The below is an excerpt taken from our N MX church planting handbook used in the CPCP. This information is important for anyone who is ministering in MX to know and helpful for those praying for us. One additional point about MX that is not in the info below is that MX does NOT have a Western culture (i.e. like Europe or the US). If one spends time in MX (outside of the resorts) it is easy to see that the culture is radically different from that of “Western” countries. I will write more on that another time. But in the meantime I hope this is helpful:
WE AREN‘T STARTING ON NEUTRAL GROUND
It is important to note that in dealing cross-culturally with Mexicans we are not starting on neutral ground. We are coming into a situation where some strong stereotypes already exist. As Americans we have an uphill battle to relate in ways that show that we, as Christians who claim to love the Mexican people, are different.
Americans are often believed by Mexicans to be pushy, know-it-alls, patronizing, disrespectful of Mexican culture and sovereignty, wealthy, and loose morally. These stereotypes are not without foundation. Let’s take a quick look at history to see some of the reasons such stereotypes exist.
- In the late 1840’s the U.S. invaded Mexico and forced Mexico to sell half of her territory to the U.S. This is far from forgotten by the Mexican people. Until recently the heroic act of the young military academy students who wrapped themselves in the Mexican flag and threw themselves off a cliff rather than surrender it to the American invaders was commemorated on the 5,000 peso bills.
- From around 1880 to about 1910 Mexico was ruled by the dictator Porfirio Diaz. The United States government supported his rule and helped impede efforts to overthrow him because he allowed lots of U.S. investment in Mexico.
- In 1938 Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas expropriated all foreign petroleum interests after the American and other foreign oil companies showed disrespect for the government officials while trying to resolve a dispute with Mexican petroleum workers. Though economically a disaster, the move was very popular among Mexicans, and until recently was also proudly commemorated on the 10,000 peso bill.
- More recent events such as the kidnapping within Mexican territory of the suspected murderer of a DEA agent, numerous border incidents where U.S. agents have violated Mexican sovereignty pursuing alleged criminals into Mexico, Proposition 187 in California, the Arizona immigration debate and the case of the complications in granting extradition of a corrupt ex-government official to stand trial in Mexico serve to reinforce negative perceptions of Americans.
- American behavior in Mexico is often less than exemplary. Americans are often loud, obnoxious, and act distastefully when abroad, giving them a bad reputation among many Mexicans.