On December 3, Mexico's Paisano Program will initiate its Christmas season operations. In effect throughout all of the year, but intensified between early-December and mid-January, the Paisano Program's goal is to stop the exploitation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans by corrupt Mexican officials when these people return from the US to Mexico to visit family over the holidays.
Responding to recent criticism from Mexican community leaders in the US that say that the Paisano Program is well intentioned but ineffective, the regional director of the Instituto Nacional de Migración in Baja California, Rodolfo Valdez Gutiérrez, said that the success of the program depends on what people expect of it.
Valdez told the Tijuana newspaper Frontera that the Pro-grama Paisano is a "clear attempt by the government to make sure that laws are carried out correctly, recognizing that in Mexico there exists the habit of exploiting fellow countrymen that live in the US but return to Mexico during the holidays." In effect for eleven years, the program is a way to keep paisanos from being treated like a resource ready for the looting by customs, federal police and traffic police, according to Valdez.
Valdez says that the program consists of 1.2 million pamphlets, 262,000 radio and TV advertisements, representatives in Chicago and Los Angeles, seven people in the Mexico City central office and a coordinating effort with Mexican NGOs. The NGOs are used as a source of volunteers to watch over government checkpoints for illegal behavior on the part of government employees.
In a related story, the PRI recently requested that President Fox restructure customs and immigration procedures so that people coming into Mexico only have to make one stop at a government checkpoint. The PRI believes that this will help reduce the level of exploitation and corruption at the border, according to the Mexican newspaper Excélsior.
Source: Frontera (Tijuana), November 28, 2001. Article by Jaime Velázquez.