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MEXICO: El Sueno Americano

Adriana Camarena comments on el sueno americano:

"The term American Dream is a term that evokes mixed feelings. It is after all a dream that can cause illusion and disillusion! This dream happens everywhere, but in the "USA Land of the Free" the notion: "strive and you will reach your goals", is promoted as part of the culture. I think this cultural perception of the USA has crossed the border south: "Here you can find an opportunity to succeed". There will always be people (whether pursuing liberty, freedom, happiness or livelihood) that will buy into the American Dream despite the consequences. Immigrant working Mexicans are one very poignant example of the pursuit of the American Dream. (They do not have to phrase it as "liberty, freedom and pursuit of happiness".)

The American Dream is highly criticized by Americans too. I recommend reading or seeing a performance of the play by Arthur Miller "Death of a Salesman". I think Dustin Hoffman played the main character in a Hollywood movie. If you just saw academy winning "American Beauty" you see the same despair at buying (literally in some cases) into a ideal that didn't have much promise. But at the end you still have many examples of people who succeed in their pursuit and are happy and proud of themselves, and are made examples of what America is all about."

My comment: The dream of a better, freer life elsewhere is indeed universal, as the Jewish dream of the land of Canaan shows. The word inspired the title of the Brazilian novel Canaan (1901) by Graca Aranha, which described how two German immigrants went to Brazil full of hope but then were disillusioned by reality. American case is special because of the enormous distances and difficulties the dreamers faced. In 1847 the Donner Party attempting to reach California in the winter starved and most died, the few survivors being reduced to eating their dead. What an end to el sueno americano!

Ronald Hilton - 8/10/00