This is a blog about things Latin American: the people of Latin America, their politics, their economic concerns, their culture, and so on. Mexico and things Mexican will get the lion’s share. My blog, as it evolves, will also take a look at the migration of Latin American people to the United States pausing to explain why they moved, where, and how they settled in America. I also plan to discuss American politics from my Latino point of view.
My name is Carlos B. Gil. I’m a Mexican American and I’m releasing this blog to share some of my pensamientos, or thoughts, with you, reflections which tend to sweep over the U.S. Mexican border more often than not. At other times, however, my ruminations will also swing over other borders as well.
The general focus here is Latin America because I studied the region for over 40 years. I’ve been connected to Latin America almost all of my life; I lived there, as an American; I worked there; and some of my children were even born there. For several decades I also offered classes at the University of Washington about this part of the world to many young people interested in the history and civilization of that quarter of the globe, including its culture and music.
Truth be told, ya soy un viejo (I’m an old man now), and my many years of continuing to think about this region rewarded me with an understanding that few possess. And, so I want to share it, now that I find myself in the twilight of my years, yet fortunate enough to continue to reason clearly and be able to utilize the amazing World Wide Web to broadcast such ponderings unashamedly.
As mentioned above, Mexico will receive most of my attention because I was trained as a Mexicanist, a scholar specializing on Mexico. This orientation was due, in part, to the fact that my grandmother walked away from her adobe home in west central Mexico, with my mother in tow, a hundred years ago, in order to immigrate to the United States. So, my mother’s earliest recollections about her upbringing sparked my attention to the archaic world they left behind, my father having left separately at about the same time.
My parent’s experience as immigrants from Mexico, settling in southern California in the 1930s, also gave rise to my regard for the subject of Mexican immigration. I poured most of my knowledge on this topic into my most recent book (We Became Mexican American: How Our Immigrant Family Survived to Pursue the American Dream) to which I’ll refer in various places in this blog.
But I expect I’ll share my thoughts about other parts of the world too and our relations there, and here is why I feel you can give me some credence on this account too. My early study of Latin America coincided with the rise of our attention to “The Third World,” a 1970’s term that referred to the countries squeezed in between the industrial and capitalist nations like ours and those herded into the socialist bloc. Nowadays we refer to these countries as the “developing world,” some developing more than others, as I’ll make the case. So, as I gained knowledge and insight of Latin America, it turned out I was doing the same for the developing world whose connections and similarities I plumbed as the years went by.
I will also take the liberty of making known my views concerning our own country, the United States of America. The election of Donald Trump as President compels me to do so. You’ll see my comments progressively as my blog develops and as the Trump administration lurches forward. In any case, this is another example of the “other borders” over which my thoughts will run on this blog, this one arching all the way to Washington, D. C.
Aside from all this, please know I made my home in the Pacific Northwest almost a life time ago but I was born in San Fernando, near Los Angeles, California, and all of my formal educational training is U.S.-American. In the end I’m an American—a Mexican American—and this fact ought to give my pensamientos a special tinge of their own.
My hope is that the information you encounter on my website will inform you and enlighten you. That’s the whole purpose here. You may differ with me, of course, and so you’re invited to respond.
P.S. The photo above, of the many men with hats, is a prized one for me, thanks to the New York Times. These are braceros, the men whom our government contracted to harvest our fruits and vegetables during World War II, and years after, so that our own U.S.-born men could go to war or help in the manufacturing of war materials. This is how we’ve worked with Mexico over the years and they with us; our links with Mexico remain vital to this day even as they are being sadly handled by Mr. Trump.