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Tijuana Baja California News

James asks…

can someone tell me about the Asian influence in Mexican culture?

Tijuana answers:

The first Chinese immigrants to Mexico came from China, some were Philippine-born Chinese, brought by the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. However most contemporary Chinese immigrants came to Mexico during the 20th century as contract workers and political refugees. With the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment in Mexico in the 1930s under President Plutarco Elías Calles, most Chinese Mexicans, including individuals of mixed Chinese and Mexican descent, were forced out of Mexico and deported to China. Mexico City’s small barrio chino is on Calle Dolores in Cuauhtémoc borough in the city center.
The border town of Mexicali, Baja California, adjacent to the United States, contains the largest concentration of Chinese Mexicans in Mexico; its Chinatown, on Avenida Madero Calle Azueta, is called La Chinesca (The Chinesque one). Some of the earliest Chinese settlers who arrived in the United States eventually went south to Mexico to escape institutionalized anti-Chinese persecution in California. The largest number of new Cantonese-speaking Chinese immigrants came mostly from the Guangzhou area around 1919. Mexicali had a local chapter of the Kuomintang. There is now a consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Mexicali as well as one in nearby Tijuana. The economic problems of Mexico in the 1980s led many Chinese-Mexicans to migrate north into the United States. Today, members of the multigenerational Chinese-Mexican community own and operate many businesses across the city. One of the oldest Chinese restaurants, Restaurant 19, or named after one of the early Mexican chinatown corridors Alley 19 was opened in December 18, 1928 and eventually closed in Winter 2001. It was known to be one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Mexico. This restaurant was utilized by many U.S. And Mexican officials and celebrities throughout the years; its end eventually came due to the devaluation of the peso in the 1980s and the new border crossing that takes tourist and locals away from the original heart of Mexicali. Currently there are more than 80 Chinese restaurants from small coffee shops (cafés de chinos) to huge 750 occupancy dining rooms. Nowadays, there are about 2,000 Chinese Mexicans living in the city, however there are 100,000 residents more than thought who are of Chinese descent .

Nowadays, if one wanders through Concordia Cemetery, as I do on occasions, there is one site that we can observe through the iron gate — but can’t enter. And I’m referring to the Chinese Cemetery section. This area is one of the best-kept secrets in the city, a national historic treasure, and yet one of the least-known and least-visited historical areas in El Paso. We know when the first Chinese arrived, and that would have been 1881 with the arrival of the first railroad in El Paso. The Chinese helped build that railroad, but after reaching the city, they were stranded — and subsequently deported. So since the Chinese were denied legal entry into this country, they commenced slipping in by way of Mexico, and thereafter walked north.
During this period a resident Mexican could cross north across the international line with no delays and no papers. Hence, the initial U.S. Border Patrol arose. In popular and local parlance, they were usually referred to as “Chinese Immigration Agents.” But a few Chinese were already here. By 1890, El Paso had an official population of 11,120 residents and 312 were Chinese. Most of the Chinese lived south of Overland Street, usually in hotels, restaurants, laundries, alleys or in railroad cars where they were often employed. And since most Chinese were men, such things as Chinese family units were essentially nonexistent. A Chinese information bureau arose at 200 S. St. Louis Street. Chinese merchandise stores, like American general stores, were usually placed where people could gather, exchange gossip, discuss news and hold meetings. In 1889, the City Council minutes mentioned an El Paso population of 11,069 residents, of which 7,846 were anglos, 2,069 were Hispanic, 810 were black, and 344 were Chinese. During that same year, four Chinese grocery stores opened in the city. By 1892, the Chinese population had risen to 500, practically all illegally entering the U.S. By way of Juárez. Although some did not remain for any length of time, a great majority of them found El Paso employment with the railroads, or in restaurants, saloons and so forth. During that same year, El Paso had 15 laundries, 13 of which were Chinese. Twelve Chinese druggists easily found employment. A Baptist Chinese mission opened at 412 San Antonio Street. And before long, the Chinese had one particular dominant monopoly in town, the laundry business. During 1889, El Paso sported 18 laundries, all but one operated by the Chinese.

Lisa asks…

Would you label Tijuana ,Mexico as an “anything goes” type of destination for American tourist?

Tijuana answers:


Even in the “old days” it really wasn’t “anything goes.” If it were, there would not be any stories about the Tijuana jails.

Mexico can be a forgiving place… Meaning that not everything is perfect, even one’s behavior. But if someone goes there with the “anything goes” attitude and check their brains at the border, they will find problems.

The legal drinking age is 18, so it invites younger party goers. It is not hard to find the “red light” district, but going there is not for the timid, inexperienced, or faint of heart. Also, the bars don’t close at 2AM… Some can still be going strong in the morning light. So, if you want to, and can handle it, you can party all night. Doesn’t mean you have to, or should.

Actually, there is a revival of fine cuisine in Baja these days, with a “BajaMed” style of cooking… Very chi chi and matched with fine wines from Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada. Few know that the caesar salad was created at Caesar’s Restaurant adjacent to the hotel of the same name, right on Revolucion Avenue in downtown Tijuana.

The one silver lining benefit of the bad (and undeserved) news reporting as a result of the drug cartel violence is that tourism dropped to zero. The “anything goes” businesses disappeared and now more serious entrepreneurs are opening up and doing well.

Medical tourism is popular these days, and there are many state of the art hospitals and medical facilities in Baja. The US and Mexican governments are spending billions on improving the border crossing infrastructure. Many foreign baby boomers are seeking less expensive beachfront property, of which Baja has an abundance.

Tijuana, Baja California is about 1,500 miles away from Cuidad Juarez, along the Texas border where there is little law enforcement, and “anything goes…” provided you survive. But things are getting better all over. Mexico’s economy is stable, there is an emerging free press and maturing democracy. It will take some time, but things are definitely changing for the better.

Donna asks…

For how many years do you believe Obamas Fast and Furious guns will make headlines?

Report: ATF gun part of plan to kill Juarez police chief Julián Leyzaola

A weapon tied to “Operation Fast and Furious” was seized in Tijuana in connection with a drug cartel’s conspiracy to kill the police chief of Tijuana, Baja California, who later became the Juárez police chief, according to a U.S. government report.

Tijuana answers:

So long as the guns Obama and Holder allowed to go to Mexico continue to be used to kill people. Possibly a long, long time.

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