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73

Two Weeks in the Capital

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so fucking good omg. amazing blend of memoir & political analysis

Medina Mora, N. (2018). Two Weeks in the Capital. n+1, 30, pp. 73-100

88

The man-bunned gringo summons the waiter and asks for the check. You’ve been staring at them for a long time. By now your coffee is cold. What the hell is wrong with you? You don’t know anything about these people. Even if everything you imagined about them were true, they would be the kind of people you’d sought out for the past eight years. Had you encountered them in New York rather than Mexico City, you would have been predisposed to like them. Aren’t you their negative image? Did you not go to New York looking for the same things you imagined they sought in Mexico City?

But there is a difference. They didn’t have to worry about not being allowed in, or not being able to stay, or being forced to go back. Your peers in the ruling classes of the first world cross borders without friction, gliding from one country to another like free bloody birds. It doesn’t matter that you have mastered their language and done well at their schools and paid all the applicable taxes, followed the rules and jumped through the hoops and danced when they told you to dance — you remain a colonial subject, un maldito criollo.

—p.88 by Nicolás Medina Mora 7 months, 1 week ago

The man-bunned gringo summons the waiter and asks for the check. You’ve been staring at them for a long time. By now your coffee is cold. What the hell is wrong with you? You don’t know anything about these people. Even if everything you imagined about them were true, they would be the kind of people you’d sought out for the past eight years. Had you encountered them in New York rather than Mexico City, you would have been predisposed to like them. Aren’t you their negative image? Did you not go to New York looking for the same things you imagined they sought in Mexico City?

But there is a difference. They didn’t have to worry about not being allowed in, or not being able to stay, or being forced to go back. Your peers in the ruling classes of the first world cross borders without friction, gliding from one country to another like free bloody birds. It doesn’t matter that you have mastered their language and done well at their schools and paid all the applicable taxes, followed the rules and jumped through the hoops and danced when they told you to dance — you remain a colonial subject, un maldito criollo.

—p.88 by Nicolás Medina Mora 7 months, 1 week ago
90

The debate was never in good faith. Democracy was still a decade away; the left was marginal and toothless; the old Francophiles had begun to retire. The three countries of North America signed the treaty with great fanfare. The Mexican economy grew, but not at the pace of the neoliberals’ projections. The richest man in Mexico became the richest man in the world, but the poor remained as poor as they had always been. In a sense, they were poorer than ever. Their corner stores now sold American cigarettes, but their young people were gone. Many were never seen or heard from again. Those who returned came back broken, telling confused stories about predawn raids and freezing detention cells.

As the years passed, even the neoliberals began to suspect that something was wrong. Again and again, your father’s generation of politicians called their US classmates, who by then had become senators and governors. Had they not sat through the same seminars, listened to the same exaltations of the laissez-faire virtues of open borders and freedom of movement? Hadn’t they made a deal? The Americans would demur, misquote some Burke passage about gradual change, and say they were actually just stepping into a meeting.

You sit in your father’s TV room, your temporary bedroom, watching the economist all but tear out fistfuls of his own hair. You look at his face, at the large, deep-set eyes that are the marker of your people. Looking at him, it occurs to you that the problem was that his generation of criollos refused to see themselves as colonials. They did not realize that their classmates at Harvard and Chicago treated them nicely not because they saw them as equals but because they were light-skinned curiosities in well-cut suits, distinguished guests from a quaint but insignificant country. With indios and mestizos, it was a different story. The Chicago Boys’ belief in individual freedom did not extend to people with dark skin. Their economics was not the objective science they claimed it to be, but rather a political instrument designed to justify imperial expansion — a postmodern American equivalent of 16th-century Spanish Catholicism.

fuck this is good

—p.90 by Nicolás Medina Mora 7 months, 1 week ago

The debate was never in good faith. Democracy was still a decade away; the left was marginal and toothless; the old Francophiles had begun to retire. The three countries of North America signed the treaty with great fanfare. The Mexican economy grew, but not at the pace of the neoliberals’ projections. The richest man in Mexico became the richest man in the world, but the poor remained as poor as they had always been. In a sense, they were poorer than ever. Their corner stores now sold American cigarettes, but their young people were gone. Many were never seen or heard from again. Those who returned came back broken, telling confused stories about predawn raids and freezing detention cells.

As the years passed, even the neoliberals began to suspect that something was wrong. Again and again, your father’s generation of politicians called their US classmates, who by then had become senators and governors. Had they not sat through the same seminars, listened to the same exaltations of the laissez-faire virtues of open borders and freedom of movement? Hadn’t they made a deal? The Americans would demur, misquote some Burke passage about gradual change, and say they were actually just stepping into a meeting.

You sit in your father’s TV room, your temporary bedroom, watching the economist all but tear out fistfuls of his own hair. You look at his face, at the large, deep-set eyes that are the marker of your people. Looking at him, it occurs to you that the problem was that his generation of criollos refused to see themselves as colonials. They did not realize that their classmates at Harvard and Chicago treated them nicely not because they saw them as equals but because they were light-skinned curiosities in well-cut suits, distinguished guests from a quaint but insignificant country. With indios and mestizos, it was a different story. The Chicago Boys’ belief in individual freedom did not extend to people with dark skin. Their economics was not the objective science they claimed it to be, but rather a political instrument designed to justify imperial expansion — a postmodern American equivalent of 16th-century Spanish Catholicism.

fuck this is good

—p.90 by Nicolás Medina Mora 7 months, 1 week ago