The Mexican government has never succeeded in anything except promoting Cantinflas and starving its citizens, so what makes people think this new year will be any different?
Consider its latest solution to relieve Mexico's Third World conditions: getting Mexicans the hell out of Mexico. In late December, it began printing copies of Guía del Migrante Mexicano (Guide for the Mexican Immigrant), a 34-page color booklet that advises Mexicans thinking of getting the hell out of their country on the best ways to do it.
The Mexican government plans to distribute more than a million free copies to aspiring border hoppers in hopes it'll keep them from dying while they're trying to enter the United States. But anti-immigration advocates stateside charge that the publication is little more than a how-to manual and invitation to enter this country illegally, a claim Mexican officials deny.
"Unfortunately, immigration is a phenomenon that exists. We are not inviting or aiding that," a spokesperson for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago told the Chicago Tribune. "But the people who do desire to come here need to take certain precautions. Fundamentally, the protection of their lives—that's what drives this book."
President Vicente Fox should tell his underlings to drop the charade. Guía del Migrante Mexicano is an invasion blueprint, pure and simple. And it does a terrible job of it.
Stylistically, Guía del Migrante Mexicanoreferences the great comic-book tradition of Mexico. The cover of the booklet, a group of Mexicans looking in awe at the Mexican tricolor flapping outside a consulate, suggests the heroic masses of a Rivera mural. Inside the book, the illustrations are similarly bold. Men are muscled, mustachioed or in jeans. Pasty Americans tower over cowering Mexicans. Nearly all the women featured are Russ Meyer fantasies, big-breasted with thick asses—we especially love the drawing of the fake-blond gabacha in the purple cat suit looming over a migrant on page 18. ¡Caliente!
But as a survival guide for Mexicans seeking a better life in el Norte, Guía del Migrante Mexicano fails miserably. Most of the advice meted out is laughably apparent. One passage tells readers who plan to cross rivers that "thick clothes increase your weight when it gets wet and makes it more difficult to swim or float." Another warns, "If you cross [the border] by desert, try to walk in hours when the heat is not so intense." Really? Frankly, anybody who approaches the border and doesn't already know this deserves to be sent back by la migra.
Prospective Mexican migrants don't get any tips on how to successfully make it across la frontera—no phone numbers of reliable human smugglers, no locations of water stations in the desert, no fake passport and driver's license included to expedite the process. In fact, Guía del Migrante Mexicanodenounces the things that might actually help illegals sneak into los Estados Unidos. It stresses that migrants should not assume false identities if caught by American authorities, since using a false ID "is a federal offense in the United States, for which you can be criminally processed and end up in jail" (as if crossing into this country illegally doesn't break American law). Instead of resisting the unscrupulous Border Patrol, the handbook suggests that those captured should not resist and "be deported to Mexico." And the last 10 pages of the pamphlet concentrates on what to do once the reader makes it across—mainly to "avoid noisy parties" and not sock their spouses.
Rest easy, Mr. and Mrs. Real American: any Mexican using Guía del Migrante Mexicano to cross the border won't get farther than Mexicali.
GUÍA DEL MIGRANTE MEXICANO. 34 PAGES. FREE. AVAILABLE AT THE ORANGE COUNTY MEXICAN CONSULATE, 828 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, (714) 835-3069.