how the world sees america

Mexico Wages Cartoon Wars Over U.S.

Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content.
MEXICO CITY - "They call me the cartoonist from the right, the pro-American cartoonist," says Francisco "Paco" Calderon, with a bemused look on his long, bearded face. "They call me a U.S. Pig." Hands on his belly, he stops suddenly to ponder his own words. Then he leans back in his chair, widens his eyes, and bellows at his critics: "You idiots, open your eyes! You are getting comfy in your coffin! "

This catches me a bit off guard. We're sitting in his cozy studio looking at the thousands of cartoons he's drawn over the years. They've morphed from rotund black and white figures in his youth to the sharp, toxic-colored panoramas of now. About one in five cartoons is about the U.S.

"I try to educate Mexicans a bit about the United States," he says, "to fight the caricature that the Left depicts of the United States as a blood-sucking vampire," he says, referring specifically to cartoonists in the socialist daily La Jornada, an ideological counterpart to his paper called Reforma - a publication that current President Felipe Calderon (no relation) once wrote for.

For example, Paco shows me a cartoon he made of Fidel Castro burning Mexico's foreign minister alive for saying Mexico needed closer relations with the U.S.; the dying minister wears a conical hat made of La Jornada copy. The rest of that cartoon series asks, "What's so wrong with closer ties?" since the countries share so many people, money, and movies. If America's good enough for our migrants to live in, he says, it's good enough for our country to engage with.

Paco's childhood was spent in the U.S. at Harvard where his father, a famous Mexican economist who knew John F. Kennedy personally, studied and worked. Paco has fond memories of his early years, and as you'll see in the video, says his childhood taught him about an American spirit of can-do "optimism now lacking in Mexico."

Paco accuses Mexicans and their leadership of "playing the victim" far too much. In another series of images, he depicts an exchange between Mexico's leader and Germany's; the former "whines" about sharing a border with the U.S. The latter rebuffs him, saying Germany "would do anything for ten meters' border with the U.S."

"It's far too easy being anti-American," he says, "to cover shame in not developing by blaming and attacking the gringos." For example, he depicts opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement as a small "lazy egg" scoffing at a massive golden egg laid by America.

Danger-Bush.jpg

But Mexico's cartoonists aren't the only ones with an unfairly caricatured view of their neighbor. When trying to pitch his work to U.S. publications, Paco laments that the editors "only wanted cartoons from me of people in sombreros sleeping under cactuses," or gun-toting drug dealers. Violence isn't Mexican any more than it is American, he says. To drive that point home, and please the critics of America, he draws this:

Join Monthly Mailing List | Del.icio.us | Digg | Facebook

Comments (26)

1800:

PyQbX8 www 1800 flowers com

Staggy:

2p2Dos Sea many in Troops ordinary that engage founded into by scouts Because Personal ordinary Patrol
[link]http://www.blogouf.com/staggytheboyscoutsla[/link]

Staggy:

UVMyAL Sea many in Troops ordinary that engage founded into by scouts Because Personal ordinary Patrol
[url]http://www.blogouf.com/staggytheboyscoutsla[/url]

flor:

I think it's a bit of a stretch to call La Jornada socialist, unless you would also refer to Pacifica Radio or the SF Bay Guardian as socialist as well. Nor is the paper affiliated with any political party. I think this qualification did not get fact checked and probably came straight from the mouths of folks at La Reforma--which, if you were going to be balanced from a non-factual perspective (in the same line as calling La Jornada socialist), you would call a neo-con voice of the right.

Other than this, I thought it was a great piece. I really got a sense of the cartoons from the descriptions.

The Luger:

Ratfink, c´mon you say i am gutless (oh) and frustrated (oh, again) just because by mistake I pushed the post button without my nick? Dude, you´re so bloody brilliant and courageous by noticing that... you caught me...

" A pretty girl rejected you? A job you wanted went to someone else because you didn't wear a tie? Did the embassy denied you a visa?

Man, I can´t stop laughing!, (specially for the visa thing) Hate? who´s hating? who talked about hate? and soooooo, you think western civilization is just exactly the same than USA, capitalism, neoliberalism, globalization, Bimbo (¡?), etc...? Dude, seriously, stop reading Calderon, but ok and Yes, you win...I must accept you´re more funny than Calderon...

Good riddance too, but not before we shout:
Long Live Sacrum Americanum Imperium...!

RatFink:

I rest my case:

Luger, you are both gutless and frustrated: signing "anonymous" just to have second thoughts and repeat your stupid post under your "real" name a moment later? How pathetic can that be? Are you so frustrated you need to answer back in anger all the time? What is it with you, eh? A pretty girl rejected you? A job you wanted went to someone else because you didn't wear a tie? Did the embassy denied you a visa?

Too much hate, man; that's what it is. You're practically simmering in it. If you think that's what it'll take to defeat the USA, neoliberalism, capitalism, globalisation, Western Civilization, the Washington consensus, The Washington Post, BIMBO, both Krauzes and both Calderones, who's lacking neurons now? It'll destroy you first. In fact, it already has.

Good riddance!

The Luger:


Ratfink, Wow, you´re so brilliant....Frustrated? look who is talking about that... it seems you´re the frustrated gringo wannabe who wish USA had stolen all Mexico´s land and then you would be a really cool first world gringo citizen.. but don´t worry maybe next time, because thanx to Calderon and proud citizens like you, we are learning about the great USA, right?

and weeeelll if you are thankful for Calderon (both Calderon, I assume) and their "humor", dude, I doubt you are an authority to talk about "neurons"... but naahh.. be happy and let´s shout:

Long Live Sacrum Americanum Imperium...!

Anonymous:


Ratfink, Wow, you´re so brilliant....Frustrated? look who is talking about that... it seems you´re the frustrated gringo wannabe who wish USA had stolen all Mexico´s land and then you would be a really cool first world gringo citizen.. but don´t worry maybe next time, because thanx to Calderon and proud citizens like you, we are learning about the great USA, right?

and weeeelll if you are thankful for Calderon (both Calderon, I assume) and their "humor", dude, I doubt you are an authority to talk about "neurons"... but naahh.. be happy and let´s shout:

Long Live Sacrum Americanum Imperium...!

RatFink:

Luger

Paco's humor is a pain in the balls? ...Sure, no doubt about it; seems to me you're still hurting. Nothing to worry, though (ball things considered). By the way, did it ever occurred to you that it is you who sounds a lot like Ortiz de Pinedo, with his petty obscenities and childish double entendres? Maybe it's a projection. Maybe you're just a frustrated Ortiz de Pinedo wannabe. Don't worry then; there's plenty of audience for that sort of "humor". If, on the other hand, you happen to own a set of neurons, you'd be thankful for Paco's cartoons each Sunday.

Marv Swett:

@JL

"Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return."

I guess we should declare all homeless people and drug addicts *illegals" based on the fact that they fail to keep up with their tuberculosis medication and are, therefore, the number one cause of increasing drug-resistant strains of the disease.

Funny how statistics can be spun to fit an entirely different argument, isn't it? But these homeless people and drug-addicts are largely white males.

The Luger:

Ratfink.... NO MAMES....

Calderon the best cartoonist? ha, sure, he draws very well, but guts? POLITICALLY INCORRECT? I didn´t know an oligarchical ass kisser could be so..... FIERCELLY INDEPENDENT? Now, that is the really funny thing...because he´s so funny just as a pain in the balls....(or Jorge Ortiz de Pinedo, you choice) And believe me, we know a lot of Gringoland....too much I say....

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hi Paco, Thanks for leaving that note! Just a point on the fourth issue you raised. For you and for readers, in the video, that final quote is not meant to read as the punch line of the cartoon, but your take away point from that early experience in your life. You state that take away message even more forcefully here in note 4! So I wish I'd used that instead :) Also, for readers, you can click on the link to see his full cartoons, which I recommend you do. And I'm happy to provide translations of anyones you wish. Email me at america@washingtonpost.com/america.

Paco Calderon:

1.- I'm not in the teaching trade, but in the opinion trade. I don't
try to teach Mexicans anything; I try to explain things I believe
they got wrong. It may be subtle, but there's a big difference. A
difference in attitude.

2.- Mr. Orlando's comments speak for themselves. However, he implies
poor journalism on my part. Quite the contrary: the anecdote about
the Mexican President and the German Chancellor was told to me by a
journalist friend of mine, who witnessed personally (and wrote it
down in his column -I know that for a fact, for I remember talking
about it afterwards). Since he died long ago, and I cannot find the
exact excerpt anywhere to back my story, I mention no names, nor draw
any faces in my cartoon. Surely, Mexicans familiar with their former
presidents will be able to identify this one in particular, and hence
deduce who was that German leader as well. But that's within
professional ethics. Call it "tools of the trade".

3,- To tell the anecdote in its entirety, the German Chancellor
responded "Mr. President, not only do I know what it's like to be
invaded by the Americans, I don't think I'll ever forget the moment I
had to surrender my weapon to them!' You can check the cartoon for
yourselves at http://pacocalderon.net/modules/myalbum/photo.php?lid=2078&cid=115

4.- I believe the punch line in my childhood cartoon has been
mistranslated. It does not read "The strength of the Americans is
they keep happy through their most difficult times" but "when in
difficult times, try to live them as if they were the best times of
your life". Just for the record, I believe the strength of the
Americans is they always try to solve problems. The weakness of
Mexicans is they prefer to dwell on them.

Vinay:

Mexicans seem to suffer from low self esteem. They should be thankful that the US gives many Mexicans an opportunity to make a decent living.

Jack:

Ah, thanks for clearing that up Amar.

jj:

Statistics on illegal aliens:
The Heritage Foundation ^ | 10/25/06 | Robert Rector
The National Academy of Sciences has estimated that each immigrant without a high school degree will cost U.S. taxpayers, on average, $89,000 over the course of his or her lifetime.[3] This is a net cost above the value of any taxes the immi*grant will pay and does not include the cost of educating the immigrant’s children, which U.S. taxpayers would also heavily subsidize. In this way, the roughly six million legal immigrants without a high school diploma will impose a net cost of around a half-trillion dollars on U.S. taxpayers over their lifetimes

Crime Statisitcs
95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
83% of warrants for murder in Phoenix are for illegal aliens.
86% of warrants for murder in Albuquerque are for illegal aliens.
75% of those on the most wanted list in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.
24.9% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
40.1% of all inmates in Arizona detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
48.2% of all inmates in New Mexico detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
29% (630,000) convicted illegal alien felons fill our state and federal prisons at a cost of $1.6 billion annually.
53% plus of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.
50% plus of all gang members in Los Angeles are illegal aliens from south of the border.
71% plus of all apprehended cars stolen in 2005 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California were stolen by Illegal aliens or "transport coyotes".
47% of cited/stopped drivers in California have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 47%, 92% are illegal aliens.
63% of cited/stopped drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 63%, 97% are illegal aliens.
66% of cited/stopped drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66%, 98% are illegal.
Birth Statistics
380,000 plus "anchor babies" were born in the U.S. in 2005 to illegal alien parents, making 380,000 babies automatically U.S.citizens.
97.2% of all costs incurred from those births were paid by the American taxpayers.
66% plus of all births in California are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
Last Updated ( Friday, 20 July 2007 )

Considering the horrific illegal alien problem in this country- that costs us BILLIONS and brings in more violent crime, for Obama to be pandering to the illegal aliens is SHAMEFUL!

jl:


McNut,s reasons for Amnesty
McCain's God,s Children Argument!
Then there is they are all God,s children argument(Another McCain favor) well isn't everyone God,s children? If so then guess McCain is saying everyone and anyone has the right to Invade this Nation, waving their flags, demand their rights, while feasting at the trough of public welfare and Kill, Rape and Rob thousands of American citizens each year!

McCain's Lettuce Argument!
There's the "lettuce" argument -- we'll be paying $50/head (or starving)( McCain really likes this argument) if we don't have illegal aliens working in the fields. As Phil Martin, ag economist at UC Davis shows, the field labor cost in a $1 head of lettuce is about 6 cents. Triple those wages and Americans will do the jobs. (They're not career positions. They're seasonal jobs for young people, starting in the world of work. I have did similarly menial jobs.) And you'll be paying 10% more for lettuce and other produce. Do you spend $1,000/year on produce? OK, you'll pay $100 more.

The lettuce argument also parallels that for the retention of slavery.

Immigrant Argument!
There's the "everyone's an immigrant except for the 'Native Americans'" argument. Well, the American Indians didn't sprout from the land, they came across the Bering land bridge from Asia. So if the criterion is "You're an immigrant if you had an ancestor who immigrated here," then American Indians are immigrants, too.

In that case, "immigrant" is no longer a useful word, since Everyone's an immigrant.

Stole Southwest Argument!
There's the "the U.S. stole the southwest" argument. Well, the land in dispute was "owned" by Spain for a couple of centuries. Then by Mexico for about 25 years. During these periods, there weren't more than a few thousand Spaniards or Mexicans in the entire territory. It's been owned by the U.S. for about 160 years now, much longer than Mexico's reign. And the U.S. has actually done something with the land, made it habitable for tens of millions. As Robert Kaplan has described, the difference between American and Mexican "twin cities" straddling the border is like night and day, yet the land is obviously the same. It's not the dirt that's important, it's the people. Put another way, if culture didn't matter, Mexico and Central America would be paradise.

Illegal pay taxes Argument!

There's the "illegal aliens pay tons of taxes" argument. Sure, they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books (typically using stolen Social Security numbers) pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated and low-skilled and pay very low taxes connected to their working -- in fact, most claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! If a family with both parents working has two kids in school, that's at least $15k/year just for schooling, way more than the taxes on, say, $35k/year aggregate income.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done the systematic accounting on all this. A typical household headed by a low-skilled illegal alien is a net drain of about $20k/year for the rest of us, year after year. (Low-skilled Americans are a similar burden, but they're part of the national family, not gate crashers from other societies.)

Illegal Bad..Amnesty good Argument!

There's the "illegal immigration is bad, but make them citizens and problem solved" argument. Nope. If that were the case, legalizing (i.e. amnestying) the illegal aliens would solve the problem. But they'd still be (on average) low-skilled workers whose burden on the rest of us would continue. In fact, once legal they'd be able to access more public benefits programs, so their cost to the rest of us would actually rise substantially. In short, most of the problems of mass illegal immigration are shared by mass amnestying them.

The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.

- The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.

- Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded health care facilities, and other public agencies.

- Those requiring services don’t assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.

- American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.

- Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return.

- Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed Southwest.

Most that come across our open borders come from countries where, Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Misery, Anti-education, and hate for Americans has existed for centuries and is normal. Should anyone be surprised they bring those same family values across the border with them?

Maitenes:

Yes, Paco Calderón is a great cartoonist and he criticize either the right or the left, like our other great cartoonist, Magú.

Orlando:

"that bit about Mexico and Germany's leaders is a bit of folklore, Paco told me, with some basis in truth he believes, though he doesn't know when or where it was said"


Hmmm, so Paco has no facts to back up his claim. This is how right wing corrupt oligarchs use attack dogs such as Paco to broadcast "propaganda"! And Paco follows his oligarch employer's order to use propaganda to "educate" his fellow Mexicans so that Mexico's corrupt oligarchs ruling classe elites can continue to steal Mexico's national wealth.

People like Paco are the foot soldiers for Mexico's corrupt oligarchs ruling class elites, and they all have their children sent to private school in the U.S. or western Europe and their ill-gotten billions of dollars safely deposited abroad e.g. secret Swiss bank accounts.

When Mexicans rise up to demand corruption free government and accountability, all these corrupt Mexican oligarchs elites would flee to the U.S. or Europe to retire on their ill-gotten money. These corrupt Mexican oligarchs ruling elites are traitors to Mexico!


_kt_:

If sharing a border with the US is such a problem, shouldn't Canada be really messed up?

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hey Jack, that bit about Mexico and Germany's leaders is a bit of folklore, Paco told me, with some basis in truth he believes, though he doesn't know when or where it was said. I'll try to dig up some references to it by other people, but as to the original quote, it is way in the past I believe and Paco hasn't confirmed it.

RatFink:

I don't care what others may say, Paco Calderón is the best Mexican cartoonist around. He's got, talent, draughtsmanship and guts. He's incisive, pensive, and inventive; politically incorrect and fiercelly independent. On top of it all, he's quite funny. No wonder the Left hates him!

And yes, us Mexicans should learn more about the U.S., instead of parroting all those xenophobic old clichés the rest of his colleagues insist on. Talk about arrogance! Wake up and smell the coffin, will ya!

Jack:

I can't find anything on the web about the German President wanting to share a boarder with the U.S. Anybody have a link to this?

Amar C. Bakshi:

For information on some other Mexican cartoonists, click here: http://www.hemisphericinstitute.org/gallery/exhibit1_eng/pratt5.html
Paco was very generous in getting me in touch with cartoonists from across the political spectrum, and as time permits, I will try to interview more of them. I am currently in Oaxaca, hoping to set up an interview with Francisco Toledo, who is a much-celebrated painter here who led well-publicized anti-McDonalds protests recently too. http://www.rightlivelihood.org/francisco-toledo.html

The Luger:

Why do you interview this bad cartoonist? He´s really bad. No matter if he´s left wing or right wing, he´s a bad cartoonist. Educate to mexicans about USA? please, we need arrogance....
Now, why don`t you interview really good mexican cartoonists like Rius, Naranjo, Hernandez or Patricio? eh? No temas que solo judas temió....

Anonymous:

Seen any interesting cartoons about America lately from the international press? Paco got me thinking about the ones I've seen over the months on the road. I'll start posting some highlights, and I'd love for you to share what you've come across here:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/america/2008/01/world_cartoons_about_america.html
I've started with some from Paco. What do these cartoons tell us about how the world sees the U.S.?

Post a comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send your comments, questions and suggestions for PostGlobal to Lauren Keane, its editor and producer.