars El Norte
has sent down Mexico way in the form of governmental aid and
immigrant remittances over the past 60 years and neglect to mention
that the subsidies the more prosperous European countries gave to
their less-fortunate, non-Warsaw Pact neighbors provided only
temporary relief—look at all the bailouts being proposed for Spain,
Greece, Italy and their ilk nowadays. Not only that, the relationship
between those European countries is vastly different from the
relationship between Mexico and the United States—the latter is
more like the neo-colonial model of Great Britain and India, or
France and Algeria. All the hallmarks are there: mass migration from
the former colony (or defeated nation, in Mexico’s case) and the
classic hatred of the Other in the receiving country while
wholeheartedly accepting their cheap labor and devouring their
cuisine while morphing it into all sorts of pendejadas—tater
tots tacos!

I’m
a
gabacha who teaches in a Juvenile Hall. In my
classroom, I often have rival gang members, and so I enforce strict
rules of behavior so that things don’t get out of hand. These rules
also send a message to the kids that they’re capable of positive
behavior and lets everyone feel safe. These rules include
name-calling and cussing, and it goes for both English and Spanish.
I’m not completely fluent in Spanish, but I know enough (from your
book!) to recognize the bad words. I also know that sometimes these
words are said in jest, but to avoid misunderstandings and keep
things safe, I don’t allow anyone to jokingly call anyone names in
Spanish or English either.

I
was wondering if you could provide me with a word or phrase I could
use with the Spanish speakers that their
abuelitas
would use to tell them to clean up their language. I also know, and
talk to my students about this, that sometimes on the streets, you
must talk a certain way to survive, but in my classroom they must
talk in a way that is practice for job and college interviews. Just
because they are currently incarcerated does not mean they do not
have real futures, and I want to do my best to help prepare them.
Gracias.–Creencia del Mejor en Mis Estudiantes

Dear
Believer in the Best of Your Students: “No digas malas palabras
(“Don’t say any bad words”) is good, but better is “¡Ten
vergüenza!
” (“Have shame!”). Better? Combine the both.
Best? “¡Cállate el hocico!” (“Shut your mouth,” but
more accurately “Shut your snout”). It’s technically rude to
say in Mexican Spanish—and that’s why parents and grandparents
say it to their young ones, the linguistic version of a chancla.

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