By Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie
GUANAJUATO, MEXICO — On Friday, March 23rd at 4:30pm the local church bell began to chime loudly as I was packing up my laptop to head home from my new office space in Puentecillas, Guanajuato, Mexico. It took about 12 minutes to pass through Cienega and into my home in Cajones.
Along the way, I observed banners with photos of the Pope and heard more church bells ringing. A feeling of being honored by a visit from a great spiritual leader was in the air.
However, there was little on the USA news.
Each time my family of expatriates from the United States turned on the local Mexican news, we saw heavy coverage of each move the Pope made in Guanajuato, Guanajuato or Leon, Guanajuato, in Central Mexico. We saw the weeks of preparation beforehand. Many people left for other locations, because of the estimates of 3 million expected visitors into our narrow colonial town. The excitement was evident all over Central Mexico and all over the local television channels, but little from the USA.
On Sunday, March 25th there were about 700,000 people gathered in Leon to hear the Pope give his blessing to them all during mass. Viewing the enormous crowd was breathtaking and so was the snub on USA television.
The son of a friend of ours was the driver for news reporters in Guanajuato, so we know people from the USA were covering the Pope’s visit, but it was not until Tuesday, March 27th that our USA television stations came alive with stories about the Pope’s visits to Cuba. The coverage accelerated the whole time he was in Cuba.
I kept asking myself, “What about his visit to Mexico?”
My heart was heavy when I realized that international politics has struck another hard blow to Mexico. The “If we ignore them, maybe they will go away” attitude toward Mexico is harming MY neighbors and those I now call family.
I live in the campo. I was here in this campo during the H1N1 flu scare. I know what every complaint about drug cartel activities, border deaths, etc. has been another economical blow to my Mexican friends and keeps relatives of fellow expatriates away.
I see the devastating economic results of a poor relationship with the USA. The situation is even worse because no reasonable “guest worker” program is in place.
In my opinion, President Bush taught us how to snub our global neighbors, and President Obama must have been sitting in that classroom. We have so much work to do to make borders an opportunity to develop positive humane programs and supportive financial relationships.
What are we thinking in ignoring a wealth of human potential to make both countries better and more economically stable places to live?
Learn about Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie
Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie is the first researcher to permanently relocate to an indigenous village in Central Mexico. Mackenzie’s goal was to figure out why 49 percent of Hispanic students failed to graduate in the USA.
Mackenzie conducted research in rural Mexico beginning in 2005. She has combined the information she gathered: scientific research, statistical analysis, and personal exploits to produce an easy-to-read textbook titled Empowering Spanish Speakers – Answers for Educators, Business People, and Friends of Latinos.
Dr. Mackenzie’s book is evidenced-based, based on scientific research. Her approach is that by emphasizing teaching techniques that bring out the highest learning results and engagement for Latinos, more Latino students will graduate from school.
The book is owned by the nonprofit Summerland Corp. Therefore, book sales funds building rural libraries in Mexico that should reduce emigration from Mexico (making both sides of the political fence happy).