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Dimensions of citizenship among Mexican immigrants in Vancouver, Canada Rempel, Geoffrey Elliott Lee 2001

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DIMENSIONS OF CITIZENSHIP AMONG MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS IN VANCOUVER, CANADA by GEOFFREY ELLIOTT LEE REMPEL B.A, University of British Columbia, 1996 B.Ed., University of British Columbia, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Geography) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March 2001 © Geoffrey Elliott Lee Rempel, 2001  In  presenting  degree freely  at  the  available  copying  of  department publication  this  of  in  partial  fulfilment  University  of  British  Columbia,  for  this or  thesis  reference  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  and  scholarly  or for  her  of  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6 (2/88)  MA-v^CH  V Z O O J  I  I further  purposes  gain  the  shall  requirements  agree  that  agree  may  representatives.  financial  permission.  Department  study.  of  be  It not  is be  that  the  for  Library  an shall  permission for  granted  by  understood allowed  the  advanced make  extensive  head  that  without  it  of  copying my  my or  written  ABSTRACT  The beginning of the twenty-first century is a time of far-reaching global changes; these changes have tremendous implications for the meaning of citizenship. Increasing connections of all kinds across borders and between cultures demand the reevaluation of traditional understandings of the relationship of individuals to the state and to each other in the public sphere. This thesis uses the testimony of Mexican immigrants to Vancouver, Canada, (a largely unresearched group at the forefront of these global changes) to query their experiences of the meaning of citizenship. Semistructured interviews in English and Spanish were conducted with twenty-seven respondents. Three dimensions of citizenship were found to be particularly important to this group. First, these immigrants operate within the structure of neoliberal nation-building projects of both the Mexican and the Canadian states. Two examples of such biopolitical mobilization (the National Solidarity Program in Mexico, and the federal multicultural policy in Canada) are examined in detail. Second, citizenship for Mexican immigrants is transnational; it is characterized by multiple, simultaneous economic, social, and political involvements in both Mexico and Canada. However, the actual extent of such transnationalism was found to be rather more limited than much transnational literature suggests. Third, belonging to a community is a central element of citizenship; these immigrants were found not to form a single cohesive community, but rather multiple, dispersed communities split along lines of class and other identity axes. This research demonstrates the challenges and opportunities that increasingly common hybrid identities present for the meaning and function of citizenship, particularly for an ethnic minority immigrant group maintaining strong ties to their country of origin.  11  TABLE OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT  p. ii  T A B L E O FC O N T E N T S  p. iii  LIST O F FIGURES  p. v  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  p. vi  CHAPTER ONE  Introduction 1.1 Outline 1.2 Background 1.3 Methodology 1.4 Profiles 1.5 Positionality  CHAPTER  Two  CHAPTER THREE  CHAPTER FOUR  Mexican Immigrants and Biopolitical Nation-building Projects 2.1 Nation-building 2.2 Mexico: P R O N A S O L 2.3 Canada: Multiculturalism 2.4 Interviewees' Views 2.5 Conclusion  p. 1 1 5 8 13 19  p. 23 23 30 38 46 71  Transnational Movement, Transnational Identities 3.1 Definitions and Implications of Transnationalism 3.2 Transnationalism Among Mexican Migrants in Vancouver 3.2.1 Transnational Activity Economic Activity Social Activity Political Activity Limits to Transnational Activity 3.2.2 Transnational Identities 3.3 Conclusion  p. 73  83 84 84 90 97  Community Divisions/Community Visions 4.1 Citizenship as Membership in a Community 4.2 Community Divisions 4.2.1 Class 4.2.2 "Race" 4.2.3 Gender  p. 118 119 125 127 130 133  74  101 104 116  in  4.2.4 Sexual Orientation 4.3 Mexican vs. Latino 4.4 Community Visions 4.5 Conclusion CHAPTER FIVE  REFERENCES  Conclusions  137 138 143 153 p. 156 p.  162  IV  LIST OF FIGURES  Figure 1  Mexican Landed Immigrants in Vancouver  p.6  V  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  I would like to begin by thanking my supervisor, Dr. Dan Hiebert, for getting me into this, and through it. His confidence in me often exceeded my own, and I would not have accomplished this without his encouragement and guidance. I would like to thank my second reader, Dr. Juanita Sundberg, for her insightful suggestions and for time and again showing me what I am trying to say. This research could not have been accomplished without the generous financial support of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society's 2000 Maxwell Studentship in Human Geography, as well as a U B C University Graduate Fellowship. I would like to thank Aurora Bach-Napoles and my students in the ESL class at South Vancouver Neighborhood House, for their generous friendship over the past two years. I thank the Mexican consulate and Mr. Eulogio Rodriguez, editor of Milenio newspaper, who helped to publicize the study. Several of my fellow graduate students provided invaluable assistance in the development of this thesis, among them Greg Cunningham, Alison Mountz, Erin Sheehan, Aaron James, and Jennifer England. Many others' humor and friendship brightened my days in the department. The staff in the Department of Geography, particularly Elaine Cho and Jose Aparicio, have been a great help at various stages of this project. With humility, and conscious that I remain very ignorant of the realities of their lives, I would like to dedicate this thesis to the interviewees who so kindly opened their hearts and homes to me. I would also like to dedicate it to my parents, with thanks for their love and encouragement in all I have attempted over the years. Finally, I would like to dedicate it to Guy, by far the best thing to come (albeit indirectly) from this research. Sometimes our greatest discovery is something we weren't even looking for.  CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION  1.1  OUTLINE i  The beginning of the twenty-first century is a time of unprecedented change in global economic, political, and social relations. As the world is made ever smaller by advances in communication and transportation technologies, and as we become aware of the global environmental impacts of local actions, we are coming to realize that our destinies are interconnected as never before. We are increasingly and instantly aware of events occurring thousands of miles away, and often feel called upon to respond with concrete actions. We live in an era characterized by the growing power of supranational institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, and of transnational flows of information, money, pollution, goods, and people never seen before. It is increasingly impossible to understand most phenomena by looking only at the local or even the national level. In such a world, the meaning of citizenship is being redefined. Traditionally, citizenship describes the relationship of the individual to the constitutional state. Citizenship entails a position of belonging in a society, the possession of rights and responsibilities within the public sphere. In the globalized world, individuals may be citizens of more than one state, and may maintain simultaneous, active participation in each of them. Such transnational citizenship presents challenges for the transnational citizen herself, the states of which she is a citizen, and the socioeconomic systems within each state. This thesis examines these themes by looking at one such group of transnational citizens, Mexican immigrants living in Vancouver, Canada. I argue that in order to  1  understand the place, position, and participation of Mexican immigrants in Vancouver in relation to the Canadian state, the Mexican state, society at large, and to each other, it is necessary to examine three key factors, or dimensions of citizenship. I explicate each dimension in turn in the following chapters. The first of these factors is the position of these Mexican immigrants in relation to the biopolitical nation-building projects of the Mexican and the Canadian states. Starting with Gramsci's concept of hegemony, I argue that both Mexico and Canada are characterized by sociopolitical systems where power is distributed unequally, and a relatively small elite wields disproportionate influence over the workings of the economic and political systems. I then employ Foucault's idea of biopower to argue that elite hegemony is maintained in both countries by projects that mobilize the productive capacity of each country's population in order to build a nation where elite power is further protected. Although other strategies have been used in the past, at this historical juncture the dominant strategy of nation-building in both countries is neoliberalism. I highlight a particular state program in each country that has been used as part of their nation-building strategies (the National Solidarity Project in Mexico, and the multiculturalism policy of Canada). Finally, I turn to the testimony of Mexican immigrants themselves, to examine how they interpret their relations to both states of which they are a part. The second important dimension of citizenship for Mexican immigrants in Vancouver is transnationalism. As mentioned above, these immigrants maintain simultaneous connections to both Canada and Mexico, a simultaneity made possible by modern means of transportation and communication. These connections reflexively  2  modify their experiences in each country, and allow the possibility of participation in the public spheres of both countries at once. At the same time, experiences in one country affect their expectations in the other. Many of these Mexican immigrants have, or are seeking, dual citizenship. Drawing on the work of Schiller, Basch, Szanton Blanc, and others, I document the transnational connections (including economic, social, and political ties) in the lives of these immigrants. In doing so, I follow Mahler's (1998, pp. 87-94) call to address particular questions: whose interests are served by transnational activity; whether such activity reaffirms or reconfigures "traditional" power relations; and what the implications of transnationalism are on "metanarratives of power" in receiving states. Based on the testimony of interviewees, I argue that, in this case at least, the potential of transnational activity to destabilize these metanarratives of power is limited; transmigrants in Vancouver are relatively rooted in their local contexts, although this varies from person to person. The testimony of interviewees cautions that although transnational connections are important and central to immigrants' identity, they may have only a limited emancipatory effect, if any. Indeed, states seek to exploit these transnational connections for their own ends, leading sometimes to a sense of entrapment and limitation rather than freedom. Finally, I turn to the third dimension of citizenship for Mexican immigrants in Vancouver, which is community. A sense of membership in a political community, the body politic, is central to the concept of citizenship. It is commonplace to assume that members of minority groups in urban centers form communities of their own, and that these communities form the collective means for rights-claiming and participation in the larger political community, since it is often difficult for individuals to perform these  3  functions on their own in the face of language barriers, cultural differences, limited resources, and outright prejudice. However, the testimony of Mexican interviewees suggests that collective community does not exist in Vancouver. Like society as a whole, the Mexican immigrant population is riven by differences of class, race, gender, and sexual orientation. These differences, combined with the fact that Mexican immigrants come to Vancouver via independent, individual household decisions (rather than group migration), mean that the Mexican population has not coalesced into a cohesive Mexican community. Rather, Mexican immigrants find community in smaller groups that are dispersed around the city and are only loosely connected to one another. This lack of cohesion has negative implications for their ability to participate in the public sphere and to claim collective rights. To counteract this relatively weak organization, many Mexicans join with other Latin Americans to claim rights and participate as Latinos; the effectiveness of this tactic is limited by perceived differences among various Latin American cultures, and by the same axes of differentiation that divide the Mexican population. Nonetheless, the many small groups operating throughout the city provide opportunities for collective action, and the potential for further community development as the population of Mexicans grows. Biopolitics, transnationalism, and community are the three dimensions of citizenship that characterize and contextualize the life experiences of Mexican immigrants to Canada. Each of the three dimensions entails certain constraints but paradoxically offers the potential for agency as well. While the Mexican population in Vancouver faces significant barriers to citizenship participation, their growing numbers promise to place increasing pressure on those barriers. In the rest of this chapter, I  4  provide the historical background of this research, describe the methodology of the study, provide composite character sketches of Mexican immigrants in Vancouver, and discuss my own positionality as a researcher working with a group to which I do not belong.  1.2  B A C K G R O U N D  In 1998 I taught English in Guadalajara, Mexico for a branch office of a Vancouver E S L school. During this time I saw firsthand some of the ways that Canada and Mexico are interconnected. On the weekends, I often traveled just outside Guadalajara to Lake Chapala, where I encountered what is rumored to be the largest expatriate Canadian community in the world, retirees spending several months or all of the year in the Mexican sunshine. The classes I taught were full of ambitious young professionals eager to improve their English in order to rise within the ranks of the multinational corporations for which they worked, corporations operating within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico, the United States, and Canada. In the newspapers I read about the Zapatista indigenous uprising in Chiapas, a rebellion against the effects of economic and cultural globalization embodied in N A F T A . On T V I saw many of the same American shows that appear in Canada, like "The Simpsons"; if I chose, I could eat at American fast-food restaurants like McDonald's. In conversations with Mexican friends I listened to their positive perceptions of Canada, their eagerness to visit Vancouver, and for some, their disillusionment with life in Mexico due to the difficult economic situation even for those with professional training. I found that Mexicans have in common with Canadians a love/hate relationship with the United States, a relationship based in both cases on economic dependence and cultural infiltration.  5  Upon my return to Vancouver, I was struck by the number of Mexican students in the city studying English. I learned that some of them had chosen Vancouver because of its reputation for beauty, its comparatively warm climate, and because it offered many of the attractions of life in the United States without its imperialist history. As I spoke with them and began to meet other Vancouverites of Mexican origin, I began to be curious about connections between Canada and Mexico as embodied in the persons of Mexicans choosing to live here in Vancouver. Some preliminary reading showed me the growing importance of Mexico-Canada ties. As of 1999, five years after the signing of N A F T A , Mexico had become Canada's third largest source of imports, and its tenth largest export market (Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, 2001). In turn, Canada had become Mexico's second largest export market (after the United States, of course).  More importantly, I found that  Vancouver's Mexican immigrant population is growing dramatically, although still very small compared to the total population:  Mexican Landed Immigrants in Vancouvei b y d a t e of landing 2000 1500 £  1000 500 0 >1961  >1971  >1981 Year  >1991  >2000  Figure 1 This data was collected from the Canadian census of 1996 (Mexican immigrants in Vancouver reported when they had been granted landed immigrant status), and then  6  supplemented by information from 1996-1999 provided by the BC Landed Immigrant Database System (LIDS). What it most importantly reveals is the accelerating rate of 1  growth of immigration from Mexico. Some of these immigrants are refugees; according to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, Mexico is now tied for fifth place among countries of origin of refugee applicants to Canada (Wilkinson, 2000, p. 7). According to figures provided by the Canadian embassy in Mexico (Christie, 2001), more than 900 000 Canadian tourists visit Mexico each year, while 165 000 Mexicans visit Canada. 6 000 Mexican students study in Canadian institutions, and 9 000 Mexican farm workers provide temporary labor in Canada's agricultural sector. Despite the growing relationship between Canada and Mexico, and growing immigration from Mexico to Canada, the place of Mexican immigrants within Canada has received little attention. In fact, when I began my research I could find only one article, published more than ten years ago, that examined their experience (Whittaker, 1988). Given the changes in Mexico-Canadian relations in the succeeding dozen years, it seemed high time to give further attention to this group. While tourists and researchers like myself may have some insight, it is Mexican immigrants to Canada who have the deepest and most direct experience of the growing articulation of the two societies, embodying in their own lives the interaction between economies, histories, languages, and cultures. . There were three primary purposes, then, of this investigation: first, to answer basic questions about this immigrant group (who they are, where they come from and where they live, what they do for a living, and why they have come); second, to analyze  The two sources overlap for the year 1996 (the census is taken partway through the year), so the actual total number of immigrants in the year 2000 is probably somewhat less than Figure 1 indicates. 1  7  their positions as subjects in the nation-building projects of both states, and as agents claiming rights and space in both countries; and finally, to contribute to increased recognition and understanding of this group, particularly by governmental and nongovernmental agencies, so that they will provide more effective services to Mexican immigrants.  1.3  M E T H O D O L O G Y  In his 1996 book Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Arjun Appadurai calls for "a new style of ethnography [that] can capture the impact of deterritorialization on the imaginative resources of lived, local experiences" (p. 52). Similarly, Mahler (1998, p.81-87) requests transnational research that disaggregates activities of majority and smaller groups and investigates class, gender, age/generation, mobility, and regionality. In the research for this thesis I attempted to accomplish these two tasks. Because there was so little information available on Mexican immigrants to Canada, and Vancouver in particular, it was necessary to start almost from scratch. Because of constraints on finances, time, and other resources, I chose to limit my investigation to the Greater Vancouver area, rather than attempting a geographically broader study. As Canada's third largest metropolitan area and its Pacific coast gateway, Greater Vancouver receives a large proportion of immigrants to Canada.. According to the 1996 national census, thirty-five percent, or more than one third, of the population of the Greater Vancouver area are immigrants, approximately double the national average.  8  Therefore, Vancouver offers one of the key settings in the country to do immigration research. In the initial stages of my inquiries, my task was to locate the Mexican community in Vancouver. I did this in three ways. The first was to read print resources, such as internet sites and the local Spanish language newspapers that are distributed freely around the city, to seek information about Mexican organizations in the local area. The second was to approach the Mexican consulate for their advice on whom to speak with and contact information for whatever organizations they knew of. The third and most effective method was to speak with friends and acquaintances, both Mexican and non-Mexican, for their knowledge of the community, as well as to identify local businesses with a Mexican orientation (restaurants, furniture importers, etc.) as potential contact sites. These inquiries revealed that there is no central organization of Mexicans in Vancouver other than the Mexican consulate, nor any great concentration of Mexicans in a particular part of Vancouver. These facts shaped the kind of research I could do; distributing a survey would have been extremely difficult. While I might have been able to distribute a survey with the help of the Mexican consulate, this would have meant aligning myself directly with it more closely than I wished to, particularly in light of the number of Mexican refugees and refugee applicants in Vancouver. More importantly, it 2  would have been difficult to design an effective survey without greater knowledge than I had at the time about the issues facing the Mexican population of Vancouver. I would not have known the important questions to ask.  In fact, I received a phone call from a Mexican refugee telling me that if my research were perceived to be linked with the consulate, people would not want to be interviewed.  2  9  Because of these constraints, and because of the nature of my research questions, my choice was to opt for in-depth, semi-structured interviews with individuals of Mexican origin now living in Greater Vancouver. This method offered several advantages. First, it permitted greater reflexivity; each interview helped me identify key issues and concerns about which I could ask more directly in subsequent interviews. This avoided the potential of a one-shot survey to completely miss key issues. Second, it gave greater freedom and control to the interview respondents to raise issues and experiences they felt were important, and to discuss them in their own words, using their own expressions and providing their own personal examples. Having the space and time to articulate their stories in detail permitted respondents to express feelings, opinions, reactions, and attitudes with a richness and vividness a survey could never hope to capture. Third, the interviews permitted a degree of differentiation among interviewees: while some had much to say about the Canadian government, for example, others preferred to focus on the challenges of learning English or the difficulties of finding a job in their field. Thus, rather than a one-size-fits-all survey, respondents and researcher together created a customized vehicle for telling their individual stories. Finally, such interviews gave respondents a chance to meet and establish a personal relationship with me, the researcher, face to face. The trust created through this process was critical in eliciting candid responses and recruiting additional respondents. Basically, this approach was chosen because, as Hondagneu-Sotelo (1994, pp. xx-xxiii) points out, such qualitative methods allow assessment of "complex social dynamics"; ethnography enables "insights into the everyday activities, meanings and motives [of participants]...knowledge is derived from the perspectives of the principal actors."  10  To recruit interviewees, I turned to the same networks through which I had made my initial inquiries. Interviewees were recruited through several different methods, not just a single snowball sample design. I contacted all the organizations and agencies serving the Latin American community in Vancouver, asking them to advertise the study by posting small posters explaining the purposes and methodology of my research in Spanish. I distributed other posters to friends and acquaintances, particularly those who mentioned they had Mexican contacts. A local e-mail listserve for Latin Americanists at Simon Fraser University distributed the information electronically to its members. The Mexican consulate generously sponsored an advertisement in one of the principal Spanish language newspapers, and the editor of another such paper included a column about the investigation in several editions. I was somewhat surprised by the number of responses; many Mexican immigrants were eager to tell their stories. As interviewing began, respondents further publicized the investigation to their relatives, acquaintances, and friends; in this way I soon had an ample number of recorded interviews. In the end, I was forced to turn would-be interviewees down, for the sake of time. The interviews themselves were each approximately an hour in duration. Interviewees were assured complete confidentiality and anonymity; pseudonyms are used throughout this text to protect their identities. They received no remuneration of any kind for their participation. Interviews took place in locations mutually agreed on by both parties; these included respondents' homes, cafes and restaurants, community centers, a playground, university and college campuses, a mall, and in one case, a respondent's car. Interviews occurred all over the Greater Vancouver area, including various areas of Vancouver proper (the West End, Commercial Drive, Kingsway, Victoria-Fraserview,  11  Point Grey, Kensington-Cedar Cottage, Kitsilano, UBC, Fairview, South Cambie) as well as Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby. Spanish and English were used according to the preference of the interviewee; most interviews were in Spanish, a few in English, and some went back and forth between the two. In each interview I asked a few standard questions. These included length of time in Canada, place of origin in Mexico, reasons for coming to Canada and Vancouver in particular, what they could tell me about the Mexican community in Vancouver, what their experience of adjusting to Canadian life had been, what connections they maintained with Mexico, and how they felt the immigration experience had changed them. Rather than follow a strict schedule of questions, I tried to respond to the issues, opinions, and attitudes interviewees expressed in order to draw out their personal stories. In this way, a total of twenty-seven respondents were interviewed.  3  Each interview was tape recorded and then transcribed in the language(s) used. Spanish language interviews were not translated in their entirety; in the succeeding chapters of this thesis, italics are used when I have translated a quotation from its original Spanish. Quotes without italics were in English to begin with. Using their margins, the transcripts were then coded for specific issues. After coding once, I re-read the codes to identify common and recurring themes and issues. These were sorted into broad categories and subcategories along with their related quotations, which form the basis for each of the following chapters and their respective components. Every effort was made to ensure a diverse range of interview respondents. The only stipulations were that they be adults originally from Mexico and that they had been  Considering the size of the Mexican immigrant population in Vancouver, this number is a small but significant percentage of the total community. 3  12  in Canada at least a year. Respondents ranged in age from twenties to sixties. Seventeen were women, ten men. 1995 was the median year for their arrival in Canada, although the first had come in 1979; all but one had come to Canada as adults. Almost half were from Mexico City, although the rest came from all over the republic. Five had originally come to Canada as refugee applicants, four as students, two as investors. Six had married Canadians. Twelve were married in total, six divorced or separated, one widowed, and the rest single. At least four were homosexual, although the actual number may have been higher (this was not an interview question; but was sometimes raised by respondents). At least thirteen had university degrees from Mexico; the others had been businesspeople, journalists, students, homemakers, or self-employed (only eight of them had found work in the same profession in Canada).  1.4  PROFILES  In order to provide a clearer sense of the situation of Mexican immigrants in Vancouver, in the section below I provide personal profiles of four people. These people are not actual interview respondents (who were promised anonymity); rather, they are composite characters I have assembled from the accounts respondents provided. The purpose of this section is to illustrate the diverse range of situations among interviewees, and to provide an introduction to the topics that will be addressed in more detail in the chapters that follow. EMILIA  Emilia is a thirty-two year old woman who first came to Canada ten years ago. While working at a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, she had met Paul, a Canadian man who was  13  there on vacation, and they had become romantically involved. He told her all about Vancouver's snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and other attractions, and invited her to visit. After Paul returned to Vancouver they kept in touch, and he would often send her postcards showing Vancouver's best sides. A year later, Emilia arrived in Vancouver on a student visa, seeking adventure and love. She attended an ESL school in downtown Vancouver, and continued her relationship with Paul, about which her parents knew nothing. After six months, they decided to get married. After a quick ceremony in Vancouver, Emilia informed her parents back in Puerto Vallarta. Although shocked, they arranged for a more elaborate ceremony and fiesta to be held in Mexico for the benefit of friends and family. After a month in Mexico, they returned to Canada to set up life together. On the basis of her relationship with Paul, Emilia applied for landed immigrant status and was accepted. She began working for a custodial company cleaning offices, but later decided to seek further training and is now working in homecare for people with disabilities. Three years ago, Emilia and Paul had their first child, a daughter. Although her relationship with Paul is strong, communication has been a challenge at times, since Paul does not speak Spanish. When Emilia and their daughter speak Spanish, Paul feels left out. Emilia's mother, now widowed, spends a few months of every year with them, and helps to take care of their daughter while Emilia works. Although he gets along fairly well with Emilia's family, Paul wishes these visits were less frequent and shorter. Emilia's circle of friends includes not only Mexicans and Latin Americans, but people from other cultures as well. Overall, she is satisfied with her  14  decision to come to Canada, although it has been more difficult than she thougtit it would be. When the Mexican government decided in 1998 to allow Mexicans dual citizenship, Emilia became a Canadian citizen. R A F A E L  Rafael is a twenty-seven year old man from Mexico City. He has been in Vancouver for just over a year. An accountant, he had a comparatively well-paid job for a large firm in Mexico. Despite his middle class lifestyle, Rafael had become increasingly discontent with his life as a closeted gay man in Mexico. Out one night with friends at one of Mexico City's gay bars, Rafael had only narrowly avoided being arrested in a surprise police raid, which are common although homosexuality is not illegal in Mexico. He escaped by bribing an officer. On another night, a close friend of his had been badly beaten and robbed upon leaving another gay bar. Rafael was under intense pressure from his own family members to find a girlfriend, get married, and have children. Rumors began to swirl at work, and Rafael found himself denied advancement in his company. The last straw finally landed when Rafael's boss fired him, saying he didn't want a "puto" working in his office. Rafael had heard via the internet that Canada was accepting refugee applications on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination, and he decided to apply. Telling his family that he wanted to emigrate to Canada because of Mexico's uncertain economic situation, he came to Vancouver on a tourist visa and then applied for refugee status. As a refugee applicant, he is not allowed to work, and he has found it difficult to make ends meet. Rafael has received legal advice from a local organization called the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Task Force, as well as support from Inland Refugee Society. Rafael  15  desperately wanted to return to Mexico a month ago when his grandmother was dying of cancer, but leaving Canada would cancel his refugee application, so he was only able to talk to family members by phone. Rafael's greatest uncertainty now is whether his refugee application will be accepted; it has been difficult for him to provide documentary evidence of conditions in Mexico, where homosexuality is not officially illegal. The stress associated with low income, separation from family, and waiting for a verdict are taking their toll on Rafael, but he finds encouragement and companionship through SOMOS, a Vancouver group for Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. OLGA  Olga is a fifty year-old woman from Mexico City. She has been in Vancouver for five years. From a comparatively wealthy family, Olga lacked for nothing in Mexico. However, she had become increasingly worried about her family's personal security in Mexico because of rising crime rates. A family she knew had endured the kidnapping of one of their children, and she herself had been the victim of a street mugging. Olga resented not feeling safe on the street, or in her own house. In addition, pollution in Mexico City was getting worse and worse as the city became more and more crowded. Furthermore, after she and her husband divorced eight years ago, Olga found it somewhat difficult to live as a single mother in Mexico. Although attitudes were changing, she still felt stigmatized and sometimes ostracized from certain circles. For these reasons, when Olga heard from friends that Canada was seeking. investor immigrants, she decided to investigate. She had visited Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Montreal, years before on holiday, and had appreciated the orderly streets, clean air, and generally high standard of living she saw there. However, she  16  decided that winters in the east would be far too cold for her, and decided to come to Vancouver because of its warmer climate. Olga sold some country properties that belonged to her in order to meet the requirements to come as an investor class immigrant, and was accepted. Olga arrived in Vancouver with her children six years ago, and opened a small store selling imported Mexican home furnishings. Her children entered the public school system, and after some time in ESL programs entered the regular stream. The entire family acquired Canadian citizenship two years ago. In the intervening years, Olga's business has been modestly successful. She's found it necessary to tailor her inventory to suit Canadian tastes and styles. At times she has been frustrated by the government regulations and bureaucratic red tape involved in running a business in British Columbia. However, NAFTA has made it easier for her to import her products from Mexico; she travels there twice a year to make purchases, and one of her brothers acts as Mexican agent for her company. Two of her children are now in university and looking forward to professional careers. Olga is hoping that one day she will be able to turn over the business to her children and spend the winter months each year in Mexico. In the meantime the family maintains close contact through e-mail, phone calls, and annual visits to Mexico. FEDERICO  Federico is thirty-five. From Oaxaca, he has been in Canada for two years. A mechanical engineer, Federico has excellent training from one of Mexico's top universities, and extensive experience designing and supervising large, complex building projects. Despite this, he sometimes experienced discrimination because of his dark skin color and indigenous appearance. Heavily influenced by American movies, television,  17  and pop culture, Federico always dreamed of living in "el norte." However, he was also well aware of strong anti-Mexican prejudice in the United States. When he learned of Canada's official policy of multiculturalism, he felt that he could have the best of both worlds in Canada. Accordingly, he applied to immigrate, and on the basis of his extensive education and skills, was accepted. Since coming to Canada, Federico has been greatly disillusioned by the difficulty of finding work as an engineer. Although he speaks with an accent, his English is excellent. He is familiar with the same techniques and software packages used by engineers here. In his portfolio are projects that equal or exceed the standards required here. Yet no one will hire him, because his credentials are from Mexico. Federico has begun the slow and expensive process of having his credentials validated by an independent service, and has attempted to join the professional organizations that certify engineers in Canada, but with no success. Rather than being offered employment, he is told that his resume will be kept on file, or is encouraged to get Canadian training, despite the fact that he already knows what is taught in those courses. This circumstance frustrates Federico immensely; once again he feels discriminated against. He feels misled by the Canadian government, who accepted him as an immigrant on the basis of his professional skills. He laughs at Canadians' talk of the "brain drain" when people like him are shut out of professional employment. To make ends meet, he has been forced to accept odd jobs, delivering newspapers, washing dishes in a restaurant, and. cleaning offices. He is now wondering if he will be forced to do further studies here, just to get a Canadian certificate, but he is reluctant to start over after so many years of training in  18  Mexico. Sometimes he wonders whether he should return to Mexico, but for now he has decided to stick it out a while longer in the hopes that he will catch a break.  1.5  POSITIONALITY  In attempting this investigation, and in getting to know people similar to Emilia, Rafael, Olga, and Federico, I faced the sometimes delicate issue of my own positionality. This research, including the questions I asked, to whom I asked them, the issues that stood out to me, and the way I have written about them, was significantly affected by who I am. Throughout, I have grappled with balancing my agenda as a researcher and writer with the needs of, and my duty towards, the interview respondents and the Mexican immigrant community as a whole. Several academics have pointed to the tendency of Western researchers to use minority groups for their own ends, regardless of the true interests of that group. Ong (1999, p. 29-30) claims that Western academics tend to view the rest of the world as a test site, or source material, for Western theory. Similarly, Chambers (1994, p. 20) argues that, in this sense, the European intellectual "needs" the third world more than it needs him. Lavie and Swedenburg (1996, p. 11) state that "the White Left still wants to arrogate to itself the humanistic role of interlocutor between the various minorities." Furthermore, Stasiulis (1999, p. 378) worries about the potential for the Western researcher's cultural "othering" contributing to the stereotyping and vilification of minority cultures. I cannot claim complete innocence of these assertions; this research is necessarily infected by global inequalities of power based on race, class, sex, etc., which allow me as  19  a white, male academic to operate from a position of relative security. Nonetheless, my attempt here is to rely as much as possible on the voices and opinions of respondents rather than my own. Furthermore, as Stasiulis (1999, p. 379-80) states, respondents have agency in negotiating their own positions; power flows in different directions, so that "intersectional identities" are "shifting and contradictory." A diverse, heterogeneous group, the interviewees for this study were by no means necessarily disadvantaged in relation to me, the researcher; in many cases they were older, wealthier, and more educated than I. The scale was further balanced by the fact that in most cases we were operating in their first language, not mine. One of my earliest concerns was that this research not be for my benefit only; that its value extend beyond the fulfillments of my thesis requirements. However, as an outsider to the Mexican immigrant community, I did not even know what the key issues might be that my research could help to address. I was a newcomer to this community, lacking any local credentials or history. Thus, this study was initially shaped primarily by my own interests in transnationalism, citizenship, and identity, rather than by pressing issues raised by the community, although in hindsight I believe that investigating these themes ethnographically has in fact tapped in to community concerns. It remains to be seen whether the information and analysis provided here will prove useful to members of the community as well as service providers, although that is my hope. My second greatest concern was how I would be perceived by. the people I interviewed. M y outsider status is immediately obvious; there are very few Mexicans with red hair and pale skin like mine. I have no possibility of blending into the crowd at social events. In fact, I embody in many ways the stereotypical Canadian that exists in  20  many Mexicans' immigrants minds (as described in the next chapter). I was concerned that as a representative of a Canadian university I would be connected, consciously or subconsciously, with the Canadian state, and that my motives for asking all these questions would be suspect, particularly by those (refugee applicants) whose legal status is in doubt. I was equally concerned, as I have already mentioned, that I not be perceived to be acting in the interests of the Mexican government, either, particularly given the refugee status of a significant number of Mexicans in Vancouver. While the Mexican consulate was very helpful in publicizing the study, and expressed interest in my findings, I had to make clear to inquirers that there was no deeper connection between the consulate and I, and particularly that the consulate would not be privy to any information other than the completed thesis. Language was another significant variable in this investigation. My Spanish has been acquired somewhat ad hoc, during a year in Venezuela and six months in Mexico, rather than through much formal study. While I am reasonably fluent, I would by no stretch of the imagination claim to be truly bilingual. This means that at times I may have made errors in transcription or translation, or missed the nuances of the interviewees' statements. However, I made every effort to clarify meanings, throughout the entire data-gathering process. I have also tried to preserve the participants' own language as much as possible when translating quotations into English. Overall, I do feel strongly that the ability to conduct interviews in Spanish was crucial to allow these immigrants to express themselves in their own words with a fluency and comfort they might have lacked if required to speak in English or via a translator.  21  In the end, there was no lack of volunteer respondents, and those whom I interviewed spoke candidly about both the Canadian and the Mexican governments. One interviewee suggested that my outsider status was a benefit, because it placed me outside the internal divisions of the Mexican community (see Chapter Four), and because of most Mexicans' inherent good opinion of things Canadian. Many interviewees seemed eager to share their frustrations and troubles with a sympathetic listener. Some hoped that I could provide them with information about the immigration system, the educational system, or the economy so that they could get ahead faster; although I had little to offer, I did make suggestions where I could. Chambers (1994, p. 100) says that encounters with the "Other" should be used to query our own symbolic order. Thus, this investigation of the Mexican immigrant community in Vancouver is useful not only for what it reveals about that community, but more so for what it reveals about Canadian society in general, as experienced and voiced by these interviewees. Their answers to my questions simultaneously interrogate Canada and what Canadian identity portends to signify. As Ong (1999, p. 20-1) describes, in this process I as a researcher have experienced the blurring of field and home; as I write about Mexican immigrants, I am also writing about my own identity and community. I do not claim to speak on behalf of the Mexican community in Vancouver. Rather, it is my fervent hope that their voices recorded'here will be heard by those with the power to effect systemic change, so that this thesis will contribute to the achievement of full citizenship for those Mexican people who have chosen to make their home in Vancouver.  22  C H A P T E R T W O  MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS INV A N C O U V E R AND THE BIOPOLITICAL PROJECTS  NATION-BUILDING  OFT H E M E X I C A N AND CANADIAN STATES  Mexicans immigrate to Canada in part because of international structural conditions affecting their lives at the local level, conditions created by the neoliberal nation-building projects of both Canada and Mexico. These structural conditions not only influence immigrants' decisions to move, but have important implications for their experiences of citizenship in both countries. This chapter examines these implications in three sections. The first section provides the general theoretical background to nationbuilding, linking Gramsci's concept of hegemony to Foucault's notion of biopower. The second examines the specific nation-building projects of Canada and Mexico. The third draws on interview material to detail Mexican immigrants' sense of their own positions within these nation-building projects.  2.1  NATION-BUILDING  At the most simple level, citizenship encompasses the relationship of the individual citizen to the constitutional state, and to the other citizens within the state. Citizens are implicated in the complex nation-building projects of their respective states.  1  At the present time, most such nation-building projects follow the hegemonic paradigm of neoliberalism. Due to the unequal distribution of resources in capitalist societies, 2  ' States are too complex to be treated as monolithic entities, so I am not arguing here that nation-building is the only purpose of the state, nor indeed that the state as a whole could have such a purpose, in light of the many agencies, individuals, and relationships that "the state" comprises. However, I do believe that nationbuilding is the most important of many state processes. Two of the few exceptions to this are Cuba and to a lesser extent Venezuela. 2  23  under neoliberalism socio-economically elite groups exert a proportionately greater influence on the nation-building process, and attempt to manipulate it primarily for their own benefit (though of course this manipulation is contested, with varying degrees of efficacy). As a result, the process of nation-building tends to reinforce and strengthen the hegemony of an economic system that privileges certain groups at the expense of others. Antonio Gramsci argues that hegemony is maintained because the subordinate classes are subject to economic, but more importantly cultural, control by a national elite, control so pervasive that the subordinate groups might not even perceive it. For Gramsci, hegemony is understood as an historically specific organization of consent that-rests upon—but cannot be reduced to—a practical material base. In the modern era, formal freedoms and electoral rights exist alongside the class inequalities of the bourgeois state; therefore, relations of domination need to be sustained with the consent of the dominated. This consent does not arise spontaneously; it must be won through ideological struggles and material concessions. By these means, a general interest or collective identity is constructed that unites the dominant and subordinate alike as members of the same political community....consent is organized—and power is exercised—not merely through state policies and practices, but in civil society. (Carroll and Ratner, 1994, pp. 5,6) Hegemonic power flows not only through the state, but more importantly through civil society (including the education system, the family, the media, etc.), through which citizens are conditioned to accept the status quo. In a hegemonic state, the population acquiesces to the unequal distribution of political power because it seems natural. It entails a saturation of the whole process of living...to such a depth that the pressures and limits of what can ultimately be seen as a specific economic, political, and cultural system seem to most of us the pressures and limits of simple experience and common sense. (Williams, 1977, p. 110) According to Joll (1977, p. 99), "the hegemony of a political class meant for Gramsci that that class had succeeded in persuading the other classes of society to accept its own moral, political and cultural values. If the ruling class is successful, then this will  24  involve the minimum use of force." Coercive force may still be used on occasion, but hegemonic elites prefer subtler, more effective forms of influence, in effect obtaining the consent of other classes for the continuance of the existing, unequitable system. Because of their superior resources, hegemonic elites are able to control the media, buy off opposition, make token material or symbolic concessions, or even integrate opponents into the system.  3  However, hegemony is never static, absolute, or complete. Rather, a lived hegemony is always a process....It is a realized complex of experiences, relationships, and activities, with specific and changing pressures and limits. Its internal structures are highly complex....Moreover, (and this is crucial, reminding us of the necessary thrust of the concept), it does not just passively exist as a form of dominance. It has continually to be renewed, recreated, defended, and modified. It is also continually resisted, limited, altered, challenged by pressures not at all its own. (Williams, 1977, p. 112) A hegemonic elite, however, is able to absorb, deflect, and nullify these pressures, or even use them to its own ends. In Gramsci's view, power takes many forms, but is ultimately sited in, or possessed by, the elite. The potential power of the subordinate classes is not exercised, because of the pervasive effects of hegemonic control. As I will describe in the next section, in Canada and Mexico this elite hegemony is being used to reinforce a neoliberal system characterized by reduced government services, lower taxes, weakened labor rights, and free trade. This system provides disproportional benefits to those who are already well-off, exacerbating socio-economic inequality. Although migrancy has been celebrated as inherently disruptive of hegemonic systems (Chambers, 1994, pp. 22,23), it is in fact a crucial element of the hegemonic  The ability of some disadvantaged individuals to "make it" in the face of systemic obstacles is an important factor in the perpetuation of the system, since their example is used to argue that opportunities are available for all who possess the initiative to take advantage of them. This defuses potential pressure to change the system itself. 3  25  nation-building projects of the Canadian and Mexican states. As Basch, Schiller, and Szanton Blanc (1994, p. 34) put it: transnational migrants find themselves confronted with and engaged in the nationbuilding processes of two or more nation states. Their identities and practices are configured by hegemonic categories such as race and ethnicity that are deeply embedded in these processes. In order to achieve their objectives, these nation-building projects involve careful construction of the citizenry as a productive population to serve the needs of the 4  neoliberal economy, "the continuous physical and moral improvement of entire governable populations" (Mackey, 1999, p. 17, quoting Asad). This construction affects 5  both the relation of individuals to the state, and to each other. The process involves what Michel Foucault (1990, p. 140) calls biopower: "diverse techniques for achieving the subjugation of bodies and the control of populations" by which power produces individuals and places them within webs of subjugation and regulation. These techniques include "various techniques of power/knowledge designed to observe, monitor, shape, and control the behavior of individuals within a range of social and economic institutions" (Gordon, 1991, pp. 3,4), such as schools, census and vital statistics ministries, disease control offices, police forces, and other government programs. In an age of computer databases and video cameras, biopower techniques can be mobilized to ensure an almost frightening degree of power/knowledge of whole populations and of each individual within them. Mexico's Solidarity program and Canada's  Again, not uncontested or totalitarian. This includes the unemployed, who through "workfare" and other programs are kept in a state of constant readiness for re-entry into the workforce, as needed. At the same time, the threat of unemployment is used to keep workers in line and reduce their pressure for better wages and working conditions.  4  5  26  multiculturalism policy are both examples of biopower politics, or "biopolitics," in practice, which will be discussed further below. For Foucault, biopower is not exclusive to the state (it can be practiced by a large corporation, for example). However, the nation-building projects of states responding to neoliberal hegemony require such techniques to ensure the efficient running of the economy and through this the maintenance of elite privilege. "The health and stability of a modern democracy depend...on the qualities and attitudes of its citizens" (Kymlicka and Norman, 1995, p. 284). Thus governments concern themselves with inculcating these qualities and attitudes in their citizens. Government has a leading role in the reproduction of citizens (Van Gunsteren, 1994, 47), working to ensure that the population it governs is, to the best of the state's power, healthy enough to work, educated enough to fill various niches in the economy, and conditioned to cooperate in the maintenance of the system (the last of these being the most important). Depending on particular national circumstances (such as the wealth and efficiency of the state or the country's position in the international division of labor), almost every aspect of individual and social life may become part of the purview of the state, so that "the development of individual lives fosters the strength of the state" (Gordon, 1991, p. 10); thus spawning, for example, censorship of what the population reads and watches, antismoking campaigns, seat belt laws, and recommendations on how food should be prepared and consumed to avoid disease. The public education system is one of the key delivery systems for. this training, 6  whose goal is that each and every young citizen be appropriately conditioned to  Democracies rely on "persuasive" techniques such as ad campaigns, as well as legal regulations, to achieve consent for these measures. Not surprisingly, citizens (like Ralph Nader) sometimes invite such measures themselves. Corporations may support or oppose such measures, depending on how they affect particular industries.  6  27  contribute to the state. This is hegemony enacted on both the macro scale (on the entire population) as well as the micro scale (affecting each individual life), both extensive and intensive: "government of all and of each; to totalize and individualize" (Gordon, 1991, p. 3). The key is to maximize the productive potential of each individual and then harness it to the nation-building effort. Gordon goes even further by identifying a 7  particularly neoliberal biopolitical trend since the 1980s: an explicit international project to construct a systemic, institutional framework to diffuse the competitive-enterprise form throughout the social fabric at every level (ibid., p. 42). In multiethnic states such as Canada, biopolitics includes the calculated manipulation of the relationships among different immigrant groups. In her study of transnational Chinese migration, Aihwa Ong connects Foucault's biopower to the experiences of migrants and the nation-building strategies of the states they move among. According to Ong (1999, p. 6), "globalization means individuals and governments develop flexible citizenship and sovereignties as strategies to accumulate capital and power." Nation-states embody "moral-political projects," "biopolitical regimes" that discipline, regulate, and "civilize" the peoples they govern (ibid., pp. 35,36). These projects entail "a moral economy of the state, in which a nationalist ideology embeds notions of state-citizen relations within a moral-economy ethos" (ibid., p. 71). As the accounts of Mexican immigrants to Vancouver in the third section of this chapter attest, the biopolitical regimes of the Canadian and Mexican states attempt to embed Mexican  The Mexican state does not have the resources to manage the population as thoroughly as its leaders would prefer, so the biopolitical program of the Mexican state is not as efficient as in wealthier countries. Of course, neoliberal hegemony is not uncontested, even within the state itself, so that the outcome is never predetermined.  7  8  28  immigrants in particular interstices of the state-citizen relational structure, attempts which both include and exclude them in the moral-economy ethos of nationalist ideologies. Before moving on to describe the specifics of this process in Mexico and Canada, I must make a qualification. First, I am not proposing a conspiracy theory, in which a cabal of dark-suited men control the world from some secret backroom. Novelist Pat Barker, in her Regeneration trilogy (1996, p. 513), gives these words to an officer in France arguing about the conduct of World War I: what you're saying is basically a conspiracy theory, and like all conspiracy theories it's optimistic....1 think things are actually much worse than you think because there isn't any kind of rational justification left. It's become a selfperpetuating system.... Nobody's in control. Nobody knows how to stop. The question of control of the world system, or even of nation-states, is too complicated to attribute to any one cause, even to the efforts of national elites (one of the difficulties of such an argument would be to define who exactly is part of the elite). Such an explanation would be far too simplistic. What I would argue, however, is that those with greater material, social, educational, and political resources use those resources to try to maintain or enhance their positions (acting through control of the media, through campaign financing or support of particular parties, through threatening to take their investments elsewhere). They exert a disproportionate influence on the conduct and policies of the state, although other groups can and do organize successfully at times to influence government in a different direction. While I will return to the issue of citizen agency later, I turn now to the specific structural arrangements created by the neoliberal nation-building projects of hegemonic elites in Mexico and Canada. In doing so, I focus on a specific program in each country: the National Solidarity Program in Mexico, and multiculturalism in Canada. These two  29  programs form only part of the much larger nation-building projects of both countries (indeed, many if not most of the activities of the state can be classified as nation-building in some way or another). I choose to highlight these two programs for two reasons: first, because they both bring together the social, the economic, and the political in a single case study; second, because they are particularly important components of the social, economic, and political contexts within which Mexican immigrants to Vancouver make their decisions and live their lives.  2.2  MEXICO'S NEOLIBERAL NATION-BUILDING PROJECT:  P R O N A S O L  Prior to the 1980s, Mexico's political structure operated according to a personalistic, clientelistic, corporatist model. Referring to Thomas Carlyle's claim that world history is the biography of great men, Mexican historian Enrique Krauze (1994, p. 17) argues that Mexico is perhaps the most "Carlylean" country of all. Dating back to pre-Columbian times, Mexico has a long history of strong executive rule. For the Aztecs, the emperor was, "if not a god, yet a divine incarnation before whom men did not have even the right to lift their gaze" (Krauze, 1994, p. 18). This admiration of the strong leader continued through the Spanish colonial period, when it was transferred to the viceroy, regional administrators, and missionaries. When Mexico achieved independence in the early 1800s, the pattern persisted, as the country became dominated by regional strongmen called "caudillos," who ruled through personal charisma and dynamism. The Mexican Revolution of 1910-20 was a struggle for power among various caudillos, and these revolutionary caudillos are enshrined in the "national civic pantheon" (Krauze, 1994, p.328) of Mexican history, the pantheon in which modern leaders include  30  themselves. This caudillo culture means that the Mexican political system, it is argued, in practice privileges personal power over official process, and executive decisionmaking over the rule of law.  9  The political elite in Mexico comprises elites of various kinds, including intellectual elites, economic elites, military elites, bureaucratic elites, labor elites, etc. There is no single, monolithic Elite. "Mexico.. .is characterized by plural elites rather than a single interlocking power elite" (Cothran, 1994, p. 136). Wasserman (1993, p. 10) points to at least partial separation of political and economic elites. Nonetheless, the stability of the Mexican political system suggests that either one of these elites completely dominates the others, or that some form of elite settlement has been reached. Knight (1992) documents exactly such a settlement under Calles' leadership after the revolution. In fact, there is a marked degree of solidarity (though not unanimity) among these various elites. According to Cothran, different elites consistently work together to support the maintenance of the regime, because they benefit directly from it; they are "tightly interconnected" (1994, pp. 136,137). In large part, this is due to the "no reelection" rule, which ensures constant turnover of individuals and therefore a comparatively high chance of achieving political office. Traditionally, Mexican politics, even at the local level, has been practiced through networks of personal relations rather than through institutional channels. Roderic A i Camp (1995 and 1996), who has studied the Mexican political elite extensively, identifies these networks as a system of interlinked camarillas.  Camarillas are informal peer  groups that first form usually among students in university, around a particularly capable  Such a system is not unique to Mexico, of course; most countries exhibit a similar, though not identical, pattern.  9  31  or ambitious leader, who himself  is a junior member of another camarilla centered  around a more senior patron (Camp, 1996, p. 114). As each leader's career progresses, he uses his position to appoint his camarilla members to positions of their own. Importantly, camarilla cohesion depends more on personal loyalty than ideological agreement (Braig, 1997, p.273). Camarillas are interconnected in complex networks, and extend right up to the national president and his cabinet. Since political positions are generally distributed by appointment (elections merely confirm the appointment), "almost all mobility in the Mexican political system occurs through the camarillas" (Story, 1986, p.l 19). Or as Pansters (1997, p. 14) puts it, " the pursuit of power has to go by way of the extension and cultivation of friendships." Not surprisingly, in a system such as this where power flows from the top down through informal channels, centralization and clientalism are the result. In the case of government officials, for example, "presidential preferences are firmly supported at all levels of government, since most state and local officials owe their loyalty to the governor who appointed them, and the governors' loyalty, in turn, is owed to the president" (Rodriguez, Victoria, 1997, p.24). This gives the central executive tremendous power, and indeed, the Mexican president enjoys a vast range of "metaconstitutional powers" that allow him to over-ride official channels and other branches of government. Some of these powers include the authority to amend the Constitution, to act as chief legislator, to establish himself as the ultimate authority in electoral matters, to assume jurisdiction in judicial matters, and to remove governors, municipal presidents, and legislators at the federal and state levels (Rodriguez, Victoria, 1997, p.24).  I use the masculine pronoun not out of personal sexism but to reflect accurately the pervasive sexism of the system. Arguably, of course, persistent use of such language itself contributes to that sexism.  32  The political structure is that of a pyramid, with power centralized in a small group at the top (Pansters, 1997, p.l). The tremendous power of certain individuals, as opposed to relatively weak official institutions, causes people to seek redress and assistance from those individuals, their patrons. As Pansters says, "In order to 'get things done' or get them done quickly, one needs personal mediation" (1997, p. 14). Clearly, this system forms a negative feedback loop: people trust their personal contacts more than formal institutions, and look to them for assistance, which further weakens the formal institutions, and makes people rely still more on their personal contacts. According to Foweraker (1997, p.227), although clientelism might appear to be the most rational behavior under existing conditions, it has resulted in a political culture of "submission and dependence" to the central authority. Through these cultural patterns, Mexicans traditionally have been constituted more as dependent state subjects than as citizens with rights. Consent for this system was maintained through high aggregate economic growth rates, nationalistic developmentalist rhetoric, and "redistributive corruption" (Lomnitz, 1996, pp. 64-65) that delivered "symbolic and material benefits" (Cornelius, Craig, &Fox, 1994, p. 10) to key sectors of the population. The 1982 debt crisis (in which plunging oil prices and high interest rates led Mexico to default on its foreign loan payments) necessitated a redirection of the Mexican state's nation-building project, and gave the Mexican elite an opportunity to adapt their strategies of hegemony to maintain (and indeed, enhance) their position. "A new dominant group.. .more closely tied to the private sector than its predecessors" emerged within the ruling political party's elite: technobureaucrats, many educated in neoliberal  33  economics at American universities (Dresser, 1994, p. 151). "Economic success is the prerequisite for regime legitimation [in Mexico]. Given internal and external levels of public debt, the engine of growth must necessarily be private-sector investment, much of it attracted from abroad" (Bailey, 1994, p. 99). Under International Monetary Fund guidance, Mexico's formerly protected economy was opened up according to the tenets of neoliberalism. President Miguel de la Madrid implemented an austerity program, reducing government spending by selling or closing state enterprises, controlling the exchange rate, and reducing government subsidies on basic goods such as gasoline, electricity, and tortillas (Rodriguez, Victoria, 1997, p.41). By July 1985, 20% of all state jobs had been eliminated. To reduce inflation, the government encouraged wage reductions, which Mexican workers, fearing rising unemployment, could do little to resist; accordingly, real wages fell by 30% between 1982 and 1985 (Bruhn, 1997, p.74). Under pressure from the IMF, de la Madrid went further, seeking entry into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1985. This entailed opening Mexico to foreign direct investment, reducing subsidies and tariffs, and further reducing spending. When Carlos Salinas de Gortari succeeded de la Madrid in 1988, he accelerated the program of fiscal austerity and trade liberalization, "the basic neoliberal project" (Bruhn, 1997, p.74). His goal was to increase international investment confidence in Mexico (Rodriguez, Victoria, 1997, p.42). Salinas continued divesting state enterprises (including T E L M E X , the telephone monopoly), renewed pressure on unions to accept wage and benefit concessions, and removed restrictions on foreign ownership. The crowning achievement of his administration was Mexico's entry into N A F T A , with Canada and the United States, in 1992. This further reoriented Mexico's economy  34  toward export rather than domestic production, allowed freer access to the Mexican market, and made direct investment by American and Canadian companies easier. Salinas' successor, Ernesto Zedillo, continued his predecessor's policies. Since 1982 neoliberal reforms have benefited chiefly the elite, increased poverty, and reduced the possibility of resistance to the elite. President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (who has since fled the country) used his executive influence to ensure that his sweeping privatization plan rewarded his friends and allies, "a handful of very wealthy people....a group closely associated with Salinas himself, and with other leaders of the dominant technocratic current within the PRI" (La Botz, 1995, p. 119). This transition to neoliberal reform favors "a small and very powerful group of transnational enterprises associated to the highest ranks of political power" (Zermefio, 1997, p. 184). As of 1994, 50% of the country's assets were held by just five conglomerates (Cornelius, 1995, p. 141). The wealth of Mexico's 24 billionaires equaled the combined wealth of the 24 million poorest Mexicans (La Botz, 1995, p.l 19). "Reforms have contributed to the deterioration in income distribution by providing greater opportunities for those individuals who had a better relative initial position" (Panuco-Laguette & Szekely, 1996, p.218), a position that depended greatly on personal connections. In contrast to their rewards for the elite, neoliberal reforms increased poverty in Mexico for those without influential connections. According to Victoria Rodriguez (1997, p.44), open unemployment has doubled and family earnings have been severely reduced. Total income of the lowest-income and intermediate income deciles has dropped since 1984, and real wages continue to deteriorate (Gonzalez, 1998, pp.44, 53). "Mexico's obsession to reduce inflation, to promote foreign investment flows, and to  35  create an image of exchange-rate stability has, in effect, suppressed the long-term beneficial effects of trade liberalization" (Alarcon, 1995, p.136). More importantly, the structural shift in the economy means that it is now more difficult to alleviate poverty exclusively through growth, while at the same time the number of redistributive mechanisms has been reduced in line with the redefinition of the role of the state in the economy....economic liberalisation may in fact result in a further deterioration in income distribution and in greater poverty unless some kind of active redistributive policies are implemented (Panuco-Laguette & Szekely, p.218). The end of redistributive corruption led to popular disaffection with the state (Lomnitz, 1996, pp. 64-5). Unable to sustain state spending on traditional redistributive social programs, the elite needed to "restructure the terms of its domination" in order to avoid widespread unrest (Dresser, 1994, p. 144). Discontent grew during the de la Madrid administration, and when Carlos Salinas became president it was clear that a mechanism was required to provide the political conditions necessary to sustain the neoliberal model. As point man for Mexico's elite, Salinas' solution was the National Solidarity Program (PRONASOL), which became the key to Mexico's new nationbuilding project. P R O N A S O L was launched with much fanfare as soon as Salinas took office. It was a federal spending program ostensibly aimed at improving the living standards of Mexico's poorest citizens through projects selected locally and democratically, rather than through the traditional, corrupt, top-down model. It "had two basic foci: material (social services/infrastructure provision; poverty alleviation) and institutional (the rearrangement of state-society relations, and the coalition supporting the...PRI)" (Cornelius, Craig, & Fox, 1994, p. 3). From 1989 to 1993, PRONASOL's budget rose from US$ 680 million to more than US$ 2.5 billion. Projects included electrification,  36  paving streets, building schools, and other community improvements. The PRONASOL model stipulated that projects be community initiatives, that community members participate, that responsibility for each project be shared between state and community, and that management of project resources be transparent and honest (Cornelius, Craig, & Fox, 1994, p. 7). The program emphasized citizen initiative and self-help, generating a public relations discourse that equated self-help with citizen agency, equality, and democracy (Grimes, 1998, pp. 122-3). In fact, however, PRONASOL was far more effective as a political tool than as a poverty solution. While "PRONASOL activities promote the impression that more people are participating in the construction of the new development model" (Dresser, 1994, p. 147), centralized control remained, as projects had to fit program guidelines and win federal approval before funds were released. Furthermore, although P R O N A S O L was touted publicly as helping Mexico's poorest, benefits were not focused on the poorest states. Rather, they were deliberately targetted at areas of opposition strength, in order to undercut the strength of the main leftist party opposed to neoliberal reforms (Cornelius, 1995, p. 144; Molinar Horcasitas and Weldon, 1994, p. 139). P R O N A S O L also served to restructure power relations in favor of the president-led technobureaucratic and business elite, at the expense of local party bosses and regional power brokers, by bypassing the traditional PRI patronage structure and dealing directly with communities. In short, "PRONASOL provides the political conditions necessary to sustain the neoliberal model" (Dresser, 1994, p. 144) at a time of transition and reformation of the Mexican state's nation-building project. PRONASOL was successful (at least in the short term) at the political level; in the 1991 mid-term elections the PRI won  37  convincingly, its strength bolstered by peasant and urban poor voters. However, as a means of poverty alleviation PRONASOL was generally ineffective. Between 1989 and 1994, slight reductions in the poverty rate and the Gini coefficient (a measure of income distribution) were offset by increases in primary sector poverty, a growing wage gap between skilled and unskilled workers, and greater regional inequalities (Lustig, 1998, pp. 202, 203, 205, 209). As a result of the growing gap between urban and rural Mexico, immigration to Mexico's urban centers has increased. Poor rural residents seeking jobs have poured into Mexico City, increasing its already grave problems of pollution, congestion, and crime (Robinson, 1999; Krauze, 1999). Nonetheless, as an instrument of biopolitical control and mobilization of the Mexican population, P R O N A S O L was remarkably effective. The recent election of opposition candidate Vicente Fox to the Mexican presidency does not indicate the end of the neoliberal project, but its renovation. The hegemonic elite that had formerly sustained the PRI was not defeated, but found a new frontman who is even further right wing. Fox is the former chief of Coca-Cola's Mexican operations. His right-of-center National Action Party (PAN) is even more committed to neoliberalism than the former regime. Fox has promised to cut the size of the Mexican government and has proposed further loosening trade restrictions among the N A F T A partners. While PRONASOL itself may not continue, it is certain that other programs will take its place.  2.3  CANADA'S NATION-BUILDING PROJECT: M U L T I C U L T U R A L I S M  38  Ever since its inception in 1867, the Canadian state has pursued the project of nation-building aggressively. The National Project of the first Canadian government constructed a transcontinental railroad to bind the far-flung provinces together, and encouraged European immigrants to settle the West (in part to block northward expansion of the United States). In the late 1800s the state forcefully put down armed rebellions against its authority. F r o m 1867 to 1949 nation-building involved the acquisition of new territories and the creation of new provinces. The twentieth century's major wars strengthened national identity and faith in the power of governmental administration, which led to the creation of the Canadian social safety net that some (Gwyn, 1995) for example, c l a i m is central to Canadians' sense of themselves. In a country famously described as having "too much geography and too little history," keeping the country together has always required the concerted effort of the state. A t the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, the Canadian state is still engaged in the nation-building project, similar in some ways to Mexico's. L i k e M e x i c o , the Canadian state employs a rhetoric of progress, modernization, and national unity, to justify its practices, and uses technobureaucratic management (even more effectively than M e x i c o , because of its greater resources) to improve the population for the good of the country. L i k e M e x i c o , Canada's political economy is premised on the tenets of neoliberalism, to the particular benefit of economic elites. The Canadian project differs, of course, in its.specific policies, because of Canada's particular circumstances. In the Canadian case, recent nation-building strategies have had to cope with the need to import a workforce to sustain economic growth in the face of a declining domestic birth rate. This workforce has had to be recruited from all  39  over the world, and the resulting multiethnic immigration has significantly altered the cultural composition of the populace. In order to manage the tensions generated by the collision of languages, customs, religious practices, and other cultural traits this demographic change has created, the Canadian state has implemented an official multiculturalism policy." The following section explores the tenets and practice of this policy, and highlights the ways in which it serves paradoxically to integrate and isolate newcomers and non-white Canadians from the traditional dominant Anglo-Saxon culture and ethnic group. Immigration has been a central plank of the Canadian state's nation-building project since the implementation of the National Policy by the country's first prime minister. In order to grow the economy (to the benefit of Canadian elites, of course), new immigrants have been in almost constant demand in this comparatively sparsely populated country. Until the 1960s, immigrants were recruited and selected on explicitly racial terms, with preference being given to people of British origin first, followed by northern Europeans. Southern and eastern Europeans were accepted when deemed necessary (Slavic peasant farmers were encouraged to settle on the prairies, for example). People from other parts of the world, including Asians and Africans, were actively discouraged or prevented, as were Jews, except when other sources of labor were unavailable (the use of Chinese workers to build the transcontinental railway is the most famous example). In such cases, however, the government made a concerted effort to deny migrant labor the rights of citizenship. Following World War II, as blatant racism A recently published article by Gwynne Dyer (2001, p. 49) suggests that multiculturalism, and the move to open immigration to wider sources, was intended to undercut Canada's French-English binary antipathy and the threat to the Canadian state of Quebec separatism. While I have not been able to pursue this angle further, it corroborates my argument that multiculturalism is part of an explicit nation4?uilding project. n  40  became unfashionable, the Canadian government adjusted its admittance policies, and the ethnic and racial composition of immigrants to Canada began to shift from its previous European preponderance to its present majority of Asian and other visible minorities. Not surprisingly, Canadian immigration policy is aimed more at benefiting Canada than benefiting the immigrants themselves. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (Growing Together, 1995), "the general purpose of immigration is to bring in new citizens who will benefit Canada economically, culturally, or in some other way." Current immigration policy continues to prioritize immigration as an "engine of economic growth" (Booth, 1998, p. 12). Canada is trying "to take advantage of the global migration of skilled workers....to attract people who can, and want to, contribute to Canadian society" (ibid.), implying that other types of migrants do not. "To meet the future social and economic goals of the country, a greater share of immigrants are selected on their ability to contribute quickly to society and to make fewer demands on settlement services" (CIC, Growing Together, 1995). This selection process involves a careful tabulation by state officials of various characteristics of the potential immigrant, including knowledge of official languages, education, fitness for the Canadian labor market, age, etc.  The selection process scrutinizes each individual's characteristics  using exactly the kind of biopower power/knowledge technique conceptualized by Foucault, "in which issues of individual.. .conduct interconnect with issues of national policy and power" (Gordon, 1991, pp. 4-5).  13  Only independent immigrants are assessed in this fashion; refugees and family class (reunification) immigrants are not. This interconnection works both ways. The individual conduct of immigrants is monitored, and modified, in the process of immigration, while at the same time immigrants cause changes in society generally (and in government policy eventually) over time. 12  13  41  The federal government has worked in conjunction with provincial governments to coordinate immigration policy. In the case of B C (the jurisdiction relevant to Mexican immigrants in Vancouver), the two governments signed an agreement in May 1998 that stipulates their respective responsibilities in relation to immigration. This agreement repeats the rhetoric that positions immigrants as components of the nation-building project, particularly economic growth. Each section of the agreement's preamble prioritizes the economic usefulness of immigration. The stated purpose of the agreement is "to enable British Columbia to better manage the impact of immigration in order to maximize economic and social benefits to British Columbia society" ("Agreement...", p. 2). "Canada and British Columbia share a mutual interest in...maximizing the contribution of immigration to the achievement of the social, demographic and economic goals of both Canada and British Columbia." (ibid.). In an accompanying news release (Government of BC, May 19, 1998), B C Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh emphasized the economic importance of immigration: "Over the last ten years, immigration has been the leading component of B.C.'s labour force growth, making up about 40 percent of new entrants to the labour market," said Mr. Dosanjh. "And economic immigrants, such as entrepreneurs, investors and skilled workers, represent 65 percent of new arrivals. Immigrants contribute to the competitive skills of B.C.'s labour force, accounting for thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investments." In its own interest the Canadian state is forced to commit resources to make settlement and integration easier and faster for new immigrants. Particularly in the country's largest cities, a range of settlement services are available, including basic English language training, document translation, interpreting, counseling, and job finding classes. The influx of immigrants from non-traditional sources has prompted the federal government to adopt measures aimed at managing the increasing ethnic diversity of the  42  Canadian population and the tensions resulting as new immigrants alter the Canadian social and economic landscape. The government's principal tool is its official policy of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism in Canada, first introduced in 1971, functions both as a recognition of the cultural pluralism that is a reality in Canada, and as an official means of justifying, encouraging, and at the same time controlling and limiting, that diversity. The Multiculturalism Act of 1971 had the following four objectives: 1. The government of Canada will support all of Canada's cultures and will seek to assist, resources permitting, the development of those cultural groups that have demonstrated a desire and effort to continue to develop, a capacity to grow and contribute to Canada, as well as a clear need for assistance. 2. The Government will assist members of all cultural groups to overcome cultural barriers to full participation in Canadian society. 3. The Government will promote creative encounters and interchange among all Canadian cultural groups in the interest of national unity. 4. The Government will continue to assist immigrants to acquire at least one of Canada's official languages in order to become full participants in Canadian society (Li, 1999, p. 153, my emphasis). Each of the four objectives uses language that emphasizes the utility of multiculturalism to the nation-building program of the state. The purpose of the program is to help cultural groups to "contribute to Canada.... [achieve] full participation.... [contribute to] national unity....become full participants." While multiculturalism allows for cultural diversity, this diversity is only accepted as long as it contributes to the common project, as long as cultural minorities participate willingly in that project. In 1988 the state 14  renewed its avowed commitment to multiculturalism with a new Act, which strengthened the government's involvement and recognized multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of Canada. At the federal level, multiculturalism policy is part of the portfolio of the Ministry of Canadian Heritage, the ministry in charge of national cultural  14  Of course, this rhetoric also serves to make the policy more palatable to white Canadians.  43  policy. Similarly to Mexico's PRONASOL, the Ministry's multiculturalism program provides funding to projects "that emphasize social development, and highlight community initiative, partnership and self-help" (Department of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism), Multiculturalism Program Guidelines). Despite its apparently inclusive rhetoric, Canada's multiculturalism policy has come under attack from both the left and right. From the right, multiculturalism has been criticized as needless government expense and as inherently divisive; the state should not support the maintenance of diverse cultures. Immigrants should adapt, at least publicly, to "Canadian" culture. Writing on behalf of his party, Reform Party Member of Parliament Cliff Breitkreuz argued that the state should "get its nasty little nose out of culture" (Breitkreuz, 1996, p. 48). According to him, the multiculturalism program should be abolished altogether. Critics on the left have seldom advocated the abolition of the multiculturalism program, instead supporting its anti-racist and inclusive aims. However, they have identified the sometimes subtle ways that the policy confines and controls the very diversity it officially encourages, the ways in which "the state, by defining and institutionalizing cultural difference...not only manages the relationship between the state and potentially threatening minority populations, it legitimates itself as benevolent" (Mackey, 1999, p. 63). Henry and Tator (1999, p. 88) argue that "the Canadian state both promotes and controls racism through policies such as multiculturalism." They contend that racism is built deep inside the structure of the Canadian system. Multiculturalism policy, by emphasizing passive, non-coercive "tolerance" and "appreciation," allows the  44  preservation of the status quo; it is only "symbolic rather than political or transformative" (p. 96). Multiculturalism positions "certain ethnoracial groups at the margin rather than the mainstream of public culture and national identity... .[and] constructs a concept of a common dominant (English-Canadian) culture that all cultures are 'multicultural' in relation to" (p. 95). Similarly, Li (1999, p. 157) criticizes official multiculturalism as more symbolic than substantive. Multiculturalism relegates pluralism to the private sphere, but demands conformity in public to the norms and practices acceptable to dominant groups (p. 167). Furthermore, it may simply promote a "sense of cultural equality, despite inequality in the economic and political sectors" (p. 168). However, he highlights its usefulness to the state because it reinforces an image of Canada as a society tolerant of ethnic and racial diversities (p. 171). Mackey takes this critique a step further. According to her, "nation-building is a dual process, entailing the management of populations and the creation of national identity" (1999, p. 23). What this means in Canada is that multiculturalism serves not only to manage immigrant populations by limiting their (public) diversity to peaceful "celebrations" (e.g. of "ethnic" music, food, and dance), but also to create a sense of distinct national identity differentiated principally from the United States (p. 16). "The recurring paradox of multiculturalism and core culture in Canada is that the proliferation and plurality of other cultures should add up to the bounded and identifiable culture of the nation" (p. 151). The state's much publicized rhetoric of multiculturalism allows the white, anglophone majority to congratulate itself on its own "tolerance" and "generosity"  45  to immigrants (in contrast to the US), at the same time as it exploits immigrants for their labor, knowledge, skills, and assets. The preceding sections describe the hegemonic nation-building projects of the Canadian and Mexican states. While sharing a basic commitment to neoliberalism, the two states have had to implement very different government programs to achieve their ends. PRONASOL and official multiculturalism are two of the most important such programs in the overall modernization process of the two states. Together, they are indicative of the kinds of systemic conditions in which Mexican immigrants to Vancouver operate, and which both constrain and enable their agency as citizens, as the next section of this chapter will show.  2.4  INTERVIEWEES' VIEWS  The Mexican immigrants I interviewed are well aware of their positioning within the contexts of the nation-building projects of Canada and Mexico. Their interview responses reflect a wide range of attitudes and opinions, both positive and negative, about each state system. While their answers are predictably varied, a number of common themes recur.  In this final section of the chapter, Mexican immigrants describe their  feelings and experiences of their systemic context, including the reality of multiculturalism, the provision of state services such as ESL education, welfare, police and justice, issues of employment, and general attitudes toward government. Our discussions focused mostly on their experiences in Canada, but they also provided some insight into their relations to the Mexican state. These responses have important  46  implications for the kinds of immigrant services that are provided, as well as for their place as citizens within Canadian society. Mexican immigrants' experiences of citizenship and state begin with the Mexican state. Their opinions about the Mexican state significantly color their impressions of the Canadian system, and their opinions about government and politics in general. A recurring theme was the corruption and inefficiency of the Mexican system. According to Teresa, . ..there's a lot of corruption in Mexico, unfortunately. It's really dirty politics, not at all transparent. We don't know what's going on. And we don't know if the conflicts, for example in Chiapas, or conflicts (I don't know if you've heard about the strike at the National University), so conflicts are apparently problems of land, and the [university] is a student problem, but there's always like this question there, or doubt, that no, it's surely something political, and because the interests are, are hidden, and they don't let us see. And the government is not at all transparent. And the government moves all the conflicts in Mexico, and it's nothing more, it's like a very egocentric government. Nothing more than, well the bureaucrats who are in really high positions, the only thing that interests them is making money and money and money. And getting themselves out of the country. And leaving the Mexicans in much worse conditions. Oswaldo said that despite recent greater opposition gains in Mexico, "not much has changed. It's the same. Political changes, [but] that great corruption, it will continue. It's always been corrupt." Diego echoed this sentiment, "There's no real opposition in Mexico.  No one's anti-corruption  in the political realm."  David said, "And in Mexico  the system is totally corrupt. By 'the system' we're talking down to the municipal level or the smallest system that you can find at the community level." Alfonso expressed a clear distaste for politics: I don't trust politicians. I don't trust politics. I don't trust anyone who has the power to make your life change without you knowing. It doesn't matter if you vote or not in Mexico. I mean, it does here.. .If Mexico gave me something, it was that phobia of politics."  47  Not surprisingly, this view of the system results in a skepticism of the usefulness of political involvement in Mexico. Leticia, like others, said "We weren 't political in Mexico.  Politics is backward; you can struggle and it's not recognized." They also said  that people involved in politics receive threats, a further disincentive. Diego, a refugee, echoed this: "Everything is fine in Mexico as long as you don't protest." This criticism of the Mexican political system extended to its inability to provide efficient and effective services such as crime prevention, pollution controls, and urban planning, and even to its consulate in Vancouver. Monica stated that "Basically,  my  objective is to have a better natural and working environment, and above all rights as a citizen, which I don't find in Mexico because of the circumstances, how the government manages things." This is particularly noticeable in Mexico City, according to Marilyn: / can't stand living in Mexico City anymore, because of the noise, the thick smog, and the distances. Of course here there's distances too, but there it's the traffic, so many cars....For example if one has a problem with the telephone, let's say. And to install or to get a telephone takes months. Here it's a phone call and fast. Or government papers, probably if it's the Mexican government, either something's missing or it's more money or it's more runaround and runaround. As for the consulate, "they don't help you at all," said Oswaldo. / know of a friend, who is, to be landed, he had to renew his passport. And they didn't help him. They said that he had to fill out a letter, and this, that, and the other thing. So he could renew his passport, he couldn 't send his application, and he had to go back to Mexico. I mean, how is that possible? So what are they good for, do you understand me? He'had to, now he's in Mexico.... And another friend the same. That no, you can't, they can't help you. What are they therefor? Talking on the telephone, the secretary didn't know. They're negligent....they're negligent, they're good for nothing. Julia agreed: Many people go to ask them for help and everything, but they're denied. Why? Because they still have the system from Mexico. Yes, make connections with welloff people, with rich people, um, only the people they see have possibilities. Yes,  48  but, if they see that you are 'poor folk,' really they reject you. So, it's still a Mexican mentality, no? Although in my questions I tried to avoid prompting direct comparisons between Mexico and Canada, respondents made them anyway, frequently to contrast the two systems in Canada's favor as in some of the quotes above. Miguel put it this way: "God said that there's no heaven here on earth. If Mexico had the same government as Canada, that would be heaven....In Canada, if you push, the system takes you forward.'" According to Juan, "The Canadian system, even with the faults it has, is better than the Mexican system." David stated: And something that we like here is the "straightness " of the system. Many times the system helps you yourself to develop....and in Mexico the system is totally corrupt....And here no. Here you're not easily going to say, 'I'm going to give you two hundred dollars and get me this document, or pass me the signature, or put down a number that isn 't right.' And that's really good, that we arrive at an institution and they tell you, 'It doesn 't work that way. You have to do it this way. These are the requirements.' And that I know that it's going to be the same for me as for the ten people coming behind me, that seems fair to me. And that's something really good, that now we're backed up by a system that's a little cleaner, no? Although we find people who are in really high positions who are corrupt, well. But we 're not going to be able to avoid that, no, but at least at my level, public, I'm going to be treated the same as the one behind in the line or the one in front of me. That we arrive at an institution and there are the ordered lines, although we have to wait in line for half an hour, but we already know that nobody's going to arrive from the side and butt in, and if he does, oof, all of us chew out the one at the front counter, no? But in Mexico, no. In Mexico it's not like that. Monica was impressed that even small cities had good infrastructure: / come from a city with a large population. Six million people, with partially developed infrastructure, with a very low, deficient transportation system, definitely. And I find in Canada, including in small cities, like I saw in London, Ontario, Fredericton, New Brunswick....that their infrastructure, for example, is very well developed, very well planned. Angelica, who had been in Vancouver for only a few months, had the most enthusiastic view of Canada:  49  It's a country that even from there attracted me a lot because of all those things, •because of its cleanness, because of its beauty, because of the honesty of the people. And these seem to me values that currently are conspicuous in their absence in most parts of the world. I think this is the only clean country left in the world. In which values exist, in which values are respected. So for me that's invaluable. Other interviewees were less positive. E v a declared:  E. For me Canada is a third world country disguised as a first world country. And many of the as sumptions...that Canada was a first world country turn out not to be true, no? G. For example ? E. Well, in terms of politics. The system here, although it's a democratic country, that the senators are named to their positions is a joke. And Canadians don't realize or don't see or don't notice these things. It's ridiculous. The way the prime minister acts here, often he's a mini dictator. But because it's a Saxon country, these things happen. Nobody says anything. If it's a Latino country, ah, it's because they're Latinos....The Anglo-Saxons go around the world saying, 'We are pure, and you are not.' ...That senate? Out on the street, all of them. Having to maintain that bunch of people is a crime when there are people dying of hunger. It's a crime when the hospitals have waiting lists. Nancy was often frustrated by the same officialism of the Canadian system that David praised, using a joke to illustrate her point.  In Canada, I have to go fill out... it's a huge process....That's why I never would request anything, because you have to fill out twenty thousand applications, and go through the supervisor....everything is really by-the-book. I used to laugh at a joke that they used to say, that there was a dog in the United States, on the border, no? And the dog from the United States always would cross there to the Mexican village, no? There in Nuevo Laredo, or in Tijuana, or around there was where the dog would go. And the Mexican dog always watched how he would jump around, and say, 'Why does this guy come here, when all the beautiful streets are over there, everything perfectly clipped, the lawns well-cut, everything measured, all the good food, everything in order? Why does he come to this country that's so polluted, with dusty streets?' And so the dog one day says to him, 'Hey, why are you here in Mexico ? Why do you come over here when everything is perfect in your country?' And the dog says to him, 'Because here I can bark as much as I like.' So sometimes you say, it's true. You come here, but everything is, everything has to be in order, in order. And sometimes there you feel like, more free, more relaxed.  50  Many of the interviewees' responses focused on Canadian multiculturalism, particularly in relation to other visible minority groups, but also to "real" Canadians. Time and again, both Latinos and other visible minorities were contrasted to 15  "Canadians," which as suggested by Eva's comments above, designated white, AngloSaxons born here. "Canadians" and visible minority groups were ascribed particular cultural characteristics not shared by Latinos. Despite the efforts of Canada's multiculturalism program to insist that Canada has no official culture and that all Canadians are equal, many of the interviewees repeatedly ascribed authentic Canadianness only to white Anglo-Saxons born here. Nancy was surprised when she first met the man who is now her husband: "I had imagined a blond Canadian, with light eyes, because that's the idea one has of Canadians, no?" Diego was surprised to see white people in the minority when he arrived, and didn't like it at first, because as a Mexican he felt he had "more in common with the Western world than with the Eastern world." According to Ana, A.  the people here, there are groups. There's the local population, the Canadians, that have their customs, their way of life, that is more European, no, from the European heritage, from the English part, who are more formal people, people with little communication, or the communication channels aren 't as open in their human relations, no? I think that they are people who know how to communicate, but in another way. Not the way that Mexicans communicate, for example, like this, by the direct way, no? I mean, I'm talking with someone, and already she's laughing and is making a joke with you. I mean, we 're really open, too open in the sense of human relations. Canadians, I think because of the very strong heritage that they bring from the English part, is more formal, not so open. Without ceasing to be, um, attentive, no, and respectful. G. It depends on the person, of course, but yes. A. Yes, and the level, no? But, just the same, there are the other groups, no? The Asian part, that bring other customs; another is the Hindu part. And here the whole mosaic, no, of all the human groups there are....It depends who we're  The definition of "Latino" as an ethnic or racial category is of course problematic. This will be discussed further in Chapter Four. 15  51  talking about, no? About Canadian-Canadians, and the Chinese, and, I mean, what are you talking about, no? For Ana, Canada is a multicultural country (the stereotypical Canadian mosaic is a reality), but it is those "from the English part" who are "the Canadians." Those of Chinese and East Indian origin are specifically excluded. Likewise, Manuel said that "we know that this is a multicultural country, where for example the Orientals think one way, the East Indian thinks totally another way, the Canadian thinks another way." In Carmen's opinion, "Canadians lack cultural sophistication; they are ignorant of the richness of other countries"(presumably, immigrant Canadians are not ignorant of this, so by "Canadian" she must be referring to those born here). Marilyn similarly excludes herself from Canadianness when she says, "Canadians like Mexicans....Canadians look well on Mexicans," implying that the two are mutually exclusive. Speaking about the settlement process, David said: D. G.  I think the only means I had to be able to get into the position I wanted to be in, was to integrate myself with the community. Ok, with which community?  D.  With the Canadian. Here the principal [one] is the Canadian.  His statement, which initially confused me, shows that in his view, "Canadians" are one community among others; the most important, but not the only one. Vicente, who has lived in the United States as well, felt that there were few differences between Canadians and Americans: "As much as Canadians say that they aren't gringos and that they're very different, well there's not much difference, no? It's an Anglo-Saxon culture." Again Canada is characterized as Anglo-Saxon, not multicultural (at least not in the official sense).  52  As a final example, two comments by Pilar, who is highly conscious of cultural diversity and fragmented identity, nonetheless reinforced this conception. First, speaking about her sister, she said, "She's marrying a Canadian, (pause) Caucasian (laughs)." Her pause and self-conscious laughter reveal an attempt to qualify a generalization, to be politically correct, to toe the official multicultural line. Speaking of food (we were eating sushi), she said: P. I still don't like Canadian food. I don't really know what... G. What do you mean when you say Canadian food? P. That's what I mean. I don't even know what it is. All I heard is potatoes and steak. You know, like if you go to Knight and Day. The restaurant she mentioned is a Vancouver area chain, whose top ten menu items (according to a staff member I talked to over the phone) include such common AngloAmerican fare as fish and chips, liver and onions, and hamburgers, and do not include any items of Asian, Latin American, or other ethnic origins. Once again, Canadian means white and Anglo. Other ethnic groups were also stereotyped by some interviewees. Nancy, who lives in Richmond, talked about her experience in English class: they were all Orientals, and I was the only one from another place. At first you 're depressed; it's difficult not making friends, and they were all, they are very sectarian. Orientals don't invite you to their parties, no? ...Now I understand that it's the culture, but when you want to be accepted....and there was a potluck party. I took my dish. An Oriental doesn 't eat a Mexican dish; they didn 't even grab one nacho. They eat their food. So for me, in my country, that's rude, that's a snub. So, I felt really bad. Richmond is totally difficult if you're not Oriental. My neighbors are Oriental. I've tried to talk with them, but they don't speak English....The majority work in Hong Kong. So they leave their wives alone, with the kids. And they, if the husband's not there, they don't talk. It's their culture.  53  A c c o r d i n g to P i l a r , " p a r t i c u l a r l y C h i n e s e , I think, t h e y ' r e v e r y , v e r y conservative. A n d t h e y t e n d to be v e r y c o l d , w h e n L a t i n A m e r i c a n p e o p l e are v e r y w a r m . " M i r n a also c o n t r a s t e d L a t i n o s to other e t h n i c c o m m u n i t i e s , b a s e d o n her experience i n w o m e n ' s crafts class:  We've noticed that we 're different. In what? I show them so they learn how to make a flower. And once I've shown them the technique of making flowers, I ask them to each make their own flower. We Latinos are used to being adventurous. So they start to do their crazy things, and sometimes they turn out horrible, but sometimes it's something marvelous. People from other cultures started to come. And they're more obedient, so they make the flower that I taught them eighty times! And it's my flower, and they don't create. They're scared. In their culture, I'm not saying all of them, but, it's being obedient, that's the formula, and that's what they're going to follow. J o s e f i n a , w h o l i v e s i n N o r t h V a n c o u v e r , said,  Here I have some neighbors, some, some Chinese, some from Hong Kong, I don't know where they're from exactly, but they're Chinese. Um, and they give my son a ride when they come, but that's it. They're never going to open their homes to you. Right? And then I think, like, as if, ah, I don 'tfeel very good about telling them to come over to my house. Because what do I say to them ?  S h e a l s o c o m p a r e d M e x i c a n s w i t h Iranians ( N o r t h V a n c o u v e r has a significant Iranian community):  For us Mexicans it's very important to us where we live. I compare it with the Iranians; it doesn 't matter to them where they arrive. They arrive, and first look how they're going to do business. Right? What business are they going to put up; very, very active, right? A Mexican lives well first. S o r a y a w a s sympathetic to p e o p l e o f C h i n e s e e t h n i c i t y , c o m p a r i n g prejudice against t h e m i n C a n a d a to the treatment o f M e x i c a n s i n the U n i t e d States: "in the United States there's  a phobia against Mexicans, because they feel we're invading them. I say that we're recovering  the territory. But here it's against the Chinese, no? Everything, if a car did  something wrong, must be Chinese."  54  As these quotes suggest, many interviewees are not experiencing the kind of multiculturalism the Canadian government has in mind for its state-building project. This impression is corroborated by several of their statements about multiculturalism itself. Carmen had a particularly negative view of official multiculturalism, saying that Canada appears to be non-discriminatory, but is discriminatory: "For me the multiculturalism policy is 'You stay here and don't mingle '....Latinos don't have economic power here, so they don't get services....Multiculturalism obscures racism instead of facilitating integration.'" Along those lines, Diego presented some examples of disfunctional multiculturalism, saying that behind Canadians' "big fucking smile" (a friend's phrase, he told me), there was "a very transparent racism." He recounted that when he tried to apply to a theatre class, he was told he'd have to work on his accent. "What kind of fucking art they doing there? Do they really want to show the diversity in Canada? They should make projects about the people living here instead of doing Shakespeare over and over again." He also told of an art exhibit by local Latino artists that attracted a standingroom only crowd, but which the local media wouldn't cover. Soraya characterized Vancouver as "this multicultural city, I would say of patches more than multicultural. I believe that the groups exist, but not integrated." Mirna was concerned about the way the policy strengthens such separate groups: Because the moment that you make separate groups, you 're not teaching that group to love Canada and to work for it. You 're teaching them that you are different, and you go to your corner, and those of different colors go to their corner, and those that have slanted eyes go to another corner. No, because that's never going to help Canada to be a strong country and that its citizens love it....I agree that we have to learn from each other, because we all bring something. We all bring something good and something bad.... We have to integrate ourselves.  55  While these statements reveal quite diverse opinions about multiculturalism, they suggest that in the view of these immigrants, multiculturalism serves to marginalize minorities rather than integrating them as equal partners in Canadian society.  16  Some interviewees expressed their enjoyment of doing exactly that, primarily through relationships formed at work or in classes. Cristina was enthusiastic about her contacts with people from other countries: Other cultures really interest me. I really like studying people. So I really like it, because I'm learning things that I had only ever read. I read about the Filipino culture, for example, but I never knew that it was so similar to Mexico's. Filipinos are very similar to Mexicans, even in words, because they were governed by the Spanish too.... We have there in the store, there are a lot of workers who come from Russia, from India, they come from the Philippines too, from El Salvador, including from El Salvador and Chile, that are countries that speak Spanish, but are so different in culture, in food, and in everything too. Here, well, since it's multicultural, you learn about everything here. Similarly, Julia appreciated what she has found in common with other newcomers to Canada: "There are a lot of things we can identify with each other, because well, we come from other places, we have a different culture, and we have to adapt ourselves to the Canadian culture." Interviewees were highly vocal about this process of adaptation to Canadian culture. In their interviews, Canadian culture was repeatedly homogenized and contrasted to an equally monolithic Latino culture. Several people talked about the ways they think Latinos and/or Mexicans are perceived by Canadians. They also highlighted the many changes they had had to make to fit into Canadian mores, and how in some cases they had absorbed the same values and become more "Canadianized." Several respondents felt stereotyped, both negatively and positively, as Latinos and/or Mexicans, in ways that make them feel simultaneously included and excluded.  16  Integration should not be confused with assimilation. 56  Alfonso felt that Canadians generally are in love with Latin American culture (as a commodity: music, food, dance, tequila, for example), but not with Latin American people themselves. He recalled being called a "fucking Indian" in Quebec, after identifying himself as Mexican. Alfonso also resented that even after twelve years in Canada, people still mispronounce his name. He reserved his strongest feelings for the Vancouver media, whom he felt deliberately stereotype Latinos as criminals. Nancy recalled a Canadian professional being surprised that she would have the same equipment he had in his office, "as though to say, 'You're Latina, no, you're from Mexico. you going to have the same as Canada?'"  How are  David, a gay refugee applicant, lamented the  ignorance of the panel that would decide if he could stay: "The image that the panel has of Mexicans is really bad. There's no credibility.  They don't think that homophobia  exists. They don't believe that we 're not protected by the police or by the government. And the situation is fine, according to them." Soraya believed that she'd been taken advantage of by a dentist, who like most Canadians, thinks "that Latinos put up with whatever, because we can't sue, right?...She's Latina.  They don't know." Mirna claimed  that: after being here twenty years, I feel that this is my home. And yet many times I see that some people want to make me feel, 'No, this still isn 't your home. You didn't, you don't come from the type of people who created this place, and your English isn't quite perfect, and your accent is shocking. Mirna also talked about how her interaction with the Canadian system constructed her identity as a minority: Really if you look at me, what am I? Physically I'm nothing. Because I already come from a mixture of bloods. So I walk down the street, and nobody says, 'She 'sfrom here or she 'sfrom there. '...When I went to fill out the first application...to apply to the program of transferable skills, they put a line there that says, 'Are you, are you a minority?' And for the first time, after ten years [in  57  Canada], / looked and said, 'My god, I'm a minority and I hadn't realized it all this time.' And still I asked the counselor, 'Am la minority?' He says, 'Yes, you're Latina.' Well, what do you know? (laughs). So I wrote it down, and now, now I'm a minority, ever since then. In spite of the fact that internally I don 'tfeel anything, I don 'tfeel Mexican or feel anything. Manuel, another refugee applicant, related that "Canadians have the concept that Mexico is only beaches, vacations, and that's what they focus on, right?" His opinion was echoed by Josefina: "That's what I see that here everybody knows. Mexico? They say, 'Ah, beaches, beautiful beaches, yes. And Chiapas.' That's what people here know." The interviewees expressed a commensurate number of stereotypes about Canadians, too. Not only were "real" Canadians distinguished from other groups, but they were also assigned particular behavioral traits (both positive and negative), some of which have already been mentioned. These cultural traits were also imputed to society in general as well as to the Canadian state and its services. Among these traits were orderliness, politeness, and coldness. Respect was a common theme: "Here I found a mentality of persons respectful of human life, respectful of human dignity, respectful of nature" said Angelica. According to Monica, If they can help you, they help you as much as, as far as they can help you. And sometimes even more. They're respectful of your privacy. They're respectful of your individuality. They, they try not to do anything that would inconvenience you. And it's an excellent way to live. While Oswaldo agreed about Canadians being respectful, he said it only went so far: People are very respectful, but, very, they respect you a lot, yes ? But they don't give you, if you want to get close to someone, they're very, very distant. They don't let themselves. It's not like in Latino countries....That's the way in which as a Canadian you grew up, and the way I was raised was different. Manuel saw respect and coldness as linked:  58  In the street, for example, some person is walking and turns and smiles at someone without knowing them. There are times when they actually make a bad face, right? Like there's a lot of suspicion on the part of people. Or they don't even find themselves in position to lend a smile, or I don't know. Like we 've noticed that a Canadian is very respectful of the way of life of people, and precisely because of that acts in that way. Because he must think that if he turns to look at someone, he's already interfering in the life of this person. And he prefers not to look beyond himself, beyond what he's looking at. Carmen agreed about the coldness of Canadians: "Canadians... a lot of talk, but nobody connects. You feel ignored, that they don't let you belong." Julia described this coldness at length: Well, the Canadian coldness, no? When I arrived, the first thing that impacted me was the distance of the people. Not being able to touch them. I see a child in the street and I want to hug him and they won't let me.... That's one of the things that most affected me upon arriving in Canada. Not being able to have that contact that you 're used to in Mexico. Touching people which for you is the most natural thing. It's not that I want something sexual with you. It's because I feel good touching you and I think that you feel good when I touch you, no? But it's not like that. So that was a big impact on me. That, that distance of the people, the coldness of the people. Now with time, well, I don't justify it, right? But I understand it, it's their way of being. They have a boundary, a line. You there and me here, and that's their way of being. Soraya agreed: I find people in the English part of Canada more formal, sometimes like more mechanical, no? ...You go to a bank, to any establishment, and the people are almost perfect. They wait on you, they know their speech, and they know what to say, and they know what follows. But if you change that structure on them, suddenly it's like now they don'tfunction the same. Another thing is that we Latinos are very expressive, and it cost me effort, practically to repress the way that I am, expressive, in a quite formal society. She also said that this formality extends even to Canadian prejudice: "It's not so obvious, but it's there. I think that yes, it exists. But they're so polite, that they can even do it polite. They can treat you badly and polite at the same time."  59  The other side of the coin of this Canadian coldness is efficiency, even in social relations. Oswaldo told the story of staying with a Canadian friend when he first arrived in Canada: "Ididn't know that in Canada, 'staying a couple weeks' means two weeks. So three days before, he told me, 'Three days and you leave.''" Nancy said that community center programs were the only way to get to know her neighbors: "You have to go to the community center and sign up for a program, and it's a whole process....but it's the only way I can get to know my community." Cristina spoke about this more positively in terms of her immigration process: "That's the way all Canadians are, very legal. So my husband when he applied, he applied for me. Everything went in order, very peaceful. I never had problems with immigration, never had problems. They gave me my papers as they ought to, and welcome." Oswaldo felt similarly about the government: The Canadian government is really punctual. With the Canadian government you have to be honest. Because the government helps you. Immigration, the government, are honest, they help you, and everything's straightforward. If you lie to them, or you do something that isn't good, the government, boom. They kick you out. You go out. The government is honest; you have to play honest with the government. Honesty (at least, particular forms of it) is a cultural characteristic that several interviewees mentioned they were learning in the process of integrating into Canadian society. For Julia, this included being more open with government agencies asking personal questions: We're still really hermetic, no? We don't want to bring much to light...And Canadians are right. If there's nothing to hide, if there's nothing bad, well then what do you have to hide, no? But we're not used to that yet. But it works. Now that I'm doing it, I go to an agency as an interpreter and they ask you everything that they ask you have to tell them. And that helps you, so they give you better information, they help more. It's not because they're gossipy and they want to know about your life, right?  60  On the other hand, Diego was suspicious of Canadians' acceptance of government involvement in their lives: "There is so much love for the government and the police that it blinds the people. Hell, where is the civil participation? Everything is institution, institution, and you have to believe in that." Other new practices included learning to eat new foods and to eat at different times than they were used to, learning to say "no" directly, becoming more individualistic, acting less aggressively or emotionally, and talking more quietly in public places than they were used to. Cultural adjustment also included new ways of thinking about family relations, and of thinking about class, both of which I will discuss more in Chapter Four. In short, as Juan put it, "Immigrating is a school." Cristina agreed: "I view it like a school....A school in which I'm learning about life, I'm learning English, I'm learning to live with other people, I'm learning to live with all the differences there are here." Julia described what she'd learned in Canada: Here I've learned to be a little more conscientious with food, with the environment, to take care of, um, garbage, recycle garbage. Which we don't have in Mexico. So all these benefits, all the positive that there is in Canada, I've absorbed it. And I've assimilated it. Not the negative. No, not drugs, not sex. But yes, the stuff that's good for me I've absorbed.  Aside from general cultural impressions, interviewees expressed both praise and criticism of specific aspects of the Canadian system, including the whole employment process and the government programs and services they, draw on. Issues of key importance were finding jobs, learning English, access to health care and welfare, processing of refugee claims, and settlement services. Some also shared their opinions of the police.  61  According to Hyndman and Walton-Roberts (1999, p. 13), language acquisition is the key to employment access and job achievement for migrants. English is the major hurdle that interviewees face in finding jobs and fitting in, as has already been alluded to. As Julia put it:  All the problems that I had at the start, I attribute them to my lack of, of preparation in English. Not being able to say what I feel. I can't say what, and express what's happening to me. How can you say it? You feel it in your language, but you can't express it in English, no? So, it's a very big frustration, the first years. So not many people decide to stay. Pilar, who moved to Canada as a teenager, felt unprepared in spite of learning English in Mexico: What helped a lot is that we went to a bilingual school down in Mexico, so although we couldn't speak, we could read, and understand, you know. It was difficult, the first year we couldn't, seriously, we couldn't speak. It was very hard. But I think it does matter; the language, I mean, is very important. Many took further English classes here in the Vancouver area. Some studied through the LINC program (now called ELSA), a provincially funded basic English program for new immigrants. However, this level of English was felt to be inadequate. "Those programs that they give you when you arrive, they make it feasible to enter a course, but they only get to an intermediate level. To get advanced will cost you and they're very expensive," said Josefina. To continue in Canada with their professional occupations, an intermediate level of English is simply inadequate. I don't want to study a village English, a street English. I want a professional English, because it's the same in my country: as they see you, they treat you. If someone arrives in my country speaking Spanish badly, like 'he don't' and 'they brung', the people of certain culture or education don't take him seriously. But if you arrive and you speak with a certain structure, that's what I want, in English, no? (Nancy)  62  Pilar, who now works in a management position, mentioned Latino friends who hoped she would get them into her company: "I wouldn't hire them because, unfortunately, I'm thinking, I have a company now, and the work, the phone work required, they wouldn't be able to qualify because of that reason." Although deeply resentful of not being able to practice as a dentist in Canada, Nancy rationalized the situation: Look, it's logical. [Imagine] if in Mexico someone arrives who speaks Nahuatl, doesn 't speak Spanish to you. There's many, many natives. She comes and she speaks Nahuatl to you, and she arrives at my office and she only speaks Nahuatl the poor woman, the woman, no? Which I don't speak; it's another language, a dialect they call it there. Would you put her to answering telephones for you as a receptionist? No, of course not. Would you put her to helping you remove molars? No, of course not. What would you get her to do? No, of course, to clean the office. Well, it's the same thing we do here. If you don't bring the language, we have to clean houses. We have to do that type of work. We can't do anything else. Having the language, then you can do something else.  One parent, Josefina, praised the ESL program at her children's elementary school: "the young ones who entered school went peacefully, step by step. Although it was difficult, I think for them, they, it was like a dream. The schools make it easy for you... .They had their programs, and I didn't have any problem with them." However, for older people, even teenagers, it is much more difficult. Manuel's son, who was in his final year of high school in Mexico, had to spend a year in grade eleven ESL, then another year in regular grade eleven, and probably wouldn't be able to graduate from high school before turning 19. And for adults, the situation is complicated by the need to work, and the expense of English programs. Some find themselves in a Catch-22: they need English to find good jobs, but working prevents them from going to classes. Manuel's wife, a nurse in Mexico, is working as a nanny: The job doesn't allow her to continue with her English classes, right? So, for her to be able to progress in Canada, she needs to speak, or to develop the language a little more. So as long as she doesn't have the opportunity to continue with her  63  classes, she's never going to be able to aspire to be able to continue with her profession. Mirna was able to find a way around this to some extent: "I met a really sweet Englishwoman, with whom I made an exchange, that she'd speak Spanish and I'd correct her, and I would speak English and she'd correct me. She gave me many ideas of how things are done. Without her I'd never have gotten ahead." For some, the barriers to employment are significant and the situation can become desperate. Oswaldo's first year was very hard: / didn 't have work. I didn 't have work from September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April. I didn't work for eight months. I couldn 't work. But I had money. But I spent it. So, my friend also had money, but after I could work [he received a work permit], but I couldn't find any job, because I didn't speak English well. And nobody wanted to give me work. There wasn 't, in 95 in Vancouver there wasn 't work. I don't know if you remember, if you were here. There was no work. We didn't have anything to eat....One day I ate nothing more than twenty-five tortillas. It was horrible. And our friends, well, our roommates, they worked in a restaurant and they brought us bagels or whatever they had. There were times that we didn't have, that we didn't know if we were going to eat. I had no more than ten dollars. My best friend had his credit card. We 'd go to Supervalue, and buy things for ten dollars, because if his credit card was rejected by the machine, I'd pay. Can you imagine? Horrible. When he finally found work it was in a restaurant as a dishwasher, like many other interviewees. For many interviewees, the problem of English is compounded by the fact that their academic credentials from Mexico are not recognized here. Miguel and Leticia, a professional couple, were surprised by this: "It's like we didn't have a profession.... it's erased my account to zero.... We never imagined this.'" Cristina quickly found out that she wouldn't be able to work as a graphic designer here: Because I sent resumes to graphic design businesses, and they called me back to find out if I hadn 't studied somewhere here in Vancouver. And I told them, 'No, I have experience, but in Mexico. And I know how to use the same packages, the  64  same programs that they use here.' But no, they told me no: 'We're sorry, some other time, later we '11 call you.' That's all they said to me....And it's frustrating. Because you say, T studied so much in Mexico and I get married here, and it's worth nothing?' It's starting over again at the beginning, right?  With her usual gift for metaphor, Nancy said: So I feel that all my talent as a dentist, as long as I don't have English like they want with all the grammatical structures they want for an exam, I can't do anything. So, all the talent that I have in dentistry is under my bed, and not because I want to leave it there. So, I don't know, sometimes it's difficult.  Oswaldo said that his best friend with whom he'd come had finally given up: My best friend went back to Mexico. He's a landed immigrant. Do you know why he went back? Because he's a dentist. And do you know what he was doing here? Cooking. He said, 'I've no reason to be here cooking.' He has a business, he has a car, he has a big house, he has his office in Mexico. 'Why am I doing here cooking ?' He went to the school, and they told him there wasn't space until the year 2001.  In an attempt to gain access to the types of jobs they desire, many interviewees had turned to further education. Oswaldo was looking forward to doing so, and appreciated the availability of student loans: You have a lot of facilities for studying, if you want to go to school. Because you ask permission from work. The government helps you, and they subsidize you with a loan if you want. And you can study a degree and find a good job, you understand? You can take a technical course and you 're going to find a good job.  Ana, an economist who had worked in the banking industry in Mexico, had also sought further training in Vancouver to improve her job prospects: It's not easy to enter the financial sector here. To begin with, they always ask for Canadian experience. The certified courses for people who want to work in the financial area cost, they all cost. And I'd be delighted to take them if I had the money, but I don't have enough money to take all the courses that I ought to, while I don't have a job, right? And um, but basically now, I've been more or less modifying my aspirations....I saw that there's a lot of demand in the area of accounting....I'm familiar with that information. So I decided to take a course, a diploma in accounting, computer accounting programs. And I took it.  65  Some interviewees gave hints that the deck is further stacked against them, and that education may not be enough. Josefina told of an acquaintance: We have a friend who's an engineer, specializing in (and you should contact him, eh, because he's an important case), specializing in hydroelectricity. With a lot of experience, very qualified. He came to BC, sponsored by BC, they put him to studying, to finding work. He didn 't get work. BC would pay half his salary to anyone who contracted him. He hasn 't received work because he's not a BC engineer. He was able to become a Canadian engineer; he got his Canadian credentials. But because he's not a BC engineer, now he's applying to get into UBC to do a program to be able to practice as an engineer in BC. It's just not possible....One hundred and twenty resumes he sent out.  Job search skills are different in Canada than in Mexico. In a job search course, Ana said she learned how to look for work: "I learned how to look for work in this country...the styles are radically different....there, it's not such a formal process....[here] your resume is very important." Subtle cultural cues and miscues may put Mexican immigrants at a disadvantage in job interviews, for example, as can stereotypes about Mexicans. According to Nancy, "There are a lot of Canadian people who think that all of us Latinos who come here, that are, that come from Mexico, don't even know how to drive a car. That we don't have shoes, and we go around with our baskets on our backs." Such stereotypes are particularly damaging to professionals trying to gain white collar jobs. Eva alluded to this when I asked her if her children had encountered any trouble finding work: "No, not really, because they did their schooling here. So no, they don't have that. They don't have an accent. They don't look like anything, physically. Nobody can classify where they're from or anything." Apparently, being visibly or vocally Mexican is a career liability, even in allegedly multicultural Canada. Aside from the realities of the job market, the other side of the systemic or institutional side of their lives that interviewees were most vocal about was their  66  interaction with the government, particularly through their use of government services such as health care, welfare, or the refugee application process. Some found the 17  services difficult to access. Echoing Nancy's earlier remark about the twenty thousand applications, Josefina said that sometimes it was difficult to understand government forms: Sometimes you have the information, but you pick up a paper and the information takes forever, and you're left at a loss....For example, the famous child tax [credit] and the family allowance, it comes in the guide and everything. But for you it's completely unknown, and it's a rigamarole. Mirna said when she arrived twenty years ago, no one told her about getting Medicare or a social insurance number: / didn't even know that I had to sign up to get medical. Nobody told me. Immigration didn't even give us the information about what we needed to do. Nobody told us that we needed to go get a social insurance number. Nothing. You arrive, and you 're in the middle of the street. And you have to discover by trial and error, because suddenly you stop, and they say, 'Where's your medical?' My what? I don't have that. 'How come you haven't applied for it? How long have you been here? Three months? But you should've applied for it the day you arrived!' Well, how do you do that when you don't have the faintest idea? Soraya praised various aspects of the system, particularly public education (for her daughter) and health care: Everything is well programmed. It's incredible. I pay thirty-five dollars a year, for everything they give her. I don't buy her notebooks, or pencils, well yes, for the house. But the books they have them there. And just, I think it's great, they use the same book, and the next year another child uses it, no? They don't write in the books, they only write in notebooks. For me, the school is really good; I think they have all the areas that they ought to cover....Health. That medical card for me is super. Because at least it gives you the basics. And I know that, at least at UBC if you need some test or something, they do it immediately. The vaccination programs. I mean in that sense, it's when you see that well, there's a service. Some services are provided directly by the Canadian government, while others are provided by the province using federal funds. In either case, they reflect the aims of the Canadian state. 17  67  On the other hand, she hadn't found out about the child benefit until recently, either. "I never knew I could apply. Just last year I did it. They only gave me one year retroactively, but after five years. I didn't know." Interviewees had had mixed results with the medical service they received. Marilyn appreciated the service her daughter had received when she had a baby: It was a very beautiful experience because they helped my daughter, the workers, the social workers, and the assistants, the nurses of the hospital. I mean there was such personal and such good attention and the concern that her milk not go, the concern about how the baby was; we don't have that in Mexico.  However, after a bad experience with a surgeon, she also criticized the system that protects doctors: "Probably if I sued him in another country, they'd take away his license. But in contrast here, doctors protect themselves; they're very strong about protecting themselves. There's no justice here." Eva felt the medical system was falling apart: The hospitals have waiting lists but the government constantly is denying that they exist. When, one time we lived in Richmond, and my son was sixteen or seventeen. His wisdom teeth were coming out, and they had to be operated on. And because there were four, the doctor said it had to be done in hospital. So we had to go to the hospital to ask for a place. And we received a letter from the hospital saying that, because these types of operations weren't common in Richmond, they didn't do them. And in the same letter, at the end, it said, 'but Canada never denies medical services to citizens.'  She too had had a problem with botched surgery here, so much so that her family in Mexico urged her not to have any more treatment here. The welfare system was another government program that interviewees talked about frequently, mostly to describe their personal antipathy to it, but also to complain about how Mexicans are stereotyped as welfare recipients. Julia felt that  68  the government is very generous. When you arrive here, it provides you with a lot of things, that unfortunately in our countries we don't have. So, I'd like to think that not only Latinos, but many others, but in our case we 're talking about Latinos, take advantage of their circumstances to take advantage of what the government offers. And unfortunately that's the way it is. I've noticed that a lot of people come, even having things in Mexico, they come here to try to take advantage, maintaining themselves on what the government gives, without having a job, taking for rent, food, etc. Nancy resented immigrants on welfare: There was a group of immigrants there, and the first thing I hear is that they were on welfare, and under the table they had three jobs, and before long they had more than me, and before long welfare paid for their kids' basketball, welfare paid for their kids' swimming....It frustrates me, because I see that others without doing anything, they give them schooling, this course of I don't know what, but looking at it well, I prefer working to being on welfare. What does welfare give you? They don't give you anything. And I'm going to be like that? No, I mean, I'd rather work. I'm a hardworking person, same as my husband. And if we have to pay taxes, like I tell him, this country was made by taxes. Some interviewees had been on welfare, or applied for it. Alfonso criticized the system as being unhelpful and hostile to those who need it. He said that the system was hypocritical: unhelpful, yet proud of itself. "Welfare is treating me like a nuisance." He resented the bureaucratic run-around he was getting, and, tongue in cheek, had an explanation for it: "It used to be easy to do that; now, fucking immigrants [are] coming and screwing it up!" On the other hand, David and Jaime, his partner, were more appreciative, and felt that welfare had provided them with both essential assistance and with motivation to find work: J. We were on welfare, and welfare gave both of us money. It helped us. It made life easy for us. It gave us the apartment, it gave us to eat, and obviously we 're not used to living like that. And that's why we fought, that's why I got a job fast.... D. The money that they gave us was, I'm saying, I mean, we felt it was like the most indispensable, the basic, that only covered the apartment, and covered the  69  J. ' D. J. D.  indispensable, the hydro, the telephone, and maybe, maybe we bought a pass, just one bus pass, for him or for me. There was a day when it was, we were just starting the month. It was the first, and we had thirty-two dollars to get through the whole month. That was one of the difficult things. And it was something that made us— Advance. Advance, no, and overcome. And not continue.  Jaime and David were refugee claimants, and being on welfare was a condition of their entry into Canada, as refugee claimants are not allowed to seek work. In speaking with refugee claimants like Jaime and David, what struck me was the near capriciousness of the system, based on oral testimony and trying to convince an individual that the case is valid. Jaime and David shared the experience of their preliminary hearing: "In the preliminary hearing are the immigration official, our lawyer, and us. And it was going to be determined if we were, let's say, credible to continue with the refugee process or if our case would be eliminated. And the immigration official believed us." Manuel said that when his family arrived at the airport, When you arrive, you have to say certain white lies, like that we're coming for vacation, right, for fear that you'll be deported or sent back at that moment.... We have to have in mind a plan to convince them, right, that we 're not coming to stay. So, it depends on our tranquility with which we speak to the person at immigration. That's what their permission depends on. Unfortunately there are people who act with a lot of fear, and that betrays them, right? The immigration people are psychologists who know people, right? They notice when they're nervous, when there's something. And that's what their refusal, or their permission of access to Canada, depends on.  And throughout the subsequent refugee process: Other people who were under the same process as us made us see that the Canadian laws change continuously. We ourselves have realized that the laws don't change. What changes is the way of thinking of each person we deal with. They each act according to their criteria. According to the criteria of each person who is in the public service, and according to who they're dealing with, that's the decision that they 're going to take.  70  Jaime and David went through three different lawyers during their refugee process, partly because refugee work doesn't pay well for lawyers. Diego agreed, saying that lawyers were not really interested in refugee cases. Furthermore, the circumstances under which people leave their home countries as refugees are often not conducive to securing the evidence they need to prove their cases: In the situation in which we 've arrived in Canada, it hasn 't allowed us to come with sufficient proof of our problems that we've had. So we have to look for the proofs in Canada. And convince the immigration people that our case is valid. That's the most difficult. (Manuel)  2.5  CONCLUSION  What are the implications of these Mexican immigrants' experiences for the nation-building projects of which they are a part? What do their responses tell us about these projects? First of all, they suggest that the Mexican "biopolitical" system (that is, its ability to harness the productive power of its population) is still less developed, less efficient, and less encompassing than the Canadian system. This in part explains the flight of Mexican professionals to Canada. Secondly, however, it suggests that the Canadian biopolitical system is not working nearly as efficiently as its designers would like, in social and economic terms. The policy of multiculturalism, while laudable in many of its goals, is clearly not working the way its proponents hoped and the government tries to advertise. The multicultural rhetoric of building a country together is largely, though not completely, belied by interviewees' accounts of social isolation and ethnic stereotyping. "Real" Canadians are still white Anglos. The economy is unable (or unwilling) to take advantage of the expertise brought here by Mexican professionals. And the efficient social system that is  71  part of what attracts them to Canada is discovered to have cracks and faults, cracks in which immigrants are likely to fall because of prejudice and language (dis)ability. Finally, the political opinions expressed by interviewees suggest that Mexican immigrants are likely to have a dim view of political participation, and may tend to see the state from a more clientelistic rather than participatory standpoint. At the same time, the sharp contrasts drawn by interviewees between the Canadian and Mexican systems suggest a reserve of good impressions and good will that make Mexican immigrants perhaps more susceptible to biopolitical manipulation by the Canadian state-building project. The recurrence of learning as a motif in our conversations suggests that most interviewees see it as their responsibility to change to fit the system's needs. What is clear, however, is that the powerful systems in which Mexican immigrants find themselves engaged are able to significantly alter their sense of self and their understanding of citizenship.  72  CHAPTER THREE TRANSNATIONAL M O V E M E N T , TRANSNATIONAL IDENTITIES  "My heart trespasses borders and stretches over a whole continent" (Rodriguez, 1997, P-14). "[At the end of the twentieth century,] migrancy...is the dominant condition of academic thought and popular life" (Chambers, 1994, p.18). "Now we don't think Mexico or Canada anymore, just wherever things go well for you." —Miguel  Miguel's comment encapsulates the potential of contemporary transnationalism in the lives of Mexican immigrants to Canada: existence in a space of constant simultaneous flows, interaction, connections, and engagements across borders and between states, in which physical embededness and national loyalty seem to be things of the past. Factors such as recent advances in technologies of transportation and communication, the nationbuilding projects of the Canadian and Mexican states, and the realities of economic globalization, have combined to create a space for many kinds of transnational flows, including transnational migration. At the same time, these growing transnational flows have important implications not only for the individuals involved, but for the function of the state, and the meaning of citizenship. In addition, as Chambers (1994, pp. 22, 23, 26) points out, a transnational reality demands that academics (including geographers) think transnationally; that is, not only to document the transnational reality of their research subjects, but also to similarly accept theoretical instability, hybridity, and movement instead of rigid loyalties to traditional metanarratives. Furthermore, as mentioned in the 1  introductory chapter, Chambers insists that such thinking requires that academics query their own symbolic order, too.  1  Arguably, transnationalism theory can be characterized as yet another metanarrative, however.  73  Following an introduction to transnationalism theory, this chapter examines transnational economic, social, cultural, and political activities among the Mexican immigrant population of Vancouver, and explores the resulting effects of transnationalism on their personal identities. Rather than simplistically celebrating transnationalism as a means of escape from the states' biopolitical projects, here some of the limitations and restrictions of the process will be detailed, both in terms of limitations on transnational activity, and of the constraints of transnational identity.  3.1  DEFINITIONS A N D IMPLICATIONS O F T R A N S N A T I O N A L I S M  Transnationalism has become increasingly popular among academics in the last ten years as a key descriptor to make sense of a rapidly globalizing world characterized by simultaneous multi-stranded interrelations, connections and flows across borders and between states. The increase of such processes is enabled by the global growth of technologies of rapid, long-distance transportation and communication that make international interactions faster, easier, and cheaper. There are many kinds of transnational flows, including "bodies, money, resources, material and symbolic objects, commodities, values, ideas, information" (Guarnizo and Smith, 1998, p. 19). However, in much of the literature on transnationalism, the focus is on transnational migration, or transmigration, the transnational movements of people. A variety of definitions of transnationalism have been offered. Three of the most influential proponents of transnationalism as an academic concept, Schiller, Basch, and Szanton Blanc (1994, p.7) define transnationalism as "processes by which immigrants  Indeed, Mahler (1998, p. 75) warns of the tendency in transnationalism literature to confuse and conflate transmigration and transnationalism.  2  74  forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement," creating "a multiplicity of involvements in both societies." In a later work (1999, p. 73), they describe transmigrants as people whose "daily lives depend on multiple and constant interconnections across international borders, and whose public identities are configured in relation to more than one nation-state." For Smith (1999, p. 194), transnational migration involves "simultaneous roles in social and political life in both countries," a simultaneity made possible by technology and continuous migration. Citing Kearney, Hyndman and Walton-Roberts (1999, p. 4n) distinguish between globalization (which is decentred from national territories) and transnationalism (which is anchored in, yet transcends, one or more nation-states). Transnational activity occurs at a variety of scales, and through a variety of actors. Guarnizo and Smith (1998, pp. 6-7) distinguish between transnationalism from above (practiced by non- and extra-governmental organizations such as the IMF, WTO, UN, capitalists, etc.), and transnationalism from below, such as that practiced by households, kin networks, etc. In the case of transnational business, Smart and Smart (1998, p. 106) blur this distinction somewhat, citing greater ease in transnational investment and a decrease in the average size of transnational companies to argue that transnational investment is not only the purview of the giant transnational corporation but also of "ordinary individuals and households." Aside from differences of scale, and between public and private transnationalisms, there are considerable class differences among transnational migrants. In some writings, such as Schiller, Basch, and Szanton Blanc (1994), there is a tendency to focus on transnational movements of a particular class: migrant labor. However, many  75  transnational migrants are investors and professionals like Ong's (1999) overseas Chinese, not migrant laborers. This difference sparks similarly divided opinions about the potential of transnationalism to provide a degree of counterhegemonic resistance to the inequalities and injustices of the globalizing politico-economic regime of neoliberalism. For Chambers (1994, pp. 22-26) migrancy in and of itself "subverts the hegemonic and its erstwhile representations" by disrupting, destabilizing, and hybridizing traditional metanarratives. In Chambers' view, two-way migration alters the character of the sending and receiving societies by providing alternatives to the traditional institutions, myths, and practices of both. Others are less sanguine about the political possibilities of transnationalism, because much transnationalism is also a fundamental characteristic of modern capitalism, and because transnational migration can be subverted or captured by the state for its own ends. In the vocabulary of Mahler (1998, p. 64-65), transnationalism is characterized by "scattered hegemonies" rather than the absence of hegemony; transmigrants perform multiple, simultaneous roles and may occupy very distinct positions within the hegemonic frameworks of their sending and host countries. As has already been mentioned, it is new or improved technologies of transportation and communication that most authors cite as a necessary cause of the growth of economic, social, cultural, and political transnationalism (Schiller, Basch, and Szanton Blanc, 1999, p. 81; Smith, 1999, p. 194; Guarnizo and Smith, 1998, p. 18). It is these technologies that allow the "sense of simultaneity essential to the formation of transnational community" (Smith, 1998, p. 196). They also allow people all over the world to become more viscerally aware of the great socio-economic inequalities between  Chambers' point may be truer in academia (in the sense of "travelling theory" that challenges traditional disciplinary boundaries and practices) than in politics, though perhaps not in either. 3  76  different countries, creating the sense of relative (rather than absolute) deprivation that Grimes (1998, p.64-66) claims drives decisions to migrate. Of course, this relative 4  deprivation is related to the conditions created by global neoliberal capitalism itself, which has created what has become known as the new international division of labor. In the neoliberal system, developing countries provide cheap factory labor and raw materials to serve the needs of a global economy headquartered, managed, and controlled by whitecollar elites in the developed countries of the world. The wage gradient, and the demand 5  for services in developed countries, created by this system generate an economic motivation for many to "escape" the developing world and seek higher-wage jobs in more developed countries. Furthermore, socio-political destabilization in developing countries as a result of economic marginalization (such as the rise in poverty related crime in Mexico), creates what Lo and Teixeira (1998, p. 485) call "impelled migration": not forced (as for the flight of refugees), nor free (as for Hollywood stars moving from LA to Paris, for example), but movement triggered by external factors, where migrants caught in situations of conflict or dilemma choose their destinations and have time to prepare, but leave with reluctance. These are the principal factors that motivate emigration in the first place, but what makes transnational migration different than previous migration experiences is the degree to which migrants remain active members and participants in their societies of origin. Enabled by technologies such as jet travel, e-mail and internet, videos, long-distance phone cards, and satellite television, modern migrants remain connected (to varying  Of course, people migrated in the past for similar reasons. The difference is the modern experience of quantitatively greater exposure to qualitatively more compelling media images. Local elites in developing countries form an intermediary link in this exploitative chain.  4  5  77  degrees, depending on their economic level) with the social, political, cultural, and economic life of their home countries. Particularly important are family ties, but also the migrants' need for emotional and material support in the face of a new, foreign, and sometimes unfriendly new country. Especially in situations where migrants become members of a disadvantaged visible minority, transnational connections are encouraged by the disadvantaging hegemonic racial constructions of the destination state (Goldring, 1999, 166). Not unexpectedly, migrants look "backward" to the place where they matter more than economically, to familiar places and familial relationships. These enduring social relationships are a universal feature of transnational migration, and indeed in many cases encourage further migration, as friends and family members follow pioneering predecessors, whose social capital (hard-won knowledge of the new environment, access to job contacts, and emerging social networks) make adjustment somewhat easier. In this way, migration networks form over time, particularly family networks (Pries, 1999, p. 24; Schiller, Basch, and Szanton Blanc, 1999, p. 73; Goldring, 1999, p. 173). These migration networks become pathways for the movement of people, material resources, money, information, advice, influence, congratulations and condolences, ideas, styles, and values between the sending and receiving states (a distinction that may become obscure over time). As this process continues, international space becomes increasingly transnational space. Transnational space is characterized by, as Pries (1999, p. 27) puts it, the "stacking" of social spaces within one geographic space, and the "expansion" of social spaces over several geographic spaces. Within a given geographical space, particularly in metropolitan areas, many different cultural groups create distinct social and economic  spheres, while at the same time, those spheres stretch elliptically across borders to create continuous loops of material and immaterial flows. Also, as pointed out by Faist (1999, p. 62), transnational space is segmented, including both public and private domains. Transnational space is created by, and accommodates, both the activities of large corporations, non-governmental organizations, and in some cases governments, as well as the actions of individuals, be they migrant workers or professionals. Again, what makes this process distinct from earlier migration loops such as colonization is the simultaneity of transfers made possible by modern technology like the internet, telephone, and jet travel. This simultaneity multiplies the effects of social, economic, cultural, and political influences over long distances, as well as response effects. These networks sometimes become formalized when migrants sharing a common origin form their own organizations. Commonly, migrant groups form organizations for mutual support, to protect their interests in the host country, and to enhance their interests in their country of origin. When this occurs, migrants demand recognition from both states as a group, rather than as individuals. Given this, the relationship of the state to transnationalism is a common preoccupation of much writing on transnationalism. For Faist (1999, p. 41), transnationalism entails a triangle of multiple connections between the host state, sending state, and the migrant minority. None of these three is indivisible; rather, each encompasses various groups (p. 55). According to.Smith (1999, p. 187), the state plays an important role in institutionalizing transnationalism and creating transnational space. For the sending state's biopolitical project, it is important to retain the productive power of migrants' labor and business, and to encourage migrants to invest the surpluses of their  79  efforts in the home country (Goldring, p. 177). As for the receiving state, as Hyndman and Walton-Roberts (1999, p. 10) point out in the Canadian case, immigrants' transnational connections may be valued by the Canadian state mostly as a way to open foreign markets to increased trade, through their knowledge of "foreign" customs, languages, and systems. In both cases transmigrants are seen as cash cows. In some countries migrant workers are prevented from attaining citizenship in the host country (Germany is perhaps the most well-known example). In other cases, such as Canada's, most migrants may qualify for citizenship after meeting certain requirements. In any case, as Arjun Appadurai (1996, p. 171) points out, there is a significant perceptual "difference between being a land of immigrants and being one node in a postnational network of diasporas." That is, despite their desire to manage transnational migration 6  for their own ends, receiving states used to being "melting pot" destinations are now forced to grapple with the implications of multiply-embedded transmigrant flows (just as sending states have been forced to accommodate the demands of emigrants in order to retain a claim on their productive surplus and support). States like Canada must go beyond the paradigm of immigrant "settlement" in an increasingly unsettled world. Particularly in the case of Mexican transmigration to the United States, the academic literature emphasizes the increased status of migrants returning to Mexico. Migrants who are able to integrate into the higher-paid economy of the US translate their new material and social capital into greater influence in Mexico (Smith, 1999, p. 194196). Goldring (1999, pp. 173-176) documents the ability of transmigrants organizations to influence the Mexican state (at various scales) on the basis of financial contributions to  It is important not to equate "postnational," which implies the obsolescence of the nation-state, and "transnational," which does not. However, Appadurai's point is relevant to transnational networks as well.  6  80  community projects, such as water systems or fiestas. Such influence is exerted on the social level, as comparisons are made between the material and symbolic resources (e.g., new purchases such as electronics or automobiles) deployed by those connected to migrant networks vs. those available to non-migrants. It is also exerted on the political level, as in the case of influence over development projects as mentioned above. Indeed, 7  transmigration has been described as an "inherently political" process involving identity redefinition, social capital competition, and subject reproduction (Grimes, 1998, p. 81). It is in connection to these processes that the implications of transnational movement for the meaning of citizenship are most clear. According to one view, the increased ability of citizens to choose to live in other countries while maintaining existing social and economic ties (i.e., reduced personal costs of migration), forces governments to make certain concessions and redefine the rules of citizenship (such as allowing dual citizenship, for example) if they wish to retain access to the productive capacities of migrants. This raises the possibility of citizens acting as consumers: picking and choosing among various countries, seeking the best deal (e.g., a "package" of government services such as education or health care, and incentives such as tax breaks). For Ignatieff (1995, pp. 68-73), such an evolution of the meaning of citizenship is an inherent characteristic of a postindustrial, free market system that emphasizes individual initiative and competition over community loyalty and public programs like welfare. The weakening of universal programs and of the state's commitment to provide for its citizens results in a commensurate weakening of citizen loyalty to any particular state. For Kelly (1995, p. 94), such consumerist citizenship is eventually harmful to the state and to  The influence of Mexican populations in the United States has become so great that Mexican politicians even campaign north of the border. 7  81  society, because it privileges individual rights over collective responsibilities. Citizens who seek only "what's in it for me" are not the stuff of which strong communities and democracies are made, in this view. A related issue for states is the challenge of inculcating in transnational migrants (with strong ties to more than one state) the kinds of loyalties that are inherent to a commitment to support the state's nation building project, particularly if these loyalties are built on a rhetoric of national superiority or if elements of the project are in direct competition with those of the other state(s).  8  Finally, an important distinction must be emphasized between the transnational citizen and the so called global citizen. The transnational subject is not necessarily someone who sees herself as a "citizen of the world." A relatively small cosmopolitan elite in the world of "transnationalism from above" mentioned earlier (individuals in high places with powerful transnational organizations, for example) may operate somewhat free of state constraints. However, transnational migrants are certainly not stateless, and even this freedom is relative, not absolute, usually purchased in some way or another. Furthermore, while some particularly mobile or idealistic individuals (among them Falk's (1994, p. 132) global reformer, transnational businessperson, manager, regional citizen, and transnational political activist) may feel themselves above the sway of particularistic national identities, this cosmopolitanism is significantly limited for all individuals, and particularly so for the majority who do not have access to the financial resources or positions of power that allow frequent long distance mobility and access to rights and privileges for the elite. If anything, most transnational migrants feel more keenly than non-migrants the attempts of more than one state to compete for their loyalty, their money, their productive capacity. In the words of Basch, Schiller, and Szanton Blanc  8  Think, for example, of the US vs. Cuba, or of the issue of Spanish language services in California.  82  (1994, p. 34), "transmigrants find themselves confronted with and engaged in the nationbuilding processes of two or more nation states." Thus, rather than escaping the gravitational pull of national loyalty, most transnational migrants, in the world of "transnationalism from below," find themselves pulled between two competing states.  3.2  T R A N S N A T I O N A L I S M A M O N G M E X I C A N M I G R A N T S IN V A N C O U V E R  In the following section, the specific transnational experiences of Mexican migrants in Vancouver are documented and explored in relation to the literature cited above. This section is divided into two parts: transnational activities and transnational identities. In the first of these, various kinds of transnational movements, including economic, social, cultural, and political, flows are examined. In the second, the effects of transnational movements on immigrants' identities are discussed. Although a great deal of significant transnational connection and interaction occurs in the lives of these immigrants, their stories suggest that overall their lives are not as transnational as much of the literature would lead us to believe. Although it is true that Mexican migrants maintain "a multiplicity of involvements in both societies" and "simultaneous roles in social and political life in both countries," the scale is not evenly balanced. While the traditional model of one-way immigrant settlement does require revision, these migrants' lives and involvements are mostly in the receiving country. This leads to a second important point. The experiences of Mexican migrants to Vancouver are unique to the historical, governmental, social, and economic context in which they operate. Transnationalism depends on certain enabling conditions that exist variably across space. Being a Mexican immigrant to Vancouver is very different from  83  being a Mexican immigrant to California, and this affects the degree of transnationalism possible. As always, it is important to acknowledge and explore these differences, not to extrapolate or universalize.  3.2.1 Transnational Activity Transnational economic activity  Among the people with whom I spoke, transnational economic activity was apparently quite limited. By "economic activity" I refer to transfers of funds or MexicoCanada trade. Only a few respondents had business interests in Mexico (in two cases an import-export business); these businesses usually required travel between the two countries on a fairly regular basis. None of the respondents said that they remitted money back to family in Mexico.  9  Marilyn, who now operates a restaurant, originally came to Canada on a student visa with her children. While here as a student, she and her family lived off the interest from property investments in Mexico. Soon after she arrived, she attempted to begin an import-export business bringing canned jalapeho chilies from Mexico to Canada. So, when I began to look into imports, then I went to Mexico and I brought things, for Canada, and. um, and a friend and I became partners....She was Canadian. It didn't go very well for me, but I learned the way....So, looking at the market, we opened the market. We tried first to open the market in the large stores. It was five years of experience without earning money, but they were good for learning. When she had the contracts done, Mexico failed me.  As a pioneer migrant, Marilyn had to overcome by trial and error the difficulties of  There are several possible explanations for this. The most plausible is that most Mexican immigrants from Vancouver come from middle-class families who require no assistance.  9  84  transnational business. The challenge of opening a new market was up to her. In order to do this, she allied herself with a Canadian friend who was able to provide the Canadian side of the equation: demand. After five years of effort, however, Marilyn was let down by the other side of the equation: supply. For the entire five years, she kept renewing her student visa. "Every year I applied for residency in Mexico because we went every year to Mexico. I would apply for residency, and they would deny me." It was not until she proposed an ambitious project for ozone purification of Mexican water to the Canadian government, that she was granted landed immigrant status. They liked it a lot, and I entered as an investor. Well, not an investor exactly; but they saw how I had fought for this project, they saw that I had been here five years on a student visa, and they told me, 'Go ahead. We'll give you residency because we see your struggle.'  In the end, this project was too complicated to bring to fruition, and Marilyn decided to turn to a career that would keep her closer to her children, avoiding the frequent travel the project demanded. "So at the end I said, God, I have two kids. I have to be with them. I'm traveling a lot. And I couldn't make that project work. So upon getting residency, I said, 'All right. I'm going to start a business.'" Her restaurant sells Mexican food, but she says that all the ingredients are now available locally, so she doesn't have to import them herself.  10  Eva, who had been in the tourism business in Mexico, came to Canada with her husband and children in 1984. They entered as investors, but found the local economy at  According to my observation, Josefina's is one of the few Mexican restaurants in Vancouver actually owned by a Mexican.  85  the time unwelcoming for her husband's construction business. Instead, Eva found herself drawn back into the tourism industry. Travel agents that knew me knew that I was here, and they started to call me to ask if I would do them favors. They had some VIPs, could I pick them up at the airport, things like that. So the company started to grow. We started the company when we already had a clientele, basically....We bring in people from other countries. Originally they were from Mexico. Later we opened it to people from anywhere in the Americas, and Europe. Eva says this business involves traveling to Mexico once or twice a year, for about two weeks at a time. Eva described at length the difficulties she and her family encountered trying to move money between Mexico and Canada, demonstrating some of the challenges of transnational economic activity. When we came here, Mexico prohibited taking money out of the country. It was illegal. And on the other hand we had the obligation that Canada told us, 'You have to have so much money by such and such a date. If not, you lose your opportunity.' All that we could do was send some every day. Every day the official declarations were released of how much money could be taken out. Sometimes you couldn 't take out anything, sometimes it was one hundred dollars, sometimes five hundred dollars, sometimes a thousand dollars. So we had to go to the bank every day, line up to change that money. So finally we were able to take out the minimum that Canada demanded of us. But we had our things in Mexico. So, we moved to Canada, and the family in Mexico kept selling the things, changing money, sending us the money. Josefina faced similar difficulties as recently as 1996, when she tried to buy a car in Canada and was unable to get a bank loan. She told me the story with great indignation. So you 're nobody. Because your money is in Mexico. Although I'm receiving it. A person who has a job and makes eight hundred dollars, who makes eight hundred, and to whom they can say before long 'You don't have a job' and who has to go to welfare, is worth more than me. I have my money here secure. And I'm receiving it monthly. And I can prove it to them. It made me feel really bad. And I never got it....So I say to them, 'It's curious. I pay taxes on this capital, on the interest that it's giving me. I pay taxes there, and I pay taxes here, too.  86  Double tribute, right? And high taxes....I say to them, for this, my money is valued. For paying taxes it counts, right, what I have there. It doesn 't matter right? But to get credit, it doesn't count. That's discrimination, here or in China!  Marilyn had even more difficulties with taxes than Eva. She ran into problems when Revenue Canada alleged that the money she was receiving from her family's sale of household effects in Mexico was revenue from her tourist business. The income that we were getting at that time from the business was minimal; I mean, we would do a transfer, then a hotel reservation. It was nothing....And in a little while a letter arrived from Revenue Canada, saying they were going to do an audit. All right. Let them do an audit. We're not hiding anything from them. But it became something dreadful. That lasted seven years. That cost us, between paying accountants and lawyers, about thirty thousand dollars or more. Seven dreadful years. And the position of Revenue Canada was that the money that was entering from Mexico, whatever money came from Mexico, was from the business. And we said, 'No, that money is entering because that's what the family is sending us. It's not from the business. How, if we just opened it? They wanted us to pay a hundred thousand dollars in taxes that year. So, it was ridiculous. And we went with one accounting company, and then with another company, and then the lawyers and the judgment. It was a dreadful thing. And it was very difficult to prove. We had to tell Revenue Canada where we got the money from. This is a test. If our family was sending us the money from the things that we sold, it never had occurred to us to tell them that they had to have a receipt. How do you have a receipt if you sold an armchair to somebody? It was impossible to prove. So after seven years, really Revenue Canada lowered, and we had to pay something like thirty thousand dollars in taxes. So our friends would say to us, 'Why aren't you getting out of here, because this is really unjust,' and there was nothing to be done about it.  Aside from raising questions about furniture prices in Mexico, Eva's story shows how difficult it can be for transnational migrants to maneuver their finances through two very different bureaucracies, both of which want to claim taxes and keep money in the country. These challenges are compounded by different languages, different accounting practices, and different rules, which together may result in a double workload.  87  For Josefina, an additional challenge has been to adapt her product line to the tastes of Canadians. / don't do it in Mexican style. I love to do Mexican style, but here I haven't obtained results. For example, in the beginning I brought everything I did with my sisters there, which they continue doing. Everything that we made, I brought here. To sell it. It doesn't sell. It doesn't sell easily. Because it's not, it's not, the people, they like it, but I believe they don 'tfind a place for it, really, that's what I think. So now what I'm doing, aside from the iconography and my painting, and all that, I'm making useful things here. Canadians who come, Canadians or foreigners come to buy useful things, cheap and useful.  As a result, some Mexican business immigrants give up altogether and take their money back to Mexico. As Josefina told me, We have a friend who went back....He came because of the security problems. And he was here three years, no, more than two....He says, 'How I would love to put, he tells me, a, he says, an agency beside the immigration building where they give you the program for investors,' he says. 'Coming out of there, they should come to mine. I'll tell them the reality about investment [and] who can make a good business.' Another Mexican who came and wanted to buy a business as an investor, and met up with a friend and says, 'You know what?...I'm going to get into this plastic business,' this that and the other. 'What's it called?' 'It's called A and B Technology.' And he [the friend] worked there. He came to work in that place, with Canada's permission in the beginning, offering him that as time passed he would be a partner, and that everything would be wonderful. Turns out it was a business that was broke. That they couldn 't figure out how to sell. So this friend arrived, he raised their production, etc., etc., but really high. So a moment arrived in which they stopped paying him, and they never paid him. He had to leave, and find work. And it was this that they were selling to this friend. And he says, T shouldn't say it, but you 're a friend,' he says. 'This is where I work and they're broke. How is it possible that they're selling to you and offering you something that's broke, and that they don't tell you how the business is ? They're presenting it to you like something prosperous'....So, he says, this friend would say, 'How I would love to put there an agency to one side of where I'd say, "Come take my course. Take your course therefor one hundred dollars, because they charge for it, and if you come right away to the course, the reality, what they didn't tell you there I can tell you. "' He couldn't invest anything. Nothing made sense. He looked here, nothing, nothing, nothing. Nothing. And there he has a travel agency, a car dealership. And the same way another friend came, and he also has a lot of dough, and he said, he was here a year, and you know what, after eight months the kids stayed here; he went to Mexico to continue with his  88  businesses there. He says, 'Where you make money is in Mexico. Here you don't make anything.' One of the two people involved in an import-export business at the time of the interview was Oscar. When I asked him what level of contact he maintained with Mexico, his answer was quick. Ah, well, very close, very close, Geoff.... We have two import companies. One company is bringing fresh flowers from Mexico. It's managed by two of my sons. I have four male children, and two sehoritas. So the two boys manage that flower company. We bring in [merchandise] every week. And the other company, we're bringing fruits and vegetables, also from Mexico. That one's managed by the other two sons. So there's one of my sons there all the time. There's always one of my sons there, handling the merchandise. I go all the time to Mexico. My wife too, so we 're, we maintain a very close relation. The other, Lilian, an employee rather than owner, said that she was involved in marketing her company's product to Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Spain, but apparently does not visit Mexico frequently anymore. "7 don't miss Mexico, because I have everything that I want here, which is my three children, the mountains, the sea, the climate, my friends. At my age (I left Mexico in '81), no." Oscar told me that a Mexican Business Association does exist in Vancouver (indeed, he was on his way to their monthly lunch when I interviewed him). According to him, the members of this association are high level people. They're investors. They're professionals who have their businesses here. They 're working for multinational companies. There's that high class, people who want to come to live in Canada, and bring money, and invest. That's one level. And I believe that it's becoming the majority of Mexicans [in Vancouver]. However, none of the other interview respondents, even the businesspeople, ever mentioned this association when I asked them about local Mexican organizations. I have  89  never seen its functions advertised in any of the local Spanish-language papers, and my calls to the association president were not returned. My impression is that it is not currently a very strong organization even within the Mexican community. I also believe that his statement about investors becoming the majority of Mexicans in Vancouver is colored by his own class level; I certainly found no evidence to corroborate that impression. In short, transnational economic movement between Canada and Mexico does not seem to play a large role in the lives of most of the people with whom I spoke. Of course, some economic transfers occur when people travel for social visits, but most of the respondents are not involved in deliberate transnational business activities, nor do they send money between Canada and Mexico. In the few cases where this has happened, it does not follow the US-to-Mexico remittance pattern familiar to those studying migrant workers in the United States (no doubt this is due to the class position of most of the Canadian migrants' families). Money is more likely to travel north from Mexico to Canada, in the form of interest earned on Mexican capital. Those involved in transnational business have encountered considerable difficulties in negotiating their way through competing bureaucracies, with particular difficulties in obtaining credit and paying taxes. These difficulties are created not only by the demands of the bureaucracies, but also migrants' lack of understanding of Canadian systems. This can create the sense among migrants that they are being taken advantage of, wanted only so their money can be taken for the Canadian state's advantage.  90 Transnational social activity In contrast to the seeming dearth of economic transnational activity, almost all of the interviewees reported extensive social contacts between Mexico and Canada. By social contacts I refer to any interactions that are neither explicitly economic nor political. These contacts can be divided into two categories: visits and communications. Visits occur frequently and include both migrants' returns to Mexico as well as their families' (and sometimes friends') visits to Vancouver. Communications, not surprisingly, occur even more frequently, and include both personal communications such as telephone calls, e-mails, and sometimes letters, as well as media communications via the internet, television, and Spanish language newspapers that provide Latin American news to the Vancouver area. Several patterns quickly became evident in the interviews, including the frequency of such social contacts, the importance of family ties to migrants, and several factors that limit the possibility for transnational movement, including the effects that children and Canadian spouses have on the extent of transnational movement. The following section explores each of these in turn. With a few exceptions, interviewees said that they had returned to Mexico periodically during their time in Canada. While the number and duration of trips varied significantly, the most common experience was to travel once a year and to stay anywhere from one week to more than two months. These trips most often occur in December and January, so that migrants can celebrate Christmas, or more importantly New Year's Eve, with their families and friends. So, for example, in December when I asked Cristina about her women's group's next monthly meeting, she said they would not be meeting until the new year because: "many of them are traveling to Mexico for the  91  holidays, or many have [visitors] like me, for example; my brother's here." Julia's experience is fairly typical: "/ manage to stay in contact with them, at least traveling once a year to Mexico. When I've been able to, twice, but if not, once a year." As mentioned by Cristina, visits from Mexican family and friends are also fairly common. Eva told me, "There've been various visits. My husband's mom was here, my mom, [my] siblings, his siblings. Yes, there have been visits, but two weeks, three weeks." For Marilyn, visitors arrived about once a year: "once a year I have some friends, or cousins, or my sister, or, but no, not very often." Visits from mothers were frequently mentioned, and some interviewee's mothers were visiting at the time of the interview. Jaime's mother spends up to six months of each year in Vancouver. "My mother, my mother doesn 't speak English, but she has a life here. Her six months that she's here, she lives them, and she lives them to the max, and she does things." As I finished interviewing Miguel and Leticia, Leticia's mother was just coming home from visiting some Salvadorean friends of the family, and as I left she insisted that I take several pieces of the cake she had just made. Nancy's mother, with whom I chatted on several occasions, was in Vancouver for several months and provided Nancy valuable assistance by babysitting her young granddaughter. Oswaldo's mother had visited him the previous summer, arriving (not deliberately, I presume) just in time for the annual Vancouver gay pride parade. He and his mother watched the parade together. I asked him if it went well Yes. She came with her best friend. And her best friend was like, hmmm. What's this? So they're gay? They're homosexuals? But she didn't say anything. Um, [my mom] asked me about everything, what did this mean, what did that mean. I explained it to her.  92  Much more frequent than visits, not surprisingly, are other forms of communication, particularly telephone and e-mail. According to most of my respondents, sending letters or packages through the regular mail is largely a thing of the past. Alfonso told me that during his time in Canada, his contacts had evolved from mail to phone, to e-mail. Cristina said that "now with the technology, as I say, it's better to talk, it's easier to talk by telephone." Frequency of telephone calls varied. Oswaldo said he called four or five time per month, Cristina every two weeks, Marilyn once a month. Lilian said her calls were "every week to my mother, to my siblings. I think if I put that money aside for a ticket, I'd have a weekly ticket to Mexico!" To deal with the cost of such frequent long-distance calls, some respondents buy pay-per-minute phone cards. Cristina said: Now there's a huge help for Latinos, which is that they're selling telephone cards, of those that, they 're various and now there's a lot of competition. So it's much easier than before. Before I would pay a lot of money for thirty or twenty minutes, and you wouldn't find out [the goings-on]. Now by way of these cards you talk with your entire family, no? Even the dog, almost. Manuel, too, referred to these cards: "There are times that it's necessary, then, to be in contact by way of voice....To do it by a telephone company turns out to be too expensive, so we opt for buying telephone cards. Really it's much cheaper." These phone calls allow the exchange not only of personal information and family news, but also vital economic and political news that can affect decisions about migration or return migration. Miguel and Leticia told me that their brothers and sisters, having heard all about the trials and difficulties the two of them had experienced during their first year in Canada, said that they wouldn't want to follow suit. Oswaldo's family always tries to convince him to move back to Mexico:  93  With my sister, I've found out that many maquiladoras (you know what a maquiladora is?) have gone to Mexico, many maquiladoras from other countries, and they've given a lot ofjobs to people. Especially in Guadalajara, and that the economy has risen a lot....That if I want to return, I can find work. Aside from phone calls, e-mail seems to be the most utilized form of MexicoCanada communication among interviewees, allowing the maintenance of long-standing friendships as well as exchange of news, current events, and other information. Manuel cited e-mail as one of the most economical ways to stay in touch. Marilyn said it was the communication method she used most. For Pilar, e-mail offers unprecedented connectivity: "I still have friends in Mexico that we e-mail. I mean, e-mail has no boundaries anymore, right? So we do communicate quite a bit." Teresa told me that email from friends was her primary source of information about current events in Mexico: "through e-mail I receive a lot of information about the most important of what's happening in Mexico?' Speaking particularly of her children, Josefina succinctly summed up the importance of e-mail in enabling "real time" long-distance relationships and maintaining a sense of immediate connection with the social environment of the sending country: We don't uproot ourselves completely, because I go to the internet, you're in direct contact. And they are listening to everything that happens to the young people of our country....So they're homesick, and now 'Mama, let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go [back to Mexico] '....I'm going to go back, God willing. As with the telephone, then, e-mail communication can significantly influence migration decisions. This may be particularly true, when children who miss friends left behind agitate to return; they are less likely than adults to be persuaded by arguments of longterm socio-economic advantage. In contrast to the experience of Josefina's children, Ana  94  lamented the still vast separation between her and her friends, that electronic forms of communication cannot completely overcome: "But they are there, right? Now I don't see them anymore, and we communicate by internet with difficulty. Just to know, "how are you ?" Information about the general state of affairs in Mexico is obtained from the internet, from local Spanish-language sources, and from satellite TV in some cases. Several interviewees make frequent use of internet news sources to stay apprised of events in Mexico. Cristina said she reads Mexican news every day: "/ look at the information every day....For example I consult the web a lot, for example the newspapers on the internet....La Jornada, El Exelsior. / consult CNN in Spanish, too. Those are the good ones; those are the ones I consult the most." Similarly, Ana said she checked relevant web pages when she had time: "When I have time and I can, um, I check the web pages of some newspapers. So, now no, sometimes, when I have time I read some newspapers of the ones that I used to read in Mexico. On the internet, yes. I have a news service that comes to my [e-mail] address, too." Vicente told me that he reads La Jornada every day, and other Mexican papers frequently. Teresa, on the other hand, said that she relied on friends' e-mails to inform her about events in Mexico, and only referred to Mexican internet newspapers "when I want to find out more deeply about the news." She said she preferred to read La Reforma. And not all migrants with internet access make use of it to keep track of Mexican events. Eva, for example, related that "in reality we are not informed; we don't read the Mexican newspapers or anything. We find out the important news when it comes out in the [Canadian] news, or upon talking on the telephone to Mexico someone tells us what is happening." Thus different Mexican  95  immigrants make very different choices about how much they want to know about Mexican public affairs (although it is not always a matter of choice: poorer immigrants would not have internet access readily available to them). These choices have potential implications for the level of their involvement in transnational political activism. In a couple cases, interviewees mentioned seeking information in Vancouver's Spanish-language newspapers and television. There are several such newspapers, all of which are distributed for free, relying on advertising revenue for their profits. The two with the largest and most reliable distribution are also the two mentioned specifically by interviewees: El Milenio and and El Contacto Directo. In Angelica's opinion, El Milenio "has interesting articles for the Latino community. It talks a lot about Mexico because its owners are Mexican. So, um, also there, one complements the information that the television has." By television, presumably she was referring to the Rogers multicultural cable channel, as other respondents did (Oswaldo said he watches Spanish language news on Rogers). Community newspapers help migrants stay connected to political, social, and economic conditions in their home countries, providing information as varied as sports results, top ten music lists, headlines from national newspapers, currency exchange rates, and even comparative gasoline prices. I had the opportunity to speak with the editor of one of the Spanish newspapers, and he was modest about the importance of these papers within the Latino community: In reality the Latino community doesn 't, doesn't interest itself in the newspapers, if they publish or not. They don't have, um, a strong interest. They, if we give them the newspaper for free, they read it, and period. And if it doesn't come out, well, who cares if it comes out. One interviewee, who admittedly had come to Canada before either paper started publishing, was completely unaware of their existence until I asked her during our  96  interview if she read them (she was quite excited to find this out). On the other hand, advertisements about this thesis research in both papers resulted in quite a few calls to my answering machine from interested Mexicans. Marilyn has satellite television in her restaurant, and every time I've eaten there it is tuned to a Spanish-language station based in the United States and transmitted all over the Americas. Not surprisingly, much of the content of this channel is Mexican. When I asked why she had it put in, she told me it was because of customer demand. "They asked for it. Because the soccer games were on, and the boys come, and then at midday people come to see the news." None of the interviewees mentioned having home access to satellite television, however. Nonetheless, for Marilyn's customers at least, the satellite link provides one more way to stay current on economic, social, and political trends in Mexico. Transnational political activity Information on transnational political activity provided by interviewees largely corroborates the conclusion in the previous chapter that Mexican migrants are not likely to be very involved in politics. This is not to say that they do not have strong political opinions (some interviewees were very vocal in this area), or that their lives and actions do not have political implications of which they may be fully conscious (remember Grimes' contention that migration is inherently political). However, very few of those I spoke with expressed much involvement in deliberate political activity, whether that be aimed at the Mexican or at the Canadian political arena. In the case of Mexico, while many said it was important to them to be informed about events there, several expressed views similar to Cristina's: "/ would like to do something, but a lot of the time it's  97  impossible. I don't know sometimes how to help." Even someone with transnational connections and mobility as great as Oscar, who had come to Canada as a political refugee and has strong political interests, said he had little time to do more than observe the political situation in Mexico: "/ can't participate in Mexican politics day to day because of my daily work, right!" The difficulty of being actively involved in Mexican politics while carrying the heavy burden of quotidian survival as a disadvantaged migrant was echoed by Soraya. She had tried along with others to start a humanitarian group to send assistance to displaced people in Chiapas, but the group soon dissolved. "At some point, we stopped doing things because of our personal responsibilities." However, she was also critical of those migrants who look out only for themselves: "/ notice that sometimes we have the influence of the American dream, no ? Once you 're all right, when you have your car, your house, your dog, well, it's like you get a little alienated." Alfonso opined that people here are not involved in Mexican politics because they feel they cannot accomplish anything. He also said it is dangerous to challenge the 11  ruling Mexican political elite: "They used to ignore you; now they take a more aggressive approach." Although she did not explicitly mention physical danger, Soraya said she believes she is "marked" by Mexican officials in Vancouver because of public comments she has made: The president of Mexico came one time [to Vancouver]. So they invited us to be part of a show....they wanted us to welcome our president, no?....He was supposed to come here and make us a presentation on television, in which he would answer questions from those of us who were outside. Coincidentally they cancelled it. But he was there, and we were too. I mean, it wasn 't until we got there that they told us [it wasn't going to happen]. They had invited us one day to " These interviews were conducted before the momentous 2 0 0 0 presidential election in Mexico, in which for the first time in over seventy years the Partido Revolucionario Institucional was beaten. A follow-up study might usefully pursue the possibility that this change has altered the fatalistic attitude to which Alfonso refers.  98  do, like a test. The consul was there in place of the president answering our questions. But the day that the president arrived it didn't happen....In the end we saw him, nothing else. He greeted us, and that was it. But since then, the consul knew us....There was a week of promotion of Mexico here. They put on events and music. And a very well-known economist in Mexico came to give a talk. Really well known, I forget his name. His father is a politician too.... And I started to ask a lot of questions about the economics. So suddenly, 'Why? You said that the unemployment rate is such and such; where do those numbers come from?' Well, it wasn't very well received that I should question him publicly, I think.  There are several organizations in Vancouver dedicated to Mexican political issues, but their influence, and their profile, within the Mexican community is limited. Vicente mentioned that he has participated, infrequently, with two such groups, Eyes on Mexico, and the International of Hope. In both cases he spoke at demonstrations related to the situation in Chiapas. Soraya spoke critically about these and similar groups: It's like they have a really broad focus of participation. 'Now we have to complain about this, about that, about the next thing.' I don't really see things, I mean, I'm not going to create a circumstance, a situation, if I don't know where . it's going, or what it involves, you see? So in fact there were demonstrations beside the Mexican consulate, because of some situations. I never went to them. And I was criticized for that. So I said, 'Look, I want to return to my country. And I think that I can make a contribution in my country....for me, moments of participation without a very clear objective, that's not [the way].  She also said that the one time she did attend such a demonstration, she was the only Mexican present; the other demonstrators were Canadians not of Mexican origin. "They invited me once to that type of thing, and I did go once to a demonstration. We were the only Mexicans. We were, well, I was the only Mexican. The others who went with me were Peruvians." On the whole, interviewees seemed too preoccupied with the daily challenges of migrant life, or too removed from the situation, to get involved in political activism related to Mexico. Some, like Cristina for example, are not even aware that activist organizations exist in Vancouver.  99  In terms of Canadian politics, a few interviewees expressed the desire to be actively involved in political change:  "No, now I feel more Canadian....I feel more  integrated with [Canadian politics] than there in Mexico.  I mean, I moved my political  priorities here," said Oscar. "I've been promoting intensely the formation of a political association to get some Latin Americans into politics, to participate actively in politics." David has become involved in two different organizations with political ramifications: the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Task (LeGIT) Force, and the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Population Health Advisory Committee. In the first case, he explained his motivations for involvement: So there my interest is, aside from the personal, for the community too, no? The group tries to change the discrimination, and that our category as people of the same sex be included in the family class for the purposes of immigration. So, I think that this work is important, and well, we are going to benefit personally, no? So the intention from the beginning was that, to join in, to find out how the immigration laws function, to see what we could do, as much for our own benefit as for the community's too. Similarly in the case of the second organization, One of the problems that Jaime and I faced when we just arrived is that we didn't have access to the health system. If for some reason we got sick, it was expensive, in the first place to buy medicine....Secondly, we found that neither are we recognized in the system as gays. The people who can decide on the future of my life, or the future of his, are always the direct blood relatives: his parents, or his wife (in this case a marriage recognized by the law), or someone with a blood tie. So I said, well, I mean, here too there's something that needs to be done. Like Oscar, Diego (who came to Canada as a political refugee) said that he had no plans to continue Mexican-directed activism. Rather, his energies have been transferred to pushing for change in Canada. " / want to stay here to fight. I hate racism," he told me.  Specifically, he decried the racism he had felt within Vancouver's art community,  as well as the maltreatment of Latin Americans by the Vancouver police. He uses his  2  Although many had strong opinions about the Canadian political issues. See the preceding chapter. 100  own art to challenge these views, performing political street theatre that highlights police use of violence and racial profiling against Latin Americans. He founded his own theatre group to provide an alternative to the narrow traditionalism he found in local art schools, where he had been told he needed to work on his accent (as mentioned in the preceding chapter). What kind of fucking art [are] they doing there? Do they really want to show the diversity in Canada?....I would like to help in throwing away that hypocrisy and to expose as much as I can and change. In art my goal is to make some more diversity....They should make projects about people living here instead of doing Shakespeare over and over again. In these specific ways, then, a few Mexican migrants are directly challenging various elements of the state-funded social system, and seeking to make them more accommodating and responsive to their needs. However, what is clear from the interviews is that few Mexican migrants are involved in such formally political work. It may be that those like Oscar and Diego have decided to be activists here because they feel that the Canadian system is more responsive than the Mexican system; equally, however, it may be that others who are not so involved choose not to be because they see no possibility of systemic change (or because they are too busy simply trying to make a living). It is also interesting to note that in cases where they are activists, Mexican migrants do not act as Mexicans specifically, but as Latin Americans (this distinction will be further explored in the following chapter). Limits to transnational  activity  Despite the possibilities for movement and simultaneity created by modern technologies of transportation and communication, the testimony of interviewees described several ways that transnational activity is limited or restricted, suggesting that  101  it would be unwise to ascribe too much transformative significance to transnationalism. In all kinds of ways, Mexico-Canada migrants remain embedded in the quotidian realities and responsibilities of their local lives. In particular, they mentioned the effects of children, Canadian spouses, restricted finances, jobs, and immigration status, as impediments to transnational movement. In the first case, it was particularly parents of school-aged children who found their movements limited by the demands of their children's educations, despite the fact that it was often for their children's well-being that parents had made the initial decision to migrate. For example, Marilyn's desire to be with her children (she is a single mother) led her to abandon her ambitious water-treatment business plan, which involved frequent travel between the two countries. As Nancy explained, in her case I haven't been able [to return to Mexico frequently]. Really, this is one thing, I used to go every year. But life has, I mean every year because my son at the beginning was in grade one, grade two, of primary, and he could, could miss the entire month of January, let's say. But now my son's in sixth grade, French immersion. Now he says to you, 'Mom, I don't want to miss school. I want to be in my school.' So life ties you up in certain responsibilities, so that you go making your life in this country, so that now it's not so easy to pick up and say 'I'm going for three, four months' like you used to.  Similarly, those who have married non-Latino Canadians sometimes find it difficult to sustain transnational connections as they would like, often feeling it is their duty to assimilate to their spouse's expectations. Cristina, for example, said that she used to go back and forth frequently between the two countries, "but lately, no. Because I have to learn English well, because, well, now you're here, you're part of [his] family,  no? You have to stay here." In Julia's case, her Canadian husband made it difficult for her to maintain the kind of contact she desired with her mother:  102  For him it was very difficult that my family members would come to visit me. And you know that for Mexicans family is very important. So I was in between the two, a really difficult situation: on one side my mom, and on the other side my husband. And Vm an only daughter, so my mom and I, we're very close. And my husband never could understand this. He didn't want her to come visit me. Maximum two weeks and that's it. So, it was difficult for me. Or, difficult because when my mom was here, he wanted her to leave, and practically would tell her so, that he didn't want her to be here. So it was really difficult....Because I understood that if I was married, well, I had to adapt myself to the things that he liked, or to what he said, right?  In other cases, it is financial limitations that impose barriers on transnational social activity. As Cristina delicately put it, " sometimes the [airline] ticket is a little expensive." Access to a computer is a high barrier for some. For Nancy, who gave up a professional career in Mexico and now works in the service industry in Canada, affording a computer is difficult on her low salary: And I talk with my friends. They all have internet; they all have e-mail. I don't have them! And they say to me, 'How is it possible that you don't have them if you're in Canada?'....They don't understand how difficult it is to travel, how much you have to clean to be able to travel. You 're not behind a desk like they are, no?  The demands of employment also limit the amount of movement possible between Canada and Mexico. It can be difficult to get enough vacation time to make a visit to Mexico worthwhile, particularly for those migrants who are not self-employed. Again, Nancy explained this predicament vividly: So now, for example, I got this job, that has a union, a union, and they give you vacations only when they give them to you. You can't say, 'Well, Vm taking off or you lose your seniority. And Vm trapped here without a way out. Maybe when Vma senior citizen!  Finally, immigration status can limit the feasibility of movment between Canada and Mexico. The challenges this poses to transnational financial arrangements have already been described, but it also affects the ability of people themselves to move.  103  Oswaldo entered Canada on a work visa, and thus for over four years has been prevented from leaving the country for fear of losing his permission to live here. If I leave....I can lose every thing.... After two years you earn the right to apply for the landed [immigrant status]. But if you leave the country, you can lose everything....I'd have to return like a tourist from the beginning....[I feel] hysterical. I want to leave. I want to leave.  For refugee applicants, possibilities for transnational movement are similarly affected, though for different reasons. In Oscar's case, "when we arrived we couldn't return to Mexico, because of the danger we were in. For seven years, for eight years we couldn 't go to Mexico."  Refugee applicants also find it challenging to receive visits from family  in Mexico, due to Citizenship and Immigration Canada's concern that such visitors will also want to remain in Canada. Manuel told me that we 're planning the visit of my parents for the end of May. "We hope that they don't have any problem and that they permit their access without any problem....So we can't really talk about that, until the moment that immigration calls us to tell us in what plan they can come, and to make us responsible that they are going to leave the country on the date that they indicate to us.  Thus, in various ways Mexican migrants demonstrate significant limits to transnational movement. Economically, socially, and politically, they remain locally embedded. However, they are in some ways paradoxically doubly embedded in two locales at once; even where movement is limited by familial, financial, or legal obligations, ties between their Mexican and Canadian lives remain strong. Forever stretched between two societies, these migrants develop transnational identities.  3.2.2 Transnsational Identities  What are the effects of living transnationally on the psyche of Mexican migrants? How does their movement between two languages, two systems, two cultures, and their  104  embeddedness in both, affect their sense of belonging and identity in each country? How do they negotiate a hyphenated existence, living and working on a teeter-totter (Carmen Rodriguez, 1997, p. 14)? And what are the implications of transnational identity for citizenship? As American Chicano writer Richard Rodriguez (1994, p. 127, emphasis in original) argues, "The more interesting dilemma for the post-modern citizen of the city is that she feels herself multicultural within herself:  How shall I reconcile the world within  my own soul!"  The long, complicated, and tragic relationship between Mexico and the United States has created the figure of the pocho: a person of Mexican origin or ancestry whose long years living in "el extranjero" have compromised his or her Mexican identity. A pocho has forgotten how to speak Spanish properly, does not remember proper customs or appropriate manners, does not show proper respect for Mexican traditions. The pocho is the ugly American with Mexican physical features. "The pochos that I know," said Cristina, "are really arrogant...I have a friend...his parents were Mexicans...he was born in the United States....he goes and comes to Mexico. But he doesn't want to speak Spanish. He forgot his customs, his roots." "Everything Mexico loathes about herself she hates in us. We lost our culture to a larger power," says Richard Rodriguez (1994, p. 125). The pocho is despised, as Mexican in the United States and as not-Mexican in Mexico. The same is true for some Mexican migrants to Canada; even for those who do not suffer direct discrimination, the internal struggle to feel a sense of belonging is a hard, and for many an interminable, one. The pocho is the dark doppleganger who haunts the footloose and fancy-free transnational subject: rather than citizen of the world, one who belongs nowhere.  105  L a b e l e d as p o c h o s , M e x i c a n m i g r a n t s are often treated as outsiders (or w o r s e , as 13 targets for thieves) w h e n they return to M e x i c o .  A mixture o f e n v y ( w h e n migrants  return w i t h the fruits o f their e a r n i n g s ) a n d d i s d a i n (for new, u p p i t y northern m a n n e r i s m s ) f r o m friends a n d relatives greets t h e m . A l f o n s o , w h o has l i v e d m a n y years i n C a n a d a , says that o n visits to M e x i c o , p e o p l e there " l o o k at m e strangely. L i k e , ' W h o are y o u ? ' P e o p l e has [sic] even tell [sic] m e , ' Y o u ' r e not M e x i c a n . ' " N a n c y said that, despite the fact that she's not actually a C a n a d i a n c i t i z e n , " N o w I ' m 'the C a n a d i a n ' there. ' T h e C a n a d i a n has a r r i v e d . ' I ' m not M e x i c a n anymore....In M e x i c o they m a k e fun o f me. T h e y c a l l m e 'the C a n a d i a n . ' N a n c y also t o l d m e that M e x i c a n friends and f a m i l y have u n r e a l i s t i c expectations o f her, base o n their stereotyped a s s u m p t i o n s about life i n C a n a d a . They think that you pick the dollars from the trees, no? You bring dollars.  'No, you pick up the tab.  You make dollars there. '....Another situation:  for example, I  arrive in Mexico, in my country. No one picks me up at the airport, nobody takes me out, because I'm arriving in my country. country.'  'She knows; she's coming to her  But they don't realize that you, that the country changes. And if I  arrive in three years, I feel lost. 'Where am I now? Ay, where this street was, now they've taken it out.'  They don't see it that way. But if they come to Canada,  I have to show them around, I have to go to the airport for them, I have to look for them, take them, bring them, show them everything there is here. Stanley Park, and everything, because they're coming to visit Canada....So T can't go pick you up, I'm working.'  sometimes you say,  'Ay, she's become so uppity, she's so  Canadian now that she can't even, she didn't treat me like family.'  This maltreatment of returning Mexican migrants has become a concern for the Mexican government, which is anxious to capture and retain their loyalty and financial contributions for the purposes of its biopolitical nation-building project. Accordingly, the Mexican state has instituted the Paisano Program, deliberately naming migrants as "paisanos" (countrymen), not "pochos." Its colourful "Paisano Guide" (Government of Mexico, 2 0 0 0 ) uses cute, friendly cartoons to illustrate a wide range of information designed to assist returning migrants. It includes medical, human rights, customs, travel, legal, consumer, social, education, employment, and transportation information, with a heavy emphasis on directing migrants to government recourses in case of mistreatment. "Welcome, countryman!" is the opening line. "We know that you are returning after working very hard in another country, and we want your stay in Mexico to be the most pleasant possible." It continues: "Remember that all public servants have the obligation to assist you respectfully, freely, and without abusing their positions....Welcome, countryman, returning to share dreams, stories, and roots with us." 13  106  In this case, there is the assumption that her socioeconomic status must have improved during her time in Canada earning dollars, when in fact she has been forced to abandon a professional career and do basic service work. Whether the remarks from her friends and family are based on their ignorance of her situation, or are deliberate jabs, they emphasize how her identity has changed to become different from theirs. Nancy has begun to feel that she is getting the worst, not the best, of the two worlds she lives between. Unable to practice her profession, she no longer receives the respect that used to be accorded to her because of it. "I'm not 'Doctora' anymore...Here I'm 'the Mexican woman with glasses'; there I'm 'the Canadian'."  The situation is different for those who pursue professional education in Canada. For Soraya, who has done graduate studies in Vancouver, the treatment she receives is more ambivalent: Obviously, when you're outside [Mexico], there's the perception that you're bringing the latest, and that you know. It's better in the sense that they can perceive that you can contribute more. But it's, sometimes they reject you in the sense that now you've changed and you're not the same person. So the people can perceive that. In reality, I don't know if it's a sense that they feel lesser rather than that I feel greater. Yes, there's always that impression, if you come from the United States or Canada, you can, you must be, you were there, you must be really good.  Soraya's social status in Mexico increases because she has studied abroad, although this also can create resentment. She is one of the comparatively fortunate; those migrants who pursue education abroad do receive greater recognition when they return to Mexico. Josefina told me that one of the reasons she was pursuing Canadian citizenship was so that her children could obtain Canadian credentials: They can leave [Mexico] and study, come to study in Canada. Prepare themselves more. In our country it's really important to leave, beyond just doing  107  university. All the young people there, everyone has to study university...but if you study something abroad, you count. It sounds like a lie, but you count.  It is not only in the status afforded to them by others that migrants experience identity change. After prolonged exposure to Canadian life, their perceptions of, and relation to, Mexico also change. For some, this change is felt as a great loss, an alienation, an inability to really return "home." Alfonso put it eloquently: "the first immigrants, they're in limbo because they don't belong in Canada, they don't belong in Mexico. Where do they belong? What is it that gives a sense of place?" Vicente explained, What happens is that we live for all these years, something involuntary that happens after living so many years outside the country. It's very difficult too to adapt yourself to Mexico. I mean, I've talked with many acquaintances that have been abroad. I mean, you become, like, bicultural. So you're unhappy in Mexico, and unhappy outside Mexico. Because here we lack maybe the greater warmth...of Mexico, the food, etc. But there, we lack organization, more agreeable traffic, in short a series of things that one misses from the first world, too. "I'm going to be sincere," said Josefina. "There are many things about Mexico that now bother me. I know that I'm going to go back, and that I'm going to complain about everything." Nancy told me: I've been to Mexico, that's another thing. Then I get culture shock. The culture shock has been that everything looks old to you. The [attitude that] 'That's just the way it goes." The [attitude that] 'Oh well, it doesn't matter.' 'Ay, I'll just double park' or whatever. The order that makes you be so square in Canada: you changed. You're the one who's changed. She also related to me the story of her aunt, saying, "The same thing is going to happen to me, for sure." I have an aunt who married an...American....She's been living in the United States for forty years.... All her life she dreamed (and I have her as an example. When I get depressed I think of her example), because she dreamed of Mexico, of Mexico,  108  in returning to Mexico, buying a house and living in Mexico. Her children grew up, they met [American] boyfriends and girlfriends, and married. And she in the end, when all were living, if not married, but living away from her...she went to Mexico, bought a house, just fine. But when she arrived, after twenty years, it turned out she was as much an immigrant as any American who had arrived yesterday. Her friends had moved, they didn't see her like before.... When she realized she said, 'What am I doing here? This country isn't mine. My country is the United States. My children are there; they grew up there. I miss them.' So she went back to the United States, and she lives there. She goes to Mexico on vacation to take the sun when her bones hurt, and that's it. But in her mind, she's American, she 'sfrom the United States. So when it comes on me that I want to go to Mexico, I start to remember this aunt. That's what's going to happen to me! My children are going to grow up here; they're going to marry here. I'm not going to want to live alone in Mexico. It's like something trapped with no way out.  Nancy's feeling, then, is that this identity change is inevitable. More profoundly, it is a change that entails a deep sense of loss: the loss of her country, her friends, her dreams. Soraya spoke to me of similar difficulties in adjusting to the Mexican way of life, and of her concerns about the readjustment of her daughter should they move permanently back to Mexico: Now, the condition for not returning is my daughter. Maybe because of that, what I was saying about the situation [in Mexico] of changes, very hierarchical structures, vertical structures in which there's no...It's top-down, eh? And I, as an individual, I'm less tolerant. Before I was, I was always very flexible. I even went so far as to do things to adapt a little to that environment. Now I feel that I'm less tolerant of that. If someone says something to me, I mean I'm, as an individual, I accept myself this way, and I hope that people will accept me. So I don't know if it will be a shock for me, strong....And then, especially with my daughter, she goes in the street and there's a guy littering, no? Because here they learn well, that you cross at the cross-walk, you push the little button to cross. Everything is really structured so that it functions. Not there....So the first time that she went [back] to Mexico, a girl mistreated her. She hit her, she twisted her arm to see how much she could stand before crying. She didn 't do anything. So I was like, I mean, there are places where you live the law of the jungle, in which you have to survive. She's not disposed that way now. So it's, sometimes I feel that she has to learn. But aside from that, I really like the charisma of Latino people, so I also miss that. And I'm in between.  109  This sense of being in between, neither here nor there (rather than belonging in both countries), is a common one. Of her children, Eva said, they have the disadvantage that they're not from here, nor are they from there....If we're talking about Canadian compared to the United States, then they're Canadian.  But if we're talking between Canada and Mexico, no. They don't  locate themselves in either of the two sides.  Pilar put it this way: I have two homes, I think. I'm thirty, and I think I'm kind of in between. So when I go back there, like my mom lives in Puerto Vallarta. When I go visit her, she, it is home. But it isn't. I guess here you could call it home. There is more, "recreational home." Yeah, I guess it's kind of in the middle for me. Ana also felt that: for me this period has been rather like a parenthesis, now really prolonged. The transition has been pretty complicated, in the sense that I broke, I mean, I cut routines. I still feel, I mean, I feel that I'm not there anymore, but I still haven't really finished getting here. I feel a little in the air.  For these migrants, then, the dominant effect on their senses of themselves and their lives is one of displacement, disorientation, and loss. How do Mexican migrants cope with such stresses? How do they attempt to accommodate their changing identities and make a place for themselves in the midst of their bifurcated lives? From the interviews, I identify three ways Mexican migrants, in their personal lives, accomplish this: by embracing a Canadian identity, by seeking to maintain Mexican values, and by trying to increase the degree of transnationalism in their lives (the first and third ways are not contradictory, and in fact the first is often part of the third, as I will explain).  14  14  The next chapter will address ways that Mexican migrants attempt to accomplish these collectively.  110  Interviewees expressed a desire to integrate into Canadian society, though not (except in one case) to be assimilated. As Leticia put it, if migrants adapt to Canada, and don't try to live in the past, "but take hold of the advantages of both cultures, you are enriched.'" This is accomplished in various ways (including the activism spoken of earlier), but commonly it is formal citizenship that is sought. When I asked him why he had chosen to seek Canadian citizenship, Oscar stated that is a way to be part of Canada: In first place because we had the desire to be part of this country. We have come to care for it; now we love Canada. Forests, mountains, lakes, what Canada is, the people.... That, on the one hand, is the most important reason. The other is that we are very proud to be Canadians, without ceasing to be Mexicans. We continue loving Mexico as our homeland. And now Canada, which we are now as fond of as Mexico. I mean, it's a duality of belonging to two countries, and both beautiful countries. I mean, we are privileged to be able to have two citizenships in two very beautiful countries. Marilyn expressed similar sentiments. "My country, as much as this country which is also my country now, both have their beautiful aspects....I value both of them, the values of both countries.'" This was something that Marilyn felt quite strongly about, and she went on at length: If someone is in a place, he should love it. Because it's the one that feeds you; it's the one that, you breathe the air there. So I say, 'Well then, really I'm a Canadian now, Mexican too, but I'm living here, so I should love Canada, because I'm here....Really, I know that it's the same to be a resident as to be a citizen. I mean, well, the same, just that you can vote and what was the other thing, that you can leave the country and you don't lose your residency. I did it, because really I said, 'If I'm going to live here, and now Mexico accepted the dual [citizenship], I don't have to renounce the Mexican [one], because, well, I'm Mexican. So I resolved [to get] the Canadian [one] because I'm going to live here. And because I said, T have the same right to vote, the right that, well, the opportunity that is dual nationality.' So it's good for me.  For Mirna, who became a Canadian citizen sixteen years ago, it is the contribution that she makes to this country that makes her feel like she belongs.  Ill  I live here, I'm from here, and I work on behalf of this place, no? I don't feel that I'm here in passing, nor that I'm making money to send to Mexico, because I've never needed to do that, thank God. Nor that I'm here while the situation in my country sorts itself out. I know a lot of people that are here just in passing. I wanted to make my life here; I did it.  As an aside, it is interesting to note that some of those who have become Canadian citizens seem to have done so primarily as a matter of convenience rather than emotional attachment, while others who have chosen not to become formal citizens expressed deep emotional attachment to Canada. For some in the first group, citizenship is a means to ensure their children's access to Canada's educational and health systems. Josefina, for example, has stayed in Canada despite her children's objections "because I want a citizenship....That's my obstinacy....If I get a citizenship in Canada, let's say, and I like it here or not, that's my problem. If I'm a citizen, not so much for me; I think of them. They can leave [Mexico] and study, come to study in Canada."  Similarly, Eva  said that she and her husband chose to become Canadian citizens only so that their children would not lose that opportunity. "Basically we have the same obligations and the same rights [as landed immigrants] ....We' re pragmatic.. And the paper that says that you are from one side or the other is a bureaucratic thing."  In contrast, Lilian, who has also  lived here for well over a decade, has never applied for Canadian citizenship. Canada as my second homeland"  "7  love  she told me.  [But] I'll never be one hundred percent Canadian, because my roots are in Mexico. I'm very proud to be Mexican with three Canadian children. And I love Canada as if it were my second home. I tingle when I hear its national anthem, and when I'm far away I miss it.  These two statements lend credence to the idea that it is not enough to measure citizenship by its formal definition alone. Rather, citizenship must also be measured as one's sense of belonging in a place, including one's sense of entitlement and  112  responsibility within and for that place. Thus, one of the strongest statements of active citizenship that I heard from interviewees came from the art activist Diego: I didn't like the way I found, when I came here, how many things were. But for me Canada is my house and it's gonna be forever. What I'm trying to do is change [it]. Canada is my home. When I came here, it's a home that at the beginning I found it really difficult to live in, but I thought, instead of complaining I can move some furniture here, there. And I found it's possible. As well as trying to integrate into Canadian society formally and informally, Mexican migrants do their best not to become pochos, not to forget or abandon the values that in their minds define what it is to be Mexican. Thus, the children of Miguel and Leticia do their homework beneath a large Mexican flag that their grandmother (the one who gave me cake) brought to that they would not forget "their country". It is important to Miguel and Leticia that their children learn to value family, marriage, responsibility, and respect for elders: "That [such values] is the wealth that there is in Mexico." Ana explained it to me this way: / don 'tfeel that my identity is menaced because of having left Mexico. I mean, I still love my country, of course, despite having left. I love Mexico, and um, well, I feel it, no? I think that I have a way of being that is very Mexican. I grew up there as a Mexican, and I am, I believe, wherever I go. I'm going to be what I am, no?....There are customs that are reflected in the food, in the way he dresses, in the way he relates to friends, the way he has fun, that express the way of being of the Mexican A Mexican breaks the link with difficulty, eh?.... Although he has to leave, although he's abroad, he never breaks from what Mexico means for him....The bridge is never broken. 15  Julia told me that she had worked hard to maintain the values she was raised with, despite breaking up with her Canadian husband (indeed, as described earlier, it was her family loyalties that had created problems with her husband). She told me the important thing is  5  The masculine pronouns in this translation reproduce those of the Spanish original.  113  maintain what you, what you believe, no? For example, in this case for me, well, my family, my values as, well, as a daughter. My husband, although we've been separated for a year, for example, I conserve my values from Mexico. I don't have boyfriends nor have I gone out with another man, because for me it's important to guard myself as a woman, because that's how I was inculcated in Mexico. So for me that's really important, no? To conserve that. Go to mass, behave myself well, be a good girl, no ? I don't smoke; I don't dance. Um, I manage to exercise. All those values that, well, I want to practice and conserve, even though I live here, no?....So, I take the best that Canada offers, and I disgard the bad, and I keep the best of Mexico and discard the bad.  For Mirna, it hasn't been so difficult to maintain her Mexican identity (perhaps in part because she is not married to a Canadian): " 7 believe I carry it inside." Similarly, Eva told me emphatically, "You can't stop being what you are." Where interviewees seemed more concerned was for their children and their children's values. Josefina prophesied: My children are going to stay, for example, and they 're going to marry, probably with immigrants or with Canadians, whatever you want. But they 're going to catch the values of a lot of young people. Probably it's not going to affect my children, but their children in the long run, yes.  Similarly, Nancy told me about her son: My son, maybe he's more Canadian than Mexican. He arrived when he was five years old, and he says, Tm Mexican,' but in the way he acts, in the way he dresses, in his way of walking he still is, he's becoming more Canadian. Yes? And in the long run English will be his first language more than Spanish, perhaps.  Thus, for migrant parents it is a concern that their children maintain their Mexican identity, i.e., their traditional family values. For Manuel, pater familias of a refugee family, strong discipline is the way to maintain his sons' commitment to such values. As a Latino family, our children have very solid principles, right, because we've known how to teach them. And they up to this point, although they've seen how easy it is in Canada to get into drugs, into alcohol, into whatever, my sons have followed me in being loyal to the principles that we have given them.  Cristina also spoke of these traditions:  114  In Mexico we have many traditions. There are many, many traditions that you can live, that you can have. And I also want [my children] to adopt both [Canadian and Mexican traditions], to assimilate them, that they don't just end up with one. So it's not a shock for them like it was for me.  Here Cristina alludes to the third and final way that Mexican migrants try to overcome the sense of not belonging, which is to pursue transnationalism even more. It is the continual contact and passage between Mexico and Canada that allows one to feel simultaneously "at home" in both countries, to stay abreast of both cultures, to remain connected to the people and ways of life that inform personal identities, to maintain a stake in the political, economic, and social processes in both places. Christina's statement points to both the potential of transnationalism and its current limits. Other migrants expressed a similar desire, particularly to go beyond visiting Mexico to actually live a significant part of each year there (the Canadian winter months, not surprisingly). As Josefina put it, "the dream of the Mexican is to be able to be some months in Mexico and other months in Canada. It's the dream of everyone. That would  be divine." Thus, Soraya seeks to resolve the dilemma of missing "the charisma of Latino people" by "exploring the possibility of maintaining contacts here, and being able to return, or to create a situation in which I can maintain my contact with both  environments." Marilyn would prefer to give up her restaurant and to take "any kind of job here that I can combine with Mexico too. I would like in winter to spend a few months [there] in winter, if my job permits." Eva too, said that "probably infiveyears or  something like that we '11 likely spend the winters in Mexico and the summers here." P  said her idea was to "maybe open a business of my own there. Something that would allow me to travel back and forth too." And for some, it is official Canadian citizenship  115  that would enable this possibility, by paradoxically allowing them to leave Canada for indefinite lengths of time and still return, unlike landed immigrant status which limits the amount of time one can spend abroad.  3.3  Conclusion Mexican migrants to Vancouver maintain a wide range of transnational ties  between Canada and Mexico. Enabled by modern technologies of transportation and communication, migrants are able to construct social, economic, political, and cultural links between Canada and Mexico. As a result, migrants never leave Mexico entirely behind, but simultaneously remain embedded, to a greater or lesser degree, in both countries simultaneously. What is clear from the interviews, however, is that for most, the promise of transnationalism is only partially fulfilled. There are several factors that significantly limit the ability of most migrants to live completely transnational lives; most remain predominantly embedded in quotidian Canadian responsibilities. In part because of these limitations, rather than feeling doubly connected, many interviewees express a sense of being doubly isolated, of belonging in neither country rather than both. On the other hand, migrants deliberately employ several different means to overcome this sense of alienation. Claiming a Canadian identity, maintaining Mexican values, and seeking to implement an even more transnational life, migrants stake out hybrid identities that mix elements of both cultures. Despite barriers, and regardless of official citizenship status, migrants seek to claim social entitlements on their own terms in both societies and to carve out a unique space for themselves. Some are more successful in this than others, and there are constant tensions between rootlessness and embeddedness, between  116  Mexican and Canadian, between instant connectivity and vast distance, between tradition and transformation. It is within these tensions that the identities of transnational citizens are forged.  117  C H A P T E R  F O U R  C O M M U N I T Y DIVISIONS. C O M M U N I T Y VISIONS  "Each one makes his or her own community. But, as such, we don't have one big one. " —Cristina  The third, equally significant dimension of citizen identity for Mexican immigrants in Vancouver, in addition to biopolitics and transnationalism, is community. While biopolitics describes ways the individual and the state may relate to each other, and transnationalism extends this relationship to more than one state simultaneously, membership in a community entails the relations of citizens to one another. In Vancouver, Mexican immigrants' identities as citizens are formed and performed, not as isolated individuals, but as part of a community. It is group membership that provides the most ready answer to the questions, "Who am I? Where do I belong?" It is as members of groups that Mexican immigrants find mutual support, maintain cherished cultural traditions, and make new claims on the resources and policies of governments. However, as the following chapter demonstrates, Mexican immigrants do not automatically belong to a distinct, unified, Mexican community in Vancouver. While community is central to citizenship, not all Mexican immigrants are members of one community, as Cristina's statement reveals. The paradox of group membership is that any attempt to put people into a categorical box on the basis of a given characteristic, to name a distinct community, necessarily elides other axes of identity that may dispute and disrupt the homogenization attempt. Indeed, an attempt to bring disparate people together under one banner, may highlight and intensify intragroup tensions and undercut any collective action. Thus, to speak of "the Mexican community" in Vancouver is to make the assumption that the  118  existence of an ascribed category of persons entails the existence of some functional collective entity to which those people belong. A community is much more than a category, and membership in the second does not entail membership in the first. While there is indisputably a population of Mexican origin in Vancouver, according to interviewees it does not really function as a community. Group membership is vital to Mexican immigrants' citizenship, but it is not membership as "Mexican-Canadians," but rather membership in other communities, that is of primary importance to most interviewees. Interviewees challenged the very existence of a single Mexican community in Vancouver, as well as the meaning of the word "community," in the face of significant differences of color, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, Mexican immigrants form community with people of other ethnicities, too. This chapter examines the problematic meanings of community for Mexican immigrants to Vancouver, the lines along which the category of "Mexican-Canadian" fractures, and the ways that Mexican immigrants are attempting to strengthen a sense of community despite these internal differences.  4.1  CITIZENSHIP AS M E M B E R S H I P IN A  COMMUNITY  The literature on citizenship is heavy with references to community membership. Habermas (1994, p. 25) traces two distinct historical views of citizenship: a communitarian, ethical view first proposed by Aristotle, and an individualist, instrumentalist view propounded by Locke. Both of these perspectives inflect modern definitions of citizenship, but it is the older of the two that is more foundational: citizenship as the responsibilities inherent in belonging to a political community (e.g., the  119  practices required of the "good" citizen), as well as the benefits and privileges accruing solely on the basis of membership in that community. Thus, for Turner (1994, p. 159), "citizenship is a set of practices which constitute individuals as competent members of a community." Similarly, Walzer (1995, p. 155) says that citizenship involves collective identity in community, and involvement in decision-making in the public sphere. A community is a group of people with a shared characteristic (or characteristics), shared interest or interests, shared goal or goals, and a way of expressing these collectively. Communities are not necessarily spatially-defined; they might include an association of gun owners, a nurses' union, a snowboarders' club, or a political party, as well as a neighborhood association or city soccer league. Many levels and types of communities can co-exist simultaneously, overlapping and intersecting each other in complex, complementary or contradictory ways. Significantly, Walzer (1995, p. 153) addresses the relevance of scale to the discussion of citizenship and community. Speaking of the importance of civil society—"the space of uncoerced human association and the set of relational networks formed for the sake of family, faith, interest, and ideology that fill this space"—he argues the special status of the state as an association that both frames civil society and occupies space within it. While Walzer (1995, p. 169) says that the state sometimes may need to "discipline" these other associations, Van Gunsteren (1994, p. 45) argues that the task of the republic is to "guard the structure that makes it possible for other communities to develop their activities." The state may both enable and constrain the activities of such communities; indeed, this is a central function of Canadian multicultural policy. Citizens often make claims on the state that hinge on their simultaneous status as members of the  120  largest community, the body politic, and as members of smaller communities. Of course, of critical importance to the state is ensuring that all citizens' strongest loyalty is to membership in the national community rather than other communities. A rhetoric of community is central to nation-building projects (and is subject to the same tensions outlined above in the introduction to this chapter). The position of immigrant communities within this matrix is a distinct one. United by their very difference from the rest of the body politic, their place as citizens may be unsure and challenged in a number of different ways. Although in Canada "landed immigrants" can become "citizens," they do not then cease to be immigrants. They are forever immigrants, regardless of length of residence, and immigrants are always vulnerable to assertions by the native-born that they are "not from here" and therefore do not really belong. As discussed in Chapter Two, despite official multiculturalism Canada remains a country with a dominant European culture and system. Due to linguistic barriers and differences in cultural practices, many immigrants' face special challenges in articulation when asserting claims as communities of citizens, both in the sense of joining, and in the sense of speaking. First, it may be difficult for them to interact effectively with the institutions of the dominant culture in ways considered culturally appropriate by the dominant society. Differences in behavioral expectations may impede access to government programs or job opportunities, for example, if an immigrant's ideas of polite conduct are different from the government agent's. Secondly, once access is achieved, it may be difficult for immigrant groups to communicate with decision-makers or other citizens in ways that both groups understand.  Some immigrants (those from the United States or Britain, for example) are not likely to face such barriers, especially if they are white. 1  121  An immigrant group may find it difficult to make a case for federal grant money, for example, because of lack of knowledge of the necessary procedures and/or not knowing how to use the jargon that is the password to government coffers. Similarly, an immigrant group may be unfairly stereotyped in particular ways and find it difficult to access mainstream media to present a counter-argument. Faced with these disadvantages, immigrants who share a particular cultural background often seek mutual support from others like themselves. Within these networks, many of the language and cultural barriers to communication with the dominant culture are not present, allowing for greater understanding and empathy. Shared experiences of discrimination and frustration create a basis for unity. Gathering together in formal or informal networks allows information sharing, reproduction of important cultural traditions, and emotional support. In this way, members of the immigrant community accumulate what Espinosa and Massey (1999, pp. 107-8) term "social capital": intangible resources from a group network that facilitate action, both for the individual and for the entire community. Such collective association, or community, also provides the means to influence various levels of government and the political system itself. In Latino Cultural Citizenship (1997), edited by William V. Flores and Rina Benmayor, several authors present a theoretical model of how these processes work among Latinos in the United States. According to Silvestrini (1997, p. 43), Latinos' 2  shared culture is a "spirit resource," providing energy, safety, entitlement, belonging, and  1 use this information conscious of the differences between the United States, where Latino/Hispanic culture is indigenous (though much influenced by continued immigration), and Canada, where such a culture is entirely an immigrant importation. 2  122  community to those who share it. Even in places where they live spatially dispersed rather than in Latino barrios, "imagined communities" are constructed through social gatherings in key "sacred" spaces (Flores & Benmayor, 1997, p. 16; Rosaldo & Flores, 1997, p. 75). Sharing a Latino identity that is partly racial, partly cultural, and partly linguistic, they together attempt to mitigate the effects of the abrupt transition from majority to minority status that occurs through immigration (Flores & Benmayor, 1997, p. 1; Rosaldo & Flores, 1997, p. 94). Strengthening the community is central to this attempt; together, Latinos engage the surrounding majority society, claiming physical and discursive space and collective rights (Flores & Benmayor, 1997, p. 15; Benmayor, Torruellas, & Juarbe, 1997, p. 196). This process includes both those with legal citizenship and those without such official status; what Latinos collectively claim in the U.S., according to Flores and Benmayor, is cultural citizenship: community, space, and rights, regardless of official status (Flores, 1997, pp. 262-3). According to these authors, such cultural citizenship is necessarily oppositional to hegemonic majority culture in the U.S.; it demands that the majority culture adjust to it rather than adjusting to the majority culture (Silvestrini, 1997, p. 44). While providing some insight into broad patterns in the United States, these authors seem to accept the existence of a single, more or less monolithic, homogenous Latino culture and community in the United States. Other authors are critical of attempts to posit such an essentialized identity. For Nestor Garcia Canclini (1995, p. 175), identity is a coproduction, negotiated within unequal circuits of cultural systems; i.e., Latino identity is not purely Latino, but a hybrid of influences from the majority and minority cultures. Richard Handler (1994, pp. 29-30), criticizes the tendency to ascribe  123  homogeneity, boundedness, immutability, to cultural identity, arguing instead that identity is always a "communicative process" with inherent "reflexivity." S0rensen 3  (1998, p. 246) echoes this, describing the "identity dialectics" that occur both within and between group boundaries; identities are not homogenous even within groups. While arguing that the "tactical essentialism" of minorities is often a political necessity in the face of majority culture domination, Lavie and Swedenburg (1996, pp. 10,12) agree that all cultures are in fact hybrid cultures. Specifically, Guarnizo and Smith (1998, p. 14), caution that generic labels such as "Latino" hide the importance of class, gender, and regional origin to such outcomes as destination, attainment, etc. Mahler (1998, pp. 81-87) also advises the need to disaggregate the activities of majority and smaller groups, and to investigate class, gender, age/generation, mobility, and regionality as particularly salient. Daiva Stasiulis (1999, pp. 352) notes that "the prominence of particular forms of difference in individuals' subjective identities and community construction shifts as people migrate across borders into new national and local contexts." She points to the need to see racism, sexism, classism, as interconnecting "systems" of privilege and oppression, relational and simultaneous, that operate not only from the outside against immigrant communities, but fracture immigrants' sense of community from within. In short, as Smith (1998, p. 204) puts it, contestation over the meaning of membership is a central process informing a community, a process that creates "bewildering tensions." Thus even before turning to the evidence of the primary data, we  Handler (p. 38) advocates that scholars criticize such identity claims, but cautions that mainstream scholars should focus such critiques on the oppressive hegemony of mainstream, rather than minority, claims. M y hope is that I have done so in my chapter on biopolitics, and that my critique here of the notion of monolithic minority culture is consistent with Handler's admonition to "argue civilly" with minorities. 3  124  might expect to find that the notions of community and identity are intertwined, complicated, and problematical for Mexican immigrants living in Vancouver. How do these migrants place themselves in relation to their supposed ethnic community? How do Mexicans relate to other Latinos? What are the specific lines of fracture and nodes of coalescence within this community? How are their identities shaped by the dialectic of majority and minority culture in Vancouver? The rest of this chapter attempts to posit answers to these questions, and to make these tensions less bewildering. First I examine the various lines of fracture that divide the potential community, and second I detail 4  efforts to draw the Mexican immigrant population together.  4.2  C O M M U N I T Y DIVISIONS  Over and over again, when I asked them to tell me about the Mexican community in Vancouver, interviewees told me that it is divided, spatially, socially, and economically. Indeed, their responses called into question the very existence of a Mexican community as a functional entity. "It's not a united community. There's no meeting center. There are different groups"  said Eva. "And a lot depends on the age of  the people, at what time they came, and their economic situation. So there are many Mexicans on the north shore who are of a high level, that are never going to get together with those from Commercial Avenue." "It's really dispersed, because there's nothing like the Mexican Community Center, as such, and it's not very easy to meet up with Mexicans"  Teresa told me. According to Oscar,  The various divisions described below, such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, are of course not unique to Mexican immigrants, and it is not the intent of this chapter to suggest that such divisions run  4  125  The only occasion that we Mexicans who live in Vancouver do get together is the fifteenth of September, there in Robso'n Square. They make a big party, a big celebration on Independence Day. There thousands of Mexicans meet together and we sing and we shout, and [then] we disappear again. So, um, I don't think that there is a community, a community spirit among the Mexicans of Vancouver, you understand me. We 're all isolated: Richmond, North Vancouver, Surrey. Where there are a lot of Mexicans is in North Vancouver. Yes they meet, yes they get together, but not as a community of all Mexicans, just those who live in North Vancouver.  Cristina agreed, saying that this spatial dispersion made it difficult for women to attend her group's meetings.  "The distances get in the way sometimes. Because many of them  live in New Westminster, others in Surrey, others in West Vancouver, others in North Vancouver, in downtown. Sometimes it's difficult to get together.''''  Part of the reason for this dispersed pattern is due to the pattern of Mexican migration to Vancouver. Unlike en masse movements (such as Mormon migration to Utah or Doukhobor to Canada in the 1800s), Mexican migration to Vancouver is the result of separate, individual, household decisions. And while the literature on transnational Mexican migrant communities (e.g., Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994, Grimes 1998, and Schiller, Basch, Szanton-Blanc 1999) often focuses on rural villages whose members all tend to go to the same place in the United States, forming bipolar communities, Mexican migrants to Vancouver tend to come from Mexico's large cities. According to Roberts (1995, p. 191), "urbanization in Latin America creates social fragmentation into individual household strategies." Thus, on the supply side at least, it is not surprising that Mexican migrants acting quite independently of each other would end up living all over the Vancouver area, and that this would make community organization more difficult, particularly as each household struggles to survive in an alien society.  deeper in this community than in any other. Rather, it is to outline the specific workings of each division within this particular group.  126  However, several respondents made it clear that that Mexican immigrants' disunity is more than the spatial one of a relatively small group of people widely dispersed around the region, describing it instead as an outcome of Mexican culture itself. "Mexicans are more proud, individualistic; "Unfortunately, rather selfish"  we don 'tform teams"  explained Miguel.  among Mexicans, the relation among Mexicans is, is a bit difficult.  It's  said Manuel. "We form nuclei; we don't mix" Juan told me. According  to Oswaldo, We are all really disunited. There's no union. A lot ofjealousy. A lot ofjealousy among everyone. ...They are scared of the other Mexicans, that they could pressure them, or speak badly of them, you understand? There's no unity. I can say that it's a very disunited society."  4.2.1  Class  However, I believe this disunity results mostly from class differences in Mexican society rather than being a distinct characteristic of Mexican culture. Strong class divisions here in Vancouver are a legacy of Mexico, where, as Cristina said, "People's social situation is somewhat more marked."  Carmen echoed this, informing me that  classes are more clearly defined in Latin America than in Canada. As Juan, Oscar, and 5  Eva alluded to above, social nuclei in Vancouver form primarily among Mexicans of similar social standing. Oswaldo told me that Mexicans in Vancouver are elitist: "They have a lot of attitude with one another. They're small, closed groups. Saying, I'm beautiful; you're ugly. I'm rich; you're poor. I go to school; you're nothing."  Alfonso  related that when a particular group of local Mexicans discovered he was from a working class neighborhood of Mexico City, he was ostracized: "Once they found out where I  Marked class divisions in Mexico are a hold-over from the colonial era, when the hierarchically-organized Spanish conquered similarly hierarchical indigenous peoples, creating a hybridized culture that remains highly stratified economically, socially, and racially today.  5  127  was coming from, they just wouldn't talk to me." Julia told me that these classist attitudes extend even to the Mexican consulate: It's like the consulate, too, yes? Many people go to ask them for help and everything, but they deny it. Why? Because they still have the system from Mexico. Yes, rub shoulders with good people, with rich people, um, just the people that they see have possibilities. Yes, but, if they see that one is poor people, what really? They reject you. So, it's still a Mexican mentality, no? And it's sad to see that, too, that people still come here, and well, we're not in Mexico, we 're in Vancouver, and here things work in a different way, and they still want to do things like they do there.  Some of those interviewees higher on the social scale thought that this division was more the choice of lower class groups. "I guess the reason why it's separated, and because there are two classes, is because they don't want to hang out with the people that have succeeded. Because they haven't been there yet. They are still struggling, and they think their place is not there yet," said Pilar. Eva suggested that, "those who come as refugees or are low class, it never occurs to them to unite with other people.'" She  thought this was because "they probably don't have time, or anything. They're trying to survive. That's what's on their minds."  However, others suggested that it is upper class immigrants who do not wish to associate with other migrants. Josefina, who is one of the North Vancouver Mexicans, put it like this: What happens is that we see, for example, the Mexican community in Vancouver, the idea that we go, we go to the Hispanic Catholic Mission, sometimes the fathers get the Latinos together, etc. It's a sort of beautiful purpose. But [ when] we go to those groups, oh my god. It's another, it's people[who] to us [are] common. People, that I tell you, how can I tell you? Um, we see them like with disdain, probably. We don't understand them in many ways. And we have a necessity, and we go there, and they're not our necessities. So, probably in terms of helping, we can do a lot. But in terms of integrating into that community to nurture each other, we don't see that they nurture us, in that sense....So we don't try to unite much with them....As a group, we separate ourselves a little.  128  Nancy, who was a dentist in Mexico, said she was initially unsure of how to relate to lower class women in a group she attends: "/ used to arrive, and the women that are there don't have the same education that you have. So what was I going to talk about, how to 6  make tortillas? So I didn't feel good at the beginning."  Similarly, Juan, an engineer,  related that, "in Mexico if somebody like that approaches you, she's rude, she doesn't have education, you can't talk with her, because she's never had access to education like university."  He later added, "In Mexico there's a poor education for the poor,"  suggesting like Rosa Maria that it is differences in education levels that create the class split. Carmen tried to explain it by arguing that socioeconomic levels determine personal behavior, values, and formation, so that people from higher levels have nothing in common with those from lesser circumstances, and therefore don't group together. Instead, they seek out people similar to themselves, as in a meeting Josefina described: So we began to realize that they were also coincidentally from Guadalajara, from our level, from the same level more or less. We made contact with them. We had met before, but we met [again]. We made a really good relationship. We have a really good group....So, that has permitted me to stay here longer, and my children and all. They are their friends, all this type of people, class of people, right?  A related factor is regional origin. There is apparently a significant sense of difference on the basis of where in Mexico immigrants come from, particularly between Mexico City and those from other areas. Manuel complained, The biggest problem we've come up against is with the people who come from the Federal District, right. They are people that, for being from the capital, they consider themselves from another social stratum, right. It hurts me to say it. We on occasion end up seeing them like, like America views the Argentines, a little presumptuous, when they are people that probably are, are a little neurotic for living in a city with too much stress. It doesn 't permit them to see beyond their own eyes, right? We from the country are a little more tranquil. We think a little 7  6  7  In Spanish, "education" refers not only to schooling, but to general upbringing. Mexico City.  129  more based in reality. We don't presume what we don't have. We 're more realistic. But that's the reality of our country.  Ana, from Mexico City, agreed with Julio, saying that the general openness and warmth of Mexican people is changed by life in the capital: Evidently, so many people living there, of course people change, no? Human beings, when you put them in those conditions, anyone becomes individualistic, anyone becomes different....Also this is kind of the complaint that there is in Mexico by country people. When the city people go to the country, they don't like us, because they say that, well, that we're unscrupulous, that we're disorganized, that we 're dirty, that we, that we 're not friendly.  4.2.2  "Race"  Class differences among Mexicans in Vancouver are strongly associated with differences in physical appearance—specifically, skin tone. Juan explained this connection to me at some length: In Mexico we carry in the blood (I don't know if you '11 already have talked about this with someone) the conflict of the Indian and the Spanish. So we are part indigenous and part Spanish. And something exists (I don't know if someone's already told you), that racism exists, yes, although it's in ourselves. But because it's in us, we always tend to incline ourselves to the Spanish, which is the European that we have in Mexico. If it had been the English, we would try to be English. Of course, there's this, there are mixtures in Mexico, and well. So, in principle, if the person has indigenous features, the first thing we try to do is avoid it. This exists. I have some very good friends that have this, let's say, physical appearance, no? But I care about them a lot, why? Because they have other characteristics that overcome it, overcome that racism that we have, no? And it's real, and it's there, and it exists here, too. I mean, we drag it here. Nonetheless, I think the children, I mean the children of those people, that are born here in these countries, lose that identity. Because I've noticed, I had the occasion to be present where a girl, a person, approached me, who normally in Mexico would be very humble or submissive to me, yes? That we, we would call a "sirvienta". A sirvienta doesn't have education, is humble, is going to say "usted"8 to you, simply why, because your skin color is lighter. And it's foolishness, but that's the way it is, and that's the way it works. And so this person approached me as if she were Canadian, in fact she is Canadian. But it seemed very curious to me. It's not a rejection, it's not a rejection like being repulsed by the person, but it exists. It's inside the culture of Mexicans, that "ay, 8  "Usted" is the formal second person singular in Spanish.  130  caramba!" This person doesn 't have that humility or that self-abasement that they give themselves. She's a person who has confidence in herself like any Canadian. And that's the difference that I could tell you. In principle it doesn't interest me to have dealings with Central Americans for example. Why, because I think they have internal conflicts within themselves. I mean, that's the idea that I have. Nonetheless, it's the same garbage that one brings from those countries, because one lives it every day. One lives it like something that really is true. I mean, in Mexico, if someone like that approaches you, she's uncouth, she doesn't have education, you can't talk with her because she's never had access to education like university. Or when the person approaches you and she has that physical aspect, and you realize that she has the richness of a university or of a school, then you accept her and you respect her: Other people don't, other people don't.  Julia also pointed to the influence of appearance on social status, particularly for women in Mexico who do not conform to "white" standards of beauty: "They're indigenous, they're short, fat, and they're not appreciated. Because they [Mexican employers] want, um, the stereotype of the slim, tall, blonde, right, with a good body. So they don't get good jobs; they don't get scholarships."  In this way, class differences among the  Mexican community in Vancouver are themselves colored by color differences, though as Juan suggests, Canada's more equitable education system may lessen these distinctions in Vancouver. For professional, middle class Mexican immigrants to Vancouver, the migration process threatens their social standing. As related in earlier chapters, the abrupt transition from majority culture to minority that they experience by immigrating (Flores and Benmayor, 1997, p. 94) also strips them in most cases of the careers and recognition that they are used to. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that in many cases they would seek to shore up their status in whatever way possible, including maintaining a discriminatory class structure in relation to other Mexican immigrants. In at least a few cases, however, this sudden change in class status transforms professional immigrants'  131  views of class. Nancy told me that an acquaintance of hers had challenged her sense of superiority: And she tells me, "Look, " she says, "at the difference between you and me. " She scored a goal on me. She scored a goal on my arrogance, ok? Because she's totally right. She said to me, "In Mexico, I was a servant. And I had bosses, but I met my [Canadian] husband. And look, " she says, "and I come here to Canada to be a servant, and you [were] the big dentist there, but now you 're a servant here. " And I felt bad. Emotionally I felt bad, but it's the truth. The fact of crossing the border, if someone was a servant there, she does the same as I do.  Having continued to attend the women's group despite her initial misgivings, Nancy said she had learned a lot from the other members in spite of their differences: The people that are there, they don't have, they won't have the education of a [professional] title. But they've taught me things, like human values, that they don't have in other places....Now I clean floors, [but] I value myself as a person. I came to learn that no one is more or less than anyone. Everyone has value, and everybody is needed. Like in your hands, you need all the fingers of your hand. You take one away and it's not the same.  Cristina said much the same of her service job here in Canada: You live with other kinds of people.  Yes, it changes your social level; it changes  you a lot. It changes you a lot. But, well, if you try to maintain, of course everything is equal. It's like, if you realize, you say in Mexico the situation is really distinct, and I like it here because everything is even, everything is equal.  Thus, the immigration process both reinforces "hegemonic constructs" such as race, ethnicity, and class (Basch, Schiller, and Szanton Blanc, 1994, p. 13), and alters them. Mexican immigrants' new class positions in relation to the majority society affect their own sense of identity and introduce them to new social relations. In some cases this causes them to withdraw into even smaller communities of people of similar class, while in others it opens them to a new sense of connection to people of other classes. Overall, though, the effect of class divisions is to fragment an already small population and reduce the possibilities for coordinated community-building activities.  132  4.2.3  Gender  Color/class is not the only identity axis that fractures the Mexican immigrant population in Vancouver, nor the only axis that undergoes a transformation through the immigration process. The immigration experience is also profoundly gendered. In Gendered Transitions: Mexican Experiences of Migration, Hondagneu-Sotelo (1994, p.  2) laments that in migration studies, gender is typically considered only when women are the focus. However, in my interviews, respondents described the effects of gender differences on both women and men in the Mexican immigrant community, and on their own developing identities. Kimberley Grimes (1998, pp. 92-97) says that Mexico's macho patriarchal culture and strict gender role divisions are challenged by the migration experience. Grimes (pp. 46-7) says that traditionally, family honor depends on female virtue and male defense of it. Richard Rouse (2000) describes the family structure in a traditional Mexican village as basically unequal: the patriarch controls, the wife mediates, and the children are ranked according to gender and age. Space is divided clearly between public and private: the domesticity and safety of the bounded interior is contrasted to the danger of the boundless exterior. While men move freely back and forth between the two, women are 9  customarily confined to the domestic realm, protected from the dangers of the outside world that would threaten their virtue. Hondagneu-Sotelo's research (1994, pp. 11-13, 190) identifies varying levels of patriarchal control in Mexican families, although she finds that women's entry into the paid labor force since the 1970s has begun to affect traditional courting patterns and spatial mobility. Her research (p. xxiv) indicates that  This bounded interior-boundless exterior relation occurs at several spatial scales, according to Rouse, including the house (table), town (plaza), and municipal district (town).  9  133  while Mexican men play the important role in initiating family migration, women play the important role in solidifying settlement. In part, this is because men's status in the public sphere is severely threatened by social, linguistic, and employment barriers in the new country, and this affects their authority in the private sphere as well. In fact, says Hondagneu-Sotelo (p. 193), bravado and machismo among immigrant Mexican men are forms of gender display that indicate their marginalized, subordinated masculinities in receiving countries where genders are more equal in terms of mobility, household labor, and family authority. In general, immigrant women find it easier to adapt, and are more likely to wish to stay in the receiving country, than immigrant men. These points were confirmed by my interview respondents, when I asked them about gender issues. Carmen told me that women in Latin America are programmed to be wives and mothers, but also said that this was changing as women entered the workforce. Soraya said that the participation of women has increased greatly in the last few years. Women have had distinct possibilities to develop themselves. Even so, the positions are not equally distributed....In Mexico there are more women who dedicate themselves to their homes than to jobs.  Mirna agreed with this perspective, telling me that Canadian women are much more liberated, and Canadian women don't interest themselves anymore in the little details of the home, and of, of, let's say decorating and other things. They're busy because they are doing their own things....[Mexican women] are a little more still the old style, although now it's not left to her to do everything, and he has to help, and he has to be participative with their kids and other things. But yes.  Bea said that "back in Mexico if I had the same job, I would have to be a man. You know, to be able to be in this position, I think." Two respondents said that the situation is particularly difficult for single mothers. Nancy put it this way:  134  The men there in Mexico, like, like they do you the favor, like they think themselves the last Coca-cola in the desert, ok? So, you already had a child, and you 're a single mother. I mean, you break traditions in my country, and you don't have much opportunity anymore to remake your life. What I'm telling you is ten years ago; my country has changed a lot.  According to Soraya, attitudes haven't changed that much: There's an attitude of stigma towards divorced women in Mexico, that I don't see here. Maybe it exists, partially, but there it's, it's difficult....Here I've encountered that stigma with Latino people. Being here, even though they 're here, they haven't changed their way of thinking.  Before her own marriage to a Canadian, Nancy had been impressed by her sister's marriage to a Canadian man: My brother-in-law, totally takes care of his wife as if, ay, she's the ultimate! The men wash the clothes for you, they help you with the duties of the house. In Mexico no. I saw that, right? Like the companion partner. I saw that more with marrying a Canadian than with marrying a Mexican. Now, the Mexican, he pays the servant. I think that here, since there's no servant, then they have to become more even. And this type of thing that you wash the clothes with your mate, and that one makes the salad and the other the pasta, it's like too a coexistence, well like this, or I mean it's a relation, like, more solid, I think. Not what's yours and what's mine. So it was another idea, another concept.  Perhaps because they are already accustomed to facing discrimination, or because they are able to deal with the powerful emotional effects of immigration more openly and effectively (for example in support groups like Cristina's), women may find it somewhat easier to adjust to life as minorities in the receiving country. They may also be more willing to accept low-status jobs, because they are somewhat less tied than men to public sector prestige as a measure of self-worth and identity. Carmen said that women adjust 10  more easily because they are less stubborn than men. Miguel and Leticia said that it had been easier for Leticia as a woman to find work, such as housekeeping and laundry, than  Although Nancy in particular expressed bitter disappointment at not being able to practice her profession, as noted in the previous chapter.  135  for Miguel (in part this is due to the general channeling of women of color into lowpaying service jobs). Eva said that it was much easier for women to adapt to a new life than for men: Probably it's more difficult for the man, in a Mexican family, to integrate himself into Canadian society. As much a little for what we personally have experienced as for what we've seen happen with other families. He, the Mexican family is accustomed to doing things for him. And here that doesn't happen. So the women is more easily adaptable than the man....The man is accustomed to being served, and here that doesn't happen. So the woman is more adaptable in that sense. Or if they have to come and do jobs here that they never would have done there, like the woman accepts it more than the man. We have known Mexicans who in the end have gone back, and the families have been at the point of separating and ending it, or it's happened. The wife and the kids have stayed and the mister has returned. Various examples. Carmen, whose work relates to the Latino community, said that immigration shakes men's sense of identity: "He's not Mr. So-and-so anymore. Nobody knows you." She said that this creates a personal crisis for men, particularly because they feel their status threatened by the increasing equality of their wives. She told me that men are taught not to ventilate emotions; they can't express the losses they feel because of immigration, and this creates aggression and depression. Domestic violence is the way these feelings are sometimes expressed. She echoed Nancy's comment that the lack of servants alters traditional territories and gender roles within the home, because more cooperation is necessary. She told me there is a need for men to recognize these issues, and to create programs for other men (since they do not want to be taught by women) to reduce the male sense of power to control, dominate, and beat others. Mirna, whose work is similar to Carmen's, also said that men were reluctant to come to existing programs: "The men have the tendency to think, if people realize that they don't know something, they're going to lose respect for them. So they prefer to play  136  the fool, so that nobody says to anybody that they don't know, to coming to a talk to be taught something." However, she informed me that an attempt had been made in the past to start an all men's group (as Ester suggested was necessary), "but what they got together to do was to be a coalition against the ways of Canada, because here the men come to lose their power in the home.... They started to say openly, 'Here we men have to fight for our right to be the man of the house.''" She told me that the group had eventually fallen apart. "In Mexico the men have all the control, and they feel they have no control here. They feel like, 'cause they don't speak the language, and it's something that they cannot control, and they just inhibit themselves," said Pilar. As a result, community services for Latin Americans in Vancouver are mostly run by, and attended by, women. This mirrors Hondagneu-Sotelo's (1994, p. 202) view of women as the key community builders in migrant communities, through their participation in self-help groups, classes, parents' organizations, churches, etc. The impression created by interview respondents is that many Mexican immigrants experience a clash between what they view as traditional (i.e., Mexican) gender norms and modern (i.e., Canadian) norms. This clash creates opportunity for greater flexibility in men's and women's lives, as well as opportunity for increased conflict between men and women, particularly married couples. At the same time, it affects the effectiveness of programs and services aimed at the Mexican population, since men tend not to participate. 4.2.4 Sexual orientation Sexual orientation is another axis of identity that has the potential to divide the Mexican community. According to Fred Hitchcock, member of the Immigration and  137  Refugee Board, Vancouver Region, in the year 2000 thirteen percent of all Mexican refugee applications processed in British Columbia were based on sexual orientation. Among the four gay men I interviewed, three arrived as refugee applicants. One of 11  these, Diego, told me he believes that thirty percent of Mexican refugee applicants are sexual minorities. While there is no uniformity of opinion about homosexuality among the Mexican immigrant population (though like most others Mexican culture is traditionally very homophobic), some of the gay respondents suggested that they feel socially isolated from the heterosexual majority in Vancouver. Oswaldo said he avoids contact with heterosexual Mexicans: "7 don't know any straight Mexicans...because of the mentality of machismo that they have...Even though they're in Canada, they still think like in Mexico: 'Oh, you're gay, oh, afaggotr  Jaime and David try harder to maintain  social ties with heterosexual Mexicans, but feel they have to hide their partnership when around heterosexual Mexicans: David's on one side of the room, and I'm on the other. Because David, if they see me near him, then, like I look at him differently, and I want to be at his side, and I want to hold his hand or something. Almost always at heterosexuals' parties, I'm over on one side and he's on the other. "  Thus, Mexican immigrants who are not heterosexual sometimes feel they need to keep this part of their lives a secret. To a greater or lesser degree depending on the individual, this may lead to social isolation from other Mexicans in Vancouver, further weakening the prospects for group unity.  " None of the women I interviewed identified themselves as lesbian or bisexual, and the interviews were not designed to identify respondents' sexual orientation. Some interviewees volunteered this information.  138  4.3  M E X I C A N VS.  LATINO  Upon moving to Canada, Mexican immigrants become grouped for government purposes with other Latinos. Because of common linguistic, cultural, and historical roots, Mexicans already share a sense of commonality with people from other Latin American countries. These commonalities provide the basis for coordinated action and organization, which enable a community building effort that would not be possible for Mexicans alone, few in number as they are. Nonetheless, interviewees revealed significant differentiation among the various Latin American populations in Vancouver, differences that affect the ability of the various Latino groups to work together effectively. Given the small size of the Mexican population in Vancouver, other Latinos are an important resource and support for Mexican immigrants. "It's, I think, a necessity, the fact that we have to surround ourselves with Latino people. Because there are many things that we don't find in the Canadian community" said David. "I found the Latino community as a way to recharge myself, " Soraya told me. "/ really like the charisma of Latino people." Teresa explained the factors that link Latinos from various countries: The Latino is different from any other culture in that the Latino is like, warmer....In general, Latinos, I mean from El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, from wherever, it seems to me are, that they have, that they share many things in common, like I don't know, like being a third world country and because of what we've gone through, because of having governments that don't, that don't respect human rights. Um, in terms of politics it seems to me that we the majority of Latin American countries share many things....um, but well, in general I think that we share a lot of things in terms not just of politics, but human relations....It seems to me that we are characterized by being more, more open and warmer. Oscar put this sense of common identity most strongly, claiming "We 're a race, one single race. A race of copper." Teresa thought this claim was too strong:  139  No, a Latin race as such, no. Like if I speak of races, I go, I go to the prehispanic history. It's very different now from then. But, but like the evolution that the Latin American countries have had in comparison to Canada and the United States has been very similar, in my opinion. And then, well, like basically we have a culture more or less homogenous.  It is these similarities that form the basis for the community building organizations and associations that will be discussed later in this chapter. However, these similarities exist concurrently with significant national differences, in the minds of respondents. Their responses provide definite opinions about the differing national characters of people from various Latin American countries. It is also interesting to note that their views of other Latinos are often couched in the same language of class and education that was discussed earlier, so that entire nations of people are "classed" in various ways. Oscar broke down in detail for me his perceptions of people from several Latin American countries: There are distinct classes of immigrants here. Speaking of Mexicans, the Mexicans are rather middle-high level. There are a lot of businesspeople, many professionals that have come. The ones who have a lower level are the Central Americans. So they are the ones who have the hardest problems in integrating themselves in the community. But the Mexican who comes to Canada generally is middle-high. And I believe that there is a big difference although you wouldn 't believe it between the Argentine community, the Chilean community, the Salvadoran community, because of the social class of those groups that are the ones who come here. The Central Americans are people that had problems in the wars of that time, country people, rural in the majority. The Argentines, well, don't have, rather are of urban origin. The Chileans also are of... urban origin, but with a slightly lower level. I mean, each nationality. The Columbians are also from a high level, medium high, Peruvians too. The Central Americans are those that do have a little lower social level.  Nancy expressed similar views, but said further that Mexicans found it difficult as more recent immigrants, to fit in with other Latin American groups who had arrived in Canada earlier:  140  I'll speak totally clearly. The Latinos that have arrived here, there are two types of Latinos. The Chileans and the Argentines arrived, but they are political immigrants. By political immigrants I mean that they are people that were in university that or some reason or another had to come because of political problems. Now those from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, those people came because of war, the guerrilla wars. They are farmers. They aren 't people who are in university. They are people who are a certain cultural level. So, the Argentine doesn't want to get along with the Salvadoran. The Argentine doesn 't, and the Chilean, they have a certain university education, so "What am I going to talk about with her? " What I said at the beginning of my interview, I'm going to talk about how to make the tortilla, or how you knead the dough. So there's this concept, yes? So I have seen when I come to Canada, that the self-same Latinos don't get along among themselves. The Salvadoran doesn't get along with the Chilean, because they think themselves superior to those from Central America. Now the problem is that the Mexican arrives, and the Mexican is arrives prepared. Right now there's a lot of immigration of Mexicans who arrive very prepared, and what I recognize is that the Mexican professional immigrant is very ingenious....So the Mexican, since he's more ingenious, comes to Canada and makes it very quickly. I have this idea. But he comes up against the jealousy of the Latino. The Chilean is very jealous and resentful of the Mexicans. In fact it's because all the free trade has been more beneficial to Mexico. Well yes, because Chile is really far away. So sometimes there's a lot ofjealousy. I mean, the Mexican who comes is prepared, is very prepared like the Chilean. So between them there's competition, ok? Then, sometimes, they don't tell you, "I go to the food bank. " They don't tell you, "I buy second-hand clothes. " Because there's a cultural question of upbringing that they are not going to accept doing these things. So they don't share it with you, or comment to you about it. And you suffer here because you say, "I don't have money to buy myself a hundred dollar dress, because I make seven an hour." Yes, because I make minimum wage, and nobody tells you that there's a Value Village, or that there's second hand, second hand stuff. That you have to learn, and then you for some reason you arrive at a food bank to see the line-up of friendships that you have there! "Ay, you never told me. " Well, what are they going to tell you. I mean, the Latino is afraid that more people are going to come. "There won't be enough for me, " they must think. I don't know. Sometimes they think this, I don't know....I laughed one day when I read a joke, a joke. Yes, it's true. It says, "Happiness: what one Latino feels upon seeing another screwed or busted. " How is it possible that you are happy that, "Ay, he can't do it. Ay, he didn't get the training that the government pays for. " You're happy, instead of saying, "Hey, you have to study." I mean, that type of certain Latinos, there's a certain envy, a certain jealousy, I don't know.  Diego told me that the problem is that Mexican immigrants arrive here with a lot of prejudice and pride in relation to other Latinos: "They think they're the top of Latin  141  America.''' In fact, he compared their viewpoint to that of Canadians generally; both groups look on other countries generously and kindly, but from a presumed position of superiority, he said.  12  Some respondents reported very negative experiences with other Latinos, resulting in an urge to avoid Latinos altogether. "I'm not interested in integrating into a Mexican community," said Juan. "7 came to integrate to Canada, not to a Mexican village in Canada." Nancy recounted that when she first arrived in Canada, The only jobs that I could find were through...Latinos, right? "I want to work. " "Ok, I'll give you seven per hour, cleaning offices. "....In my very personal experience, the Latinos who are working, I mean to say, that have a cleaning business, are despots. I mean, "Hurry up! " and they want you to be like so. And then after they don't pay you, like it was under the table, every time they call. I've heard stories that they end up owing five hundred dollars. I mean, they give you the first cheque, they give you the second cheque, but then after, the cheque doesn't arrive, and there they have you, working hours and hours. And here sometimes, certain people that are now Canadians, immigrants that now are Canadian citizens, have what they have with the tears of the immigrants that have arrived, yes? But tears of blood, of immigrants who have arrived, illegally, to work. Nancy's story shows that it is not only class differences that cause people to separate into different groups, but also class relations. The exploitation of poorer immigrants by those in superior economic positions further reduces the possibility for a sense of community unity. Nancy also said: I've had various bitter experiences of helping Latino people, I have them in my house, and after a while they go out talking about me; they owe me money. So I say, ""What do I do now; I don't even get along with Latinos, " and with the Canadians I don't know what to do. Sometimes I don't know what to do. Jaime told me that his partner David had gone through such a period, too. However, Miguel and Leticia said that they had been greatly assisted by Salvadorans and Hondurans, who provided them with food, lodging, and use of several vehicles during their first year in Canada, and 12  142  He would say to me, "They're wrong, and I don't want to deal with Latinos because Latinos abuse. Latinos always try to get something out of you" ....There are many Latinos who abuse welfare and that are there all the time. They don't do anything. Like in Latin America in reality you 're accustomed to having nothing, and you get here and you 're hungry, and they give it to you easily, of course they abuse. And then, they take advantage of people, and David got to a point where he said, "I don't want to know anything about Latinos." We would be on the bus and he 'd hear someone talking in Spanish, and he 'd say to me, "Be quiet; don't talk to me." Aside from the class bias evident in this statement (middle class professionals from Latin America are hardly accustomed to having nothing), Jaime's story points up the folly of assuming that people from similar cultures are necessarily going to get along or identify strongly with each other, particularly when they are facing pressure to conform to a Canadian system and society in which they are disadvantaged. Clearly, the stresses of the immigration experience can just as easily fracture a community as bind it together.  4.4  COMMUNITY  VISIONS  That said, there are many efforts in Vancouver to build a unified, cohesive, and cooperative Latino community, efforts in which Mexicans play significant roles. While plagued by the same problems and issues as the smaller Mexican community, Latin Americans have created a number of organizations and institutions that work to represent and support Latinos in Vancouver. For many respondents, it is in these organizations and institutions that they find their community, rather than in the Mexican or Latino population as a whole. However, these groups exhibit the same divisions that have already been described, and this inhibits their effectiveness in mobilizing the entire potential membership. Because of this, they tend to be small and not very well-known, even among Latinos.  that this generosity had changed their view of Central Americans.  143  The Mexican group that was mentioned most often by interviewees is the Mexican Association of Vancouver. This organization is a women's group that has been in existence for many years, and several interviewees said it had been one of their earliest contacts with the Mexican community in Vancouver. According to interviewees, the function of the association is primarily social, and in general the people that spoke with me had a somewhat dim view of it (many couldn't remember the official name, either). "There's a Mexican Association that organizes events, dances, and all that,"  said Julia.  / haven't been very involved, in the sense that, well they themselves nominate their representatives and everything. I haven't been, at the beginning yes, I was interested to go see and everything. I mean that's why I know how it works. But I didn't get involved, because it wasn't very clear to me how they utilize the resources that they obtain [from fundraising activities]....They have meetings, they have parties, they sell food and everything, but it's not very clear in terms of the distribution. What do they do with it? If I could see that they use it for recently arrived children, or etc., probably yes, but as I didn't see that very clearly, well I didn't want to involve myself in that type of situation.  Nancy, too, has attended association events, though she couldn't remember the group's name: / go to the Mexican Society of Vancouver. They're all ladies mostly married to Canadians, but they're much older than me, they all have grandchildren already, and what I've seen is that they're very sectarian. I mean, just their friends, no? They don't accept new people. So like I go, but I don't get very close.  Ana said that she had become acquainted with the group soon after arriving in Vancouver. In the first stage I met people, including some organizations, women for example. There's an organization of women; it's called the Association of Mexican Women or something like that. It's a group of women organized here.... But it's mostly a group practically for social coexistence. They organize parties on the dates, um, that they celebrate in Mexico. When there's a special celebration in Mexico, they celebrate it here. They organize meetings, too. But basically it's something for social coexistence, no? More than anything else. Which is fine, too, but well, my priorities in this moment up to this time are still to try to establish myselfjobwise, no, more than to have social networks.  144  Marilyn told me, I went to various meetings. But really, the truth really, they were talking for me pure stupidities, because they weren 't talking about basics. Yes they've done things, because they've done the fiesta for this and for that. But they're really critical...Nothing more than "I have, I am. "....But I'm not involved in that because like I don't see any profundity in it. I mean, no sincerity....They don't undertake it like the Chinese, who help each other, or really are very united. Sadly, not the Latinos. Latinos always try to know who can be the most, to see who does the most....But they get together for Christmas, they get together for September. 13  Marisol said that the Mexican Association is just for fundraising and parties, but doesn't provide hands-on organizational support to the local Mexican community. Diego also criticized the group for not being more useful to the local Mexican population, blaming this on the long-time Canadian residence of the group's members and their "romantic, nostalgic, frivolous" vision of Mexico. Nonetheless, clearly the association provides an  important social network for a certain number of Mexican women in Canada, a network whose activities help them stay connected to their Mexican roots and culture. The second organization mentioned by interviewees is the Mexican Business Association. Oscar, a member of this association, said it was the only local organization of Mexicans that he knew of. "I haven't heard of any others. This organization for businesspersons has been around for some years, four years, a little more." He told me the group's goals were "mutual help, business development. As I told you, almost all of them have businesses....They do some celebrations, social parties, the posadas, they do 14  a posada every year." However, my impression is that the association's success is  limited. Pilar, a successful businesswoman, had never heard of it despite many years in Vancouver. Eva knew of the association, and had been involved in it at one time: "We  13  To celebrate Mexican Independence (September 16).  145  started when they organized that, but in the end it was mostly people who had nothing better to do than get together and talk. Not even, in reality very few of those people even had a business. We stopped going there." Repeated attempts on my part to speak with a member of the association's executive were unsuccessful. To my knowledge, these are the only two organizations that specifically claim to represent Mexicans in Vancouver (aside from the Mexican consulate, of course), although there are other groups that promote Mexican culture in various ways. One example of these is the folkloric dance group (one of several in Vancouver) in which Jaime participates. Jaime told me that his group has danced not only in Vancouver proper, but also in suburban municipalities and even in smaller communities as far away as Powell River and 100 Mile House. The group performs regional dances from different parts of Mexico. Due to their public, performative function, groups like Jaime's play an important role in making the Mexican presence in Canada visible, although they may also serve to reinforce stereotypical images of Mexicans, images that perhaps make success more difficult for professionals seeking positions in the modern job-market. More commonly, Mexican immigrants in Vancouver participate in organizations and institutions' made up of Latinos from different countries. There are many of these, and it would be impossible to discuss them all here, both for space constraints and because I could not be sure I had covered them all. Many of the groups are small, and not well publicized. I will focus on those groups mentioned by interviewees.  14  Traditional Mexican Christmas celebration.  146  First, there are some significant non-governmental organizations that formally represent Latino interests and provide services to local Latin Americans. One of the 15  most important of these is the Latin American Community Council (LACC), which has operated since the early 1990s. LACC comprises Latinos who are professional community service workers in Vancouver (members work for the school board, neighborhood houses, immigrant settlement societies, etc.). They come together once a month to share information and to lobby various levels of government on behalf of the community. LACC members are community leaders among the Latino population, and also serve as key interfaces between the community and governmental agencies. Similar organizations include the Hispanic Community Center, the B.C. Latin American Congress, and the similarly named Latino Canadian Alliance Society of B.C. All these organizations attempt to combat negative stereotyping of Latinos in the majority press, to make government agencies sensitive to the needs of the Latino community, and to assist Latin Americans in their lives in Canada. In doing so, these groups represent attempts to claim physical and discursive space and assert collective rights (as in Flores and Benmayor's Latino cultural citizenship) and to make Latin Americans involved in decision-making in the public sphere (a la Walzer's definition of citizenship). However, there appears to be a certain amount of overlap, perhaps even competition, among them, which compromises their effectiveness; this points to the difficulty of making La vie and Swedenburg's "tactical essentialism" work, given the reality of hybridized identities and multiple dimensions of diversity among Latin Americans in Vancouver.  1 have not included neighborhood houses, community centers, and immigrant settlement societies, whose mandate is multicultural, although many of these provide Spanish-language services to Latinos. 1 5  147  One interesting variation of these organizational efforts is Espalista, "an informative section of the web, with information in Spanish, and directed to the Spanishspeaking community," according to Ana, who had volunteered there. This internet initiative, run by volunteers in association with the Vancouver Community Net, attempts to create a virtual community for local Spanish-speakers, with links to national and international sites as well. Other local media, such as the Spanish-language newspapers, the Spanish language programming on co-op radio and cable community television, have been discussed already in the previous chapter. Churches and religious institutions are another key component of the Latino community. The most important of these, according to interviewees, is the Hispanic Catholic Mission on Commercial Drive. "The Latino community...conducts cultural and recreational activities and all that, in some way centralized around an organization, the Hispanic Mission, which is more religious; it's Catholic," said Soraya. "We have to depend on them to a certain point, because they are the ones that orient us about what the steps are that we should follow," Manuel stated. Where we started to go was to the Hispanic Mission. It's the Catholic church; it's managed by the Catholic church. There they provide us with food, with the food bank, also legal counsel, right, since on occasion there's some lawyer who is giving an orientation to indicate the steps to follow. Aside from the Catholic church, which offers Spanish masses at several churches around the city, there are more than thirty Latin American evangelical congregations in the city, according to the B.C. Latino Guide. Many of these congregations, boasting names such as Prophetic Church of the City of Zion, Redeemer Baptist Biblical Tabernacle, Apostolic Church of the Faith in Christ, Church of God of the Prophecy, etc. (curiously, there are five different ones named Bethel Church), are charismatic churches offering miraculous  148  healings, speaking in tongues, and a literalist study of the Bible. Among interviewees, these were called "Christian" churches, as opposed to "Catholic" churches (something the local Catholic hierarchy would no doubt object to). These churches advertise competitively in the local Spanish language newspapers, and actively recruit adherents, as described by Manuel: Manuel: In terms of religion, we've continued with the religion that our parents inculcated in us, which was the Catholic religion. In the beginning they tried to bombard us with diverse religions, in order to bring in converts, right? Myself: Who did this? Manuel: Different Christian churches. I mean, they invite you, "Come, because this is the best. " And well, for everyone, for everybody their religion is the best. We opted to start going to a Christian church, in order to be able to study the word of God in his scriptures. Unfortunately, there are situations that don't go with our form of thinking, like um, what's it called, the situation when people are very, fanaticism. I mean, there's a lot of fanaticism in religions. So, we said, "No more, " and we continue on our way. While the competition among such churches may provide yet another mechanism of community division, their common theology also offers potential for community integration, when churches cooperate together on evangelistic campaigns and reach out to newcoming immigrants regardless of nationality (the friends whom Miguel and Leticia said had changed their views of Central Americans by providing them with so much material and emotional assistance are members of such a church, and address Miguel and Leticia as "brother" and "sister"). Artistic groups are another way to bring Latin Americans together, reconnect to cultures of origin, and integrate Latino and Canadian cultures (or at least articulate the tension between them). Eva is involved in a new group for visual artists: We're trying now to form a community of Latino artists....We've had three meetings, and we're trying to organize a group....With everyone in their own corner, nobody can do anything. And in this country things work a lot with the help and support of others. So I believe that this will benefit everyone.  149  Diego spoke very highly of a Latino theatre group that helped him to adapt to life in Canada, allowing him to express the tensions that he felt after coming to Canada as a refugee. By performing original works created collectively by the cast members themselves, this group allowed cast and audience members alike to explore their hybrid identities and the meaning of (not) belonging in Canadian society.  16  Finally, Latino businesses also serve as clearinghouses for information as much as for products imported from Latin America. The "Guia Latina" community guide for Vancouver includes advertisements for over eighty Latino-identified businesses, many located along Commercial Drive and Kingsway. Such stores make people feel to a certain degree at home, less disconnected from their homelands. Norma recounted finding a particular store: "/ didn't know that the store existed, so when I arrived I said, 'Ay, products from Mexico.' Because one is accustomed to the tortilla, the salsa, the chili, no? So I arrived there, and I said, 'It's marvelous, noT" As Ana explained, the  stores serve an important social function: There are networks of communication. There are places where they already know for example where they can get, for example the stores that distribute products for Mexicans or the Latino community in general. People already know it, right? Regularly, when someone asks, "Hey, where can I get this?" "Why don't you go to The Guerreros?" or something like that. So the people already know....So they make contacts there, I mean through the consumption of certain types of products, through social type activities and things of that kind. People go contacting, contacting, no? And they go meeting, and the network is extended that way. 17  Through these stores, Latinos in Vancouver can access the imported material culture of  lfi  Even the title of the company's work, "^Que pasa with la raza, eh?" is indicative of this hybridity.  17  A store selling Latin American food products.  150  their "home" countries; in doing so they also connect with other Latin Americans and strengthen the possibility for community growth. Ana's comments raise the importance of personal contacts in establishing Mexican, and Latino, community. I don't wish to push this point too far, but there is some suggestion in the literature and in the interviews that such personal contacts are more important for Mexicans than official channels or organizations. According to Smart and Smart (1998, p. 114), "identity" is not universal; in western Mexico, it is not collective membership in a category that matters in establishing identity, but relational links between people that are important in making claims. Claudio Lomnitz (1999, p. 271) says that Mexican culture involves gentlemen's pacts among individuals, but no social contract for the crowd, unlike countries with strong civic traditions. Duryea's and Grundison's (1993, p. 95) research of conflict and culture among five ethnic communities in Vancouver showed that Latin Americans prefer "in house" conflict solutions rather 18  than official intervention.  Grimes (1998, p. 46-7) claims that for the people of southern  Mexico, identity is defined primarily by family. Over and over, interviewees told of the importance of private networks of contacts, acquaintances, and friendships, for their adjustment to Canadian life in areas such as gaining employment and accessing government services. Ana described the process like this: The language is what communicates us immediately. When you realize that someone speaks Spanish, you begin to make contact then. Where are you from? What's your name? What are you doing? When did you arrive? comes the entire introduction....And  Why? And then  you give me your telephone number, and I  give you mine. For anything. If you already have a job, or you don't, I'll help you. And the networks start to extend.  18  Although presumably most people would have a similar preference.  151  Josefina described a time that she and a Mexican friend had been on the Seabus and noticed that a man was listening to their conversation in Spanish. After they got to know each other, his wife became an important resource for Josefina in finding her way around and accessing government services: "She was giving us a few tips. 'Look over here and over there.' And she was the base, our point of departure, very important because she made us aware of everything....She made us see how easy everything is, 'Ah, perfect, let's go here.'" She also told of another couple, who provided accommodation for Josefina's family when they first arrived in Canada: There were some friends that we had met, and we arrived at their house, and in a month we moved house....! met them because they were friends of a cousin, and then, but we got along well, right? Now they are really good friends; they are more than my family, right? And so, um, yes we've made contact with other Mexicans since we arrived, and that has made it possible for us to be here, right, because yes there has been a lot of brotherhood.  Ana told me, Look, when I arrived, since I arrived with Latino people, I started to meet more or less some groups of people that they introduced me to initially. They said to me, 'Come, I'm going to introduce you" ....Especially my friends' mom. She was like really concerned to introduce me, but she put me in contact with almost all Latino people.  Pilar had a similar story: I do get along with, with, it used be Casa de Mexico, that's what they called it, so I know the lady, and her friend is really good friends with my mom. In Mexico. So there's a connection. And once in a while she would call me or send me the newsletters. Cinco de Mayo is coming, or different events. So we stay connected. We just went to the Ricky Martin concert, so that was pretty good. And from those friends we get to know more friends...and you just meet them, right? Through work, or just referrals, you know. So we stay pretty connected....These two friends, I hooked them up with a couple of old companies, you know....You do, because they're just your fellow Hispanic people. And they do appreciate that, they really do. So we do it all the time. 19  19  Casa de Mexico, now defunct, was a cultural institute sponsored by the Mexican consulate in Vancouver.  152  One of the most powerful examples of the importance of interpersonal networks is the women's group begun by Cristina: Some friends and I from work started, and I said, "Let's go have a coffee, " to talk and to tell about our experiences. So we were five people that started, and then I proposed to them, "Why doesn't each one invite more people, more people, to converse and be able to help each other, right?" A type of club for we Latino women to help ourselves. And yes, each one brought more people, and I told those people to bring more people. Now we're fifty women....So we get together every two weeks. So each one says, well, if she has some necessity or something she expresses it. For example, "I have papers, Tm legal here in Canada, I need a job. Does anyone know about a job?" Someone says, "I have a job. At my workplace they're hiring. Take your resume. " For example a girl, a lady arrived. She says, "I have two little children....Fm new here. Where can I take them to be vaccinated? Does anyone know?" Quick to look for someone who knows, and it's done. It's a great help. That group has been a great help.  The key point here is that Cristina's group has no official organizational structure or dues, does not advertise its existence except by word of mouth, and has grown organically through one-on-one contacts. It plays a significant role in the economic and social lives of its members. The importance of such informal linkages within the Mexican community, particularly in light of the class divisions addressed earlier, suggests that government service providers and others who need to relate to the Mexican community should be careful not to assume that liaising with any particular organization will get their message out to the entire community.  4.5  CONCLUSION  Participation in groups, both formal and informal, is fundamental to Mexican immigrants' experience of life in Vancouver. Through these groups friendships are formed, jobs and services are accessed, cultural traditions are reproduced, and the Mexican community relates to the majority society. Such groups, then, provide a vital  153  means for the expression of citizenship in various forms. However, some of these groups are small communities in themselves, and have little contact with other groups. The Mexican population, small to begin with, is fractured by various identitybased divisions, divisions and identities that are modified (both undercut and reinforced) by the experience of immigration. In addition, Mexican immigrants are simultaneously constructed as "Latinos" within Canadian society as a whole, a category that is itself shot through with differences. These divisions make it difficult to speak of a single, monolithic Mexican community, except as a convenient shorthand term. Rather, it is more appropriate to speak of Mexican communities (like Eva's "community of Latino artists"), multiple loosely-affiliated social groups and organizations operating for different purposes (sometimes competing) at different spatial scales along separate social strata. Some of these groups are exclusively Mexican, while in others Mexicans are only one group among other Latin Americans. Often their membership forms along lines of personal social relationships rather than more formal categories. The small size, dispersed distribution, and limited lines of communication among these groups mean that there is no single group in Vancouver that represents all Mexicans. This has important implications both for service delivery to the Mexican population, and for their own ability to make collective claims on the state. While some of these groups are intent on changing the system to be more accommodating to Mexicans and Latin Americans in general, the emphasis of most seems to be on providing material and social support to allow new immigrants to adapt to the Canadian system successfully (this mirrors the emphasis on "learning" among interviewees").  154  Ultimately, due to small numbers, internal divisions, the language barrier, external prejudice and stereotypes, and lack of resources, it is difficult for Mexican immigrants to exert collective pressure on the state and to exert influence as citizens in Canadian society. Banding together in tactical essentialism with other Latin Americans is one attempt to change this, but similar barriers still apply. Nonetheless, the interviewees provided many examples of activism and the will to create change. As the Mexican population in Vancouver grows, it seems certain that these efforts will begin to have a greater effect.  155  C H A P T E R  F I V E  CONCLUSION  Throughout this thesis, an underlying question has been that of identity: if by citizen we mean our identities in the public sphere, in relation to each other and the system we have built (or inherited), what does citizenship mean for those whose identity is hybrid, who embody in their own lives more than one culture, history, language, who are represented by more than one state? In a globalized world, especially in ethnically diverse cities like Vancouver, more and more of us recognize this hybridity within ourselves, and echo Richard Rodriguez' question: "How shall I reconcile the world within my own soul?" The Mexican immigrants interviewed for this thesis provide some possible answers. Because of their position between two societies, these Mexican immigrants are especially equipped to perceive and articulate the tensions inherent in the three dimensions of citizenship highlighted here. Of course, it is unwise to generalize too broadly from their experience (indeed, if anything their stories demonstrate the importance of paying attention to particularity, of not assuming homogeneity). Nonetheless, it has become clear that biopolitics, transnationalism, and community are not only centrally relevant to the citizenship of Mexican immigrants, but to that of us all. Mexican immigrants have first-hand experience of being required to fit into the biopolitical nation-building projects of both Mexico and Canada. Like them, all of us are bound into governmental systems that manage many aspects of our lives for ends that are not always our own. While most governments claim to be representative, and that their citizens are equal before the law, in practice we see that certain individuals and groups  156  appear to count for more than others. Governmental resources are inequitably distributed, often mirroring the already unequal distribution of private wealth (as when rich neighborhoods get more frequent street repair or better schools, for example). As in the case of Mexico's National Solidarity Project, and Canada's multiculturalism program, government initiatives that appear to benefit the disadvantaged may in fact disguise continuing inequalities. Partly through such programs (as well as a host of other influences, such as the education system and media advertising), we are conditioned to accept the existing system, to participate in the nation-building project in which the state is engaged. Like these interviewees, we are taught that the onus is on us to learn and conform to the system in order to get ahead. The challenges of "navigating" such systems are multiple, and harder for certain groups than for others. Language barriers, cultural differences, financial limitations, lack of recognized educational credentials, and other factors impede certain individuals and groups (among them, many immigrants) from accessing opportunities that are available to others, thus relegating them to positions at the bottom of the socioeconomic strata. In the face of these challenges, some accept these conditions and their own relegation to the margins of society, perhaps hoping that things will change one day. Others change themselves as much as possible, trying to meet the system's demands. Still others resolve to try to change the system itself. Many people, of course, do all three, adopting different tactics and strategies at different times depending on specific circumstances. In all cases, our enmeshment in these biopolitical systems demands our response as citizens, a response in which we have unequal possibilities for flexibility and self-determination.  157  However, in a globalized world, these biopolitical systems extend beyond the borders of individual nation-states. Transnationalism is the order of the day, for gigantic corporations, supranational organizations, and even governments, as well as for individuals. Advanced technologies of communication and transportation enable citizens' simultaneous direct involvement in the economic, social, and political affairs of more than one country. But they also invoke a response from the state: states with large emigrant populations seek to bind the loyalties of their expatriate citizens to their "home" country, while states with large immigrant populations attempt to exploit immigrants' transnational ties to increase trade. In terms of citizenship, transnationalism is often thought of as allowing flexible citizenship; that is, the ability to pick and choose where to be involved, to float above the limitations of borders. However, the testimony of Mexican immigrant interviewees suggests that transnational connections do not necessarily result in greater freedom. Rather, transmigrants become embedded in their local Canadian contexts, while maintaining strong ties to Mexico; often, they struggle to reconcile feelings of not belonging fully to either society. Because of employment responsibilities, the need for their children to be in school, financial constraints, and in some cases because of Canadian spouses, most Mexican immigrants are not able to achieve the degree of transnational connection they would like, and thus feel in some ways isolated from their Mexican lives. The experience of migration alters their views of their home country, and makes it difficult for them to go "home" again. These immigrants live in constant tension between two worlds, and it is with difficulty that they carve out a place for themselves. Despite the potential transnationalism offers for flexible citizenship, for greater personal options and in some cases for greater influence  158  on the state, it also entails considerable costs. The great advantage that it offers to transmigrants like the Mexican immigrants involved in this research is the ability to interrogate their own experiences and to engage their societal contexts armed with knowledge and values absorbed from more than one cultural perspective. While transnationalism entails certain costs, it also offers the possibility, perhaps only after many years, of "Double Happiness."  1  Central to transmigrants' carving out a place for themselves is the necessity of participating in community. Particularly when participation in the community of the whole, the body politic, is hindered by cultural differences, the prejudice of the majority, language barriers, and lack of resources such as time and money, the need for a surrogate community to provide emotional and material support is critical. Community membership allows corporate action; the voices of individuals are strengthened exponentially when they act as part of a group. This allows minority groups to exert greater influence on the conduct of the state (and the private sector) than their members would have acting separately. However, group membership is also problematic, and community is not always easy to find. While it might be assumed that Mexican immigrants to Vancouver would have so much in common that they would unite as a community in order to expedite their interaction with Canadian society at large (and even to make claims on the Mexican government), this has not been the case. Like with many other groups, the population of Mexican origin in Vancouver is diverse in terms of class, gender, "race," and sexual orientation; these differences have to this point prevented the coalescence of a single Mexican community. Rather, Mexican immigrants find community in smaller groups and organizations, some more formally organized than  ' The title of a Chinese-Canadian film of the 1990s.  159  others. For many, this entails joining with other Latin American immigrants in claiming a common Latino identity, and seeking in this larger identification to find greater strength. While such "tactical essentialism" offers certain greater possibilities, it too is undercut by the same identity divisions that fracture the Mexican immigrant population. Thus far neither the Mexican nor the Latino population has succeeded in finding a unified voice. However, while there are times that such a unified voice would be more effective in creating change in the Canadian system, there is also a case to be made for the plurality of voices and communities presently existing. The ability of Mexican immigrants to find places for themselves in small niches within the larger society allows a diversity of ideas, perspectives, approaches, strategies, alliances, and networks that may give them greater flexibility, creativity, and resilience in the long run. If this is true, then the differences among Mexican immigrants are not to be lamented, but embraced; perhaps we need "tactical diversity" as much as tactical essentialism, when living in a biopolitical, transnational world. Thus, the fourth dimension of citizenship is agency. It is this diversity within our populations and within ourselves that offers us hope for coping with such a world. When as citizens we are daily asked to reconcile conflicting and contradictory cultures, systems, expectations, languages, values, histories, ethnicities, even within our own selves, we need to seek out diversity, look for hybridity, desire miscegenation. Through this process a new synthesis can be created. Gloria Anzaldua (1987, p. 101) calls this  "mestizo.  consciousness": That focal point or fulcrum, that juncture where the mestizo, stands, is where phenomena tend to collide. It is where the possibility of uniting all that is separate occurs. This assembly is not one where severed or separated pieces merely come together. Nor is it a balancing of opposing power. In attempting to  160  work out a synthesis, the self has added a third element which is greater than the sum of its severed parts. That third element is a new consciousness—a mestizo. consciousness—and though it is a source of intense pain, its energy comes from continual creative motion that keeps breaking down the unitary aspect of each new paradigm....The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subjectobject duality that keeps her a prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images in her work how duality is transcended. The answer to the problem...lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts. A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war. The testimony of Mexican immigrants in Vancouver shows that this is indeed a long struggle. 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