Mexico deserves more respect - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Mexico deserves more respect

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Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:30 pm

A hundred and twenty-three Paul Strand photographs will be exhibited at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City at the end of this year.

Strand, who died in 1976, was a photographer who along with Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston is considered to have established photography as a 20th century art form.

With their modernist and realism techniques, they shaped the images we have of Mexico.

Art does that. But sometimes an attitude adjustment is needed because the images we get are not in proper perspective.

For example, to get cable TV ratings, Lou Dobbs used rhetoric to distort the perspective (and respect for journalism, perhaps) by impugning Mexican intentions, understanding and migration. He was one of several who have found capital in the ruin of realistic perceptions.

A real reporter or photographer must know his or her subject and have insight. That's why a new study "Mexico, las Americas y el mundo 2010" is a sight to behold. Conducted every two years, this is the only public opinion study in Latin America to reflect Mexican perceptions about the country's external policy. Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economica, an advanced economic and research school, is responsible for it.

Of special interest is a finding that the percentage of Mexicans with a family member living outside the country, mainly in the United States, has steadily declined since 2004.

The report's several revelations tell the story about the direction Mexico's people want. They see strength in economic globalization for developing Mexico's economy. That opinion has increased by 9 percent since 2004.

However, many don't perceive that their government and leaders are taking sufficient advantage of its national strengths. Bear in mind that Mexico pulled out of the world downturn quickly and expects 5 percent national growth this year. Although not as robust as Brazil, it is among the emerging countries both driving and dependent on world recovery.

Mexicans see their opportunity in the world through diplomatic and commercial influence, not military strength. They have a faith in growing their influence through international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States. They also see the need to have their interests abroad better represented through cultural exchanges as well as the sale of their products.

They look approvingly on bilateral agreements with the United States and don't see that relationship diminishing. In fact, a more favorable outlook coincided with Barack Obama's election. U.S., North American and European relations are favored over those with Asia, differing from many other Latin American countries.

The threats to them come from organized crime, environmental damage and climate change. The origin and prevention of these are both domestic and foreign in nature. That perhaps explains why Mexicans are both outward directed and mindful of their country's institutional and political weaknesses.

A good time to stop banging a dumb drum and listen carefully might come in June when Mexican President Felipe Calderon delivers the commencement address at Stanford University.

Class presidents Dante DiCicco, Pamon Forouhar, Mona Hadidi and Molly Spaeth said they nominated Calderon to speak "to send a powerful message" to the United States and the rest of the world about leadership in international cooperation and social justice. Stanford's president mentioned that Calderon has become a respected foreign leader who has boldly faced challenging times.

Mexico's president holds a master's degree in public administration from Harvard. This opens a pipeline for deepening understanding instead of the tiring bare knuckles rhetoric that has no art and doesn't even frame a good snapshot of our times.

Jose de la Isla writes a weekly commentary for Hispanic Link News Service. E-mail him at joseisla3@yahoo.com.

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