Visitors in Mexico’s street markets and tourist stalls are drawn to the mountains of goods imprinted with the image of the country’s patron, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
After marveling at the variety and quantity of items, they dismiss the colorful Guadalupe T-shirts, key chains, mud flaps, shopping bags, bibs, tiles and kitschy knick knacks as clever marketing, a quaint custom, or talismans for the poor and uneducated.
Brushing aside the Virgin and all she represents as tacky commercialism, Mexico’s guests are missing an opportunity to learn what is at the heart of Mexicans and of Mexico.
In this land of contrasts, anthropologists search for a common bond, the source of national identity. They immediately reject language – there are still more than 50 dialects. It isn’t ethnic background; not in a population that has evolved from Spanish conquerors and raped and enslaved indigenous mothers whose offspring were blended with immigrants from Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, China, and other North and South American countries. Mexico is not only divided by brutal geographical features. Rigid class structure from the early years ensured that education, occupations, politics and most of all position would continue to divide the people.
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