Posted on March 24, 2005

‘Mr. Fox, Tear Down Those Walls!’

Christopher Manion,, Mar. 24

“No country that is proud of itself should construct walls.”

~ Mexico’s President Vicente Fox

What a joke.

Mr. Fox’s hypocritical hype is known in Spanish as a “pendejada” — loose translation, “Duh.” This preening hack, once viewed as a welcome departure from decades of tyranny under the proudly anti-American, left-wing PRI, now indulges in self-serving invective as corrupt as the world-class gangsters who preceded him in the Mexican Kremlin. And that’s saying something.

Fox’s contemptuous remark relies on the profound ignorance that most Americans have about Mexico. In this, he is one with his predecessors. Let’s start with the walls (ignorance will be addressed later).

If you visit Mexico — any town, any city, around the countryside — you will notice walls, everywhere. Walls around courtyards, walls around houses, walls around schools, walls around everything. Even the American retirement communities are surrounded by walls and 24-hour-a-day guards. Many upper-class homes in Mexico City’s fashionable Colonia Polanco resemble Baghdad’s Green Zone in their fortifications.

Why do you think that is, Mr. Fox? Well, the answer is simple: if you do not have a wall around your Mexican house, it will be emptied within a day of everything you own. And very possibly destroyed after that, in short order. It’s as simple as that.

Because of Mexico’s sad (did you say “proud,” Vicente?) government tradition of corruption and plunder, a house — or a country — without walls is an invitation to looting. It is the only way that millions of Mexicans can survive. This is instructive.

Now, Mr. Fox knows that there are tens of millions of Mexicans illegally in the United States. The term “illegal” is used advisedly; they have broken U.S. laws, but not Mexican law. In fact, Mexican law is so corrupt that millions of Mexicans find going north the only alternative to a slow death.

Of course, the Mexican economy relies on the billions of dollars sent home by Mexicans who are, legally or illegally, in the U.S. But the Mexican government relies on it even more. Most Mexican illegals entering the U.S. are male. Most of them have families that they have left behind. In every case, they must pay steep and constant bribes to the mayor of their pueblo, as well as to the police chief, before they leave and while they are gone. If they do not, no one will protect their wives and children while they are gone from the universal government-approved plunder. So, in addition to the thousands of dollars the illegals must accumulate to pay the “coyotes” who bring them across the desert frontier, they must find additional thousands to pay the “officials” back home. It’s simply a cost of doing business, Mexican-style.

Of course, this burden is not unique to the Mexican poor who have been exploited by the Mexican government for generations. Talk to any American who has tried to set up a business in Mexico. The bribes and corruption abound, from the first day to the last. And, no matter how steep the bribe, it still might not work. When I was staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs during the 1980s, I heard countless tales of woe from businessmen who were expropriated by gangsters very similar to those in Russia in the 1990s. Suddenly, their “property” was stolen, their contracts disappeared, the courts were unavailable, the police were belligerent, government officials were menacing, and ultimately their lives were threatened. When the U.S. innocently passed laws against “corruption,” Mexican lawyers merely made even more money off of the detested gringos. What appeared as “legal fees” on many American business balance sheets were merely bribes paid through middlemen to the usual suspects.

So Mr. Fox’s swaggering outburst brings on nothing but “carcajadas” — gales of laughter — from those in Mexico. But, to our second point, why the vast ignorance of the corrupt Mexican mire among Americans? There are more American “experts” on China, on Russia, on Israel, on Europe — on virtually anything anywhere — than on Mexico. The same goes for books, either popular or scholarly. (Memo to potential complaining Canadians: I know, I know, most Americans don’t even know what your national capital is. As my Spanish teacher in Mexico used to say, “that is flour of another sack.”)

So why the prevailing, perpetual ignorance on Mexico? When asked why more isn’t written about Mexico, government officials, heads of foreign-policy institutes, and presidents of publishing companies sound unusually unanimous: “who’s going to read it? Who’s going to buy it?”

Ultimately, “who cares?”

The answer appears to be, “nobody.”

Very well. Then let me advise Mr. Fox, regarding his preposterous posturing about walls: we ain’t buying that pendejada, either, amigo.