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SCHOOL'S IN SESSION
Texas Governor Studies Spanish in Mexico

by Lou Christine

While recently vacationing here in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato with
his wife and two children, Texas Governor Rick Perry was studying Spanish
at Instituto Allende. Perry speaks rudimentary “Tex-Mex,” but wants to
strengthen his delivery and comprehension, so he chose the school’s
total-immersion program, six-hours a day, five-days a week.
“It’s just a superior place,” said the 51-year-old, youthful-looking
Perry as he relaxed on campus during breaks. “For us, San Miguel’s the
right size, has the right weather and the right feel.” Perry, wearing
sneakers, T-shirt and shorts, stated he could have vacationed and studied
Spanish at a number of locations, yet Juan Hernandez, a close confidant to
President Fox and go-between for Mexico and Texas, highly recommended San
Miguel. Perry’s instructors say the governor is a model student, affable
and easy-going.
Despite no official announcement, Perry stated he will run for the
governorship in 2002. Elected Lieutenant Governor in 1998, Perry was
elevated to governor when George W. Bush was elected President. The
governor says it is important for him and his family to see and appreciate
Mexican culture first hand. He emphasized that his administration needs to
better understand Mexico, because Texas and Mexico are so intertwined.
Perry envisions a Rio Grande that will one day have no restrictions, with
the only difference being that on one side it’s, “Howdy, y’all,” and the
other, “Hola, amigos.” He also foresees a rich merging of cultures that
will become more robust and affluent, with mutual trade taking place.
As governor, he is proud to have signed a bill affording all Mexican
living in Texas the same privileges and tuition for higher education as
local or naturalized students. Perry is on the same page as President Bush
in granting amnesty to more than three million Mexican immigrants, many of
whom reside in Texas, and who contribute to the national tax base. The
governor spoke forcefully about protecting immigrants. His administration
was distressed that Western Union charges as much as 20 percent on the
front end to wire money to Mexico and then another 15 percent when the
money is picked up. “Those were loan shark numbers,” said Perry. “We have
struck a fairer deal for our Mexican amigos with Wells Fargo, so their
hard-earned wages, which Mexican families depend on, won’t get
ripped-off.”
Laughing at what he calls his shortfalls in fine-tuning his Spanish, Perry
stated that during his run for Lieutenant Governor he made some faux pas.
While campaigning in Spanish-speaking communities, he asked for “su apoyo”
(your support), but to some Perry’s request sounded more like, “give me
your chicken” (su pollo). Although there were unflattering references and
jokes made at Perry’s expense, the governor, in a folksy, self-effacing
manner, still chuckles at the interpretation and very much desires to
improve his Spanish. “We will have a border-sharing governor’s conference
in Tampico next June. We are encouraged to speak our minds.” Despite the
fact that many Mexican governors speak perfect English, Perry wants to
stand on his own in Spanish, to not only comprehend but to clearly sense
what is being expressed by his Mexican counterparts. “For now, I can hold
my own in Spanish, yet I want to listen more, to understand more and speak
more, as well.”
Perry announced he has rented a San Miguel home for a month next season.
“I’ll be back al’right, San Miguel is a great place to live, and Instituto
Allende’s a wonderful place to study.”

 

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