Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Yellow Peril in a Globalized Tijuana:

Yellow Peril in a Globalized Tijuana: The Dog-Meat Incident, NAFTA, and Chinese Immigrant Labor

Lo Yen City

In October 2015, while in Tijuana’s Moustache Bar listening to anarcho punk from Mexico City, Pomona, and Riverside, I ran into a familiar Chinese woman in the bar’s patio. This Chinese woman who did not identify herself by name to me, can be seen frequently throughout Tijuana in her daily vending routes, especially in El Centro (downtown) and the Pasaje Rodriguez. Pushing her cart and shouting, “Chun-kuuuun! Chun-kuuun!” she sells chicken, vegetable, and shrimp egg rolls for twenty and thirty pesos each, the equivalent of a dollar-fifty and two dollars. She has even caught the eye of the San Diego Reader, who identified the 31-year-old vendor as Liang Yanfen. Many people coming from the US at the punk show only had dollars and she accepted them as well. The profit the Chinese woman made at the show from receiving dollars that night was surely higher than what she makes in her usual weekday sales. During a brief conversation she told me that her income decreased significantly since April 2015. In her seven-hour walking shifts she sells about thirty chun-kuns a day, a drop from the hundred she would sell daily before April. Aside from sharing with me that her street-vending became increasingly slow, she also presented a few pictures of her baby girl, whom her husband and mother care for while she works Tijuana’s downtown.

Why business was down and the dog meat story

But, what happened in April, and why did the woman tell my friend and I about the turn of events since? On 7 April 2015, Lo Yen City, a Chinese restaurant located in Tijuana’s Boulevard Fundadores, was shut down due to an anonymous tip provided to local police claiming that the restaurant was selling dog meat. This old trope about Chinese restaurants serving dog or cat meat to patrons is widely known and circulated in Tijuana, as in other places. This time the tip was taken seriously and police raided Lo Yen City because the anonymous tipper also told of a haphazard slaughter of dogs they had witnessed in the restaurants’ backyard. The tip was revealed to be sadly true in the days to come and a dog corpse was found in Lo Yen City’s kitchen. 

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This blog is a continuation of one started by the proprietor of The Mex Files. With not enough time he offered to pass it along and here we are. If anyone has info to contribute, please leave it in the form of a comment

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