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Mexicans and Puerto Ricans | Not the Same

Updated on December 10, 2012
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Differences and Resemblances - How to Tell Them Apart

Being a Puerto Rican myself, I have had my fair share of mistaken ethnic identity by curious inquirerers. I can see why they would be confused. Mexicans and Puerto Ricans make up the two largest Spanish-speaking groups in the United States. However, we have more in common than not.

Mexican and Puerto Rican Ethnic Origins

Both ethnic groups have their origins from Spain a result of Christopher Columbus' comissioned discovery of the New World. Spanish Conquistadores gained control of both formerly-called Borikén and México-Tenochtitlan, which are presently known as Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Puerto Rico's ethnic history is curiously a miniature scale of that of the United States mainland's, but not entirely. Europeans brought along African slaves to supplement the almost-extinct Taíno Indian population. Their main goal was to excavate and take the island's gold back to Europe, which can be currently found in its lavish cathedrals.

Eventual inter-marriages among the indigenous Taínos, Europeans and African slaves led to the very varied mixture of races that is commonly found on the island as well as in the United States. Therefore, there is no typical Puerto Rican per sé. The people can range from blonde-haired, blue-eyed to mid-range colored skin, or to actual Black in color.

Contrary to Puerto Rico, Mexico did not participate in the importation of African slaves into their ancestral origins. They did, however, have a group of indigenous people called the Aztec Indians, which intermingled with the European races. The majority of Mexicans have strong indigenous physical features such as straight hair, brown skin, and Asiatic eye shapes.

Immigration and Politics

Puerto Ricans are United States citizens by birth after being previously naturalized by the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917. The island of Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States just as Autralia is a Commonthwealth of England. Therefore, Puerto Ricans are free to move to the mainland from the island and vice versa without a passport.

On the other hand, many Mexicans have had to illegally cross the United States-Mexico border in order to migrate to the United States. The Unites States government has currently been facing criticism in their economic relations by anti-globalists citing that the government does not combat illegal immigration effectively.

Heritage and Cultural Features

Even though both groups are connected by the Spanish language, there are variations in accents and vocabulary. This stemmed from the indigenous influence from each of the groups' native ancestries.

Puerto Ricans pride themselves in their musical heritage. Genres of salsa, merengue and reggaeton are central and prominent in social get-togethers. In sports, baseball is Puerto Rico's main sport with Mexico's being soccer, or fútbol .

Mexican's pride is strongly rooted in the mariachi and banda music genres. Both nationalities have produced artists of international reknown that have created unity between the two with mutual fans. Carlos Santana and Jennifer López are just examples of the many successful representatives of each group.

Each's ethnic cuisines are very different with the exception of rice and beans being common items on both Mexican and Puerto Rican menus.

Animosity Between the Two

For many years now, there have been feuds between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Much of it stems from a sense of right and entitlement that each group acclaims. There are resentments due to illegal immigration, crimes, gangs and collective prejudice from non-Latinos that assume both ethnicities are the same.

When President Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor, of Puerto Rican descent, for the United States Supreme Court, many Mexican-Americans were in an uproar as they felt it should have been one of their own so as to better understand the immigration issues of the country.


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      MELANIE COLLETTE LOPEZ 11 months ago


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      miguel mexican 3 years ago

      Mexican is the way to go

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      Johne358 3 years ago

      Hello to every one, its truly a fastidious for me to visit this site, it contains helpful Information. gfkkdckbbdgf

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      iii 4 years ago

      mexico its huge so people look different depending the place and our first president wasn't black is was the second

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      joe 4 years ago

      mexicans are not the same as mexicans. mexicans from chiapas are not the same as mexicans from sonora. mexicans from oaxaca are not the same as mexicans from zacatecas

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      alex rodriguez rivera 4 years ago

      Hello I'm Mexican and Puerto Rican I'm the best of both worlds there's no rivalry my PR friends see me as full PR my Mexican friends think I'm full mex we do both look a lot and we all get along sure we might joke around but that's it.

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      GGGPR 5 years ago

      I'm Canadian, my wife is from Pueto Rico. We live in Canada where there is a diverse latin community. The common thread between all latinos is Spain. It's just like England is the common thread for Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc....Language is a huge part of it, the ability to communicate. We are usually most comfortable with those we have something in common with first and it trickles down from there. I have spent a lot of time in PR and before I learned Spanish, I would gravitate toward PR's who were from the US.....because I could speak english with them. Long story short, if you put a PR, Mexican and a Cuban together in China, the common roots become clear very quickly. I've been to Spain to and the ability to speak spanish put me ahead of people from other places.

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      maria 5 years ago

      i agree 100% w/ you; read and understand what you're reading!i wasn't talking about any specif race and i was commenting on another comment that regarded to the history of i said i'm married to a mexican and my kids are mexican soo really yeah there i would be an idiot. thank you for being my echo!

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      kiki 5 years ago

      The bronx was made up of Puerto ricans till the Mexicans exploded there , then Sunset park Was populated with my panas Puerto ricans the mexicans exploded there so when it comes to looking for work it has been hard . They say they do work people dont want that's bull Ive have seen mexicans doing construction and landscaping and roofing JOBS that puerto ricans or blacks would not mind doing . AND we puerto ricans have contributed to the economy undocumented instead of paying taxes her they send their money to their homeland and make their economy stronger while they weaken ours.

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      Ryno69 5 years ago

      I'm 100% PR and proud, Born and raised in New York. I rarely listen too negative comments, but ounce in a while I'll take a jab at something. I have many friends from all colors and mixed ones as well. You know what, were all the same. So for everyone stating there believes that one is better than the other, there just spreading caca ( just like that idoit above). People need to read and read and read their history and the history of others before they spread hate on the internet.

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      maria 5 years ago

      i am 100% PR and married a mexican and i couldn't have picked a better companion i've visited mex several times but i'm still proud of my heritage.why compare who's got the "bigger balls"? i judge by the action of the person..not the culture because i can go on about mex deffects just like boriquas soo really if one was better than the other their country or isla would be perfect ,free from voilence and drugs,gangs,lazy people who scam the system and ect.i've seen those mistakes in both parties.i'm proud of my accomplishments.i love tacos al pastor and my pernil.latinos unidos!

      p.s to a comment that PR had never fought for their freedom; PR had it's revolution from spain which began before USA got involved in 1895 (or close)which were the surviving indian population there is a story about them drowning a spainard in the river to see if they could die (not gods) and the african slaves.soo yes they fought for their own rights.also africans on the island fought for their right to be free that right came faster to them than the africans from USA. it's all about seeing positive in negative and you know i wish there was a place that never had a war.

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      Gabby 5 years ago

      I'm Mexican American and I was born in America and so were my parents and my grandparents so not all mexicans are illegal

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      NintenFranklinX 5 years ago

      Overall Puerto Ricans and Mexicans share more similarties rather then differences. Both sides have their good, bad and plain freaking lazy, but to be honest, Immigration made such a difference in American life, besides I'll be honest, I'm Mexican-American; however I acknowledge both Ricans and Mexicans. We should get along more, we both have some Spanish Ancesory in us, Puertorriquenos are like our distant cousins. (The same thing with any other spanish speaking ethnic group)

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      Artie 5 years ago

      I'm of Mexica Decent and personally i felt proud when soto mayor was elected I felt she was one of our own! I don't feel hostillaty towards Puerto Ricans my personall opinion is that we are competitive in Boxing and Baseball and Basquetteball that is all a friendly sports rivalry just like Spain has a rivalry with Portugal in Soccer doesn't mean they are hostile towards each other!

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      ITs ME 5 years ago

      I never heard of an official MEX and PR beef that's bull shit! By the way there is no exact Mex either. There is Mexicans that's are as White as snow with colored eyes and Mexicans a brown as dirt and there ones in between With is the most its called "mestiso" you just focused on talking about Puerto Ricans more.

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      leslie 5 years ago

      not all mexicans are illegal. an not all mexicans have indigenous physical features. my hair is brown, curly

      and beige skin. and both of my family sides range from

      colored eyes to brown eyes, to skin color, and hair.

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      Boricua 5 years ago

      Looking back in history, Puerto Ricans OPENED doors on the east coast New York, Ct, Mass, PA,FL etc. To new coming hispanics such as the cubans,mex,dominicans etc. if Puerto Ricans establish their PR resturants,stores,pharmacys, etc (all) english & spanish speaking. That gave way for the new hispanic/spanish people to come & get help first arriving. & salsa was made from the cubans & puerto ricans. Reggeaton was based off spanish reggea in panama we put our own beats & added dembow to make it our own. But ill orgullo BORICUA :)

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      Joshua ghost dancer 5 years ago

      Actually mexico became another hub for the slave trade the largest in america in fact... if you was to do some research you will find that mexico actually has one of the first pueblos documented ever to be formed from free slaves both native and african,,, even more shocking African slaves were responsible for the very first mexican revolution leading to the first black presedent in the americas.... so the very first presedente of the free mexico we all know today was actualy Black African!!!!!!!

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      big t 5 years ago

      looking at all the comments the one that strike me funny is the people that say the children learn spanish first,,that are born here... that's great so they sound like they come from another country...speak almost broken english..the bottom ine is both have big % of black...if it looks like a duck walks like a duck it is probly a duck LOL...

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      maria_ladel_barrio 5 years ago

      Just to clarify, Mexicans are not only brown. As a Mexican-America, my skin is as fair as any other white person's skin. If you visit Mexico, especially in cities you will see blonde hair a blue-eyed people.

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      gonzalez 5 years ago

      soy mexicano/americano and proud of wife is boriqua and thru the years we have found out that we are more alike then we ever imagined.we are latinos,spanglish is the langusge most spoken in our home by us and our three kids.....we have arroz con gandules along with the carne asada in our bbq's lol!.....she loves tortillas especially warm homemade flour ones that she now makes like a pro.i love my boriqua and she loves her chicano wouldn't want it any other way.

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      from_one_blood_all_the_nations 5 years ago

      "there is gringos then there are mexican?" I am mixed and so are you. PR, Mexican, Venezuelan, Cuban, Brazilian, Jamaican and every spanish & Italian group settled in all of the America's are mixed. Both the Italians and Spaniards brought slaves and when they arrived to the region the brought "missionary help" OR in plain-talk COLONIZED...they arrived to find varying tribes of Native Americans (depending on the region). Likewise they brought slaves from varying tribes of Africans based on where the trade took place. Mexicans, have deep within its culture African cults and isms (i.e., Día de los Muertos). Okay, but so too are the blacks who live in the US -- mixed. So, if it makes you feel better Mexicano person to not have ANY association with those from Africa...then by all means...say whatever makes you feel good about yourself. Truth however, is Truth....Christians please stand up and tell the know who you are and i am speaking to you. You are the Light of the World, you are the Salt of the Earth.

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      JazlynZaheed 5 years ago from U.K.

      psh All latinos and latinas are fricken awesome. though i might have to side with the PRs seeing how I'm dating one xD

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      Selina I 6 years ago

      First I would like to state that I am Puerto Rican and Mexican. First not all Mexicans are illegal they can get their papers. Also Mexicans play a huge role in America they do jobs that "Americans" don't want to do. For example they harvest crops such as fruit which is the reason why some fruits are cheap. In America we need illegal immigrants because if we didn't have them there would be many changes in America.

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      Andrea V. 6 years ago

      I think it is ridiculous for Puerto Ricans to separate in to sub groups of New Yoricans and "the rest". How foolish to discriminate against your own nationalities. I guess it just further perpetuates the stereotype of stupid Puerto Ricans.

      -Puerto Rican from the Bronx

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      Nancy 6 years ago

      Actually the Spanish brough slaves over to Mexico as well, and Mexicans are also mixed with Afrians as well. However, it may not show as much because there were thousands of tribes in Mexico, but if you go to the south, like Veracruz for example, there are people who look more black. In fact, our second president was a mulato, half black and half indian, and a very famouse revolutionary hero is mulato as well. However, Mexicans don't acknowlidge African ancestry, as well as their Indian ancestry, and it's all because of colonialsm, that made them ashamed of their roots. Sad but truth

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      Anne 6 years ago

      Mexican and Puerto Rican, it's the best of both worlds in my household! I'm Mexican from Los Angeles and my husband a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Although we come from different backgrounds, as Latinos our values and morals are similar. I love our lil blended family, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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      antolin 6 years ago

      i think the only way latin Americans could get it right is with education education..and hard work could bring us together what are vwe rivals about we both get discriminated against.. just that puerto ricans are citizens trust me many anglos wish that we didn't have shit here ..these people dont like any of us so we should be stupid and hate each other.

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      Chola sjb 6 years ago

      Brown pride!

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      BrooklynPRGuy 6 years ago

      The resentment goes more than you are citizen and you are not, it is the subconscious feeling of eventual population invasion and displacement of a mere 6 or so million PRs(In PR and Mainland US) by an ethnic majority of 180+ million Mexicans(Around the world)... Also Mexican women have more (anchor)kids than Puerto Rican ones... They see us as sell outs and 'vende-patria' because we are a Territory of the US while thiers is a 'free and independent country from the United States. Kind of the same resentments the Italians have as they see Little Italy shrink more and more to Chinatown.

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      Maria del Pilar Perez 6 years ago from Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA

      This hub attempts to bring awareness and straighten out misconceptions and I praise you for it. My experience with the Mexican people has been a positive one.

      I was 10 when our family moved to the states from PR and the places my family lived did not have, in the same degree, the animosity encountered in the Bronx where it's a live and let die world.

      As for the description of our people, there are two issues I'd like to address. One: Our people's music has been influenced by many countries. Salsa, merengue and reggeaton are not originally ours, but adopted. La Plena, la Bomba and, my all time classy favorite, la Danza are ours and no one can claim them. I love the "conversation" between partners in la Danza and no Waltz can rival its beauty.

      The second issue is war. I don't know of any other country that has not gone through a civil war to free slaves, but ours. We have fought in other countries' wars, but have never had one of our own.

      Maybe, now we can avoid a cultural war by taking pride in having humble beginnings, that is, the Jibaro way: No disrespecting adults, no loud music at all hours, no fear of silence, working for family's benefit not wealth, no cursing, learning from nature, respecting God. Both Mexican campesinos and Puertorrican jibaros lived like this. Why can't we?

    • jcm_blabs profile image

      jcm_blabs 6 years ago from My Bunker in the Midwest

      Thank you all for the personal perspectives on this.

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      Grace Marguerite Williams 7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Great hub! Latino peoples are of various nationalities and racial groups. Each Latino/Latina person is an individual person and their respective cultures should be respected. Latinos/Latinas are not all alike! As a Black person, I am so aware of one size fits all mentality. Latinos/ Latinas like Blacks are not all monolithic. Great hub again!

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      latingunslinger C-13 7 years ago

      This rivalry between Puerto Ricans and Mexicans is good to a point every culture has a rival. I myself am Mexican-American and have retired U.S. Army and I will say this you got good and bad on both sides but over all we need to get along. My Platoon Sgt SFC. T helped bring me back from a year long deployment from Iraq I will always be grateful and guess what he is Puerto Rican born and raised in the Bronx. "Thank You SFC T. AKA THE GODFATHER for bringing me back" Paz y Amor

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      technorican 7 years ago from Houston

      Thank you! for the hub! I've had similar encounters.

      I will say the following: My parents were born in Puerto Rico but grew up in Harlem. That makes them nuyoricans but nothing like described above. I am of 100% PR heritage. I was born in NYC and lived in a Bronx housing project. I've been called a nuyorican and neorican.

      I wrote a poem about the "rican" terms. Now I call myself a Technorican. Check out my website >>

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      Tackle This 8 years ago

      My point exactly; thank God not all Puerto Ricans are New Yorican. I reside in Central Florida and the bulk of our problems here are due to men who think they are the papi of the world. In a word, laughable. Roadside litter would be reduced by at least 50% of the papis and mamis of the world moved back to that place that the world revolves around -- namely the Bronx which is also laughable.

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      jcm_blabs 8 years ago from My Bunker in the Midwest

      Tackle This: Because of the entitlement to your own opinions is the only reason I've approved your comments. New Yoricans are not representative of all Puerto Ricans living in the US mainland. Every ethnic group has its bad apples. Thanks, though, for taking the time to read. ;-)

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      Tackle This 8 years ago

      My X wife was born and raised in PR...and thank God not all of Puerto Ricans are New YOricans -- thanks Almighty God.

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      Tackle This 8 years ago

      I believe that Mexicans have contributed far more to the American landscape than have many Puerto Ricans. The Bronx, as I've experienced it in Central Florida is probably one of the worst jokes ever played out on those stateside.

      When Jesus comes back in the clouds, New Yorican papis will be making caca on a large scale.

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      jcm_blabs 8 years ago from My Bunker in the Midwest

      Why thanks! It could've been a bit more elaborated, but it stemmed from a frustration from people who ignorantly assume all Latinos are the same.

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      Inda Blackwell 8 years ago from Hampton Roads

      Nice hub!!