But Mexicans should remember the old proverb about people who live in glass houses. Dr. Lorenzo Cordova Vianello is a white Mexican government official whose telephone conversation ridiculing an indigenous leader was made public. And he has kept his job—something now utterly unimaginable in the “racist” United States. It’s a revealing glimpse into Mexican hypocrisy.
Mexico doesn’t collect racial and ethnic data in its census, so it’s hard to tell how many white Mexicans there are. A common estimate of Mexico’s racial breakdown: 9% white (mostly but not entirely Spanish-descended), 30% Indian, 60% mestizo (people with both European and Indian ancestors) and 1% other.
That’s an approximation. Mexico has a racial spectrum. There’s not always a clear differentiation between white and mestizo at one end, or mestizo or Indian. But there is a definite hierarchy, as socioeconomic status generally correlates with “whiteness.”
As a member of this elite caste, Dr. Cordova had a conversation with fellow INE official and white Mexican Edmundo Jacobo Molina (right). Unfortunately for Cordova, a recording of the conversation was posted online.
Within hours, the audio received a million views and went viral. It even made English-language media, which generally doesn’t run stories of Latin American racial discord [Mexico’s top election official offended the nation with a racist rant, By Ioan Grillo, Los Angeles Daily News, May 21, 2015]
Cordova mocked and imitated the indigenous leader’s speech, likening it to that of the Lone Ranger’s Indian sidekick Tonto. (The Lone Ranger was popular in Mexico, but Tonto’s name was changed to Toro, since Tonto in Spanish means dumb or stupid.)
Here’s the main part of what Cordova said (some colloquial Spanish profanities are hard to translate exactly):
…I’m not going to lie and I’m going to tell you how this cabrón [literally “billygoat”,approximately “motherf**ker”, “asshole”, “Bastard” “cuckold”] spoke: “I chief great nation Chichimeca, I come Guanajuato [the city], I say here the diputados for us and I no to permit your elections.” [This is referring to a request for an electoral district].(To read the whole text in Spanish, click here, to listen to it click here.)
…This guey [approximately “stupid”, “asshole”“cuckold” “dude”], I don’t know if he talks like that or watched a lot of Lone Ranger, with this Toro [the word they replaced Tonto with in Spanish] cabrón, the only thing lacking is for him to say “I great Chief Sitting Bull, leader great nation Chichimeca.”
What do we take away from this?
There’s no evidence Cordova abridged any Mexican citizen’s voting rights. Furthermore, this was a private conversation with a colleague.
However, the two officials were speaking about government business. As Mexican columnist Gabriel Guerra put it, Cordova was “Making fun of those he should be serving.”
Increible la conversacion telefonica de Lorenzo Cordova @lorenzocordovav burlandose de a quienes tiene la obligación de servir.— Gabriel Guerra C (@gabrielguerrac) May 19, 2015
On May 19th Cordova apologized in a press conference, and was quoted by the Daily News as saying: “I spoke in an unfortunate and disrespectful manner. I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a frank and sincere apology to anybody who could have been offended.”
Yet Cordova also lodged a criminal complaint about his phone transmission being recorded and leaked to YouTube. Despite bad publicity, he didn’t tender his resignation and still presided over Mexico’s June 7 mid-term elections.
Cordova remains in office.
American politicians have long been skewered for much less.
Back in 1974, Earl Butz, Secretary of Agriculture under Nixon and Ford, got into trouble for imitating Pope Paul VI with a stereotypical Italian accent. And in 1976, he told an obscene racial joke about blacks while in the presence of Pat Boone, Sonny Bono and John Dean. It was leaked to Rolling Stone by Dean, who attributed it to an unnamed cabinet official, but others were able to determine who said it.
Butz resigned in what may have been a turning point in American political history, as Butz was “caught in a paradigm shift” [Earl Butz, History’s Victim, by Timothy Noah, Slate, February 4, 2008]. After that, a Politically Incorrect private joke could ruin (and define) a person’s entire life and career.
But in 2015 Mexico, making fun of an Indian didn’t even get Cordova canned.
Part of the explanation could be the monolithic complexion of government officials.
For example, here are the members of the Consejo General, the General Council of the INE:CONSEJEROS ELECTORALES
Mexicans use two surnames, so you can tell more about their ancestry. For example, Ciro Muruyama Rendon (Right )may be about a quarter Japanese (and looks far whiter than, say, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva—pictured left for comparison). As another example, Benito Nacif Hernandez has an Arabic paternal surname, but still looks white.
In short: the INE is run by white Mexicans. Ditto Mexico at large.
It isn’t my business to tell Mexicans who should run their elections or their government. But, somehow, they think it is their business to tell us how to run ours.
By American standards, what Cordova got away with is astounding.
Mexican officials and media personalities are in no position to lecture us on immigration and race. So they shouldn’t complain when we do what is best for our country—and ignore what elite, white Mexicans have to say.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here ; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.