American perceptions of Mexico. American perceptions of Mexico. Vianano and GSD&M

The messy truth about US relations with MX

Negative perceptions are strong yet demographic destiny is foretold

The November elections in the United States exposed the messy truth about what Americans think about each other, and the world. So be it.


It’s the world next door (Mexico) that matters most, and the accepting or rejecting of America’s relationship with Mexico and the mestizo masses of Central America. This issue impacts and flavors America’s future on just about every hot-button issue: public education, social services, national security, jobs, crime and a national debate about fear versus fairness.

Yet in many ways the acceptance has already happened. The ship has sailed. Our foreign yet familiar Mexico relations are underwritten by an unstoppable demographic destiny.

In his book Diversity Explosion writer William H. Frey statistically validates America’s most transformative reality: a multicultural (mostly Latino) population will overtake America’s historically Caucasian base majority. He foretells how in a single generation (by 2040), America’s historical white majority will be replaced by a basket of multiracial and Latino (mostly Mexican heritage) citizens. This is already foretold.

Most norteamericanos come to know the developing world and foreign lands via an engagement with Mexico and Mexicans; either on vacation, a blast across the border, or a chat with the guy who does the lawn. Or our coworkers who “look Mexican” or have a Latino surname, and yet couldn’t conjugate a Spanish verb with both hands.

So as the world watches America flail toward its future, experience with and opinions about Mexico will permeate and shape our binational challenges. But are we ready to face our mestizo future?

I’d argue yes. Not unlike America’s recent election, the prevailing view of a marginalized Mexico is ideological more than pragmatic. This prevailing view will no doubt change as Americans accept our foretold destiny.


The pragmatists (in this case people who have actually been to and spent time in Mexico) deserve a voice in defining the America we leave our children (and their probably Mexican mates).

I’ve spent most of my 40-year career learning about Mexico, contemplating its complexity and teaching American travel agents the ins and outs of our “distant neighbor.” It started in 1984, teaching full-day seminars on behalf of Mexicana Airlines.

A team of gringo “Mexico ambassador” instructors roamed North America, painting the softer-edged realities of Mexico travel to agents, many of whom harbored sincere doubts. Where is it? Is it clean, safe? Would my clients get sick? The engagement was based far more on curiosity than the rancor of today.

Born and raised in southern California I was surround by an alien yet familiar overlay of Mexican iconography: street names, city names, “taco night,” cactus, sombreros, a place called Olvera Street and an international border less than 100 miles from my Orange County home; memories laced with the scent of steaming, toasty bolillos from a weekend trip to Rosarito. It all had a romanticized, appealing glow.

We celebrated the lovely “Spanish” missions like San Juan Capistrano, a hallowed spot where migrating swallows would magically return each year, completing their annual sojourn from that country to the south.

At the same time, few of us growing up felt comfortable saying the word Mexican. We heard and mimicked our parents call all Latinos Spanish. Racist indeed, but in a sort of Orange County, 1960s innocence.

Fifty years later, few of us have romanticized, neutral views on Mexico. A 2012 consumer poll by Vianano and GSD&M laid bare what many Americans thought about both Canada and Mexico.

The results aren’t really that surprising. Most of us are pretty benign about our Canadian neighbors. Heck, the whole nation could sneak across America’s unguarded, northern border next week and we’d barely notice.

Mexico on the other hand did not fare so well. The graphic accompanying this piece tells how survey participants perceived Mexico:

Here too, not that surprising. Think for a moment about the imagery most of us grew up with: cartoon characters (Slowpoke Rodriguez), Hollywood movies (desert adobe Westerns), Spanish class in high school (something about la biblioteca), a border town visit.

Add our geography-challenged world view and media coverage about the less-than-savory, gritty truth about Mexico’s shortcomings. Then there’s the reality of how Mexicans are observed within the U.S.: often poor, huddled, indigenous ‘illegals;’ often cast as job-stealing and social service freeloaders.

Put it all together, and Mexico really never had a chance.

What was not reported about this 2012 survey was how two vastly divergent Mexico views coexist within American opinion. The “never been/been once” crowd 54% of the time cast Mexico as the “source of the problems” between our nations.

When pollsters tallied findings from people who had first-hand experience with Mexico, the Mexican people and the realities of being Mexico in the 21st century, the findings were virtually flipped: the “traveled frequently” respondents say, 50% of the time, that Mexico is a good neighbor.

So who’s right? The “never been/been once” ideologue naysayers? Or those who have at least been to the place, and can defend the more pragmatic path forward? The answer is no doubt somewhere in between, as America reconciles the messy truth about its neighbors, our demographically destined allies.

The writer lives in Ajijic, Jalisco.

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  • cooncats

    Canada isn’t plagued with crime and failed government. To compare “importing” educated and self sufficient Canadians with the current unlimited influx of far needier and far less educated people from south of the border is the kind of liberal nonsense that we’ve come to expect from most of the “opinion” on this site.

    Canadians aren’t going anywhere except to the beach in Mexico in the winter.

    The fact is the U.S. and Canada neither need the cheap, easily exploited labor and, yes, the very documented high criminal and social costs that goes with it. Modern economies need the highly skilled and educated, machines are increasingly doing all the rest.

    Greedy and unscrupulous employers and equally greedy leftist politicians of the Democrat Party are the ones who want the flood to continue. The former love paying dirt wages and the latter love hauling the pliable to the polls whether or not they are even legally qualified to vote.

    The middle class in America and soon if not already Canada has figured out that runaway immigration is not their friend and is and will continue to destroy their way of life. And now they are figuring out the Democrats represent the mega rich globalists and not the working middle class.

    This one is easy, just follow the money.

    At some point everyone has to realize that the relatively small and declining developed world cannot clean up the cultural and political failure of the rest by importing it. All they can do, as we are witnessing right now in Europe, is destroy their own culture and standard of living.

    At some point, people are going to have to stay where they are take charge and clean up their own countries. We can’t do it for them and it won’t happen by simply importing them and their problems wholesale.

    As for America becoming a Hispanic nation, well, all one has to do is look at every single one of these misgoverned, crime and poverty ridden places to see what the future holds. America can’t help the rest of the world if it commits cultural and economic suicide by immigration.

    Only someone living in some sort of alternative universe would cheer lead for that.

    • gypsyken

      If this article were accurate about “the filthy rich pulling out all the stops to elect Hillary Clinton,” how ironic it would be that the undisguised “filthy rich” are now going to govern the U.S.! Il Duce’s cabinet appointees constitute, by far, the wealthiest such group in the country’s history. For more irony. the working class men who voted for him are now going to be rewarded with a Secretary of Labor who is a big employer of low-wage fast-food workers who opposes unions, the minimum wage, and expanding the number of employees eligible for overtime pay! Having said that one of the reasons that Clinton should be rejected was her ties to Wall Street, Il Duce has drawn both his treasury secretary and his chief economic advisor from Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs, not to mention that, if confirmed by the Senate, his Secretary of State will be the billionaire head of Exon Mobil, one of the largest multinational corporations in the world, which is nominally a U.S. company but actually regards itself as an independent state and acts as such, as, for example, in its relations with Russia’s ruler. Irony indeed.

      • cooncats

        Work on your math. Buffett, Soros, Gates, Bezos, Slim, need still more?

        You mean like low wage Apple, the outsourcers to Taiwan?

        Let me know if you nee help with the arithmetic.

        • Rick Drake

          You site opinion pieces as truth? Hilarious!

          • cooncats

            And you cite nada.


          • gypsyken

            Sarcasm is not communication of information, cooncats, and you cannot dispute the fact that Il Duce and his cabinet will be by far the wealthiest regime in the history of the U.S. Moreover, Il Duce now says that he will not give up any of his business activities around the world, but will assure us that he won’t do anything as president to benefit them. So when he removes sanctions on Russia, for example, it will not be because that will make him (and his Secretary of State’s Exon Mobil) richer, but because of the principles that he has demonstrated throughout his business career, although the only one he has demonstrated has been his determination to make as much money as he can, any way he can, no matter who may be unjustly hurt in the process (his low-wage, including undocumented immigrant, employees; contractors that he refuses to pay; shareholders who lose money while he walks away with profits; home owners who won’t sell their property to him; people who paid tuition to a fraudulent “university,” etc., etc.. Of course, the citizens of the U.S. cannot know whether or not his actions as president will benefit his business interests, because he refuses to divulge what those interests are by refusing to release his tax returns, as every other president, and candidate for president, has done. (Citizens also cannot know how rich he actually is, because of his refusal to release his tax returns.) In addition, Il Duce’s children will have offices in the White House. That looks to me like preparing a ruling dynasty, as authoritarian rulers often do, so don’t count on an election in 2024, or even 2020. I trust you will enjoy fascism, which, in case you do not know, is, as Italy’s Il Duce, defined it, the union of government and corporations. For further information, go to

      • GOPerson

        That ExxonMobil CEO started to work there as an engineer and worked his way to the top. Not like our current SoS, who got rich by marrying the widow of a Republican businessman who had also worked his way to the top.

        • gypsyken

          Yes, GOPerson, and he was, of course, scrupulously honest throughout, as when he denied that release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels increases global warming and denying that Exon Mobil actually had data showing that to be the case, which he had ordered to be suppressed. He acted as CEO of Exon Mobil in exactly the way that the CEOs of tobacco companies acted in denying that nicotine is addictive and that smoking tobacco causes cancer. Thus, we can be certain that as Secretary of State he will do nothing to benefit Exon Mobil and thereby benefit himself, not to mention benefiting Il Duce. You also probably need to inform yourself by going to

  • Güerito

    Very little new or informative in these 22 vague, rambling paragraphs. The conclusion, citing those polls numbers, is particularly weak.

    • Güerito

      Now I see. Here’s the 2012 study:

      Again, the 2016 report helps his argument more….

      Of course to really link frequency of travel to opinions about Mexico, you’d need to do regession analysis, controlling for other factors, such as education, ideology, etc.

      • MexJane

        Guerito you seem to be adept at crunching data, and determining how valid it is. You’re also articulate. Anyone can submit an article to Mexico News Daily, why don’t you submit, your own?

  • Güerito

    “Greg Custer is a resident of Ajijic, Jalisco, who describes himself as a *40-year* travel industry wonk.”

    Now how hard was that, MND?

  • When the United States becomes majority Latino, and it will if something isn’t done about it (border control, the end to diversity worship, etc.), then the United States will have a culture and government like Latin America. That will be just great, won’t it?

  • GOPerson

    You want better relations with the Us? Stop the invasion.

    • Rick Drake

      So the fact that the US literally stole half of Mexico in no way has any meaning?

      • Güerito

        War has consequences, one of which is “to the victor go the spoils.”

        • Gleneve

          Mexico was conquered. Utterly.
          We gave them half a country back!
          Gringo instructors? REALLY!?!
          Will we never learn from our mistakes?

  • Güerito

    I don’t think they can afford me.

  • Donnie W. Jennings

    There seems to be a profit here for folks formerly from the US to write anti-USA articles where they quote information that is supposed to support their view. In other words, pendejos quoting other pendejos for profit! The Latino population in the US will grow and as they enjoy the US dream they will become less Mexican and more American. Just like the 29% that voted for Trump. These fake writers profit by claiming the Latinos are going to change the USA into Mexico, full of murder and crime! It is my belief, that the Latino population will have a positive effect on the US as they become indoctrinated to our beliefs and priorities. And in the process of doing this, the USA will become more enriched socially because of their contributions. But the claims of the US being dominated by Latinos, is simply stupidity being written by someone to make a bit of money. The author is a disgrace to all Latinos!

    • Joe Austin

      You have way too much time on your hands and to much shit to say lol. Your not Mexican just because you have a Mexican wife. You talk like a know it all American :), someone who knows nothing but has a big mouth to show for it :).

      • Donnie W. Jennings

        It has nothing to do with being Mexican and every thing to do about knowing BS when you see it!

  • douglas ledbury

    Good article, Greg. You can tell it was worth posting by the number of Snow Flakes and Twinkies
    rushing to keyboards in Amurrika . You Californios, such rebels.

  • Robby guy

    Data from story cloud also say..
    Of the “never been/been once” respondents, only 46% of them cast America as the “source of the problems” between our nations.
    The “traveled frequently” respondents say, 50% of the time, that Mexico is the bad neighbor.

  • Joe Austin

    Mexico and the US have one thing in common the crooks in government and to think the people who voted Trump in think things will be better now? Isn’t that what happen to Mexico in the last election lol. Good luck to the US but don’t call yourselves American any more as we are all North Americans, Mexico the US and Canada. In this day and age it makes no sense to make friends so build your walls in the north and south and between each and every neighbor you have in your own town and arm everyone with a gun :). That’s the way to make the world a better place for us all to live! The US has a history of blaming others for there own problems and that’s just what Trump did in the election and almost half the country fell for it. We all should be working more to creating one big country of north America much like the Europeans did safe and free to travel around :). But that is not going to happen with Trump in power, his idea is to divide and separate not only the US but it’s own people! He isn’t even in office yet and it’s working wonders.