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  • Interview with Florentino Flores Castro [II] / Una Entrevista con Florentino Flores Castro [II]
  • Charles H. Rowell and Marcus Jones
  • Interview with Florentino Flores Castro [II]
  • Charles H. Rowell and Marcus Jones

This interview took place in two parts: on February 19, 2007, in Mata Clara and on February 20, 2007 in Cuitlahuac, Veracruz, Mexico.

CASTRO: That school has been around since 1840 [pointing].

ROWELL: Did the abolition of slavery occur before that?

CASTRO: Slavery was abolished throughout the entire country of Mexico in 1829.

ROWELL: What percentage of young people here in Mata Clara go through high school and then on to university, particularly among blacks?

CASTRO: In 1970, it was still difficult for us to finish junior high school. It was with difficulty that some finished elementary school. Currently, since 1990, there are no limits in education, whether it be for whites or blacks. At first there were limitations, because everything cost more in economic terms in the '70s. And I'll say it again, not everybody got to go to elementary or junior high school. I think that there were about two out of every ten who could go. Nowadays, it's not like that. Now, all of them go to elementary school, junior high school, high school—all of the basic education.

ROWELL: Are there professionals here in Mata Clara?

CASTRO: Yes, there are professionals now, with limitations. We're not going to compare ourselves with the United States. In that respect, the U.S. did worry about educating blacks as well as whites. Mexico never segregated us, but it also didn't worry about blacks making the same progress as whites. The U.S. always demanded education of you. Our government never demanded anything from us. In the past, if a black person learned to read, it was a bad thing.

JONES: Are there many blacks from here who go to the United States to join the military? [End Page 111]

CASTRO: No. The few we have heard about who are in the U.S. military are there because they were born in the U.S. They have had a different perspective. They're probably legally in the U.S. Currently the ones who go from here to the U.S. aren't going with the intention of qualifying or offering their services to the military. Besides, they wouldn't be able to, and the U.S. government wouldn't allow it.

JONES: But what's the situation like here?

CASTRO: Here, blacks aren't segregated in the military, either.

JONES: Are there many black Mexicans who join the military here, in Mexico?

CASTRO: No. Here, they dedicate themselves first to studying. Whoever wants to join the military can join it. They're not forced to. The military tries to recruit them so that they will sign up and join. Here, those who are going to devote themselves to studying devote themselves to studying; and those who are going to go straight into the military will go, even if they don't study. The military doesn't require a large amount of education. It's enough if you've finished junior high school. It's like the saying goes, "As long as he knows how to write his name" [laughing]. That's the requirement here in Mexico: that he knows how to write. We have to admit that the United States is ahead of us by 50 years.

JONES: Why do you think there aren't many documents from colonial times?

CASTRO: I think our government has neglected valuable things, primarily relics. I am going to talk about Yanga, about Cuitlahuac, which preserves a bit of the same structure as Yanga. Cuitlahuac had even more of a colonial structure, which has been dismantled completely. But that's part of the political control that we live with—the same government, municipal, state and federal offices, which don't put any effort into preserving items that identify what used to exist. The most quintessential colonial things, Cuitlahuac had them. Nowadays, it doesn't have them. The only thing Yanga still preserves is the municipal president's house. There's no longer anything else. The ones to blame are...


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