As some of you know, I had to go to Migración here in Mexico City “para regularizar mi estatus migratorio.” So, I went to Polanco and had a grand old time waiting in the wrong lines and finding out once I was at the front of the right line that I had to copy a bunch of documents and that I couldn’t pay the person, that I had to pay the bill at the bank.
Today, I am revising my thesis in preparation for submitting a draft to my committee, and I came across this paragraph (that was running through my mind as I was waiting in line). It is from a novel that re-imagines the Gospel of Luke in mid-1970s Mexico, called the Gospel of Lucas Gavilán, by Vicente Leñero.
José and María (Jesus’ parents in the novel) go to Mexico City to try and get compensation for land the government has expropriated. When they arrive in the city, they go to an office other members of their community had suggested to them. “Toda la mañana y toda la tarde duró el calvario… De Herodes a Pilatos los trajeron de edificio a edificio, y de oficina a oficina. Que firme aquí y que firme allá, que llene un formulario… [All morning and all afternoon the endured the Calvary…They went from Herod to Pilot, building to building, office to office. That they sign this, and that, and fill out a form…]” (26). The Mexican bureaucracy confuses them, and, as they attempt to navigate its maze, they become objects that need to stand in line, buy “timbres fiscales [get papers sealed]” and sign forms (26). Even after they walk through Mexico’s bureaucratic maze, José Gómez and María David only receive a third of the compensation they deserved “porque el abogadillo del comisario ejidal inventó quién sabe cuántos gastos y repartos entre los funcionarios de la capital [because the ejido -communal landholding- commission’s lawyer invented who knows how many “expenses” and had to divide the money between different bureaucrats in Mexico City]” (36).
Vicente Leñero, you are a wise man.