Ask a Mexican on "Illegals," Don Quixote, and Death Squads

How do we humanize the illegals in this country? My reasons for asking this question are many, but mainly a very personal one. I've been in this country illegally for 16 years, y ya chole no? For 16 years, I lived my life like anyone else: going to school and working. Eventually, I became a teacher for the public schools. It is too long to explain how I did all this. I knew it would come to an end at some point — as the gringos say, the shit would hit the fan eventually. Well, it has, and now I am a nanny to my best friend's kid. We were talking one day and decided that if anything were to happen — if I was arrested or in trouble for some reason — she may be the one to be judged as a bad mother for leaving her child with a criminal such as myself. You see, I am no criminal. I've never done anything wrong. I was brought here when I was 14 years old, so I had no choice. The only wrong I've done is run across with the rest of mi gente; the only difference is that I didn't know why I had to do it. I was only obeying my family. So how do we share this with the rest of the world so that they see that we mojados are people with feelings, families, friends, schooling, hobbies, ideas, and ambitions? We're only missing a few papers along the way.

Tu Paisa Jarocha

Easy — by telling your story and that of people like ustedes to the rest of America until you're azul in the face. By calling your local politician, from school board members to Barack Obama. And, finally, by telling everyone to no longer refer to undocumented folks as "illegals" — unless it's a satirist with a point, of course!

You've poked fun at the guardians of Cervantes before, so I just had to write to you now that I've finished reading the 1962 Walter Starkie translation of Don Quixote. Since I had very little trouble understanding it, I'm guessing that Starkie modernized the Spanish in addition to translating it. Have you read Don Quixote in the original Spanish, by chance? If so, would you say that the Renaissance-era Spanish is as difficult for Spanish speakers as Shakespeare is for English speakers? Also, is Cervantes required reading for Mexican high school kids as Shakespeare is for kids in the United States? (I imagine it is for kids in Spain.)

Gabacha Que Lee

Cervantes in the original español is a chingadera to read, what with all those damn medial locuras and forays into Old Castilian when the Man of the Mancha speaks, but it's far more palatable than reading a bunch of "anons," you know? Starkie's translation is fine, but más mejor is Edith Grossman's version. And, finalmente, Don Quixote is not required reading for Mexi prepa kids — but Condorito sure is.

I get that gabachos complain about all the wabs sneaking across the border and taking jobs from gabachos, and that Mexicans complain about all the Guatemalans sneaking across their border and taking jobs from Mexicans. Who do the Guatemalans complain about, or are they at the bottom?

Living in Brasil but Like Watching America. But Unlike Mexico and America, Looking Forward to our Copa do Mundo

Death squads.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano