Several decades ago, not long after I arrived in Mexico, I was strolling down Guadalajara’s Avenida Federalismo and struck up a conversation with a rather down-at-heel man, probably in his early fifties. It turned out he was from Guatemala and living in a refugee camp in Michoacan, Jalisco’s neighboring state. His motive for coming to Guadalajara was to meet a public official who, he had been informed, might help draw attention to the plight of Guatemalan refugees in Mexico.
The official was far too busy to see his humble visitor and the Guatemalan was sent packing smartly. The hangdog expression on the man’s face as we walked down Federalismo told the story. Then he mumbled something that stayed with me long after we parted company. “If I had been a woman, they would have treated me decently. Men get no respect here. We are the dregs of society.”
Later, I pondered this comment. Was it simply the mutterings of a man insulted by an uncaring bureaucracy or was there a deeper lesson to be learned?