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Why Are Mexicans Obsessed with Scarface?

Dear Mexican,

Many times, as I cross the border into the U.S., I see bald cholos buying images (posters, blankets, baby bibs) of Al Pacino in Scarface. Where does such an obsession for this ugly Cuban come from? Is Tony Montana replacing la Virgencita de Guadalupe in cholos' living rooms across America?

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Gustavo Arellano appears at the sixth annual Houston Latino Book and Family Festival at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 13, at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The festival also runs Sunday, December 14. Visit www.nuestrapalabra.org for a full schedule.

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Proud to be an Illegal Alien

Dear Wab,

Author Ken Tucker recently published Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and How It Changed America, but save some money and refry this: The basis for the popularity of Tony Montana is that America loves its up-from-­stupidity outlaws. Cholos, on the other hand, love Montana for the obvious reason: por pendejos. I get the socioeconomic rationale for Montana's deification in thug culture — his rise from poverty through riches via machismo, guile and the white chica — but Mexicans who worship him insult our culture for falling under the spell of a coño. Whatever happened to the days when the killers Mexicans lionized — Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa, Gregorio Cortez — slaughtered for the 'hood that was la raza? Not only that, but the celebration of drug kingpins in Mexico? (Answer redacted by the Mexican's editor because he doesn't want his prize wab to turn up in a ditch)!

Dear Mexican,

I was talking to my uncle a few weeks ago, and he mentioned something to the effect that, as part of the original postwar agreement between the United States and Mexico after their 1848 war, Mexican citizens were originally supposed to be able to go back and forth as they pleased. I know that the original draft was changed. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to do further research. If it's true, I guess them Mexican illegals aren't illegal — they're simply exercising the terms of the postwar agreement.

El Niño Héroe

Dear Heroic Child,

Your uncle was partially right. Article IX of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo originally stated that "the relations and communication between the Catholics living in the territories [conquered by the United States during the Mexican-­American War], and their respective ecclesiastical authorities, shall be open, free and exempt from all hindrance whatever, even although such authorities should reside within the limits of the Mexican Republic, as defined by this treaty; and this freedom shall continue, so long as a new demarcation of ecclesiastical districts shall not have been made, conformably with the laws of the Roman Catholic Church." In other words, Mexican Catholics could cross between the two countries for religious purposes and no one else. However, American authorities removed this provision from Article IX before signing the treaty and altogether struck Article X, which guaranteed that the American government would respect the property rights of their new wards. Don't believe the Chicano Studies urban myth that said the treaty guaranteed bilingual rights for Mexicans, or that such a provision would even apply to the Mexicans who now live in the American Southwest, almost all of whom have no historical ties to the conquered Mexicans (who by and large didn't consider themselves Mexican, but that's another story). Better yet, let's all just get over the fact that the southwest United States once belonged to Mexico — as I've written before, Mexico ruled those territories from 1812 until 1848, a chronological fart between the much-longer reigns of the Spaniards (212 years), gabachos (158 years) and the Native Americans (­eternal).

themexican@askamexican.net

 
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