Mexico and Creative Begging

Here is an issue that is hardly endemic to Mexico-Begging. We used to live in Lawrence, Kansas. When we moved to the greater Kansas City area in 1996, the once-beautiful downtown district had become infected with your stereotypical panhandlers. I never kept up with how the city dealt with this issue.

Mexico brings begging to an entirely new level. Begging has everything to do with what I wrote in my column, Mexican Living: Renting a House. Not only do Mexican landlords give every impression their American tenants exist to be taken advantage of, Mexican beggars also plug into this mentality. They think every American, without exception, lights his or her cigars with $100.00 bills. This is no generalization. I have evidence.

I brought up my consternation with an expat friend from Vallarta. He told me his handyman, a campesino coming from an entire lineage of campesinos, believes that Americans are so rich, in Texas they throw $20.00 bills on the sidewalk because they take up too much room in their pockets. The further north you go, they believe, the larger the denominations which are thrown away like gum wrappers.

This fantasy is exploited by the Coyotes who sell these poor souls in the illegal immigration trade. The poor and uneducated campesinos are actually told Americans are so fabulously wealthy there is money just laying in the streets in America. And the campesinos believe this.

If you want to know why Mexican illegals are pouring into America, a large part is that they are led to believe that money is so plentiful, it is just laying around for them to pick up off the streets. That and being so incredible poor and uneducated they are easily manipulated.

The way this works out every day in Mexico is seen in landlords, shopkeepers, vendors, and beggars thinking that a white face (American) has to mean money, money, money!

Now, it used to be a salient fact of American expatriation that only the rich would move here. Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende are testimony to this. The Americans there live like Kings and Queens compared with the rest of Mexico and most of the middle class of America.

But, now that more and more middle-class American baby boomers are seeing that they cannot afford to retire in the ole Red, White, and Blue, and are moving to Mexico, this “rich American” thingee is no longer true. Mexicans aren’t getting the picture.

Mexicans will assume that because you are from America, you have money to burn. They will knock on your front door and ask you for money ALL THE TIME! And they will act shocked when you are not forthcoming with the cash. They will walk away dejected. They sincerely do not get why rich Americans need all that money anyway. They don’t understand why we do not simply give it away since we throw it away in the United States!

I have heard every song and dance story in the last three years. They will come to your front door, ask you on the street, while you eat in a restaurant, when you are sitting in your doctor’s office, or standing in the line for the movies.

They will regale you with,

1. My mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparents, brother, sister, child, or anyone who has ever been related to them, all need a serious operation.
2. My wife just lost her baby and we have no money for a casket.
3. Jaguars ate all my horses, burros, goats, sheep, chickens, and children and now I have no way to make money to feed my wife who is pregnant who might lose the baby at any moment and then I won’t have any money for a casket.
4. The hurricane blew away all my family and I only have the clothes on my back and need your money to buy a new family.

I have heard the same old stories so many times that some of them are being told to me by the same beggar months apart. They forget they hit on me months ago and they cannot even retell the same story accurately:

Beggar in 2004 : “My mother died and they are keeping her body in the police station until YOUâÂ?¦YOU FILTHY RICH (sucker) AMERICAN can bury her for me.”

Same Beggar in 2005 : “My father died and they are keeping his body in the police station until YOUâÂ?¦YOU FILTHY RICH (sucker) AMERICAN can bury him for me.”

Some of my expat friends and I get together and compare the stories we’ve been told and recognize the same old tripe from the same storytellers.

This is truly pathetic with a capital “P”. Quite frankly, I would like to slap the next person silly who defiles the name of their parents, wife, children-born or just imagined-with another cock-and-bull-story about an operation, death, burial, kidnapping, or whatever.

Could some of them be telling the truth? Maybe. But I doubt with all my “I-AM-NOT RICH-IN-THE-SLIGHTEST-SO-LEAVE-ME-ALONE” American (I won’t be a sucker) heart!

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