Bienvenido, Mexico City

As I write these words, I'm seated at a chic (but cheap) organic restaurant in Mexico City, complete with wifi and a collection of yoga videos and organic salads for sale. It's the kind of place you might be more likely to expect to see in the East Village than on the streets of a city usually infamous for its air pollution, bad traffic, and monotonous urban sprawl. And to be sure, there's some truth to those things. But there's also much more. There's a Mexico that is breaking expectations, rising to confront the very real challenges that do exist. In fact, there's most of Mexico that resists the characterizations of this place as a state on the brink.

In the short few weeks that I'll be in Mexico, this is what I'm hoping to write about: the surprises and the contradictions, and the story behind the story that we usually read. I'm here on vacation in part, but as any journalist knows, once you've traveled as a reporter, there's really no going back. You can't help yourself from asking questions, making calls, and writing. Without any illusions that one can pop in an understand a place in a matter of weeks -- or really, years -- I'll be asking questions and trying to at least capture some of the ongoing conversations on the ground.

Ver Mexico city en un mapa ampliado

I'm always impressed when I think about how little we in the United States seem to read, think, and understand about our neighbor to the south. Mexico is our second largest trading partner and home to one of the world's largest emerging economies. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both hosted their counterparts from Mexico at state dinners in the White House. Yet aside from the events themselves, Mexico goes largely un-noticed in American foreign policy discussions. I think I can count on one hand the number of newspapers in the United States with permanent correspondents here.

I also know that there is some truth to the whispered "Latin American curse" in Washington -- the idea that there is so little interest in the region that even mentioning it shuts down all conversation. I also know journalists love to lament the death of foreign news, but Mexico is in many ways not foreign at all. Its troubles will become our troubles; its growth and development can only benefit the United States.

So here I am for the next few weeks to humbly do my penance for past inattention and think about Mexico. Thanks for the read.

Originally posted at www.elizabeth-dickinson.com

OG Image: