Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mexico: The Chinameca Alien - A Sociological Interpretation

Date: 04.20.10

The Chinameca Alien: Monclova’s Chupacabras Madness
By Gloria Jaramillo

Amid the convulsion unleashed by the economic crisis and the violence that pervades every corner of the country, and in an episode reminiscent of the Chupacabras legend, young men and children from Monclova claim having seen a figure they have described as otherworldly, and was christened as “El Alien” by the media. In both of these cases, boys and teens describe a strange creature with smooth grey skin, large shining eyes similar to those of a dog, four-legged but walking on its two hind legs.

In recent days, the alleged discovery has represented a sort of respite after the psychosis that residents of the Central Region have experienced as the outcome of violence in several parts of the country, the economic crisis and the fuel boycotts that will take place on Saturday.

The subject is suitable for comment by the gas station attendant, who asks his co-worker: “So what’s up with the Alien?” by the psychologist from a state agency who wonders about the motives behind the entity’s alleged presence, and the businessman who claims to be part of the new generation of government employees, on account of the high cost of electricity, fuel and taxes.

After dark on Sunday, young Omar Andres Armendariz and Jose Rolando Gallegos, age 12, visited a store located a block a way from their home in Colonia Chinameca – in the city’s Eastern section – at the request of a neighbor who asked them to fetch a bottle of milk.

According to their story, the saw what they at first took to be a rabbit, and followed it. When it felt cornered, it ran into an empty lot and sought shelter amid the brush; the boys threw stones at it and approached. Upon getting closer, they saw two large eyes shining. Suddenly, the being stood on its hind legs and fled the scene.

Terrified, the boys ran back to their parents’ house, saying that they’d seen an alien, but described it as being smooth and grey. But what impressed them the most is that the quadruped walked away on two legs, like a human. They filed a police report, and that’s when skeptical and somewhat amused members of the police visited the site. They combed it and listened to the astonishing story told by the kids. Nothing was found.

On Monday morning, four teenagers fishing for prawns in the “Charco Azul”, a wretched area that is all that remains of once mighty Monclova River, told police that they’d seen the “Alien”

The description was similar to that given by the Chinameca boys, but this one added that the entity submerged into the water.

Four youths were involved here: Jesus and Emanuel Medrano, Rolando Salazar and Gerardo Amaya, who filed a report of their own in the presence of police officers. The officers, as part of their routine duties, combed the area searching for the being and found nothing. All the boys got for their effort was to be removed from the location.

Psychoanalyst Camilo Ramirez believes that stories of aliens and Chupacabras do not necessarily come from authorities seeking to create smokescreens to cover grave social woes, but they are indeed exploited by the means of communication.

In his interpretation, he states that amid the virtual state of exclusion in which Mexican society now finds itself, amid a drug war in which innocent civilians die in increasing numbers, such delusions may emerge.

“Another interesting situation is that when those at hand do not provide assistance, it is necessary to ask the aliens – meaning foreigners – for help. If authorities cannot help, there are the aliens. It provides meaning within the socio-cultural context when there is a lack of order, authority is fragmented, and the need for meaning arises. Perhaps children or teenagers can give meaning in these features,” he says.

He adds: “Beyond the alleged smokescreen created by the authorities to distract the public, or the fuel boycott on the weekend, or the registration of cellphones and the fear that these records will be misused, we are in a world of foreigners. When someone launches a deluded idea, if we perceive it the ravings of a madman, we are not measuring its social scope. A link exists.”

Alien, he says, means foreign. “To humans, aliens are extraterrestrials, the strangest or more remote. That which is most remote is the closest, because humans constitute themselves from the outside: another who acknowledges us, another determines our usages and customs, and we exist as a result of others. Our existence is therefore artificial, even though we occupy biological bodies.”

The psychologist goes on to interpret: “Nowadays, the foreigners, the aliens, are soldiers, the police. We experience them as strange, not knowing if we should beware of them or feel protected by them, if they are here to help or harm us further. Never mind infiltrate us. The emergence of aliens should not be surprising among children whose fantasies enable them to ascribe the hatred or dislike they feel toward some people.”

(Translation (c) 2010, S. Corrales, IHU)