Mark Stevenson, AP, July 1, 2005
Hundreds of people lined up at Mexico City’s main post office on Friday, some waiting hours to buy postage stamps featuring a black comic book character that U.S. leaders have called racist.
The series of five stamps released Wednesday depicts the Memin Pinguin character, a hapless boy drawn with exaggerated features, thick lips and wide-open eyes. His appearance, speech and mannerisms are the subject of kidding by white characters in the comic book, which started in the 1940s and is still published in Mexico.
The stamps have become a symbol of resentment that the United States — where Mexicans have long faced discrimination — would dare to accuse Mexico of racism.
“They’re the racists. They’re worse than we are, but they just want to belittle us, like always,” said Cesar Alonso Alvarado, 53, a businessman among the hundreds of people waiting in line to buy stamps. Alvarado said he started reading the comic at age 10, and denies it is racist.
Mexicans snapped up the stamps at such a rate that all 750,000 sold out Friday, two days after they hit the market.
Stamp collector Enrique Gutierrez, 41, waited 2 1/2 hours before he proudly came away with one sheet.
“It’s just a cartoon,” he said, recommending Americans “not be so closed-minded.”