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Por Favor, Godfather

There's an important reason for all of those padrinos and madrinas — and it's not just sheet cakes and cases of Bud.



Dear Mexican:

Why do Mexicans have padrinos for everything? I never understood why — can you help me out?

The Godfather Fan

Dear Wab:

Many gabachos have long wondered about the galaxy of godparents that surround Mexicans from birth to death, but it's no misterio. Ostensibly, godparents (padrino is a godfather, madrina is a godmother and padrinos are godparents) are individuals who take a solemn vow during a Catholic Church service to look after someone about to undergo a sacrament, whether a friend's baptized child, a teen on the brink of first communion or a bride and groom needing someone to pay for the tiered sheet cake at their wedding banquet. Gabacho Catholics and other nonpapists also feature similar pseudo-kinship traditions, but few play the padrino card as well as Mexicans. Beyond religion, we've set up an ingenious system: Whenever there's an occasion that requires a party — whether a weekend carne asada, a charity baseball game for a hometown benefit association, a birthday or another day dodging la migra — Mexicans will ask their friends to be a padrino of a material item not so much to sanctify a deeper relationship between the two but because the party holder's just too damned cheap to pay for everything. The prospective padrino is always screwed because to deny someone's godfather invitation creates enmity that fades away only with a shootout or a free case of Budweiser. Nevertheless, the compadrazgo system remains important because it binds families through thick and thin, and we all know how thin times have historically been in Mexico.

Dear Mexican:

Why is it that Mexicans accept lower salaries than their legal or American counterparts? Example: One contractor in Columbus, Georgia, told my son that he could hire 20 Mexicans for the same price he would have to pay my son! I know this is a racist comment, but it does seem that someone accepting $6 an hour compared with an American who usually gets double the money is always going to come up short. Is this practice used to force legals and Americans out of the job market? I sincerely think that if everyone asked for the same pay, there would not be this problem with immigration.

Beaners on My Mind

Dear Gabacho:

Yours is a question that the American working man has asked of the tempest-tost since the days of Miles Standish. And the answer isn't a pretty one: socialism. Sorry, but the only true way to stem Mexicans and their illegal brethren from invading our shores isn't through pie-in-the-cielo fences or harsh legislation but rather the institution of an economic system that ensures companies won't underpay or relocate offshore to the promised land of no regulations. America has prospered specifically because such a system doesn't exist in this country; instead, the Founding Fathers encouraged an economy in which citizens would have to compete against rapacious businessmen from the top and undercutting immigrants from below. In the past, such struggles motivated American workers to form unions, secure employee rights, create the eight-hour workday and hustle. Today? The only scratches on the ample know-nothing belt are high ratings for Lou Dobbs and a continual wussy whine.

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