Diaspora and Trust: Cuba, Mexico, and the Rise of China
Trust and Treachery in Mexico’s Chinese Diaspora
Early Chinese settlers in Mexico were considered intruders with no place in the revolutionary struggle. Today, Mexican newspapers continue to describe the adverse national impact of obscure Chinese business networks. Image-conscious officials are therefore reluctant to support trade fairs organized by Chinese associations. Proposals for containing the black market and its Chinese connections include the expulsion of street vendors and strengthening of police capacities, but the social dimensions of the informal sector remain unaddressed. The state government of Baja California is an exception, endorsing street fairs, marketplaces, and awareness of Chinese cultural heritage to facilitate registered bilateral trade and investment. These advances are overshadowed by illicit transnational employment rings whose Chinese victims speak of inhumane conditions in northern Mexico’s factories and threats of retribution for breaking their silence about their exploitation. An extreme form of enforceable trust underpins a tightly guarded system of labor migration, underscoring the need for regulatory follow-through once the cooperation agreements are signed.
Pérez Brito, Arnaldo. 1953. Vocal performance of “Chino Li-Wong,” by Armando Orefiche. Recorded by Armando Orefiche and His Havana boys on Vintage Cuba no. 79 EP Almendra.