Ed Bedford 11:44 p.m., June 19
All over San Diego this weekend, celebrations are planned to mark the anniversary of Mexican Independence Day, culminating with El Festival del Grito at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Sunday. The festival will see performances from such Mexican musical superstars as Lupillo Rivera, and will feature an appearance by the Mexican consul.
But the parking lot outside the fairgrounds will see a very different sort of gathering: a group of disaffected Mexican-American hipsters led by Juan-Paul Georgeringo, a political science major at San Diego State, ironically celebrating what they call "Mexican Dependence Day." SD on the QT sat down with Georgeringo in a Barrio Logan vacant lot to discuss the reasons behind the event.
"It's not complicated," sighed Georgeringo. "NAFTA or no NAFTA, we are basically America's bitch. Mexico has been turning itself into a manufacture-for-export economy since the late '80s. And guess where over 80% of those exports are headed? That's right - the good ol' U.S. of A. Without us as a customer, the Mexican economy would collapse. Plus, the US is Mexico's largest source of direct foreign investment."
Georgeringo, a US citizen whose parents immigrated from Baja California in 1968, cracked a beer and began warming to the topic. "On top of that, we serve as the safety valve for their poorest and most desperate populations - the folks who hop the border illegally, looking for a better life here in the States. There's what, something like six million illegal Mexican immigrants in the US today? And those are the ones who are here year-round. We get plenty more seasonal workers come harvest time. Most of 'em sending money back home, pumping up the Mexican economy with US funds."
Finally, he said, "it is all but impossible to overestimate the importance of the United States as a market for illegal drugs, either produced in Mexico or merely smuggled over the Mexican border. Without the insatiable American demand for chemical pleasure, the Mexican drug lords would be no more fearsome or powerful than the guy pushing cheap weed down at the elementary school."
"Yeah," concluded Georgeringo, "it's pretty clear. We've traded political slavery for economic. Big deal. At least there was an ocean between us and Spain; it gave us a little room to move." He poured some of his Tecate onto the dusty ground. "Time for a new Grito," he murmured, referring to the famous Grito de Dolores speech given by Miguel Hilalgo y Costilla which served to spark the original Mexican revolution. "But damned if I know who's gonna give it. Nobody even wants to be free any more."
Georgeringo's tone may have been despairing, but his passion did serve to inspire at least one other soul. Tucker Matthews, a Caucasian hipster also majoring in political science at SDSU, could not help resonating with certain aspects of his classmate's lament. "Just wait until July 4," he promised SD on the QT. "I'm gonna do the same damn thing in San Francisco's Chinatown, and I'm gonna put it on YouTube. Those Chinese dudes own us."