Then and Now
I have a cultural question about the interaction and view of Nicaraguans toward people from the US living in Nicaragua and specifically those who are intentionally trying to integrate themselves into Nicaraguan's lives, living among Nicaraguans and not in separate enclaves of foreigners. I'm asking mostly because I want to sound out others opinions which will help me determine if my analysis is off base or not. My wife is Oaxacan and during the course of our 10 year relationship we've spent a good deal of it traveling throughout Mexico and usually down to Oaxaca. Over the years I have commented to her that I feel an undercurrent of anger directed toward me when I'm in Mexico. Many of the people I've met in Mexico don't usually distinguish the difference between a US citizen and US policies, which is very much at odds with my experience when I lived in El Salvador in the late 1980s and early 90s. Obviously and logically they are angry with the treatment of immigrants in the US and I sympathize and agree with that perspective. It just doesn't seem to register with them how brutal their own government's treatment of immigrants is on the border with Guatemala and on up, which matches or exceeds the US homeland security treatment. Anyway, thats going a little far afield. The point is that my (emphasis on *my*) experience in Mexico and Mexican's attitudes toward foreigners and particularly those from the US is really, really different than what I experienced in Central America when I lived there. My wife counters that those were different times, in the midst of a civil war, and that a person or maybe any foreigner in Nicaragua or ElSalvador would be resented in 2008. She wonders what Nicaraguans will think of a Mexican indigenous living among them (and like the US, the indigenous in Mexico have been the recipients of extreme repression and ongoing racism and deprivation.) I'm not boisterous or rude. My spanish isn't bad, and my wife's family is working class so we don't spend our time in Mexico apart from the lives of Mexicans, so my experiences of feeling alienated in Mexico aren't rooted in those problems. I told my wife and a few family members sitting around the table last time we were there that it feels to me as though Mexican culture has developed an ingrained sense of "frustrated empire", that it had and lost so much...probably how people in the US will feel in 50 or 100 years when it ceases to be the world's empire and is overtaken by China or India or another rival for power. So how does this topic that has so much to do with Mexico come around to deal with Nicaragua?! That is the question at last: was the welcoming and openness that I experienced in Salvador and I understand it was also true then in Nicaragua--was it specific to that point in time, or does that still exist if a person makes the effort to live like a Nica, as Phil says? In spite of its physical proximity, there are lots of significant differences between Mexico and Central America and I am hoping that this is one of them and that it still hold true now as it did for me then. If anyone has some insight about my question I'll look forward to hearing it.