Earlier in March, I commented about how the cultural center debacle was proof of the concerted effort to de-Mexicanize El Paso. As you might remember I pointed out how the cowboy mystique has usurped the original vaquero with a caricature that completely ignores the Mexican culture of El Paso. I also reminded you of the infamous Glass Beach study that clearly made the point that the future of El Paso lay in erasing anything having to do with Mexico. The proof of this phenomenon is all around us and yet may El Pasoans refuse to believe it.

This weekend, KVIA and the El Paso Times informed us of a new city tourism campaign that is about to be unveiled. According to KVIA, the new “catchy slogan” will be “El Paso Up.” Destination El Paso is hoping that “El Paso Up” drives tourism to the city. Ever since the Glass Beach study, El Paso’s slogans and brandings campaigns have been a complete failure.

As with the previous branding campaigns, this latest one misses the most important component of El Paso’s culture – anything Mexican related.

This is by design. The Glass Beach study clearly laid the groundwork for de-Mexicanizing El Paso. It has been the blueprint for El Paso since.

Take a look at the collateral for the new branding logo that was released to the news media. Notice what is missing?

Mexico, the gateway to Mexico is so ashamed of its Mexican identity that it has been trying to hide it for years now.

Look closely, “More Shops..Less Yee-Haw” and some Anglo dame dressed up in a cowboy getup that no self-respecting vaquero, male or female, would ever be caught dead in. Don’t even get me started on the Chihuahua mutt all ghettoed up in a Luchador mask.

In other words, El Paso is trying to be anglo-centric ignoring the inconvenient fact that El Paso is over 80% Hispanic.

According to the El Paso Times, Bryan Crowe, general manager for Destination El Paso, states that their “focus for tourism marketing is not normally in El Paso, so El Pasoans really don’t get the opportunity to see everything we do to market to the United States and Northern Mexico markets.”

Clearly, the branding is not intended for El Pasoans. However, isn’t the idea of attracting tourism based on the notion that the city has something different to offer? Why would a tourist want to go to a city that is a carbon copy of their home?

El Paso has three unique and significant things it offers. They are culture, food and history. Those three things have something in commonMexico. In its quest to de-Mexicanize El Paso, the leadership ignores these three important El Paso attractions.

Contrast all of this with San Antonio.

San Antonio has no problem highlighting the Alamo, where the Texans got their asses handed to them. San Antonio loves to tout their Mexican food that is nothing more than nachos with queso, but they make it sound likes it’s the best Mexican food in the world.

San Antonion’s get it. Mexico is the key and rather than ignore it, they wholeheartedly embrace it.

El Paso, though, would rather follow the blue print of the Glass Beach study and thus it pretends Mexicans are nonexistent in the city. How truly sad.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “Further Proof of the de-Mexicanization of El Paso”

  1. I don’t think it’s a case of de-Mexicanizing El Paso, it’s more let’s get rid of the old and bring the new so we can look modern. The younger group doesn’t know the difference between antiques, historical and old or outdated. So we have running around bulldozing anything over 10 years. The insanity of this thinking is that in 20-30 years the new buildings become old, then what ? The city would never develop a personality of it’s own.

    Once again, I will say it so maybe some will finally get the message. Perhaps if I tried presenting the comment in a foreign language? Anyway, buildings don’t make a city, people do ! What we have is a city that’s trying to be considered modern by making El Paso in the image of other cities. Ok, but the people don’t change. So we have city, that is “Beverly Hillbillies” living in a modern mansion.

    What I am saying is forget about NYC or Chicago, they have their own thing working for them and it’s unique. Don’t see them trying to look like Miami or Las Vegas. El Paso is unique in its way. The Barrio provides its own Mexican flavor that tourists seek. The culture, the stores, the music in the streets, the sounds of Mexicans talking and it’s real homemade style food. Tourists can’t get that back home. Many of them return home and develop a distaste for Mexican food cooked by non-Mexicans. Who wants menudo cooked by Guiseppe from Sicily or burritos by Ski, the Polish guy known for sausages. They WANT real Mexican food made by Lolo. Ever try a real Philly cheesesteak, no matter what they say, NO ONE in El Paso knows how to make one. It’s the bread, the sauce, meat, cheese and onions made by Paulie ! Get the idea ?

    Let’s face it, people no longer go to Juarez so, we have to give them the next best thing, EL PASO. People from the Eastern half of the U.S. want to see desert, open country, western clothing (at least JR Ewing style), slower pace life, shop for leather goods made in the southwest or a real alluring Mexican blouse for the ladies-the kind that makes men break out in a sweat. Where would you rather buy boots or a Stetson in NYC or El Paso ? This is a Tex-Mex city with a rich history. Share it, give the tourists what they want. Theyve already seen where Washington slept, how about where Villa slept.

    As in anything, don’t go to extremes and try to erase or pretend others added nothing to the development of the city. Let’s not insinuate or imply that only Mexicans had anything to do with the building of El Paso. I bet most tourists don’t know about the rich mixture of Chinese with Mexicans. That’s why some Mexicans are nicknamed Chino. We have a very nice mixed Arab-Mexican people, very good looking. We have the Native American influence on art. We have that crazy or vida loca music from the Cubans. Listen to Mexican music and we hear the German influence. Buffalo soldiers and their history, the list goes on.

    Let’s not divide the city with nonsense about who was first or did the most. Let’s be proud of who and what we are, a great friendly city of mixed cultures. A unified city not divided. Isn’t it time to show the rest of the U.S. how to be tolerant and accepting of cultures. We’re almost there, number 5 on the list ain’t bad, show the other cities how to be like us.

  2. Out with old? So they use an old white woman to symbolize El Paso? The truth is so extreme it’s unbelievable

  3. Don’t sell the old white woman short. They’re considered the most likely to vote and most influencing in politics. Want to win, get them on your side !

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