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29 Apr 2015

Ask a Mexican: Why Do Mexicans Lie So Much?

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Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans make up such glaringly obvious lies? Like this galán who had his sister call me and say it was really him—with a cold. Or my friend who pretends to be traveling around the world, but is really sending emails from his mother’s home computer. Or the random person on the street who tells you he knows how to give you directions, and then makes them up.

Do these Mexicans have something against reality, or do they really believe themselves on some level?

Clara la Dudosa

Dear Clara the Doubter: “There is nothing new about Mexico’s tradition of lying, of course,” wrote Andres Oppenheimer in his 1998 Bordering on Chaos. “Since as far as historians could remember, double-talk and deceit had been part of Mexico’s culture.”

This line has been used by Know Nothings ever since as proof that Mexicans are never to be trusted—never mind that Oppenheimer is an elitist Argentine carajo. Mexicans lie for the same reason anyone makes mentiras: to protect oneself, to try to gain an advantage over someone else, and to ultimately come out on top. If you think that’s somehow a uniquely Mexican characteristic, then you must also believe President Obama when he says the guv’mint ain’t spying on you, and that he has the best interests of Mexicans in mind while deporting us in record numbers.

Hola! I am trying to move to Japan and have been studying the language for two years. To my shame, when one of my Japanese associates posed the question, “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘immigrant’?” I first thought of a Mexican national in America illegally. I replied honestly, and we entered a discussion about why that was. (It’s in the news all the time—it’s still no excuse but, hey, I’m human and subject to flaws on occasion.)

After doing some research into the Mexican economy, I learned they seem to be doing very well among Latin American countries as far as unemployment rates and economic growth. I wonder: Are the benefits are only going to large corporations and a few at the top? Are wages pathetically low with no labor unions to negotiate for better pay? What is the main factor or factors that encourage people to risk so much to get here?

Please forgive my ignorance on these matters, and help me understand the larger picture.

Hoping to Become an Immigrant

Dear Gabacho: Konichiwa! Although it seems self-evident why Mexicans continue to migrate to the United States—better opportunities, just like every immigrant group that has ever come here—what makes them sour on their patria is a little more telling.

A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that a third of Mexicans would migrate to the U.S. if they could—but whereas 60 percent said the economy is a big problem, 79 percent said crime is the country’s biggest issue. Also beating the economy on list of concerns were corrupt political leaders (72 percent), cartel violence (also 72) and water and air pollution (70 and 69, respectively—and gabachos say Mexicans don’t care about the environment!). Even corrupt police officers beat the economy as a topic of concern for Mexis.

At this point in Mexico’s history, it’s time to push the reset button and start a revolution—or do what we’ve been doing, and migrate to the U.S. Because why revolt in one country when you can do it in two?

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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