Americas

Japanese #1, Americans #21 - survey measures attachment to one’s homeland

Felipe Perez, owner of the Jamón Ibérico Pata Negra Restaurant, 10 SW South River Dr., from Vadillo de la Sierra, in Northern Madrid speaks about the nationalism of diferent nationalities on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.
Felipe Perez, owner of the Jamón Ibérico Pata Negra Restaurant, 10 SW South River Dr., from Vadillo de la Sierra, in Northern Madrid speaks about the nationalism of diferent nationalities on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

Mexicans have the reputation of being extreme nationalists, willing to defend their country regardless of cost or reason.

A top aide to President Reagan was once quoted in The New York Times as saying that dealing with Mexicans was “like striking a porcupine.”

Consider the spectacular suicide of a young Mexican cadet who threw himself from the heights of Chapultepec Castle wrapped in the Mexican flag lest U.S. forces seize it during the Mexican-American war in the 19th century; or consider Mexico’s initial decision to refuse profitable natural gas sales to the United States because Washington would not pay the higher price Mexico City demanded in the 20thcentury.

So it came as a surprise when a recent international survey showed that Mexicans are not as closely identified with their country as people of other nationalities.

In a 2014 survey of 45,297 respondents in 33 countries, Mexicans ranked 25th — compared with the Japanese, who ranked first.

In the survey by the Institute of Marketing and Opinion (IMO), Spaniards and Americans ranked even higher than Mexicans – 23 and 21, respectively.

“The current reality in Mexico has changed,” said César Augusto Morones Servín, IMO president and director general, by way of explanation about the Mexican result. “The people of Mexico are no longer traditionalist. Instead, they see themselves as in the vanguard, more modern, more global.”

And in the world stage, some Japanese analysts have conceded that Japanese, by and large, are nationalists and growing more so as China and other Asian neighbors become more powerful.

“Across Japan, there are signs that the collective mood — long shaped by pangs of regret over World War II — is in the midst of a shift as tensions with rivals, especially China and South Korea, escalate,” the Wall Street Journal said in an analysis piece last year.

The Japanese consulate general in Miami, however, said survey results reflect the attachment of Japanese to their culture.

“Japanese, as all people, are attached to their country and culture,” according to a consulate statement. “Blessed with an abundance of flora and fauna, Japanese people are raised with a respect for nature and other people.”

On the streets of Miami, immigrants from some of the countries represented in the survey offered their own comments about the results.

“One should never forget one’s culture,” said Judith Castillo, an immigrant from Chiapas, a Mexican state on the border with Guatemala. “But I also must thank God for having brought me to this blessed land in Miami.”

Castillo, an employee of the Little Havana ice cream shop La Michoacana, spoke while serving customers.

“At this time, with Christmas in the air, I think more about Mexico,” noted Claudio Gonzalez, a customer from Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located.

Miami Spaniards also answered the survey question: How emotionally close do you feel to your own country?

“I feel very closely identified with my homeland,” said Felipe Pérez, who runs the Miami Spanish restaurant Jamón Ibérico Pata Negra. “When you are an immigrant, and you have spent many years outside your country, when you go back you feel a little bit like a foreigner, and I love this country, but I don’t feel totally American. I am a U.S. citizen now, but I still worry about problems back in Spain.”

IMO is an organization based in Zapópan, a city near Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city in Jalisco state.

People questioned in the survey lived mostly in European and Asian countries. The only Latin American country listed in the survey was Mexico. The only other Spanish-speaking country in the survey was Spain.

Morones said other Latin American countries were not included in last year’s survey because they had participated in previous years.

Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @AlfonsoChardy

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