Aspen Times Weekly: With The Donald in Mexico
Although Donald Trump made a “border trip” to Laredo, Texas, in July 2015, saying, “Well, they say it’s a great danger, but I have to do it,” he hasn’t actually been to Mexico to give Mexicans a chance to respond to his ugly comments. However, I have been doing the next best thing — taking border tours to Juárez and Palomas, Mexico, with two Donald Trump piñatas I purchased at El Paisano in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here are desciptions of some photos and the reactions of the many people I spoke with.
First, we (The Donald and I) entered Mexico at the Santa Teresa border crossing just west of Juárez and immediately met with a group of Mixteca Indians who have migrated up from the state of Oaxaca to seek a “better life” in Juárez. To survive, they try to sell souvenirs to disinterested travelers who are waiting in line on the Mexican side in order to cross through US customs. It’s a brutal struggle in Juárez and makes you wonder how life could be any worse in Oaxaca. Like so many people on the border who have similar struggles, they have little access to the news and no knowledge of or interest in U.S. politics. All they wanted me to give them a piñata for their children to play with.
It was a very different story 10 miles to the south at the shack where Elvira Romero and her grandchildren live. These very bright kids — Hector, Yeira and Amy — know all about Trump and were furious at the way he has characterized them.
Next was a small group of Tarahumara children outside their school. (Their teacher said she wasn’t allowed be photographed in any type of a political setting.) Like the Mixtecas, they know nothing of U.S. politics.
We then visited a nearby mental asylum called Visión en Acción that I have been assisting and documenting for about five years.
“Es un Hitler,” its founder, José Luis Galván, says.
He sees Trump as a monster who would create havoc for Hispanics. His patients grab a crude looking bat and pretend to pummel Trump.
Then we take the narrow back road from Juárez to Palomas. I meet a group of Mexican cowboys on fine looking horses. They know everything about Trump and one of them cinches his rope around the neck of the piñata and holds it high.
In Palomas (Pop. 4,800) itself, I stopped to visit with a real political leader, Maria Lopez who had once been the Mayor and had been kidnapped and almost killed for her refusal to reinstate several corrupt police officers. If it weren’t for health issues, she would be running for office again.
I was initially surprised at how few Mexicans even knew who Trump was. It’s a function of their poverty, the ongoing struggle to simply survive and the lack of access to news. Now that Trump has won the Republican nomination, these piñatas will be going back to Mexico again. Maybe there will be more of a reaction then.
Former Aspenite, Morgan Smith travels to the border at least monthly to document conditions there. He can be reached at Morganfirstname.lastname@example.org
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