Mexican trucker dreams of basketball, money and driving to America

Updated Oct 26, 2021

Mexico is a funnel-shaped country that gradually rises from the flat deserts of the north to mountains over 10,000 feet as you move south to Mexico City and beyond.

If you drive about six hours farther south than Mexico City, you enter Oaxaca, a state known for its high concentration of native people. Some of them don’t speak Spanish; they only speak the same languages they’ve been speaking for thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest of 1521. But in Oaxaca, as in the rest of Mexico, most of the people you’re likely to encounter are an ethnic mix of Spanish and native.

One of these people, truck driver Isaias Cruz Hernandez, lives in the mountain village of Benito Juarez (population 750). He says he has never heard of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But the idea of driving across the border into the United States clearly excites him. “Right now, I have no money to give my family,” he says.

Hernandez was an over-the-road truck driver for 20 years before January, when he began a one-year, nonpaying term as chief of police of the village. When his term is up in December, he will return to the road.

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