Americanization in Northern Mexico

// Posted by on 04/05/2013 (12:12 AM)

Javier Carrera


Americanization in  Northern Mexico

We eat, breath, speak, see, hear and live the American culture, in Mexican soil. Monterrey, just a couple of miles south of Texas, is the epicenter of Americanization in Mexico, we not only believe we are more “civilized” and the rest of Mexico, we are educated to believe so.

When my Americans friends come to visit me from West Virginia, they couldn’t believe their eyes, how American the city was: skyscrapers, cars (of course) and we have fridge and electric power (I am not lying), and Starbucks and McDonald’s, in everyone corner, they were somewhat disappointed they weren’t living the true Mexico.

In the northern Mexican society, America is a place to look upon to, we are so influence to by whatever the US says or does, and their way of live. For example, take Monterrey Tech, founded by Eugenio Garza Sada, a prominent Mexican business entrepreneur, after the American college system, and the campus itself resembles so much the MIT, the Alma Matter of Garza Sada. We need to know English to get our degree, even if the language is of no use in the field, the school promotes far more the football team than the soccer team, we are encourage to go abroad, to embrace business, English propaganda from the school is everywhere and the image is too, and not to say they are shifting from Spanish courses, to an all-English major by 2015 or so. And this is only in the school, the leader of the college-system in Mexico, and whatever it does, is quickly follow by the other.

Back in my house, the American culture is everywhere to be seen, both my parents are US educated, and they educated my siblings and me with a curious mix of Americanism and Mexican values. My mom is what can we said is a “soccer mom”, an ultra-modern independent woman with not much time for anything, she watches American TV show hits like Drop Dead Diva, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and The Law and Order, and listens to American 70’s hits music. She runs her own business (a small child daycare), and spends her nights with her friends, and don’t get me started on Facebook. My dad is more “intellectual” but on the American scope also, he reads a lot of American authors, watches History Channel, Discovery and NatGeo, he throws some slangs from time to time, and uses American history, examples and American law, when he tries to teach us something, and always, always compares the Mexican political system with the American one, but being the grandson of a revolutionary hero, he also tends to be ultranationalist Mexican, he of course gets angry when the US denies their responsibility in the War Against Drugs, he doesn’t like that much the American unilaterism and also the monopolistic abusive practices from US corporations and the Us government subsidies to crops and agriculture (my dad is a cattle rancher).

And my friends, they are the living image of Cindy la Regia (a fictional character mocking the Monterrey way of life), they are of course American educated (they attended the American School Foundation Monterrey), they dressed like an American, the love gossip girl, ¾ of the words they speak is in English, they can easily be confused by an American girl when in the US, and my male friends they don’t lag behind, they (we) all speak English, and we watch American shows, the root for out favorite NFL teams, we paly beer pong, we listen to American Hits, and we can wait to vacation in the US.

The way the American culture has penetrated the Mexican and my life got a push from the internet, back in the day, I watched the American shows translated (poorly) by the local TV, the movies, we only watched the ones approved by the government, and I had little contact with people from foreign lands. Now that I own and iPhone and have all-time Internet anywhere, everything I want to know is just one click away. I don’t care if the government bans a movie for “attempting” to religion or anything, I just get online and there is. The news and situations that are happening, I just get on twitter and that’s it, all the info I need, when I needed it is right there, even when I studied abroad, I still felt a home, Skype call to my friends, read the local newspaper online, follow my friends lives by Facebook, is like I even was there! No more hard time as my parents use to write letter an took them months to get a response, I just get on Whatsapp and text my friends in the Netherlands, that easy. The government has so little tools to follow all the online users and track the things we are doing, and the way the jurisdictions of the law in the cyberspace are  much more easy to evade.

The traditional media and the old-ways for the government to control the people are gone, the internet is so intricate in our lives that we think we are entitled to it, and we are far more aware of our rights than the people of the South, you see, Mexico can be said is two countries in one, the industrialized north and the rural south, which one you think is more Americanized? You guessed right, the North, not only by our closeness to the US, but we have grown with some of the hardships the Americans have grown with, the North was populated by outcasts back in the colonial era, in early-Mexico, the north was ignored by the central government for our lack of resources and military place, so we have to stand by our own, the Southerner people are more used to have a paternalist government, as we can see the socialist-style governments that rule the south, than the north, which we are more “Americans” in the sense that we know everything we need to succeed is in us, and we don’t expect the government to be there for us all the time.  Even the Mexican constitution is a weird mix of socialist ideals (every Mexican is entitle to a house, healthcare, education and work, consecrated in 1917), and some really capitalist fundamentals (anti-trust laws, freedom of speech), they all get combined to create this complex scenario.

The American culture is present in every moment in my life, when I talk to my friends we throw American jokes and stuff like that, I even have an American boyfriend. Never before I realized how Americanized my life is, even the laptop I am writing is an Apple, but the fact that my parents and more my dad never forgets is culture, it makes me something sort of a Mexican with American Values, I cherish the values the Americans cherish, freedom of speech, free trade, but I try to put them in the Mexican context, I think we are in the political time the US was back in the late 1800’s, but the internet and our connections to America (like this) and to the worlds is making this change and Americanization for better of worse far more faster that we ever expected.

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Jorien said...

It is interesting to hear how American culture is so visible in your life, because even though my country(the Netherlands) is not close to the US, we still have a lot of influence of the culture. Most of our TV shows and music is from the US, especially popular ones. Also, many people use english words like ‘cool’, ‘nice’, ‘what’s up’ etc. I feel like the US has a big influence on certain countries. Since I see this in The Netherlands and you in Mexico, then what do you think causes this big influence, it is then not only the fact that your close to the border but there has to be another reason as well? Internet probably plays a large role in this, but what else do you think?

// 04/08/2013 at 12:00 pm

Tec de Monterrey said...

Hello Jorien, sorry for the delay on a reply, well the question you state is so complex to answers, but I will try my best. My best guess on the huge influence is the American presence on any given country. Of course, this cultural influence phenomenon has evolved from the Hispanisation in thw 1500s, the Ilustration (French influence) back in the early 1700, and the European influence in the world in the late 1800s. This can be seen in so many ways, the names given to babies (Kevin Rodriguez, Brian Mendez, etc etc) and of course the architecture (My major ir architecture). In Europe we have a huge amount of US Military bases, and thus Americans living in the US, and in Mexico, the closeness of the countries and the US companies based in Monterrey plays a huge rol in the Americanization of this part of the country. In Europe I see it most by the influence of American architecture based on European architects (Gropious, van der Rohe, Le Corbusier). Fashion is another way to influence the cultures, nobody likes to bee seen dressed like a traditional muslim, or a woman wearing a burka, we want to look after the role models the TV plays on us, the American shows, we mimic them, the literature we read and a lot of subtle ways for the culture to sink in and take root in another culture. And besides cultures are a mix of different cultures from countries and languages is a proof of that. What do you think another factor besides the Internet has played a major roll on the Americanization of foreign cultures?

Javier Carrera

// 04/09/2013 at 4:31 pm

Jorien said...

Thanks for your comment, Javier. It was a big question but I like your answer, I can see the point that military bases in Europe could have brought some influence, it is easier to imagine what could have caused Americanization in Mexico. Next to the Internet it is probably just the globalization of the major companies, such as MCdonalds, brands like Nike, or for example certain car dealers. Then another thing that would enabled the American culture to spread is definitely the TV and Music, different artists that perform in European countries or come on different TV shows. Because the US is such an important economic force it has a large role in the world economy what makes more countries dependent on the US, therefore many countries are interested in what is happening in the US.

// 04/10/2013 at 11:47 pm