I enjoy BBC’s online Mexican presence. It offers one of the few Enlish language outlets in the US that aren’t restrained about reporting local Mexican cultural sagas which mainstream American news organizations seem unwilling to spend bandwidth or print space on. Being that I don’t read or understand Spanish very well, I’m not a regular consumer of Los Angeles Spanish newspapers or television, so in effect, I’m as ignorant of national Mexican cultural events as most Americans. If it wasn’t for the BBC, most of these “local” Mexican stories would disappear into the void left by the Mexican-aversive media in this country.
In fact, the BBC is where I learned of the latest brouhaha in the publicized class battles that have ripped through the social fabric of our Southern neighbor in the past few months following the election of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Various social media-promulgated tiffs demonstrating the wildly stratified nature of Mexican society have surfaced in the Mexican news, but this is nothing new. In fact, the callous classist nature of Mexican society is well-known. True to the form of its Third World history, Mexico, lacking a substantial middle class, embodies the polarized playing field of the wealthy facing off against the poor.
In the latest class-driven debacle, Andrea Benitez, immature daughter of Humberto Benitez Trevino, arrived at an upscale bistro in Mexico City, the Maximo Bistrot. Supposedly, the young Ms. Benitez did not get seated quickly enough at the table she was expecting and did what most entitled young daughters of “important” fathers learn to do: throw a fit.
Her father, Humberto, is the Mexican federal attorney general for consumer protection, an agency known in Mexico by its acronym of PROFECO. Andrea, after throwing her fit and berating the restaurant staff via Twitter, apparently inspired her father, with deceit, to have PROFECO agents raid the bistro and close it down for a litany of trivial and disputable charges. Once again, Twitter became a pawn in this drama, but now in the defense of the restaurant as other diners took videos and photographs of the girl’s tantrum. An uproar ensued and Humberto Benitez Trevino immediately withdrew his agents after apologizing for his daughter’s exaggerated actions.
Social media and high speed immediate cyber presence has opened up the cultural playing field and illuminated the inherent historical inequalities that have existed in Mexico for ages. On the other hand, it also exposes the hypocrisy we indulge in, as Americans. It highlights our great imaginary sense of egalitarianism we proclaim as a special national gift. The absurd behavior on the part of the gilded class in Mexico looks an awful lot like the garbage we witness here in America but gussied up in gossip rags or reality television or Youtube. Mexico’s sociocultural history has not imbued that society with any apparent urgency to disguise its flagrant elitist attitude. The rich treat the poor like crap and that’s the way it’s always been Mexico, remorselessly so. However, the “equalizing” nature of the internet has brought such behavior to the attention of global viewers and thus instigated an outcry that means nothing, ultimately. We are becoming one world of people judging others by our parochial values.
In the US, the rich don’t treat the poor much better, but we subdue our special brand of American elitism with endless
promises lies of upward mobility and corny offers of reward for hard work. In America, there is a vast gulf between rich and poor that is nearly insurmountable for a variety of institutionalized and innate reasons, but we puff it with the distracting perfume of an ostensible American dream.
I’ll give Mexico this: at least they don’t try to pretend to be something they are not.
It’s easier to let some figurehead saintly American President do the trash talking for them.