A few days ago I spoke about the gentrification of our customs. Of cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation in the Yucatan Peninsula and Merida. The response to this editorial was overwhelming, both positive and negative.
On the positive side, I received words of support from many of the foreign residents and non-residents of the area. On the negative side, I received many private messages with comments that were quite rude, some almost threatening. One of them told me outright that people like me should be “taught not to interfere in other people’s business”. As a businessman, writer, editor and investigative journalist, it is my job to question everything.
As a Yucatecan, I have witnessed the massive arrival of people from Mexico and the rest of the world in our state and city. In the case of Mexicans, some come to escape insecurity, violence and inadequate, corrupt state governments. In the case of foreigners, the vast majority have come in search of a better quality of life, and most of them have found it.
A few years ago, a public campaign said: “Good things count”. I agree. Good things and good deeds do count. That is why I would like to take this opportunity to talk about those foreigners who work every day to make our community a better place.
Many foreigners who live with us have invested their money in our city and opened businesses that employ many people and provide a fair income for local families. Some of the areas in which these foreigners are involved are worth mentioning. We can find restaurants/bars, art galleries, construction and renovation, clothing, decoration, real estate, holistic health and wellness, technology, mental health and physical training, to name a few. Their businesses are known by the authorities for playing by the rules, paying their taxes on time and looking after the welfare of their employees.
Others use their spare time to do good. They have set up charities for the benefit of the community, using funds from their own pockets. Their generosity is great, but discreet. They do not feel the need to tell the world: “Look at me doing good”. Like the above, many others contribute with a scarce, non-renewable asset… their time and good will. They volunteer for many organizations. They care for children, young people, adults and animals.
People of different nationalities have joined the Yucatecos to help and support. They are all of enormous human value. They are positive, compassionate, loving people who always have an outstretched hand to give. Among these people, several stand out. To give a few examples of generosity: On certain days of the week, an American couple prepares and serves food to people waiting outside public hospitals where they have a family member. Most of the people waiting outside have very few resources; if it were not for these extraordinary people, they would often go hungry.
Another couple help AIDS patients. Another group helps Ciudad Vicentina, where they work as volunteers and give money to elderly people who have been abandoned by their families. Others help children with scholarships and school supplies to continue or finish their studies.
On the coast, in Chuburná, foreigners support low-income people with clothes and scholarships; in Chelem, a dear friend feeds low-income people out of her own pocket and supports children with special needs, including school supplies. This is replicated by others in Progreso, Chicxulub, etc. In Merida, dear Irish friends have set up a foundation to help and provide financial resources to other organizations. Some lovely ladies take care of homeless girls. They provide them with a safe place to live, food and opportunities.
I must also mention all those foreigners who also look after the welfare of animals out of their own pockets. They pay for spay/neuter clinics and food, or take them for walks in their spare time. They are remarkable people. I have nothing but admiration and respect for them, and for that they have rightly earned the respect, admiration and esteem of the population. As a Yucatecan, I can only be grateful and acknowledge their remarkable efforts. This attitude is contagious and makes a difference.
Unfortunately, like everywhere there is always a small group of people who seem to strive to fit the stereotype of the “ugly foreigner”. They display outrageous, arrogant, self-centered, demeaning, inconsiderate, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior. These people believe they have rights over others because of their nationality. This type of person does not try to integrate into the community. They demand that Yucatecans/Mexicans speak to them in English or give them preferential treatment. They use phrases like “nobody speaks English here”. They believe that the rules are based on the “almighty dollar” and give nothing back to the community but take whatever they can. They don’t understand that they don’t understand. It is not the “all mighty dollar” that gives a place in society and generates respect, but the attitude of service to others.
To these generous foreigners… THANK YOU! You restore our faith in humanity. To the “ugly foreigners,” enjoy your stay, but be advised that people like you rarely last anywhere, for your misery, you carry it within you, no matter where you go.
For Times Media Mexico – The Yucatan Times
José E. Urioste
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JoseUriosteMx
Twitter/X – @JoseUrioste_
Merida Yucatan, Mexico.
November 11 2023
“The articles that we present to the community have an investigative reporting nature, they are not aimed to paint any demographic with the same brush, but it is very important to acknowledge the growing Mexican’s sentiment against predatory practices performed by immigrants, especially among younger generations, that use social networks such as TikTok to express their point of view about it with thousand of views and comments, it is important for us as reporters to open the conversation about what is happening in our city.”