Opinion: Mérida is far from Trump’s Mexico

Cafetería Pop. Photo: Yelp
Cafetería Pop. Photo: Yelp

At Cafetería Pop, a popular café on Calle 57 near 60, a former newspaper reporter from Virginia found himself sitting with another newspaper man, an editorial writer for the local Por Esto! tabloid.

The Virginian, Rob Walker, returned this weekend to his former home at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and his opinion piece contains an interesting anecdote about his recent trip to Mérida.

The chat was enlightening. Naturally, they found themselves talking politics. And immigration.

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Walker reflects on how the “immigration story” plays out in Yucatán — how the Peninsula is actually being settled by thousands of foreigners from the U.S. and Canada “buying old colonial homes, setting up pubs and sushi joints, zumba classes and ‘European’ markets.”

Even more, Mexican nationals are arriving in droves.

“The drug cartels have, so far, stayed away from Mérida, making the city safe and comfortable to the point where Mexicans of means are moving here from elsewhere in the country,” writes Walker.

“My café companion said the notion that Mexico is taking advantage of the United States seems brutally ironic,” he continues. “Perhaps Americans are blind to the benefits they have derived for decades from cheap Mexican labor taken under conditions that no American worker would accept.”

His new friend’s family has its own immigration story. His name is McSwiney, a Mexicanized version of McSweeney. He is descended from kin in County Cork, Ireland. 

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“I am immigrant, too,” he tells Walker. “But now I am Mexican.”

Read the whole story here.

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