Ask a Mexican

Chevy Petting

Why do Mexicans traditionally like Chevys? Did Chevy once target the Mexican consumer base for some reason and it worked? — Pocho in a Pontiac

Dear Pocho,

An urban legend suggests that Mexicans don't like Chevys (pronounced with a harsh "ch" as in "chicken" and "chupacabra," gracias) because the auto giant named one of its 1960s-era cars the "Nova" — which translates as "doesn't go" in Spanish. But General Motors stats show that the Nova did well for the company, even in Mexico. And not just the Nova. Mexicans consume Chevys like mezcal and, come to think of it, sometimes together. In the 2003 report Market Trends: Hispanic Americans and the Automobile Industry, author Raúl Pérez found that Chevrolet ranks at or near the top of the list for Hispanic (the PC pendejo term for "Mexican") first-time, used-car and general buyers. Pérez doesn't go into the por qués, but according to Lowrider Magazine's book Lowrider (2003), the Bible of ranflas and rucas (that's hot cars and hotter chicks), the Mexican affinity for Chevys "was an economic consideration" dating back to the 1930s cruising culture. Chevys were quite simply "cheaper and more plentiful" than other brands.

Nowadays, Mexicans purchase Chevy's expensive trucks and SUVs (Chevy hasn't manufactured a mexcellente car since the 1970 Impala) as useful status symbols: nothing smuggles your family like a gleaming Suburban the size of a small-apartment living room. Sure, Mexicans should invest their money in things better than Chevys equipped with spinning hubcaps and built-in flat screen televisions, but dig this, gabachos: while more and more of youse ditch Detroit in favor of jalopies pieced together by goldfish farmers, Mexicans buy American. So who's patriotic now, cabrones?

Why shouldn't the United States adopt the same type of anti-illegal immigration laws that Mexico keeps in its books? Illegal aliens in Mexico are felons — so why do Mexicans complain if the U.S. wants to do that as well? Mexico deported more than 200,000 Central Americans last year — so why do illegal aliens from Mexico complain if the U.S. deports a few? Foreign nationals in Mexico can't stage massive marches in the streets of Mexico waving the flags of their home countries — in fact, Mexican law prohibits such tactics under penalty of jail time. So how does "The Mexican" respond? — Very Hypocritical

Dear Gabacho,

Why in God's good name would Americans ever want to follow Mexico's example? Mexico experienced boom times when it welcomed immigrants, and much of what passes for Mexican culture today came courtesy of these late 19th- and early 20th-century influxes — banda and norteño music (German and Czech), al pastor meat (Arab), Frida Kahlo (Jews), calling all Asians chinos (chinos). But once Mexico began cracking down on immigration after the drafting of the 1917 Mexican Constitution, this once-promising country stagnated. A more liberal immigration policy is one of the things that distinguishes the United States from Mexico — that and flushable toilet paper. Like France, Mexico worries about the "purity" of its "national identity"; our Founding Fathers understood that immigrants enrich us with their customs, numbers and, sure, cheap labor. We agree on one thing: Like Mexico, we should deport more Central Americans. The Guatemalan menace must be stopped at all costs.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano