The Mexico Fact Book is a long-term project that I started in 1980 when someone, who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons, exclaimed to me, “What? Mexico has an air force!” Dumbstruck, I held my composure and simply responded, “Yes, Mexico indeed has an air force.” However, the episode got me thinking, do people not know about the Mexico that I know? “You speak English!” uttered a girlfriend of the time forcing me to finally accept that people just don’t really understand the Mexico I grew up in.

These events, among others, started me on a project I now call the Mexico Fact Book. Back then, the Mexico Fact Book was nothing more than a loose-leaf binder composed of reference materials, pictures and general studies about Mexico. Originally, the material covered the military and geo-political issues involving Mexico that I shared with my friends.

Eventually I began to write monographs and research papers for companies looking to position themselves in the Mexican market place and in the process developed numerous sources of data about my country.

Unfortunately during heated discussions about Mexico the analog system of data I kept did not allow me the opportunity to show my friends and acquaintances that Mexico is more than sleepy siestas and beautiful beaches where beer flows endlessly. Thus, I needed something more “digital” where the data I needed to support my arguments was within easy reach. The Internet gave me the mechanism to create the Fact Book I always wanted.

The Mexico I know is the fourteenth largest economy in the world, as of 2011 and the eleventh largest country in terms of population, with a robust economy and an industry capable of competing with most of the world. And, yes, Mexico does indeed have an Air force! Mexico also boasts three of the world’s largest companies according to Fortune 500. To my ex-girlfriend, Mexicans do learn how to speak English and many other languages. We are educated in Mexico as well as in some of the world’s greatest institutions of learning. We, Mexicans can be found in most countries contributing to the world economy from mom-and-pop operations to the leaders of industry. Mexicans contribute to the arts and the cultures of many countries and have even fought wars to protect freedom, and yes, Mexico fielded a squadron and many men for the cause of the Allies in World War II.

Mexico has sent an astronaut into space. Mexico, also maintains satellites in orbit all the while contributing supplies, resources and men to help other countries during their times of need, including the United States.

Recently the debacle of the Drug War, and the issue of immigration have found me discussing Mexico more and more with associates and friends. However, what really galvanized me into creating Mexico Studies is a comment I recently heard, “There is 90% unemployment in Mexico City!”

Ninety percent! Wow, unbelievable a number that just doesn’t make logical sense was being thrown about by so-called Mexico pundits to people who have become so sanitized to negative stereotypes about Mexico that the illogical number had to be true.

Let see, the largest or second largest city in the world, depending on whom you ask has 90% unemployment. Let’s take this number for a moment and think about it. There are over 9 million people in Mexico City. If we were to accept the number of unemployed as fact then it would mean that less than 1 million people support the other 8 million of the city! Obviously the 90% is exaggerated but most people just don’t realize it because they are so sanitized to accepting the negative stereotypes about Mexico just because it’s Mexico.

Normally intelligent people just can’t comprehend that Mexico is just like any other country in the world, we have our champions and we have our losers, we have policemen risking their lives to protect the citizenry and we have our criminals intent on destroying our country. We also have culture, technology, ideology and contribute to our world both positively and negatively. But more importantly we are a proud nation where we defend our sovereignty but also support the right of any people to self-determination.

After further discussion, it became apparent that the actual intent was to say that 90% of those looking for a job couldn’t find one. Even that number doesn’t make logical sense to me, but let’s explore this a little further. Where would someone get this kind of data and how would you quantify it to allow us to have a logical discussion on the issue?

The problem with people that I call malinchistas (Mexicans who love to denigrate Mexico rather than contribute to its growth) is that they exaggerate the truth and when that fails, outright lie to get their agendas out to the public. Forget how they hurt people and forget the truth, all they want is to serve their own selfish purposes.

As I began to decide how best to convert my analog volume to a digital one it became apparent to me that this is a project that would benefit from a number of people. I also realized that the power of the Internet would allow me to share my country with the rest of the world while at the same time challenging the concepts of books, collaboration and pushing the boundaries of our digital world.

With the power of Web 2.0 technology I want to try something new – an online collaborated book where multiple authors develop a book. I hope that this project serves three purposes.

The first is an online book where factual information about Mexico can be readily found. Second, I want to try something new, the creation of a book online and published online by multiple authors. Wikipedia has blazed the trail by introducing the model of an online encyclopedia created and managed by multiple people. I want to try the same model with the writing and publishing of a book online.

Although this online book is about Mexico the model which I’m proposing will raise some interesting technical and legal issues which we will have to overcome as a team. First is the collaborated nature of the book. Multiple authors from diverse backgrounds contributing to a book yet keeping a concise focus on the final product will be a challenge. The diverse pool of authors I hope to attract should be able to create a fact book about Mexico that would rival any other one in the world. Second is the issue of copyright and possibly monetizing the end result. Copyright is not just about making money it is also about protecting the intellectual property from abuse and distortion. Because the project is something that I have worked on and off for over 20 years it is something dear to me and this makes me possessive of it. Therefore I have decided that the copyright will remain with me.

Monetizing the project is something I am open to discussing with the group. To me, this project is not about creating a new revenue stream for me, it is more of a hobby than a money making venture. I cannot ignore the fact that if this project is to succeed it must attract the brightest people to it and therefore the issue of money would need to be addressed. The better the intellectual property the better positioned it is to generating revenue.

Mexico Studies is divided into two main sections, the Mexico Fact Book where I will be putting all of the research material I have compiled throughout the years. The second section is made up of a Blog where I will post commentary, my personal opinion, on current issues and where visitors, such as you, can comment on and a forum where individuals can start discussions on issues they find interesting. My hope is that over time, this site becomes a source of data for an informed discussion about Mexico and all of the geopolitical issues facing it.

This is a work in progress. In the next few months, I will be putting up the volumes of data I have compiled and continue to compile as well as commenting on the latest news from Mexico. I ask for your patience, as this is a hobby that needs to be balanced with the realities of making a living. However, it is also a labor of love. This online project is not intended as a defender of Mexican affairs, either internal or external, nor is it a trumpeting of how great the country is. Mexico is my mother country and as such, I will always honor it. But, I am not above understanding that like any other country in the world, Mexico has its faults and its triumphs. Rather this online project is intended to be a fact sheet on Mexico and a place for honest discussion about the issues. Welcome, I hope to make the acquaintance of each of you as we debate and discuss the issues because with each discussion I learn more about my country.

¡Saludos y bienvenidos!
Martín Paredes