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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Dear Mexican: Not too long ago, you answered a question about the anti-Mexican slur “greaser,” and then I read the info you provided for “illegal” and the N-word.

I was wondering if you could break down for us “beaner,” “wetback” and “spic,” too. What are their definitions historically? Who “invented” them, and what are their connections to certain regions?

Etymologically Curious

Dear Gabacho: White supremacy invented these Americanisms, silly!

“Wetback” came from the days when Americans thought Mexicans only came to el Norte by swimming across the Rio Grande—and the earliest known reference is in a 1920 New York Times article.

“Spic” isn’t really about Mexicans, per se; the Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to Americans and Brits ridiculing how Panamanians working in the construction of the Canal pronounced “speak.”

As for “beaner”: The earliest known printed reference is in a July 9, 1965, column in the Detroit Free Press, in which an Orange County surfer told a reporter that “not much good can be said about ‘beaners’ (Mexicans).” But the slur is descended from previous terms like “bean bandit” and “bean-eater,” which go back to the days of the cowboys. The common thread, of course, is the Mexican love for frijoles, and the American anger that they can’t properly digest refrieds without ripping a bunch of pedos.

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans leave their cars in the middle of the street with their hazard lights on while they pick up their friends/kids/drugs? My friends and I deemed this “Mexican Hazard Light Syndrome”—MHLS, for short.

Those blinking lights are supposed to be used when a car is broken down and a person is in distress, not when someone is too lazy to park and walk. It’s annoying enough when they do it on a two-way street and turn the road into an obstacle course—but when they do it on a one-way street, it’s unforgivably inconsiderate and stupid.

My (Mexican) friend hit one of these cars once and decided it was the MHLS-sufferer’s fault, so he just left the scene without even leaving a “sorry, you idiot” note. I don’t endorse this kind of hit-and-run behavior, but I’m telling that little anecdote so that the dumbasses who leave their cars in the middle of the street aren’t too shocked when they find their ’83 Buick Skylarks in pieces.

Cross At Lazy Mexicans

Dear CALM: Patience is no Mexican virtue. We smuggle ourselves into this country again and again—you think we’re going to wait until a spot on the street opens up? Nah, we’d rather annoy pendejos like you and your pal—and it worked!

Dear Mexican: I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My parents were born in El Salvador, which makes me a Salvadoran American—NOT a pinche mexicanos. Don’t get me wrong: I like you guys, and my heina is Mexican. My problem is with the whiter breed. Maybe it’s that they’re lazy, but they tend to classify all us brown folk as Mexican, when, in fact, we’ve got a nice, assorted pack on display. Salvadorans have our own food (pupusas, not tacos), our own language (decimos “vos,” not “tu”), and we’re obviously shorter. Please tell all the gabachos to think before they classify.

Guanaco Guillermo

Dear Pocho: No argument from me here, other than Salvadoran horchata is superior to Mexican and MS 13 (censored by the Mexican’s publishers lest his head become a soccer ball).

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

Dear Mexican: I need to know: Why do salvatruchas think they are superior to every Mexican and Guatemalan in every way?

I go to a community college in the San Fernando Valley that is infested with them, and the way they portray Mexicans to other people makes me angry. Sometimes, I would like to tell them about the bad and nasty crap they have done since the urban terrorist organization, MS-13, destroyed the Hispanic community even worse. Now some of us Mexicans are leaving places and migrating to other parts of Southern California.

I know that some police at the southern border of Mexico have treated Salvadorans like shit, but that is no reason for them to chingar con los Mexicans’ reputation. It’s hard enough with some of the prejudices we mojados confront every day, but to have another Hispanic culture mess it up even more? Tell me: What is wrong with those guys?

Mixed Mexican of Sherman Oaks

Dear Pocho: Do you realize you just wrote for me a Mad Libs of assimilation that people can apply to any successful immigrant group in America ever? I’m ever-grateful! Here, lemme show you:

I need to know: Why do (newest immigrant group) think they are superior to every (assimilated ethnic group) and (another assimilated ethnic group) in every way?

I go to a (workplace or business) in the (old municipal stronghold of assimilated ethnic group) that is infested with (newest immigrant group), and the way they portray (assimilated ethnic group) to other people makes me angry. Sometimes, I would like to tell them about the bad and nasty crap they have done since the (gang or national movement associated with newest immigrant group) destroyed the (assimilated ethnic group) community even worse. Now some of us (assimilated ethnic group) are leaving places and migrating to other parts of (suburbs of old municipal stronghold of assimilated ethnic group).

I know that (some situation involving assimilated ethnic group) have treated (newest immigrant group) like shit, but that is no reason for them to chingar con los (assimilated ethnic group’s) reputation. It’s hard enough with some of the prejudices we (former derogatory nickname for assimilated ethnic group that they appropriated and now use as a term of endearment for each other—but woe to anyone else who uses it) confront every day, but to have another (newest immigrant group) mess it up even more? Tell me: What is wrong with those guys?

So, to recap: Salvadorans hate Mexicans because we hated Salvadorans, just like Irish hate Italians because Italians hated the Irish. How about we break that cycle? This Mexican did!

Dear Mexican: I went to a Mexican birthday party at my neighbor’s house a few weeks ago for their daughter, who just turned 6 years old. I was surprised when I was the only guest who bought her a toy. All she got was a bunch of clothes. I don’t know any white 6-year-olds who would WANT clothes for their birthday. What’s up with that?

Confused in Texas

Dear Gabacho: No kids of any culture want clothes as a regalo, period. But Mexican adults know niños grow super-fast, so they give ropa as presents to help others with the cost of living. This custom ends with adolescence, when people start giving Mexican teens condoms—or rather, they should …

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Published in Ask a Mexican

The president and his supporters say they want to solve illegal immigration by building an immense wall along our southern border, turning local police into immigration agents, and applying “severe vetting” to immigrants from certain countries—all of which are predominantly Muslim.

Opponents say these proposals suffer from over-simplification and racism. But there’s an even bigger problem: These “fixes” fail to understand that we can’t address immigration if we continue to deny the science of climate change, because increasingly, climate change is driving global human migration.

Let’s first acknowledge that our border with Mexico is a place of hardship, violence and injustice. Let’s also recognize the wrenching reality that many of those pressed against our border are children.

In fiscal year 2016, nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at our southern border. Even as the president and his supporters lump them together with “murderers and rapists,” the U.S. Border Patrol reports that they’re kids 17 and under, who, by a 4-to-1 margin, are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—not Mexico. Nearly 75,000 of the other people apprehended in 2016 were members of migrating families, mostly from the same three countries. Overall, Central Americans outnumbered Mexicans apprehended at the border in both 2014 and 2016. This reflects a trend showing fewer Mexicans and single adults illegally entering the Unaited States.

Migration from Central America is a reaction to pervasive violence and extreme poverty. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have some of the world’s highest murder rates, fueled by gangs and drug cartels. For children and families, conditions are terrifying. This drives desperate migration, both internally and externally to Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United States. It is a regional issue.

Increasingly, climate change worsens existing problems. The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters shows that, in the last four decades, Central America has experienced a tenfold increase in extreme heat, drought, forest fires, storms and floods. Among the most affected countries are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where millions today lack reliable food due to drought-related crop failures. The resulting migration to urban areas stresses already over-burdened housing, education and other services. It worsens gang violence, drug trafficking and corruption, forcing people to flee.

The changing climate threatens yet more instability for Central America. The region’s volcanic soils are prone to massive landslides from increasing storms, and millions of people live beside rising seas. Often, local economies and infrastructure are ill-prepared for disaster.

Evidence also suggests that climate change helped ignite today’s war in Syria. Extreme drought beginning in 2006 withered crops and drove people to cities already swollen with Iraqi refugees and political discontent. The root causes of the war are complex, but we cannot ignore indications that climate played a role, thus contributing to the migration crisis now straining Europe.

For more than a decade, stretching back to the George W. Bush presidency, the U.S. military has warned that climate change will increasingly contribute to unrest and drive potentially massive human migrations that threaten our national security. Similar warnings have come from the International Organization for Migration, the World Bank, the Government Accountability Office (which reports to the U.S. Congress) and the Department of Homeland Security.

Their warnings, and the reality of a refugee crisis in both Syria and at our own southern border, underscore the value of the Paris climate agreement, which Republicans are presently working to undermine. Aside from its impact on reducing carbon emissions, it also provides for climate-change adaptation in Central America and other vulnerable regions. The agreement represents an investment in social stability that can help to relieve immigration.

The last Congress under President Obama saw the value in addressing the seed causes of migration, appropriating $750 million in 2016 for Central American support and aid. Such actions were part of a smart immigration strategy that also included modernizing border security technology, disrupting criminal smuggling outfits, and clear enforcement priorities that greatly increased deportation of convicted criminals.

In contrast, the Trump administration’s broad crackdown on illegal immigrants in this country reeks of xenophobia and prejudice. These emotional reflexes that fuel cries for border walls or bans on Muslim immigrants don’t reflect ethical or realistic thinking. Denial of climate science is a similarly emotional and unhinged response to a complex issue.

As climate and immigration change our physical and cultural landscapes in entwined ways, we must demand rational, science-based responses, not walls or other bad ideas driven by fear.

Tim Lydon is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News, where this first appeared.

Published in Community Voices

Dear Mexican: I have a few questions. Why is it so wrong for Americans to expect people from other countries to follow our laws when entering this country? What reason do you have that should make Mexicans entering this country illegally OK?

Secondly, why aren’t you as concerned about the way immigrants from, let’s say, El Salvador are treated as they are making their way to America through Mexico? I was married to someone who made this trip, and I got to hear about the atrocities committed by the Mexican people against foreign immigrants just passing through. Rape, murder and incarceration are commonplace. But you complain because Americans simply want immigrants to follow our laws? There is nothing worse than hypocrisy. This country spends BILLIONS of dollars every year on people who come here illegally! Our tax dollars!

There’s a reason there is a process in place for people to enter this country. The reason is simple: If it’s not done properly, it will cause problems for people here in America! Why is this so difficult for you to understand? Donald Trump is winning for a reason: He is speaking out on what the American people are feeling inside! America isn’t in a position to be the godfather for every failing country in the world anymore! We need to focus on the condition of this country for a while and get things back to where they need to be.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the recent cover image of the OC Weekly (The Mexican’s home paper; pictured below) of a donkey fucking Donald Trump. I think it’s totally uncouth and tasteless. It shows exactly why your magazine is given out for free. How about drawing a picture of Vicente Fox violating the entire Mexican population? If the Mexican government wasn’t worthless and corrupt, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion! Then the Mexican people would stay in Mexico! But the truth of the matter is that Mexico, for the most part, sucks as a country! Instead of demeaning our political system, why don’t you go fix Mexico? That’s what I think is so hilarious about seeing Mexicans in America sporting the Mexican flag, and yelling about how proud they are to be Mexican—yet they don’t have any problem coming to America and reaping the benefits of this society that is supposedly so terrible. It’s insanity.

Anyway, I would like to say thank you for putting your paper out, for one reason only. It works great in the bottom of my cat’s litter box, and it’s free! I highly doubt my comment will be addressed or put into your trash mag, but I’m giving you permission to if you see fit.

Newt Me!

Dear Gabacho: You want to talk hypocrisies? Regarding everything you trashed Mexicans for supposedly doing, you could say the same about your (presumably) Salvadoran ex-wife and your immigrant ancestors—the border-hopping, the not staying in her country to improve it, the trashing of other immigrants. But as usual, gabachos excuse everyone except Mexicans for everything.

And forget hypocrisies: How about stupidities? Everyone knows papers like OC Weekly and the Coachella Valley Independent print version are best used as compost, because they’ll fuel your garden with truth. But, hey: Trumpbros like you seem to hate the truth, so keep wallowing in your cat’s shit.

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