Today is Labor Day and a federal holiday in Mexico. Various groups are calling for a repeat of the Day Without Gringos, boycotting services and products from the United States to show their support for migrant workers and to fight against migratory reforms that affect them.
Some three million Michoacános live in the U.S., and that’s a hefty number for a state whose population is only about four million. 40,000 Michoacános emigrate each year to the U.S. Nearly half of all Mexicans has some family member working in the United States. That universe is expanded by including those who have family members studying in the United States, who’ve studied there themselves, who have second homes there, and who count upon the U.S. as the place to shop, vacation, and seek medical care. Look at the resumes of the power elite in Mexico, and you’ll find Harvard, Michigan, Yale, Chicago and Princeton degrees. Secretary of Finance Agustín Carstens has an American wife, Catherine Mansell, better known as C.M. Mayo. United States Ambassador Tony Garza married María Asunción Aramburuzabala. The link between Mexico and the U.S. is inextricable.
Mexican workers in the U.S. send so much money back to their families in Mexico that remittances are second only to oil as one of the country’s sources of income. Should those boycotting everything from the U.S. refuse those hard-earned funds from abroad?
There will be parades and protests and the usual rhetoric, but tomorrow’s boycott will be just as effective as last year’s. Mexican migrants are no better off now than they were a year ago. I am deeply ashamed of the United States’ treatment of migrants, but a boycott isn’t going to convince those in power.
But let’s say that I want to celebrate the Day Without Gringos. The Mexican-grown coffee packaged under the Kirkland label is out of the question. So too is the Granny Smith apple, because that came from Superama, which is owned by Walmart. I can’t open the refrigerator, a U.S.-manufactured Whirlpool, and there’ll be no laundry done today in the Whirlpool washer. I can’t even turn on the lights, because the bulbs came from Costco. There will be no vitamins today, because those, too, were imported from the U.S. No dry food for Goodman the Doberman, since it’s made in the U.S. I could try to get some work done, but that would mean using a Dell computer and supplies bought from Office Depot and OfficeMax. Vacuuming is out of the question, because the Eureka was made in Mexico for a U.S. company. No phone calls to the U.S., because the Packet 8 phone system’s run by a California firm. This is going to be rough day, barring myself from reading the New Yorker and Wired, magazines published in the U.S, and reading La Voz de Michoacán, just because it carries some Associated Press stories.
I couldn’t honor the boycott even if I wanted to. I think I’ll celebrate by having lunch at Subway and going to see something like Seduciendo a un Extraño.