Rabbits are pretty smart little guys. They burrow, creating a system of tunnels having nesting areas, running areas, and emergency exits. If they colonize and link up their tunnels, then the “Rabbit Holes” become what is called a “Warren.”
And apparently, I stumbled into one of these Warrens as I was attempting to write about a different Rabbit Hole related to my recent days along the Southern Border, and then I remembered another experience I had below that border, and my fingers took off across the Keyboards telling that story.
So let’s travel back in n time about, oh say, forty-three years or so . . .
“We” had been touring several Latin American countries to research their agricultural methods as opposed to those we use in the United States. Mexico was the last stop on our tour, and little did I know, a different sort of side-trip or diversion, cognitively, physically, and metaphysically, was about to unfold.
The “We” were a group of about twenty-five students enrolled in an Agricultural Travel Course organized by the University “We” attended. The “Curriculum,” was completely structured as to the countries we would visit, the ranches and farmland we would surveil, and totally orchestrated to see only the “good” side of the State- or Privately-owned haciendas (estates or plantations) and casa de labranzas (houses of farming).
Mexico came after Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, and Costa Rica. And the entire trip had been carefully choreographed. The year was 1977, and the only hatred overtly directed at us Americans came in Panama, where people would openly approach us and cuss us out in Spanish, which only a few of “Us” understood, and then spit at us.
Once alerted by our Spanish-speaking members and the spitballs, “We” reciprocated by cussing them out in Vietnamese, which they obviously didn’t understand, and from which we had just learned from another of our traveling companions.
This day, in Mexico, was going to be a totally “State-Controlled” affair, with a couple of government “escorts” to be sure the proper blinders were in place. “We” were not supposed to see the smack-you-in-the-face abject poverty of most of the country in comparison to the powerful and ultra-wealthy. Even the identifications of the labranza houses and plantations were to be obscured, no pictures were allowed to be taken, and access was denied to any interior operation in the name of maintaining “sanitation.”
Kind of funny. None of the other countries was near as brazen. Not even Venezuela. Although we saw many in military fatigues carrying submachine guns there, no spoken massages about behaving needed to be uttered. But nothing was hidden from our sight there either. Including the mountain dwellers, living in their piles of rotting garbage. The lowest class of the lowest class lived at the bottom of the mountainside where the worst of the refuse would collect.
Ah, but I’m sliding down another side shaft. Hello Bunny !
Back in Mexico, I was about to be pulled into the one giant hiccup in this State-run Operation. The Son of one of the “Politician Monitors” accompanying us was allowed to come along, and allowed to drive his own vehicle. In contrast, “We” were loaded onto a single bus with a headcount taken as we boarded. But the Son invited me to ride along in his car trailing the bus. All heads turned with stoic gazes, but no one said anything as I seized the opportunity to ride along with maybe a less biased narrator.
And less biased he was – at least towards the government’s machinations. But another cultural blinder was painfully made evident.
You see, he was willing to tell me all about the conditions of poverty in his country, and all about the “land reforms” that were going on. But, as you shall see, there was one area of discussion where he clearly regurgitated the state’s brainwashing in no uncertain terms.
I was illuminated about how the giant Haciendas were broken up and the land redistributed. The so-called “land reform.” The monstrous catch was, the land was only very limitedly given to ordinary people, and when it was, it was distributed as “Ejidos” – common property for cooperative land tenure.
No, virtually all of the large estates went to military officers, politicians and others that were owed kickbacks for supporting certain politicians – either locally or nationally. This may have even included a few Drug Lords [wink, wink], which explains why “We” weren’t allowed in a “major” pig processing plant, that was strangely missing any sight or scent of a hog, but had a lot of colorful pigs painted on warehouse-sized buildings and semi-trucks.
Later in the day, as “We” moved on to yet another restricted Hacienda, passing many La Granjas (small farms) and el Ranchos (for horses and cows) whose deteriorating state was painfully obvious. It wasn’t long before “We” came upon a nice brand-new, US-owned, farm implement company. There were literally acres of tractors, combines, strippers, rollers, spreaders, and harvesters. And all of the various attachments you could imagine. Augers, lifters, loaders, conveyers, choppers, blowers, and tillers. A sea of powder-coated, shiny green, orange, blue, yellow, and red steel implements contrasting the scorched, brown and gray ground upon which they all sat.
And where they would remain.
My companion explained that this was all for show. Part of Mexico’s dealings with the US to allow more agribusiness exchanges. But the truth of the matter was that if Mexico actually mechanized farming almost everyone would be put out of work. The economy, at least the 1977 economy, in Mexico was still based on hand labor.
While I was enjoying the discussion and getting to the truisms of the politics, economics, class structure, and lifestyle of the populous, I finally found an opportunity to ask him the question that was burning on my brain. So tell me Antonio, “how many Native or Indigenous Tribes are around here and in the country generally.”
He looked surprised and stared blankly, almost angrily, at me for a moment and replied, “There are no Indians in my country.”
Now this was shocking for me as I knew better and I was hoping to gain some more insider perspective. But it appears the education system in Mexico is in complete denial of the Indigenous roots of its country. Maybe that is not such a shock considering the massive genocide that took place there.
It’s estimated that some twenty-five million Indians, Indigenous First Nation’s People, lived in Meso-America and the Caribbean at the time when the Spanish arrived. It’s also estimated that between 80 and 95 percent of these peoples were wiped out in the 100 plus years following Columbus’s getting lost at sea and crashing into Bahamas. The genocide perpetrated by the European “gifted” epidemics of Smallpox, Typhus, Measles, Influenza, Bubonic Plague, Cholera, Malaria, Tuberculosis, Mumps, Yellow Fever, and Pertussis.
A number of regions in the Americas lost 100% of the Native population.
There has been, fortunately, a resurgence and recognition of the Indigenous, who have regained a population of approximately of 25 million making up 21% of the total population of Modernity’s “Melting Pot” of Mexico today. In fact, “The Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Languages recognizes 62 Indigenous Languages as ‘national languages’ which have the same validity as Spanish in all territories [in Mexico] where they are spoken.”
I have no idea what the populations of the Indigenous looked like in 1977, but I’m sure it was a bit above being zero, as I was told by Antonio on our car drive.
It was a fateful experience to meet up with Antonio. And he provided some amazing insight into the closed-door, orchestrated, propagandized version of Mexico that “We” were supposed to see. And while I was enjoying the discussion and getting to the truisms of land reform and farming in Mexico, I wondered what might befall me for having jumped in that car.
I was greeted by angry eyes when I rejoined the rest of “We” on that bus.
Thankfully, and strange as it was, I only received a small debriefing.
Humm, I might have just forgotten that part of being told not to share what I had learned. 😊
Photo: I actually was being pretty sneaky to get this shot. It totally captures what I was telling you about how we were not allowed to see what was really happening at these “farms.”
References: I have to confess, I did rely on Wikipedia for some of the numbers above. I know it is not the best resource, but at least they do site their references for this data.
BTW, The word “Warren,” used to describe a network of rabbit tunnels, was derived from the medieval Anglo-Norman usage of “free warren” that was a hunting license for a particular area. “Domestic Warrens” are enclosed animal feeding operations for raising rabbits for meat and fur.
Wiki gives us this for the actual word derivation: “Modern English warren ← ME warrene, warreine ← ONF warrenne ← Germanic present participle of *warian “to take care; to cause to care (for)” ← causative of *waran “to care” ← *war “care”. Doublet of guarantor. Related to OHG werien (i.e. *wärian) “to defend, protect”, and also to English “‘a-ware, wary'”. “