History is Subjective

History is important in understanding why a country behaves as it does, but history from whose view point? Historical events always are viewed from one’s own biases and self reference criteria (SRC), and thus what is recorded by one historian may not be what another records, especially if the historians are from different cultures. Historians traditionally try to be objective, but few can help events through their own cultural biases.

Our perspective influences not only our view of history but also subtly influences our view of many other matters. For example, maps of the world sold in the United States generally show the United States at the center, whereas maps in Britain show Britain at the center and so on for other nations.

A crucial element in understanding any nation’s business and political culture is the subjective perception of its history. Why do Mexicans have a love hate relationship with the United States? Why were Mexicans required to have majority ownership in most foreign investments until recently? Mexicans see the United States as a threat to their political, economic and cultural independence

Most citizens of the United States are mystified by such feelings. After all, the United States has always been Mexico’s good neighbor. Most would agree with President John F Kennedy’s proclamation during a visit to Mexico that Geography has made us neighbors, tradition has made us friends. North Americans may be surprised to learn that most Mexicans felt it more accurate to ay Geography has made us closer tradition has made us far apart.

Citizens of the United States feel they have been good neighbors.They see the Monroe doctrine as protection for Latin America from European colonization and he intervention of Europe in the governments of the Western Hemisphere. Latin Americans, on the other hand, tend to see the Monroe doctrine as an offensive expression of US influence in Latin America. To put it another way, Europe keep your hands off – Latin America is only for the United States an attitude perhaps typified by former US president Ulysses S Grant who in a speech in Mexico in 1880, described Mexico as a magnificent mine that lay waiting south of the border for North American interests.

United States Marines sing with pride of their exploits from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli. To the Mexican, the exploit to which the halls of Montezuma refers is remembered as US troops marching all the way to the center of Mexico City extracting as tribute 890,000 square miles that became Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. A prominent monument at the entrance of Chapultepee Park recognizes Los Ninos Heroes (the boy heroes) who resisted US troops, wrapped themselves in Mexican flags and jumped to their deaths rather than surrender. Mexicans recount the heroism of Los Ninos Heros and the loss of Mexican territory to the United States every September 13, when the president of Mexico, his cabinet and the diplomatic corps assemble at the Mexico City fortress to recall the defeat that lead to the despojo territorial (territorial plunder).

The Mexican Revolution, which overthrew dictator Diaz and launched the modern Mexican sate, is particularly remembered for the expulsion of foreigners – most notably North American businessmen who were the most visible of the wealthy and influential entrepreneurs in Mexico.