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MEXICO: Education and the Mexican people

Linda Nyquist is a good WAISer. She is a leftist, but she is an admirer of Octavio Paz, who is usually downgraded by leftists, who prefer Carlos Fuentes. She writes: "Of course I have read Octavio Paz; in fact, I have read (I believe) everything that Paz ever wrote. During the 1960s, Paz was a kind of God to us studying Mexico, as he was the first to comment on Mexican character in this way. We also read Samuel Ramos and what I consider to be the excellent study by Fromm, Social Character in a Mexican Village. We read these works over and over and over. And then there was Lewis, The Children of Sanchez (initially banned in Mexico), and Five Families.

Of course, one young man (the one I mentioned in an earlier posting) doesn't represent a country. But aspects of this young man's attitudes I have seen repeatedly over the years. My wealthy friends in Mexico are so advantaged in so many ways. They have studied at fine schools and travelled extensively throughout the world. They know so much about so many aspects of life. Their level of culture far surpasses my own. They are really so well educated in every sense. It was really in contrasting their lives to the lives of my humble friends that I made this reference. The chasm is so great and will be so difficult to bridge because of this tremendous lack of culture that separates the two. None of us talk about this or mention it; it seems so crude and unseemly, but we all know it. It is this very lack of culture which separates the two.

The acquisition of technical knowledge is relatively easy. Smart young people abound everywhere. Given the tools and opportunity, surely many can succeed. But can they acquire those social skills which are so important, especially in class-conscious societies, when they haven't read the classics, don't know music and the arts, don't "eat properly," have folk and cultural traditions which are regarded and quaint and or crude, etc.? So much is unspoken. If I say it I will be attacked, and yet we all know deep in our hearts that this is true. Disadvantaged people are heavily discriminated against for just these reasons.

I have a friend in Mexico who is a very prominent industrialist. The head of computer systems in his company is an incredibly gifted computer engineer. This individual has tremendous difficulty in boardroom settings with the heads of other corporations in Mexico. Why? Because he is a full-blooded Indian. They don't want to include him on the "coctail circuit." Could I get my friend to talk about this on a WAIS forum? Absolutely not. But it is a very real problem. Unfortunately, because of political correctness, most people are not willing to talk openly about these kinds of problems". What are the answers? How are the disadvantaged (by economics and/or color to be assimiliated? To whose table will they be invited on an equal basis? I believe that it is rooted in the training of teachers and will be based in the classrooms of the third world. Of course, it must take place in many other areas, but without truly good educations, nothing much else can follow, can it?"

My comment: Linda has a point. Similar arguments are being raised in Brazil about the blacks and the Indians in Colombia. Leftists tend to overstress the problem. The oligarchy is changing. When I first went to Latin America in the early 40s, the oligarchs often had large libraries and could converse knowingly on many subjects. Now they are essentially businessmen like Vicente Fox, god bless him.

Ronald Hilton - 12/3/01