Ask A Mexican on Harvesting Cactus Leaves and Wasting Away
I think I have a Mexican problem. In short, I have a home in sunny California on a property with an abundance of agave cactus and century plants growing along the street. Every year for the past 20 years, five to 10 cactus leaves (three to four feet in length) are cut from the base of the plants that are in front closest to the street. This occurs several times a year before holidays (Christmas and others). The huge plants with slashed leaves are a visual blight. I have posted numerous respectful signs such as "No Hunting Cactus Leaves — Private Property," but to no avail. I believe this is a Mexican matter, as there are many Mexicans living and working in the surrounding area. On one occasion, I observed a Mexican casing the plants and told him of the problem and how the police had been notified and were monitoring the area. He was gone before I could say adiós and the leaf cutting stopped for about six months. Recently, the practice has been reinstated. Agave is used for tequila, and lately has become popular as a sweetener for baked goods. Also good for floral décor and barbecue. ¿Qué puedo hacer?
Of course it's a Mexican problem — while gabachos like yourself use such plants as ornamentals, Mexicans have long revered the agave (which, a propósito, isn't a cactus) for its many uses — you named some, but others include making teas, creating ropes out of the fibers, and even needles from the sharp points at the end of the leaves. And don't forget that each leaf, if properly cared for, will sprout in into its own plant. Sorry to say, but you really can't do much to stop the thievery — Mexicans pick all crops and plants before them (even if on private property) as a matter of habit, given that's been our American-requested mandate in this country from Día One.
Americans who like tacos, salsa, Salma Hayek's chest, Mexican beaches and tans does not translate into Americans wanting undocumented Mexicans crossing our borders to work here, bringing in disease/drugs/crime and receiving welfare benefits. Are you high on peyote, man? Who in their right mind would want to live under Mexican law and culture? Mexico is a mess and not because of the gabachos — please, señor! You and your jealous amigos are the hypocrites because Mexico is a top-heavy wealthy country that has no human rights, no freedom of the press, no access to the courts, no due process, no welfare programs or shelters for the poor, suffering people I saw on the streets of Mexico City! Why aren't you and your amigos bashing Mexico and its government for the disgraceful treatment of its people? Why are you bashing the United States, which offers Mexican immigrants, legal or illegal, a better life through our better system, better education, welfare benefits, free education, and free social services? Again: Just because we enjoy tequila and fajitas does not mean we want to be Mexican or live under corrupt Mexican culture, or get ripped off daily financially by having our tax money going to Mexicans' welfare benefits! Comprende? Capice? Or do ya need a translator for this?
Wasting Away in Margaritaville
No one has ever said that a gabacho's love for Mexican products translates into a gabacho's want for more Mexicans — actually, quite the opposite. From the first Ramona-themed picnics to today's luxe-loncheras, gabachos have tried their darnedest to remove Mexicans from the equation of consuming Mexican culture, and have done an amazing job at it — just look at chili, then move on to your bar's Drinko for Cinco celebration. It's a concept academics call appropriation, but the rest of us call hipocresía — ya need a translator for that?
Good Mexicans of the week! Dr. William Nericcio, English professor at San Diego State University, is the Mexican's Mexican: a brilliant, scabrous modern-day Socrates, save for the pederasty. His expertise has appeared in this columna before, and I'm proud to report Nericcio has finally redesigned his Tex(t)-Mex Galleryblog, where the profe takes his semiotics-obsessed scalpel to dissect news affecting Mexicans in this country with his academic-chúntaro desmadre. Read for yourself at textmex.blogspot.com.
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