Thursday, March 17, 2011
Dear Mexican: Why does the chupacabra only live in Hispanic areas (including the South Bronx) but never in rural Mississippi? - Spooked in Soho
Dear Gabacho: This column is not ¡Ask a Hispanic!, but I’m making an exception for you because doing so allows me to dispel a long-held myth: the chupacabra isn’t Mexican. The fantastical creature that preys on livestock (hence, its Spanish name, which translates as “goatsucker”) has obsessed popular culture. All cultures keep bloodsuckers as bogeymen. But as Benjamin Radford reported in his well-researched, well-written Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore, folklorists have long considered Latin American culture a fountain of legends usually created as socio-Jungian explanations of life. The chupacabra, according to a folklorist Radford cites, is “a form of cultural resistance which many [Latinos] use to maintain social bonds and gain control over growing fears surrounding the perceived destructive effects of ‘toxic’ U.S. imperialism.” Typical – when in doubt, blame the problems of Latinos on gabachos, the true Nosferatus.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I walked across the bridge from El Paso into Mexico for a day of wandering the mercados of Juárez. A quick Internet search suggests that there were over 3,000 murders in Juárez in 2010. Our friends said we were crazy. The fact that we saw only three other obvious gabacho tourists over the course of the dayshows that U.S. tourists are terrified of Juárez, but the mercados favored by the locals, on the other hand,were buzzing.Were we crazy to go?- Viviendo la Vida Loca
Dear Gabacho: Your logic is the same as an American tourist walking through Baghdad during the height of the insurgency. While your reasoning is fine – narcos usually shoot for their enemies or Mexican-Americans returning to the rancho, and lay off gunning at gabachos lest the U.S. Army pull another Punitive Expedition – they’re rather trigger-happy at the moment. Why visit Juárez when you have El Paso – statistically one of the safest big cities in the United States – right across the border? They have everything Juárez has, plus Chico’s Tacos: purveyors of the double-order of rolled tacos, baptized in a flurry of cheddar cheese and tomato sauce, the closest thing to a Mexican god we’ve seen since the days of Quetzalcoatl.