Chinese-Mexicans celebrate repatriation to Mexico



Associated Press

Published — Sunday 25 November 2012

Last update 25 November 2012 6:43 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

MEXICO CITY: Juan Chiu Trujillo was 5 years old when he left his native Mexico for a visit to his father’s hometown in southern China. He was 35 when he returned.
As Chiu vacationed with his parents, brother and two sisters in Guangdong province, Mexico erupted into xenophobia fueled by the economic turmoil of the Great Depression and aimed at its small, relatively prosperous Chinese minority. Authorities backed by mobs rounded up Chinese citizens, pressured them to sell their businesses and forced many to cross into the United States.
Unable to return to their home, hotel and restaurant in the southern border city of Tapachula, the Chius stayed in China and began a new life.
Chiu’s father took a job at a relative’s bakery and his children began learning Chinese. But their life was soon turned upside down as China was invaded by the Japanese, endured World War II and then suffered a civil war that led to a victory by communist forces that persecuted religious people. In 1941, the family fled to Macau, then a Portuguese colony.
They never stopped dreaming of Mexico, and Juan Chiu Trujillo returned in November 1960. He came back with his pregnant wife and four children and with 300 other Chinese-Mexicans after President Adolfo Lopez Mateos, trying to improve Mexico’s global image, paid for their travel expenses and decreed that they would be legally allowed to live in Mexico. They were eventually granted Mexican citizenship.
Dozens of those Chinese-Mexicans and their descendants planned a gathering Saturday at a Chinese restaurant in Mexico City to celebrate for the first time the anniversary of their return, share memories and pay tribute to the late Lopez Mateos, who was being represented by his daughter.
For many, the commemoration has brought reflection on their status as Chinese-Mexicans. It’s a group that feels deeply Mexican but also has been scarred by persecution by their countrymen and still faces ethnic prejudice, despite growing acceptance.
“I thought: ‘My children need to know this history. They need to know where we come from, and they need to know how much hard work it has taken for us to be here,’” said Chiu’s youngest son, Ignacio Chiu Chan, a 46-year-old lawyer.
Chiu Chan began a Facebook page to share photographs of the repatriation that he found in his father’s photo albums and to collect the stories of other Chinese-Mexicans who were brought back by Lopez Mateos. So far, more than 260 people have joined his page, sharing images and recounting family stories.


Chiu Chan, who is married to a Mexican woman of Spanish and Indian descent and has four children, said he struggled with his identity while growing up because of bullying and got into several fights because of name calling.
He was a young bachelor when a group of elders invited him to lunch at a restaurant in Mexico City’s tiny Chinatown. Three young women were at the table and he was asked to say which one he would like to marry.
“I thought, ‘What are these dudes talking about?’” he recalled. “For the first time I felt Mexican and thought, ‘I don’t belong to this.’“
Large numbers of Chinese began arriving in northern Mexico in the late 1800s, drawn by jobs in railroad construction and cotton. The country represented a haven from the United States, which had passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, an 1882 law that banned Chinese immigration.
But from the moment they began to arrive, they faced racism, which was exacerbated during the 1910-17 Mexican Revolution and its aftermath, when the country was trying to build a national identity that celebrated the mixture of Indian and Spanish cultures.
Mexican women who married Chinese men were considered traitors, and in some cases families disowned them. With the Great Depression, large numbers of destitute Mexicans began returning home from the United States and resentment about the financial success of Chinese people grew.
“Even though there was a small number of Chinese people, their economic prowess and their position in the labor force made them a threat,” said Fredy Gonzalez, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Yale University who is studying the repatriations.
In the northern border state of Sonora, anti-Chinese leagues formed and thousands of Chinese were taken to the border with the US and forced to cross. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act they were immediately detained by US immigration officials and sent to China.
In 1930, Mexico had 18,000 Chinese citizens and Mexicans of Chinese descent. By 1940, there were only 4,800, Gonzalez said.
Today, there are at least 70,000 Chinese citizens and Chinese-Mexicans in the country, according to a report in 2008 by the Foreign Relations Department.
In China, Chiu Trujillo’s Mexican mother spoke to her children in Spanish and often sang Mexican ranchera songs so loudly that she could be heard all around the stream where she washed the family’s laundry.
Their mother also instilled in her children devotion for the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint.
“We would recite the rosary in Spanish, she would teach us,” Chiu, 87, remembered during an interview in his small apartment in Mexico City’s rough La Merced neighborhood, its walls decorated with images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Jesus Christ, a couple of Chinese calendars and lots of family photographs. “She would tell us, don’t forget you are Catholics, don’t lose your religion.”
Three years after his mother and two siblings returned, Chiu, his pregnant Chinese wife and four children finally were flown to Mexico.
After working at his brother’s grocery store in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, he decided to move to Mexico City, where he worked as a cook and eventually opened his own cafeteria.
“I was able to give my sons an education. The boys all graduated from college,” Chiu said. “The oldest is an accountant, the second is a chemist, the third is a mathematician, and the young one is a musician.”
Chiu said he always felt more Mexican than Chinese.
“I have always thought that wherever you can find tranquility, that’s where your home is,” he said.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Abdullah Al- Muallami unveiled a beautifully framed old kiswa (covering) of the door of the Holy Kaaba at one of the newly refurbished halls of the world body. The...
A policeman was shot dead by an unknown gunman in Qatif in the Eastern Province on Tuesday night.According to a spokesman of the Eastern Province police, the firing took place at 11:30 p.m. in a suburb called Al-Jishi.The targeted police officer was...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Show, one of the many events of Jeddah Summer Festival 36, is attracting a large number of visitors. The sound-and-light show is being run at the Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Center.The show tells the story of the Bri...
JEDDAH: The Riyadh Traffic Department carried out extensive campaigns on the main streets, intersections and squares in the city to boost traffic safety levels and discourage bad driving.During the first 72 hours of the campaign, traffic personnel re...
RIYADH: One of two women infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) died here in Riyadh, while the other patient is being treated at a hospital in Al-Kharj, some 60 km from the capital. Since June 2012, the Ministry of...
AL-AHSA: Approximately 20,000 tons of Al-Ahsa dates are planned to be marketed abroad during the new dates season.Muhammad Ismail, director general of the King Abdullah City for Dates (KACD), said: “The authorities in the city are planning to increas...
JEDDAH: Al-Bagdadiya neighborhood residents in Jeddah are living in a state of worry because of 20 abandoned houses, which serve as hideouts for criminals.Residents said some houses are on the verge of collapse and have turned into shelters for crimi...
JEDDAH: A committee consisting of representatives from the Hail governorate, municipality, health department and the Saudi Food and Drugs Administration (SFDA) has ordered the closure of a restaurant in the city’s industrial area.Twelve people suffer...
The board of the Saudia Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization has announced that mandatory application of the regulations on new tires produced or sold in the Kingdom will commence in November this year.The board explained that the technical...
JEDDAH: The number of people with mental health issues or depression is increasing in Saudi Arabia due to urbanization, marital or relationship problems, and not being able to keep up with rapid progress. A Saudi mother said that her daughter suffers...
JUBAIL: Jubail beaches are expected to receive many tourists during September as a large number of people usually head to the city once the summer gets cooler to enjoy their holiday here.As part of the beach preparations for this season, the Social S...
RIYADH: More than 50 percent of vehicle users in the Kingdom are not satisfied with the after-sales service of auto agencies in the Kingdom.In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) to evaluate the performance of automobile...
JEDDAH: The Appeals Court has upheld the verdict issued by a specialized penal court which sentenced Dr. Said bin Zair to four years in prison from the date of his arrest in 1428.According to the ruling, the academician is also banned from traveling...
JEDDAH: Health authorities in the Eastern Province are expected to issue a decision soon against four Saudi nurses accused of “negligence” for an incident which led to the amputation of the hand of a Saudi girl after they tried to insert a needle in...
JEDDAH: The Jeddah municipality has closed down a popular restaurant following the discovery of a rat rummaging through food items.The rat act was captured on video and posted on social media websites. It went viral, prompting the authorities to laun...

Stay Connected

Facebook