Mar 06

The superiority of Yankee Culture

We live in an underdeveloped country.

Why are we underdeveloped?

I was talking with my parents the other day, and they believe that the British who went to America had a superior culture than the Spaniards who came to our countries. Most of those Spaniards were thieves and adventurers. They came here for the gold.

In contrast, the Europeans that went to America were fleeing from religious persecution. They brought to America their great culture. They went to work, not to have easy reaches.

And that’s the reason we are the way we are.

We need to learn from Americans. We need to be more disciplined and work harder.

I am so skeptic of that rhetoric.

I asked my father “Do you really believe in the superiority of Yankee culture? I don’t. I know Americans can be very superficial, with no real appreciation of culture”.

And he said “It’s not their culture, but their industriousness, that’s the reason for their economic power”.

“Are you aware”, I said, “that Hugo Chavez would call you a “pitiyanqui”?”

“Pitiyanqui” is a word that Chavez uses to denigrate his enemies. He implies that those who adverse him are pro-Yankees, or anti-Venezuelan. “Pitiyanqui” also suggests someone who admires Yankees and wants to be like them. It has servile connotations.

We don’t need to imitate Yankees, we have our own perspective.

Feb 27

Am I anti-American or what?

Is there anti-Americanism in Honduras?

You bet there is. That should come as no surprise. A lot of people hate America and their people. But Americans say “I’m a decent person, I harm no one”. “Yeah, but your government does”, is usually the answer. Some of the big names in Anti-Americanism are Americans, like Noam Chomsky.

Am I anti-American?

Part of me is.

There are reasons, but is mostly emotional (or irrational). I don’t like the way some my fellow countrymen are treated when they go to America. I perceive most Americans have unjust prejudices against our people, and I hate that. I perceive many Americans think we are given to vice, and that we deserve to be “underdeveloped”. In contrast, America is great for their virtuous-working-disciplined people. But we are lazy dreamers, and that’s the reason of our problems. Maybe it’s true, but that conception sounds terribly condescending to me. I prefer to think we are the way we are for some structural economic-historical reasons, not for our inherent malice.

USA is a political-economic-military superpower, and has used its power to advance its interests in detriment of other countries, and we resent that. If we check Latin America’s history we see undesirable American interventionism; here in Honduras too. We resent the fact that ordinary American citizens support their government in evil causes like the war against Iraq. Many Latin people saw from the beginning that that war was not justified.

We see beautiful Americans in movies and TV shows, but in real life we see a lot of gringos whose skin is so pale, the first thought I have is: they need some tan, urgently. I see many gringos in Tegucigalpa, and I think they dress terribly. And I often wonder: is that some kind of gringo-tourist uniform? Do you dress lousy, because you want to give the impression that you’re poor or something, in order to discourage thieves? I mostly don’t feel attracted to the American women I see here.

I hate to see Americans who have lived years in this country, and don’t really care to know more about our culture, and learn some decent Spanish.

I hate when I go to a fast food restaurant, and have to wait extra-long, because there are a bunch of gringos that came in a tour who are taking all the orders. I specially hate when those gringos are Mormons. I think “We have enough religions here; we don’t need a new one”.

The ironic thing is I’m a big consumer of Anglo-Saxon culture, I managed to learn some English by myself, I even look pale-skinned as gringo‚Ķ

But it can be denied that even people who hate the gringos love the dollars‚Ķ That’s why most Americans are treated nicely here. It’s part of our (bourgeois) culture that those with money are admired and respected.

Maybe I was a little bit too cynical above. Some people love the gringos because they see them as something exotic. They are curious about you, and want to learn more. They often wonder: “What the heck are these gringos doing here? I’d rather be in America”.

People are especially enraged when a Honduran criminal is executed by American authorities. They are always inclined to believe that such criminal is innocent, and feel some kind of cheap patriotism.

People with leftist sympathies are more prone to anti-Americanism. I remember a college professor who said that America is not a nation, and has no national identity. They want the US to abandon Palmerola military base. Some thought our current president was about to do it.

By the way, our current president, Manuel Zelaya, has given hints of anti-Americanism, mainly in some speeches directed to foreign audiences. His rapprochement with Hugo Chavez is suspicious to say the least. He didn’t want to accept the current US ambassador’s credentials, in solidarity with Evo Morales from Bolivia. But he always denies he’s anti-American.

I hope I didn’t sound too bitter in this rant. I needed to get this out of my chest. I like when Americans our interested in our culture, and do their best to learn our language.

Feb 24

Now blogging in English

I’ve been blogging in Spanish for some time. Now I think it’s time to try to make a blog in English about Honduras. Why? It’s like Aaron, the guy from Pensieve said: I can have a bigger audience that way. He writes better in English anyways. It’s not so easy for me, it’s outside from my comfort zone, but I’m going to give it a try.

It should be no surprise that a blog in English about Honduras could be more successful that an similar blog in Spanish, even when most people in Honduras don’t speak English. Most people in Honduras don’t have an Internet connection in their homes. I certainly don’t. In contrast, Internet is dominated by the English language.

The orientation of this blog will be influenced by the intended audience, which is mostly American expats, I guess. It has to be different from my current blog in Spanish for obvious reasons. I’ll have to take into account the American point of view, and explain things I take for granted when I write in Spanish. I’m writing to people with a different culture. Let’s see how it works.