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The Mexican Issue

A Mexican In... Amsterdam

Vice: Do people joke around with your name?

Juan-Ernesto Castano De Sosa Vice: Do people joke around with your name? Juan-Ernesto: Not really, although some people act weird when they hear it for the first time. They start to do stupid impersonations of Tony Montana. So what is a Mexican such as yourself doing in this land of Aryans? It’s my girlfriend, she’s Dutch. We met in Mexico and since there is not much work for me or her over there, we decided to come to Holland. You make it sound very easy, but I imagine it’s not that simple for a foreigner to start living here. It’s a fucking nightmare, man. I think it will take me five to seven years to become a Dutch citizen. I try not to think about all the hassle; my girlfriend takes care of it as much as possible. I had to do an exam on the phone with the Dutch Embassy where I had to answer all kinds of stupid questions about windmills and tulips in Dutch. It cost like $800 and you can buy the book with the answers in any bookshop. I think they make you do it for the money. All these new measures are in place ever since some minister tightened the old immigration laws. I know, her name is Verdonk and she’s already out of office. But the measures are still in place. That’s the problem with Dutch politics and politicians. They are very proud of being social and liberal and open-minded, but those are all words. In reality, they are not open-minded or liberal toward foreigners trying to live here. Especially for people who’re not from Canada, the States, Europe, or other rich countries. Not very cool, but what about ordinary Dutchies? They’re very nice, most certainly now that the summer has started. People are really relaxed, especially in Amsterdam. It’s such a clean city. I lived in Mexico City for most of my life and it’s very polluted there and can be dangerous. In summer this place is heaven for me. And what about winter? Oh man, don’t get me started. It’s horrible. I’d like to sleep for four months next year. It must be the cold that makes Dutch people a bit distant. I can imagine. Yeah, we know we’re not always warm little talk-a-lot people. Well, you’re not as open as Mexicans can be, but most of you people are pretty intelligent, which helps for a good conversation. Thanks. What do you do for a living? I work in a bar in downtown Amsterdam. I’d rather not mention the name because I’m not too sure if it’s all legal. Aha. So what would you like to do? I want to open my own coffee shop in a few years—not one where you actually sit down for a coffee, but an “Amsterdam” one. If that doesn’t work, I might join the fire department. INTERVIEW BY PETER BAS