THE SOCIAL SYSTEM
Knowing a little about Mexico’s social system makes the people more understandable. Mexico has a highly stratified class system: the Indian peasant at the bottom; a relatively small middle class of professional people, military officers, middle class bureaucrats; and at the top, a small number of rich, an oligarchy of politicians, industrialists and large landowners who control the country. The president of Mexico has vast powers for a period of six years. Similarly the state governors have power undreamed of by their counterparts in the U.S. The extended family is the group to which the individual owes first loyalty. Since there is no social security system as part of government, the family takes care of its own, and as a result is more important to the individual.
Bribery and corruption are denounced but are more or less accepted as part of life. The average Mexican is poor, possibly malnourished and stoical. Bureaucrats feel underpaid and in return work as little as possible. The upper class Mexican tends to be shrewd, proud and self-seeking.
Upper class Mexicans, like most of Latin America’s upper class, are much aware of their Spanish heritage. They are lavish hosts and if their visitor is really accepted are loyal friends. In business relations, North Americans are urged to get all agreements in writing and, if possible, payment in advance or guaranteed by a bank. Influence based on friendship or deals is very important in getting things done. Manana, putting things off until tomorrow, is commonplace. The old Latin hand accepts the fact that running things by the clock is not esteemed the way it is in the industrialized world. Appointments and other engagements are not really expected to occur at the scheduled time. Social relations often override business relations in business discussions. Machismo, an overemphasis on manliness, may lead to what people from other cultures think is ridiculous or bizarre behavior. The matador, the cult hero, is muy macho, very brave. A man’s sense of masculinity, his sense of dignidad, ranks high in the person’s sense of worth, and is something to be protected at all costs. Among men who can afford it the practice of keeping a mistress is part of the person’s need to show his masculinity.
By the 1820s, however, Mexico Country commerce had altered patterns of Caribbean trade to the exclusion of Statia. Mexico Map The little island rapidly fell into the economic decline in which it remains. Neil Kennedy See also: Caribbean (Chronology); Dutch; Slavery, Caribbean; Sugar. Bibliography Goslinga, C. C. The Dutch in the Caribbean and in the Guianas, 16801791. Assen, Netherlands, and Dover, NH: Van Gorcum, 1985. Klooster, Wim. Illicit Riches: Dutch Trade in the Caribbean, 16481795. Leyden, Netherlands: KITLV, 1998. Slave Communities and Culture From the early seventeenth century to the Country Revolution, African Country slaves innovatively created new communities and cultures by combining the common elements of their African traditions with new influences from white colonial society. By doing so, they found a measure of dignity, assertiveness, and independence in the midst of oppression.