Posts Tagged Jerry Kammer

Crime and Economic Punishment in the State of Zacatecas

For years, the economy of the north central Mexican state of Zacatecas has grown increasingly dependent on remittances sent home by sons and daughters living in the United States. Many of the migrants boosted the economy by building homes in their native towns. They returned at Christmas time on the feast days of the local patron saint. Many dreamed of retiring to the place where they had grown up.

Now a great reversal is underway. Across the state, homes have been put up for sale, glutting the market and depressing prices. Many of the migrants have been caught in the U.S. economic downturn and need the money to sustain themselves north of the border. Many are fearful of the violence and kidnapping that have shaken Zacatecas, as kidnappers and drug traffickers become increasingly bold and ruthless.

A story in today’s Reforma newspaper, out of Mexico City, quotes a government official in the town of Jerez as saying a third of the town’s properties are for sale.

When I visited Zacatecas several years ago, the mayor of Jerez said about 30,000 natives had moved to the U.S., leaving about an equal number behind in the town. They had become steadily more dependent on remittances. If you took the remittances out of Jerez, it would wreck the economy, the owner of one of the town’s many money transfer businesses told me.

As the U.S. economy has suffered, so has the economy of Jerez, where remittances have fallen drastically. Crime, especially kidnapping of residents who have relatives in the U.S., has also shaken the area.
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New Film Explores Collision of Cultures in California

Mexican director Amat Escalante says “Los Bastardos,” his stunningly violent new movie about two Mexican illegal immigrants in the uncaring world of California, grew out of his own experiences living there as a child.

“The story comes from this uneasiness I have because of living there for a long time, and from wanting to show how these two cultures could come to collide and to break down in some way,” Escalante says in today’s edition of the Mexico City newspaper Reforma.

The movie’s two central characters become embittered and violent after encountering abuse from Americans, including a contractor who stiffs them after the work is done. They invade a home and hold hostage an American woman who is too benumbed by the meaningless of her suburban life to care.

LA Weekly offers this summation of what happens next: “In long, static wide-screen compositions, they take a gander at how the other half lives: eating the woman’s microwave dinners, swimming in her azure pool, and smoking her crack cocaine, before a predictable (albeit startling) blast of violence brings down the curtain on their doomed masquerade.”
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‘If Mexico had had an avalanche of foreigners so large’

Sergio Sarmiento, a renowned Mexican journalist whose column is syndicated throughout that country, has some interesting observations about the immigration controversy north of the border.

“The resistance in the United States to the Mexican invasion shouldn’t surprise us,” Sarmiento writes (the translation is mine), in a column noting that 11 percent of these born in Mexico are living in the United States. “The growth has been dizzying. In 1960, Mexico was barely seventh among the countries of origin of foreigners in the United States. Now it is first, by far. In 1970, only 760,000 persons born in Mexico lived in the American Union, (representing) 8 percent of the foreigners. By 2008 the number had grown 17-fold, to 12.7 million. In 2009, Mexicans were 21 percent of legal immigrants and 59 percent of the undocumented.”
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