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Words have meanings.

In the hyped-up atmosphere of the presidential campaign season, words are being used as political weapons—apparently assuming the audience is ignorant.

I want to change that, particularly with regard to words like “sexist” and “feminist” and “enabler” and “abuse.”

If a wife defends a philandering husband, is she an enabler? Not necessarily. If a man is a womanizer, is he therefore an abuser? Not necessarily. Can someone be a feminist AND be sexist? Unfortunately, yes, and that can describe either men or women. These words are not interchangeable.

Sexism is an attitude based on traditional stereotypical gender roles. (All definitions used are consistent with both dictionary.com and Webster’s Dictionary.) When someone, male or female, judges another on the basis of the role they’re supposed to play, they’re being sexist. Donald Trump is sexist when he denigrates a female candidate’s appearance based on the stereotypical assumption that women are supposed to be, first and foremost, attractive. Criticizing a woman for her tone of voice not being soft and sweet is sexist. A woman is sexist if she believes that the husband in a relationship should be the breadwinner, and the wife should fulfill the role of mother and homemaker.

Feminism is the advocacy of social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men. A woman who believes in equal pay for equal work (feminism) can simultaneously believe that women should stay home (sexism); they expect fair treatment out in the world, but they still hold sexist attitudes about what goes on inside a relationship.

A philanderer, or womanizer, is a man who has relationships, often of a sexual nature, where he cannot or has no intention of having a lasting relationship—a man who carries on flirtations regardless of his marital status. A womanizer is the guy almost every woman knows, from junior high school on, who has the compulsion to pursue every woman as a potential sexual conquest. They can be married or single; they flirt with every woman they meet. Some are insecure; others just like women. They’re not necessarily sexist and may be feminists.

When a woman acts in that same manner, constantly flirting whether married or not, she is called a slut or a nymphomaniac—a woman with unquenchable, even “abnormal” sexual desires. Where a man is described as a shameless flirt, a woman with identical behavior is considered abnormal; after all, “boys will be boys.” Sexism is evident in these definitions.

During the 1970s sexual revolution, I knew a couple who believed in open marriage, in which each partner was allowed to have sexual relations with others; they drew the line if the outside relationship included dinner. For them, the sexual act was purely physical, but dinner implied a relationship, an intimacy that would threaten their marriage. One of my friends recently dated a man who was quite happy to periodically “service” the wife of one of his old friends, a man who had become ill and could no longer satisfy his wife sexually. The woman’s husband knew of and was not threatened by his wife’s “affair.”

There are couples who stay together for financial reasons, or who stay married but live separately. Some couples no longer relate to each other with sex as an essential part of their intimacy. There are couples who, despite their partner’s flirtations or affairs, stay together “for the children,” or for financial reasons, or because they love each other in ways that those outside the relationship cannot understand. Some spouses don’t want to know what their partner is up to, evidently believing that “ignorance is bliss”—if they knew, they’d have to do something about it, and they don’t want to change the status quo.

I respect people who have figured out their own relationships and seem satisfied with their arrangements. How they work it out is their business—and shouldn’t be part of a political campaign.

We live in a time when 1950s rules no longer apply in the workplace. Harassing is persistently disturbing, bothering or pestering. What at one time seemed acceptable, or was tolerated, is now sexual harassment—meaning unwelcome sexual advances, especially if compliance is a condition of continued employment or advancement.

“A ha!” you might say. “That means Bill Clinton was a harasser. After all, Monica Lewinsky was a subordinate working in the White House.” But the Clinton/Lewinsky relationship was consensual, not unwelcome, and she was an adult. Did he act inappropriately? Of course he did, and I can’t forgive him for the public humiliation of his wife. Yet his wife seemed willing to forgive him, and they worked out their marriage in their own way, so who am I to judge?

“What about all the other women with whom Clinton was involved?” It’s clear he was a philanderer, but however inappropriate, his extramarital activities were consensual with adult women. (A claim of rape has never been substantiated.)

A good case can be made that Bill Clinton is a feminist and is not sexist. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Donald Trump, who does judge women differently that he judges men, based on stereotypical assumptions. Trump would probably not want to be labeled a feminist, but by touting equal treatment for women, he’s a shining example of how one can be both feminist and sexist at the same time.

Trump says Hillary “enabled” (condoned or facilitated) her husband’s extramarital affairs and thus cannot stand up for women. Wrong. Accepting and even defending a spouse’s infidelity does not mean one is not still a feminist regarding public policy.

Hillary accurately described some of Donald Trump’s boorish statements as indicating a “penchant for sexism.” Trump responded with, “If Hillary thinks she can unleash her husband (on the campaign trail), with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong!”

In an editorial responding to Trump, The New York Times said that Trump’s aim is clearly “to dredge up an ancient scandal and tar Mrs. Clinton with it in a clearly sexist fashion.” In other words, holding a wife complicit in her husband’s behavior is based on the underlying belief that if a man strays somehow, his wife is at fault. Her role is to keep him satisfied. According to Trump on Fox News, “She’s not a victim. She was an enabler.” Enabling would mean Hillary facilitated her husband’s behavior, rather than merely tolerating or forgiving it.

How does the general public see all of this? A Fox News poll indicates that voters see Bill Clinton as more respectful of women than Donald Trump—50 percent for Clinton, and only 37 percent for Trump, so Trump’s play may backfire. We’re not ignorant.

Spouse attacks were tried against Sen. Dianne Feinstein and vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro based on their husbands’ business dealings, and against John McCain for his wife’s alleged drug use. All of this is nothing more than dirty politics—an attempt to put an opponent on the defensive and dominate the news cycle.

We should not reward such sleazy attacks.

Words have meanings.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Dear Mexican: Isn’t the acceptance of illegal immigration by Latino politicians insulting to generations of Mexican Americans who paid taxes, built communities and worked hard for their families and their country (military service, public service, etc.)?

Legal Smiegel

Dear Gabacho: Nope, mainly because people sin papeles also pay taxes, build communities and serve. (Google “Jose Angel Garibay OC Weekly.”) But nice try in attempting to pull a Donald Trump by trying to divide and conquer between undocumented Mexicans and “legal” Mexican-Americans. Sure, you’ll always have the stray vendidos insisting what you just babbled—but the stats don’t back up your premise.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey showed that while the immigration views of native-born, English-dominant Latinos aren’t as Aztlanista as, say, a Mechista, they’re pretty close. On the question of whether they prefer a pathway to citizenship, better border security and enforcement, or a combination of both, 48 percent of U.S.-born Latinos favored the former, while 34 percent liked the latter. That’s probably because 23 percent of them personally knew someone who had been deported in the past year.

Unlike gabachos, whose ancestors got onto Ellis Island then promptly pulled the plank so that the Greeks couldn’t come over, Mexicans don’t forget our roots—and we ain’t hypocrites, save for Eva Longoria.

I want to review a hole-in-the-wall spot that apparently makes the best tacos. Yelp reviewers keep commenting on how run-down the space is, but somehow equate “doesn’t look like much” with the authentic Mexican food experience.

Is this all just pendejadas (my gut says “Hell yes!”), or is there something to it?

Detroit Dama

Dear Pocha: First off, why are you bothering with Yelp when it comes to Mexican food? Yelp is many things, but a guide to great comida mexicana, it ain’t. This is the site, for instance, where a gabacha once left a one-star review to a Tierra Caliente-style spot in SanTana that offered amazing huchepos (sweet corn tamales), aporreado (awesome Michoacán breakfast dish) and spectacular pozole verde. The restaurant’s sin, according to the pendeja? It didn’t offer burritos—never mind that burritos are as much a part of michoacano cuisine as a Rick Bayless airport torta.

It’s the same prejudice that you describe, although yours is of a different sentido—that “true” Mexican food can’t possibly be high-class, and can only be properly prepared by women named María who slave over a comal grinding out the nixtamal themselves with their pigtails. That’s an extension of the classic American expectation that Mexicans are perpetually in poverty, and it’s bullshit. From Enrique Olvera in Mexico City to Javier Plascencia in Tijuana to Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria in Costa Mesa (named as one of Food and Wine’s 10 Best New Chefs for 2015), Mexican cooks are showing the world that alta cocina is as legit as two-tacos-for-a-buck-with-free-pineapple-juice specials.

What’s the true litmus test of a great Mexican restaurant? Great food—oh, and a calendar from the local tortillería or grocery store with an illustration of an Aztec maiden, of course.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

On this week's extra-savory Independent comics page: This Modern World gets some schooling from the future; Jen Sorenson examines an accidental bombing; The K Chronicles goes to home school; and Red Meat builds a nest for a special visitor.

Published in Comics

On this week's beautiful Independent comics page: Red Meat decides to avoid the criminal underbelly; Jen Sorenson examines Republican feminism; The K Chronicles binges on football; and This Modern World looks at the false equivalency of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Published in Comics

Every woman I know was thrilled by Carly Fiorina’s response at the second Republican debate to Donald Trump’s denigrating comment about her looks. Whether you agree with her policies or believe she is qualified to be president, her confident and direct hit at Trump was the standout moment.

“Look at that face!” Trump had proclaimed to a Rolling Stone reporter. “Who would vote for that?” When pushed to explain his denigrating comment, Trump claimed he was only talking about Fiorina’s “persona.”

During the debate, after Trump confronted Jeb Bush on his awkward comments about women’s health funding (which Bush claimed was a “mis-speak”), Fiorina was asked about Trump’s comments regarding her looks. With a calm, deliberate tone, she responded, “Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly and what Mr. Bush said. I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Bam!

Trump then followed with what every woman knows is the equivalent of a pat on the head: “She’s got a beautiful face, and she’s a beautiful woman.”

Sorry, Donald. Too little, too late.

Why were women so pleased with Fiorina’s response? Too few of us ever feel that confident to respond effectively to a man belittling us based on our looks. Having someone say, “You look nice today,” is always welcome. But when you’re in the boardroom, or the planning meeting, or a presidential debate, your looks are the last attribute you want noticed. It’s one of the small but persistent things that diminish women in public and private venues. When comments are made like, “That dress makes you look really sexy,” or, “Why would anyone vote for someone who looks like that?” it’s not only not OK; it should be socially unacceptable.

Statistics and analyses frequently illustrate the disparity between women and men in salaries and career opportunities, including the 85 percent dominance by men in Silicon Valley; the recently successful book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg; and disappointing numbers of women in creative leadership roles, such as those in movies and television (with a few notable exceptions like Tina Fey, the Amys—Schumer and Poehler, and Shonda Rhimes, used to refute the complaints: “Hey, they made it, so what are you complaining about?”).

All of this came to mind as I was reading Palm Springs resident Carlynne McDonnell’s book, The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality, which contains helpful advice for women on how to respond to situations in which they are treated with less than the full measure of respect they deserve.

McDonnell has been in the Coachella Valley for about three years. Her background includes a degree in humanities and a master’s in public policy. She has always been involved in writing, but professionally, it was usually of the technical variety, involving contracts, specifications, policies and procedures. Carlynne worked primarily in what she describes as “male-centric industries”—on the docks in Houston, and with the railroad in New Jersey. She felt compelled to write about the basics for women’s equality, particularly in the workplace.

“I felt I had not done enough to help other women,” she said. “Just listen to the way women are described, and the way women are talked about publicly. We’ve been desensitized to it, and it doesn’t seem like anyone stands up and says, ‘Stop it!’ It reaches the point where there is so much negativity, it can become overwhelming.”

Last year, McDonnell decided it was time to speak up and make a difference.

“I started the book last April, because I wanted to address how women can come together to have the greatest impact,” she says. “Women need to stop being so divided and talk in terms of our most-common factor: We are all women. Although we are not encouraged to speak our minds, we must do something instead of nothing. We can effect change as a group with the power of our voices and our dollars, but we need a continuous effort. We can and must change the world.”

For McDonnell, individual activism is a key component of the change she sees as necessary: “We need to demand a culture of success where the most qualified, regardless of gender or race or any other factor, is the one hired to do the job.”

She sees too much reliance on old ways of doing things, or people wanting to hire people just like themselves, or policies that don’t make a conscious effort to overcome old biases.

“I have a problem with the idea of ‘unconscious bias,’” she said. “On some level, it becomes conscious exclusion, and that’s what policies have to overcome. These things should not have to be legislated—they’re just good policies. But ultimately, the long-term message must be, ‘You can pay me now, or it will cost you a lot more later.’”

McDonnell also focuses on violence against women, as she sees a shifting view of responsibility: “People don’t realize how many women are killed every year. We call it ‘domestic’ violence, but the way we view women in crisis is often that the onus falls on the woman. Even women will say, ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’”

McDonnell’s book includes a chapter on health-care bias, where the emphasis is too often on diseases that get the most financial profile and support, such as breast cancer, compared to those that have higher death rates for women, like heart disease or stroke.

She also highlights the role of men and the need for them to have raised consciousness about the often subtle ways in which women are publicly disrespected. Her husband “has walked out of car dealer showrooms and declined to move forward with contractors who showed disrespect for me. He not only gets it; he acts on it.”

How can women learn to respond, like Fiorina, when their efforts are trivialized or disrespected? McDonnell includes many helpful suggestions that women can incorporate into their everyday lives. If you’re treated inappropriately at a store or restaurant, speak to someone in charge, and let them know why you will no longer spend your money in their establishment. Ask questions of your health-care providers about whether their recommended treatment is specific to women, or whether the testing and protocols were only researched with men. Stand up for women whose voices may not be heard. Get angry and vocal with police departments and elected officials who do not make safety, security and equality for women high priorities. Speak up when people use trivializing language about women and girls: “Don’t let ‘like a girl’ be anything more than an empowering battle cry to strive and succeed.”

McDonnell’s bottom-line message is that women must stand up and be heard, be role models, mentor others and educate without intimidating. “We allow our power to be diminished by not responding. Every time you stand up for yourself, you stand up for those who cannot do so. ”

Carly Fiorina gave us a good model of how to do that. Carlynne McDonnell is attempting to empower us all to do the same.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Dear Mexican: I’m white, and Donald Trump scares the crap out of me. Mexicans must be shaking in their boots. Does The Donald give Mexicans the willies? Do Mexicans get the willies?

Dump Trump

Dear Gabacho: Scared of him? Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to Mexicans since the bacon-wrapped hot dog. Oh, his rhetoric is straight out of The Turner Diaries, and Trump’s fans make slack-jawed yokels seem as cultured as Aristophanes. But the piñata pendejo is exactly what Mexicans need—a kick in the nalgas to wake us up and get ready for the 2016 elections.

Mexicans vote best when raza is threatened, and given he’s vowing to deport 11 million undocumented folks and their anchor babies (otherwise known as “American citizens” by the Constitution), we’re going to make sure that neither Trump nor any of the candidates copying his ideas get into the Oval Office. And if he does? Let’s have a double-revolution in Mexico and the U.S., and boot the bastards out in both of our countries, ¿qué no?

Can you clue me in as to what it means when someone is called jarocho? I know it’s a traditional Mexican style of music—son jarocho—but in what other ways is it used?

Colas, Colas

Dear Nicholas Gabacho: A quick description for your fellow gabas: Son jaracho is a style of music from the Mexican state of Veracruz that involves high-strung, quickly strummed tiny guitars called jaranas; a distinctive lead guitar called a requinto; and other instruments that can range from a harp to a donkey’s jawbone to a drum. Together, they create a beautiful genre (“La Bamba” is its most famous song) that, while known in Mexico, is an obsession of Chicano yaktivists; they arrange academic conferences around all-night parties, lionizing its supposedly proletarian spirit while relegating other, more-popular Mexican regional music forms like tamborazo and chilenas to quinceañeras in Montebello.

No es surprise, then, that jarocho also refers to someone from Veracruz. But this is where its etymological roots get fun: The Real Academia Española defines a jarocho as someone “of brusque manners, not courteous, and something insolent,” and traces its roots to the word farota, which means “shameless woman” (and that word comes from a classical Arabic term referring to the act of getting angry). In other words, jarocho is a word originally used as an insult, but reappropriated by veracruzanos as a point of pride. Such linguistic tactics are popular around Mexico: Words like chilango (someone from Mexico City) and paisa (a hillbilly) are other such intended regional slurs. This shows Mexicans can make beauty out of shit at all times, which explains the continued popularity of Maná.

And speaking of caca

Your people have destroyed your own country, and like any good virus, when you run out of things to destroy, you move on to somewhere else to destroy.

Do you know why Mexico is a shithole, and America is great? Because Mexico is full of Mexicans, and America is full of whites. That’s literally the only reason. Congratulations: You will never be more than a poor, brown-trash spic. Viva la Caca!

The Donald Devotee

Dear Gabacho: Viva! Manure is a wonderful, natural miracle worker that can fertilize the most wasted of terrains. Why, with all us shit-Mexicans smearing across the United States, our cosecha in 50 years will bring this country back to the Garden of Eden.

And gabachos? Y’all will be reduced to skid marks.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

On this week's exciting Independent comics page: This Modern World examines the conflict between Plutocrat Pete and Tea Party Tim; Jen Sorenson wonders how the humble pickup truck became a luxury item; The K Chronicles is surprised to learn that the cartoonist doesn't "sound black"; and Red Meat prepares the clowns for combat.

Published in Comics

Dear Mexican: I’m tired of debating pasty white-breads that the Camino Real has had people going back and forth across the border for more than 500 years—and that a fence is redundant, because people will always be crossing our southern border. The white-breads insist that the wall can end this traffic; I don’t think so.

What is your thought on the history of the Camino Real?

Blanco Beaner

Dear Gabacho: Which Camino Real are we talking about? The one that connected California’s missions and was romanticized by gabachos? The one that connected Texas’ missions? El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which went from Mexico City to Santa Fe? Or El Camino Real, the chingón Fullerton eatery that’s the favorite Mexican restaurant of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant?

All of them reflect the same idea you allude to—that la frontera has had humans going back and forth for centuries, if not millennia, and that trying to seal off the border for good is as futile of an endeavor as getting Donald Trump’s mouth not to spew caca.

I was in San Diego recently renting a car when I mentioned I might be taking it down to Tijuana for the day. The nice man behind the counter asked me if I wanted to buy Mexican insurance. I thought that was a great idea.

Do you know if it’s available here in Denver? I’m sure I would feel a lot safer driving around the streets with that policy in my glove box!

Chubby Chubbys Chump

Dear Gabacho: You know, I was going to answer your question honestly—of course you can’t get Mexican insurance to cover you in the United States; it’s called Mexican insurance for a reason. And Mexican insurance really isn’t all that necessary in Mexico, if you have a $50 bill on you to pay off a cop—but now I’m thinking you’re just fucking with me.

May Peyton Manning choke again this season as punishment for your pendejadas.

I think, by law, all al pastor should be made traditionally—on a spit, topped with a fresh pineapple. Agreed?

Su Amigo, Otro Idiota con las Mejores Intenciones

Dear Friend, Another Idiot with the Best Intentions: Yes, and no. The Mexican personally thinks al pastor—the Mexican meat that involves packing together chunks of marinated pork on a spit, slowly roasting it for hours, and shaving off slices as needed—tastes best when topped with a pineapple, the better to have jugo de piña seep into the trompo. But be careful when you talk about traditions and Mexican foods.

As seemingly all hipsters found out this year after NPR and leeches—sorry, I meant millennial publications—did stories about al pastor’s origins, the tradition owes nothing to Mexico: It’s based on the shawarmas that Middle Eastern immigrants brought to central Mexico in the 1930s. All Mexicans did was substitute puerco for the original beef and lamb. And the original al pastor didn’t have pineapple—that’s a more recent addition dating back no more than 30 years, if that.

The only Mexican food law that should be enacted is a ban on anyone ever thinking again that celebrity chef Rick Bayless is an authority on anything other than his pocketbook.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

On this week's diversity-laden Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson imagines Donald Trump as a refugee; The K Chronicles takes on the purple people; This Modern World looks at the rationality of our free market; and Red Meat shows Milkman Dan focusing on his legacy.

Published in Comics

Dear Readers: The Mexican is currently in the rancho, scheming about how to get close enough to Donald Trump so I can smear a bean burrito in his face … HA!

But I did want to share two cosas. A couple of weeks back, I published a letter by one Dickhead in Denver, who asked 10 pendejo questions, regarding everything from why Mexicans are so fat to why Mexicans aren’t good in math. Your humble paisa easily knocked him down, but so did many of ustedes in letters sent to me—chingao!

I wish I could quote one directly, but I can’t. Let’s just say an executive from a major American company told me that company hires more engineers from Mexico than the United States, and showed me the numbers to prove it—chingao!

The following letter is one I’m allowed to share in its entirety:

I can’t address some of the B.S. addressed by this individual so aptly named, but here’s something: I taught as an intern and then as a substitute teacher in Albuquerque, N.M., almost exclusively at Dolores Gonzales Elementary by the BioPark for two years. The kids from Mexico were better in math, science and language skills (Spanish, of course) than local kids. In one of the classes where I acted as a teaching assistant, there were five of them who were placed in advanced classes the following year.

Where the kids got screwed up was a three-fold thing: 1. Dealing with “cooperative learning” crap. They were used to traditional, old-school methods with the teacher in front of the class, and the kids listening, taking notes, etc. When you broke them up into groups, that’s when problems began. 2. Learning a new language. 3. Pressures from IDIOT local Hispanic/Latino kids who ridiculed them and sometimes beat them up, because they were diligently trying to learn; and pressures at home from parents who were also dealing with a number of issues.

Le tengo odio a mitoteros/mentirosos como Dickhead: “Todo el dia, tuercen mis palabras …” —Salmos 56.5

’Burque Babe

For those who don’t habla: The maestra said at the end: “I hate nosy idiots/liars like Dickhead: ‘All day long, they twist my words…’ Psalms 56:5.” Biblical retribution? Chingao!

See, America? Mexicans come to this country all perfect and precious—and it’s this country that destroys them by making them become Americans.

BUY THIS BOOK!

#FuckCancer: The True Story of How Robert the Bold Kicked Cancer’s Ass is an awesome new book by Robert Flores, a lifelong butcher who decided to tell his tale after surviving fourth-stage colon cancer. #FuckCancer is not just the latest entry in the lengthy bookshelf of cancer literature; it also belongs in Chicano studies classrooms. In the butcher, you find everything we want our community to turn into: a fighter. A survivor. Someone who’s proud of where he’s from. Brown and down. And a pioneer: Robert is brave enough to tell his story and to become a writer despite being in his mid-50s after never having written a “professional” story, let alone a full-length book. May this book inspire people who want to be writers but are afraid to do so … to do so.

Follow him on Twitter @foxflores, and buy his book at roberttheboldstore.etsy.com!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican