Saturday night, Jorge and I went to Merida’s Noche Blanca. This amazing bi-annual street party, sponsored by the city administration, gives locals and tourists the opportunity to enjoy downtown restaurants, art galleries, shops, live music, theater presentations and even a fashion show – until 2 o’clock in the morning.
While Jorge and I dined at an outside table, I overheard comments like:
“If this party was going on in my home town, there would be metal detectors and tension.” “There are lots of little kids still up, and it’s late.” “Look how well-mannered everyone is.” “What a perfect temperature.” “I didn’t know Mexico is like this.”
At 11 pm, we joined thousands of people crowded together in the Plaza Grande to hear Lila Downs, and when she urged them to sing along, they belted out the Mexican cantina songs and social protest ballads she is known for.
The next morning, I opened the newspaper to read about La Noche Blanca…
But I could find very little about the fiesta. All the media had to report were killings, kidnapping, corruption and cartels. And it is true – sadly we have all that in Mexico – and abuse of power, inequality, grave economic issues, unemployment, and worse. Other countries have these problems too, and yet, it is ‘lawless Mexico’ that is always in the spotlight.
Don’t get me wrong. I am the first to say that changes must come, and I agree that the stories of unrest need to be covered. I want the world to know what’s going on in Mexico, and I want the international press and politicians to put pressure on this country’s powers that be.
BUT WHERE IS THE BALANCE?
People living in other countries also need to know that the good far outweighs bad in Mexico. We have a young, dynamic, hard-working population. People in Mexico care about one another. They are generous in countless small ways. Mexicans have imagination and creativity. They love color and food and music and dancing. They deserve to be portrayed fairly.
I do not have my head in the sand. Yucatan is an oasis, with less social unrest than is seen in some other parts of the country. And even here, not everyone I meet is pleasant. The drivers are aggressive and the bureaucracy is a curse. I work with young people, and I know about their concerns and frustration with the archaic, unfair system.
Nonetheless, when I travel throughout the country, I observe that despite the serious confrontations, manifestations, and political power wars in places like Mexico City, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, people still find joy. They use humor, family time and friendship to offset their pain.
I love Mexico — ¿y que?
I am happy living in Mexico and so sick of explaining why.
I am fed up seeing the country and its people kicked around.