By Raúl Romero. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P]
In Mexico there are first class citizens, second class citizens and people who, even though they were born in Mexico, are not recognized by the Mexican State as citizens of this country.
This is the case for thousands of indigenous people who are born in communities far from places where birth certificates or other official documents are processed. To obtain these papers, they wait for the civil registry brigades or go to the offices at another time.
Recently, Mexico's two main indigenous peoples' organizations, the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, reported the state racism with which officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs treated members of their organizations when they wanted to apply for passports.
The answers received by the people who came to do the paperwork, after making all the payments, the transfers and the lines, were insulting with phrases like these: "That is very far away and the trip is expensive, it can't be that you have the necessary money because you are indigenous", "Let's see, sing the hymn", "now we have to wait until we check if they are Mexicans", "we have to check if the papers are true", "she dresses like India Maria", "she dresses like India Maria".
One of the most recurrent problems that has been observed is the "extemporaneous" nature of birth certificates, that is to say, that people who go to the SRE to request their passport carry a birth certificate issued three years after they were born. In this situation, the process is usually rejected unless they present complementary documents.
In the case of indigenous people who are part of the EZLN or CNI, the matter can be even worse. No document was sufficient for the SRE officials, who have delayed the process for up to five months in some cases.
Were the documents the problem? No.
The problem is racism, xenophobia, fear of the other, of the other, of what is different. That terrible intention of pretending that Mexico is one nation and that everyone speaks Spanish, a pretense that erases the histories of hundreds of peoples that inhabit this country, brown-skinned peoples who have their own language, their own traditions.
An old anecdote tells that the singer Chavela Vargas, born in Costa Rica, used to say that "Mexicans are born where the fuck they want to be born". Not so for the Mexican State. What's more, it's not even enough to be born in Mexico: you have to prove it when it comes to those who have been historically discriminated against.
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Raúl Romero is a sociologist, Latin Americanist and academic technician at the Institute for Social Research at UNAM.