I have decided not to visit a friend of mine anymore during the Spanish soap operas in the evenings for many reasons. First of all, I can only talk to her during commercial breaks. And second, the commercials makes me sick to see how so many lawyers are trying to gain Latino clients but destroying the Spanish language. Last week, I mentioned attorney Jason Cook who tries, unsuccessfully, to speak in Spanish. Now, another law firm, Toro Law Group, yells, screams and talks ghetto-style, as if any Mexican who needs an attorney in our city is an uneducated, low-class citizen. I am really surprised that some of these Latino organizations have not come forward to tell these attorneys that the Mexican community deserves respect. I assume that the advertisers are directing their commercials at the Mexican community because of the wide brim Charro hat, the big mustache and the Mexican accent. (Not all Spanish accents are Mexican accents, for those who think that all Spanish is the same.) Before I keep going with my column, I have a disclaimer to make to assure that my enemies are not going to accuse me of being anti-Mexican–as everything I say or do is wrong in the eyes of my detractors. My friend is Mexican, born and raised in Ixtapa, state of Jalisco. She is a legal resident and came here by way of Los Angeles International Airport and passed through U.S. Customs legitimately. I am not going to mention her name because that is nobody’s business, but my intention is to make it clear that if I have a personal, friendly relationship with Mexicans I cannot have any ill feelings against them. I am not a hypocrite, and many Mexicans agree with my viewpoint and opinion on this topic. My point is that these American advertisers who are under the impression that by trying to speak Spanish they are going to gain more clients need to have some “Marias” in their office to help them to pronounce the few words they are learning and to help them to stop looking foolish and insincere in public. Attorney Eric Palacios is a good example of someone who is sincere: He doesn’t need the help of a “Maria,” as his ad says, because his Spanish is fluent. My point is also that these Mexican actors who are willing to come on television and make their countrymen look ignorant, low-class and uneducated are doing a disservice to the country that they are all so proud of. Furthermore, those who place commercials on the Spanish channels and networks should be told that the Mexicans are not the only Latino community in Las Vegas. There are Salvadorians and Nicaraguans and others, with a community as large as the Mexicans. Salvadorians are a very well-established, rich community, and there would be more of them if the Mexican Immigration Service were as “firm” and “mean” as the ICE in the United States of America (with the countless Mexicans crossing the border south of Arizona, California or Texas). Cox directs all its international commercials to those from Mexico; Vonage tells its future telephone customers that with their services they can call Mexico any time, any day, for whatever little money they charge. Don’t these companies know that Salvadorians are also human? Don’t they have families in their own country they talk with on a regular basis? But the television commercials and the lawyers trying to speak in Spanglish are not the only ones guilty of believing too many stereotypes. For example, a taco is not the only snack that exists in the Mexican menu. In fact, not too many people in Mexico City eat tacos regularly. I eat pupusas almost on a daily basis, thanks to my good friend Kelly Williams who introduced me to the pupusas world (thanks to Esmeralda’s Café being so close to my office). I am not using Kelly’s Spanish last name because she has a very important position and I want to protect her privacy. I never hear of Mexico celebrating the Fourth of July, but the hotels on the Strip go all out to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which is not even the Mexican Independence Day. From one end of the Strip to the other, the hotels think they are catering to the Hispanics with Cinco de Mayo events, trying to bring the Mexican high-rollers to leave their money on the green felt at their properties. But however, going back to the local commercials, I might not listen to the Spanish soap operas anymore because it makes me sick to hear someone destroying the beauty of our Spanish language for money. When I listen to an American attorney destroying our language, perhaps not intentionally, it is not as bad maybe as hearing a Spanish person making the Spanish people look uneducated, as if everyone is a ranch worker, which is not the truth. I hope that some of these Spanish organizations, Latino groups and political activists pay attention to what I am saying here and demand that these people correct these television commercials in a way that the Mexican people are more respected than by what is often portrayed. It’s a shame that the Cuban community (as outspoken as they can be) could not stand up when the film “Scar Face” hit the movie theaters all over the nation, as the Italians did when the “Godfather” films debuted many years ago. There is nothing they can do about any of that commercial exploitation, but for the record — as they say in the legal system — let’s make a formal complaint and let it stand, for the record. My name is Rolando Larraz, and as always, I approved this column. * * * * * Rolando Larraz is Editor in Chief of the Las Vegas Tribune. His column appears weekly in this newspaper. To contact Rolando Larraz, email him at: Rlarraz@lasvegastribune.com or at (702) 699-8111.
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