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Who's Invading Whom?

WHEN MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES BEGAN economic integration at the start of the decade, folks south of the border fretted about Northern imperialists overtaking their companies, customs and culture. But, as this month's cover story shows, the invasion is not unilateral.

Multinational and Mexican companies are turning the country's comparatively tiny economy into a major cog in the much larger U.S. economy. More remarkable, and more difficult to track, is the tectonic cultural shift taking place in the United States, where everything from tortillas to norteno music is entering--and even, in some areas, dominating--the U.S. mainstream.

To ferret out the depth of this Mexicanization, we turned to Laura Martinez Ruiz-Velasco, our correspondent in Los Angeles, who sports a cross-cultural curriculum vitae that reads like an atlas. Born in Mexico, she has lived in Singapore, Chile, Argentina and now the United States.

On assignment, Laura quickly hit a curious obstacle: She didn't know whether to interview people in English or Spanish. "When I call people with names like Chong Rivera, Michael Bustamante, Steve Armendariz, it's hard to know what language to use, she says. "I almost always opt for English, but after a while something slips out in Spanish. They say, 'Oh, es que tu hablas espanol?' and off we go into Spanish. They are perfectly bilingual."

Language is just the start. Mexican immigrants are bringing their food, music and even national holidays to the western United States, creating a zesty cultural blend that has penetrated far beyond the Rio Grande and giving us a glimpse of what greater regional integration may portend.

Mike Zellner

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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Mexico-US commerce
Publication:Latin Trade
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Aug 1, 1999
Previous Article:Corruption: NORTH OF THE BORDER.
Next Article:LETTERS.

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