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[personal profile] rubibees
On Sunday, everything will change in Mexico. There will be a new president, a new governor of Yucatan, new mayors of all the towns and counties, new senators, etc. Everything is “pura politica” right now, that moment of overwhelming craziness right before the day people get their thumb inked and vote. Actually, according to the paper I bought, today is the last day anyone can openly campaign before the election, and by the way, no alcohol can be sold the day before, the day of, and the day after. So there.

Most of the campaign ads are not much more than floating heads and slogans, nearly all very pale Mexicans in pressed white shirts. The have names like Raul and Orlando, and Spanish surnames. The only campaign poster that is any different in this area is a PRI poster that shows the young tele-novella handsome candidate hugging a short brown woman with long curly hair. She is clearly not Yucatecan, but that’s not the point—this is probably their generic “southern Mexico” poster, since you might meet someone like her in Veracruz. They are both laughing hysterically, perhaps at the bizarre situation of this Hollywood style rich Mexican touching a brown skinned woman, perhaps at the oddity of elections in Mexico, perhaps at the nervousness they both might feel in that moment. Pena Nieto (the tele-novella candidate) is both laughing and recoiling from the woman, clearly afraid she will sweat or soil his very white guayabera—you can see on his face, despite the photoshopping, that he is uncomfortable.

Anyone can see that the curly haired woman is meant to be indigenous, or at least more indigenous than Pena Nieto, and that his embrace is symbolic of his care and concern for the original people of his country. Here in small villages full of impoverished campesinos who speak little Spanish, the PRI is trying hard to sell a message of beneficent paternalism—the whole thing they were brought down for two election cycles ago, they have spun and are selling as care for the poor, who have been abandoned, they claim, by those who want to modernize Mexico. So okay, the poster is supposed to convey care for the 99%, but what does care for the poor mean? It can mean a lot of things, and when a rich Mexican embraces a dark skinned woman it can mean even more. I don’t think I’m the only one to read this poster in a highly sexualized way—I mean could there be any more explicit reference to the source of Mexico’s bi-polar attitude about itself? The rich guy and the indigenous woman? Really? That’s the way we are still talking about how care is demonstrated, who gets to care and how, on what terms it is accepted, etc? The only way to hammer this home any harder is if she were to feed him a tortilla or something. Maybe this is actually the ultimate campaign message—no hidden or subliminal references, just the old school racism, sexism, and classism that is familiar and still so deeply embedded in social relations here. Political power is still power, and power is expressed in Mexico in a highly sexualized way. People in the village here are looking for that paternalism, and they get this poster. They will take the old school federal payouts to campesinos and former henequen farmers over the way the PAN ignores the poor in its efforts to race to first world economics. And I think the poster probably works because the indigenous poor are a vulnerable woman in this country of rich men. Kiss me, Chulo!
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