My mother was born in Mexico, and growing up in the United States I would hear her speak lovingly of her country while brutally criticizing the actions of the Mexican government. With the controversies of the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, it was easy for me to agree with my mother that the government was corrupt and responsible for the poverty and violence that had spread throughout the country. The Latin media that I watched would occasionally cover protests in Mexico over violence or other national problems, but there was no sense of urgency in the news airings and soon the issues would be forgotten until the next report on Mexico. The broadcasts would show the same issues related to Mexico over and over again that it was almost a given to relate the country with drugs, violence, corruption, and poverty. I became desensitized to all the reports and though I grew up with Mexico in my heart and blood, I thought that being passive about the ongoing issues in Mexico was okay. I believed that since the Mexican government disregarded and censored its people, there was no use in fighting against such a powerful government, a government whose leader won his position through bribes and academic dishonesty.
In 2010, my aunt, a police agent from Durango, disappeared. In 2014, a group of 43 students from Guerrero disappeared. Mass graves are found more and more often. Peña Nieto’s promises of a decrease in violence have proven false with his implementations of the same war-on-drugs tactics as his predecessor. The people of Mexico have shown discontent and anger with the government’s incompetency, and protests have long ensued to express those feelings. Still the Latin media airing those demonstrations did not spark any feelings of unity in me or my family. We felt helpless, with our ongoing search for my aunt and the police force giving up the search after a few weeks. The rising number of missing persons was not the factor that made me and my family want to fight back. What caused our passive attitudes to change was the election of Donald Trump as president and the outrage it caused.
Throughout his campaign, Trump made various remarks about the people of Mexico and the disrespect that he showed towards those people is what united many against his ideas of a greater America. Seeing the protests that American’s participated in, like the Women’s March on D.C., made me realize that being passive about the violation of human rights in any country is unacceptable. I believe that the ‘uprising’ of the American people served as a reminder that no government should be above the people. On Facebook and in Latin news channels I noticed an increase in people publicly voicing their opinions about Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, president Peña Nieto, and other national issues. A common phrase that I have seen circulating on social media reads: Amo a mi país y me avergüenzo de mi gobierno. This translates to: “I love my country and I am ashamed of my government.” The type of sentiment that Mexican people have begun to show is a renewed patriotism that I had not felt present before President Trump’s election.
Similar to Gandhi‘s works influencing the people of India to protest against the British empire, Trump’s attack on Mexico and Mexican immigrants served as a means to incite people to unite against greater powers. Now Trump is definitely not a man who emanates peace, but his relation to Gandhi is that both men made people under a dominant government realize that it is better to have dignity and to fight against injustice. While people in America protest for equality and social justice, the people of Mexico have begun protests against the gasolinazo, against Peña Nieto’s reforms, and against the narco-state. The parallel situation of the people’s discontent against an unchecked government should serve as an inspiration to other nations that are under oppressive rule. Like the movement in India where many united against the force of Britain, the people of Mexico have begun to unite against the institute of fear and violence under Peña Nieto.
My grandmother joined a rally where the people cried out for the resignation of President Peña Nieto.
With all the problems that are occurring in Mexico, Donald Trump’s election was the last straw for the people of Mexico. The conference that Trump had with Peña Nieto served to further anger the people of Mexico with people claiming that Peña Nieto was not decisive enough in the meeting and he allowed Trump to further mock the nation. These events have triggered an awakening of Mexican patriotism, with people fighting for justice in the same manner that Americans are doing.
A corrupt government is not something easy to fight against. People have been afraid of speaking up against the government or reporting incidences of drug cartel influences on politics. Votes are often bought or coerced out of people with the threat of violence. Evidence tampering is rewarded in politics. The renewed patriotism in Mexico is one that I hope will withstand against these forces. As the Oscar winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu said, “I pray that [the Mexican people] can build the government we deserve,” that is the goal that I know every Mexican citizen has in mind. I see people rallying, I hear of Mexicans helping out their fellow campesinos by buying only produce from Mexico and boycotting American products, and there are journalists who refuse to let themselves be silenced. President Trump has awakened a proud nation.