Okay, okay... we'll slow down... so, like, the president, he comes to Mexico and we're all like, "Man, get a load of that dude's car!" And he drives the car around and he shake's Peña Nieto's hand and we all figure, well, that's about as good as it's gonna get. And then the next day he goes out the the Museum of Anthropology and gives some long bla-bla-bla about how America ♥ Mexico and stuff and we're all like, "Man, I wonder where they keep that guy's car while he's talking," and then - Omigod! Omigod! - he goes, like:
One man in Querétaro spoke for an increasing number of Mexicans. “There’s no reason to go abroad in search of a better life, there are good opportunities here.”
Ahem. Um, hi - it's your regular correspondents again. We were letting Carmen Maria, the weekend intern, type up today's post, and she appears to have fainted on the floor. Anyway, her reaction was not atypical. The president did indeed speak for 26 minutes yesterday. Speeches like this are generally not an opportunity to hand out the tough love, and the man name-checked, among other places, Oaxaca, Tijuana, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Brazil, China, India and Mars. And of course Querétaro, which he not only mentioned, but quoted a queretano as saying there are good opportunities here.
Or somewhere, anyway. To his audience made up predominantly of college students in Mexico City, he continued: "That's what he said, and you are an example of that." So Obama himself may not really have voiced an opinion on the question of whether there are or are not opportunities in QRO.
Jesus, guys. We'll have to go back and check the coverage, but we don't think too many American papers clear the front page every time the presidente of Mexico mentions their state.
And it wasn't just the cheerleaders in the working press. Someone - clearly inspired by the groundbreaking work of Burro Hall - 'shopped this image of BHO in the QRO. It's been shared online 40,000 time as of this writing.
Then, like a game of telephone, the Sacred Quote itself began to morph a bit. In adjacent articles in the ongoing piece of performance art currently d/b/a Plaza de Armas, it started out as "Barack Obama said that he has heard that in Querétaro there exist opportunities for progress and that there was no ned to go to the US in search of them, because in the state there are the conditions necessary to get ahead," and then became, "A friend told me that in Querétaro there's no need to go the the US because there are good opportunities there."
Governor Calzada weighed in, claiming that the passing mention of something a [possibly apocryphal] guy from Querétaro said "has put Querétaro on the world map." "The simple fact that the leader of the most powerful economy in the world mentioned Querétaro is without a doubt an honor," said Mayor Loyola. (Also, have you seen the car that dude drives around in? ) The director of the state legislature, a Panista, went on record saying that the leadership of the state "has no colors" - which we at first took to be some completely bizarre attempt to get down with the black guy, but later realized was a reference to political parties - i.e., "don't give the PRI all the credit for the fact that Obama said 'Querétaro.'" (For his part, Calzada said that getting the state to the level of being mentioned publicly by the president didn't happen over night, but is thanks to "generations" of queretanos, presumably going back to Conín, if not earlier.) We expect Jardín Zenea to be renamed Plaza Obama by the end of the month.
We realize it's churlish to point this out, but at any given time there's an estimated 40,000 queretanos working in the United States, which works out to about 2.1% of the state's population. By way of comparison, this would be the equivalent of 53,000 Brooklynites living in Querétaro. (In fact, we're only aware of ourselves and the nice couple who run Erlum.)
And we almost don't have the heart to point out that the speech was not broadcast in the US, so pretty much the only people who heard The Great Utterance were Mexicans. Sure, the speech was covered in the US, but mostly by crazy people who read every mention of the word "guns" as a dictatorial power grab, and who took great offense at the way he hinted that, as the cartels' main customer, financier and arms supplier, the US might possibly bear some responsibility for the whole "drug war" thingy. No one in the US press mentioned he mentioned Querétaro. Sorry.
Plaza de Armas editor Sergio Venegas managed to come up with the most interesting and most dubious infonugget: The last president of the United States to utter the word "Querétaro" was James K. Polk, on May 30, 1848. On the one hand, we find that impossible to believe, any more than the notion that 165 years could pass without, say, "Massachusetts" passing the lips of any Mexican president. On the other hand, we can't imagine the circumstance in which it would come up. (Whereas four of the last six Mexican presidents actually spent their college years in the Bay State.) Venegas notes that while Obama's mention was positive (more or less; see above), Polk was ratifying the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, negotiated in Querétaro, "in which we lost the totality of the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Texas, as well as parts of Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma." So there's that. Still, until he produces the quote, we remain skeptical.
We didn't see the speech in real time, but having lived here for three months before we pronounced it correctly, we wondered how the Leader of the Free World pulled off The Most Beautiful Word in the Spanish Language. Zip ahead to 6:53.
Spoken like a United Airlines flight crew.