As López Obrador Takes Office, Mexicans in US are Hopeful

Andrés Hipólito Morales left Mexico when he was 22. Now, he has his own flower business in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. (Photo by José Martínez via El Diario)

[Below are excerpts from a story by El Diario’s José Martínez.]

Twenty-eight years ago, Andrés Hipólito Morales left the town of San Juan Evangelista, in the southern Mexican state of Veracruz, after a brother-in-law told him that the U.S. was the place where he could realize his dreams. Fleeing insecurity, corruption and poverty, Morales, now 50, embarked on the journey, and a few months later he brought his wife and three of his four children.

But now, during a cold autumn morning, he says he dreams of returning to his hometown. He and his family live off selling floral arrangements in the Mexican enclave of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. They share a small store with fellow countryman Juan Sánchez, who in four years has established a thriving business selling traditional Mexican boots, sombreros and vests.

Both say they are tired of discrimination and the challenges of being “away from home.” That’s why they have pinned their hopes of returning on the new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who on Saturday started his six-year term.

“He is on the right track,” said Morales, as he cut a last bouquet of roses before going to pick up his four grandchildren, all New York-born, from school. “We hope that he will work hard against corruption, and punish all those presidents who have looted Mexico.”

“You bet he will!” shouted Sánchez from his chair in the back of the narrow store on 45th Street and 5th Avenue, in the heart of “Little Mexico.” (…)

At 15 Sandra Guzmán moved from Puebla, Mexico, to New York. (Photo by José Martínez via El Diario)

Sandra Guzmán and her sister Estepahie fled Puebla, known as Mexico’s college capital, 11 years ago. As homicides increased 36.8 percent in 2017, totaling about 1,100 murders per year, going back is not an option, but they hope that the new president will help them get “more respect and dignity on the part of the U.S. government.”

“We deserve respect because if [President Trump] does business in Mexico, then he must respect us,” said Guzmán, as she worked at a taco restaurant near the area’s main park. “We hope the new president [López Obrador] will pull his socks up and respond because in the end they just talk, but we’re the ones who really have to suffer.”

López Obrador, she added, must concentrate on improving the economy and security. “Although I live here in the U.S., I believe México has a great future because there are lots of touristic places, lots of talent, but we should stop feeding the big fishes and support the people so there are more jobs, better salaries, and we don’t have to emigrate here.” (…)

Sunset Park resident Thelma Calixto said that the new president “should focus on education. I left Mexico because there was no money to go to school because, if you don’t have contacts, you might graduate but then there are no jobs and you can’t pay back those loans.” (…)

The view of Mexicans in L.A.

[La Opinión asked Los Angeles Mexican residents what they would like to see during López Obrador’s six-year term. Here is an extract of some of the responses.]

Gerardo Rojas, 59, retailer: “As a Mexican I’m interested in tackling insecurity. You can’t go to Mexico anymore because as soon as you get to the airport they search your baggage to see what they can pick up.”

Félix Martínez, 39 restaurateur: “I hope the government stops organized crime, corruption and drugs. In fact, I don’t think things will change much because every time there’s a new president they always f… up those who are f…ed.”

Laura Padilla, 51, activist/broadcaster: “As a feminist I’m really pleased that there are many women in the government and in the decision-making process, and I hope the shame of the femicides will end once and for all.”

Mónica Cruz, 43, florist: “Hopefully the president will increase salaries, not be corrupt, and lower gas prices because people can no longer survive in Mexico… They must take care of indigenous communities in the south and the Tarahumara, who are freezing to death, and stop by Nayarit and help those who lost everything in the wake of the latest hurricane.”

Juan José Gutiérrez, 51, activist: “I hope that 2018 will be remembered as the last time the vote from abroad was ‘blocked’… and that the 50 consulates and the Mexican embassy in the U.S. be transformed into legal offices defending Mexicans facing a deportation process who don’t have the means to pay for a lawyer.”

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