Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ask a Mexican: Were there any Mexican Pirates?

From the OC Weekly's publishing of Gustavo Arellano's "Ask a Mexican" column:

Dear Mexican: My wife and I have an argument going on about pirates. And since you are the source for all things Mexican, I’d thought I’d ask: While I know there were Spanish and Portuguese pirates back in the early 1600s and 1700s, were there EVER any MEXICAN pirates? Not pirates from Spain who pirated in Mexico, but REAL HONEST-TO-HAY-SOOS MEXICAN PIRATES! Would be interesting to know!

Pirates Pat McGroin and the Right Reverend One-Eye

Dear Gabachos: It depends on what your definition of “pirate” is. If you’re looking for a famous swashbuckler from the days of Blackbeard, tough tamales: Historians never bothered to glorify the numerous buccaneers who prowled the Mexican coast for Spanish galleons laden with the gold and silver of Mexican mines. The most famous Mexican pirate was Fermin Mundaca, who operated a contraband empire from the island of Islas Mujeres off the coast of Quintana Roo during the mid-1800s—but Mundaca was a Spanish native. Why look back in the past, though, when so many Mexican pirates exist in the present? PiraterĂ­a is as Mexican an industry as tortilla-making and immigrant-smuggling; the International Federation of Phonographic Industry, an international organization that fights music piracy worldwide, estimates Mexicans make more than $220 million off illegal CDs, most sold at the nearest swap meet, bodega or taco truck near you. And before some of you readers start insinuating that such a startlingly large amount is somehow indicative of the Mexican culture’s tendency to steal, what would you call file-sharing?

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