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February 09, 2011

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Marcio Bernardo

Complicated post... I think you are right regarding the historical roots on our little rivalry, Brazil was an empire and Argentina had the same mentality in that period so conflicts over territory expansion were bound to happen...

But nowadays I believe the rivalry is mainly on sports (not only soccer) it might flair up here and there but I think we both appreciate the other country, I had a blast during my limited stay in Buenos Aires and I was really well treated by our "hermanos"... (on the other hand I hear from few Brazilians that simply gave up on Buzios because it became too Argentinian), I think that due to closer contact and easy of travel the animosity between us really toned down, for example I will cheer for Argentina when they play against anyone outside SA...

Portenos can be a hand full sometimes (arrogant is a common adjective used to describe them) but they act this way with pretty much everybody else and the people that I met from Cordoba and Mendoza were all really cool people...

Regarding the economic impact of bi-lateral trade/economy It's really good for both countries, Brazil needs Argentina and the other SA countries to lower our dependency on US and China so we can pursue an agenda that is in our interest without worrying about commercial repercussions

Ian

"One of the main elements is the lack of African influences in Argentine culture"

While African influence Argentina is indeed considerably less than in Brazil, is still abounds, most prominently in the most distinctive and popular product of Argentinian culture, Tango:
http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-blackness-of-tango/Content?oid=1197334

BTW, as a tango aficionado, I'm curious about the extent of its popularity in Brazil and how it's maybe "re-imaged" there. One easily imagines a snappier tango invigorated through excavation of its African roots wildly animating Rio millongas.

In a different vein, perhaps Argentina should embrace and encourage Brazil's rise. If Brazil achieves prosperity and power in the 21st century comparable to Argentina's during the 20's, doubtless considerable regional spillover would occur, elevating most of South America. Buenos Aires may bloom once more, courtesy of Sao Paolo.

Pedro Mundim

Olá, gringa!

Pelo que já visitei de seu blog, pude perceber que você não morre de amores pelos argentinos (e não usa meias palavras para expressá-lo, foi bem direta ao escrever que não se deu bem com a "cultura argentina", seja lá o que isso quer dizer)...

É evidente que, escrevendo em um blog destinado ao público brasileiro, uma posição crítica em relação à Argentina será sempre bem recebida, em razão da antiga rivalidade entre brasileiros e argentinos. Mas é bom lembrar que essa rivalidade sustenta-se sobre bases bem pueris, como as disputas no futebol, ou quanto a quem faz o melhor churrasco - de modo geral, brasileiros e argentinos são bastante análogos, ambos produto de uma colonização ibérica com História bem similar. Daí que eu ache estranho sua insistência em referir-se a uma dicotomia brasileiros X argentinos. Você nunca explicou isso em detalhes, nem mesmo quando uma mulher argentina fez essa pergunta, em um post antigo. Assim, tomei a liberdade de tecer algumas teorias, baseado em observações que venho fazendo aqui e em outros blogs de comentaristas estrangeiros. Vou explicar.

Um ponto recorrente é o desconforto que muitos norte-americanos e europeus sentem diante de um sul-americano que clama possuir uma herança histórica e cultural européia, de mesma origem que a deles. Os argentinos, em particular, são conhecidos pelo apreço que demonstram a seus avós europeus. Entretanto, idêntica atitude têm muitos americanos e canadenses descendentes de imigrantes, e ao que eu saiba, jamais foram criticados por isso - ao contrário, parece uma coisa perfeitamente natural. A única conclusão que eu posso tirar é que norte-americanos (não sei se incluo você) e europeus do norte em geral não desejam reconhecer os sul-americanos como seus parentes, e quando se interessam em visitar o relacionar-se com sul-americanos, fazem-no com a expectativa de que estarão diante de um universo cultural que deve obrigatoriamente ser totalmente distinto de seu próprio universo doméstico. Eu pergunto: foi esse o seu caso? Você ficou incomodada com os argentinos por causa da arrogância deles, e da mania que eles têm de enfatizar suas raízes européias? Ou foi porque eles tiveram a audácia de não se colocar no lugar onde você esperava encontrá-los, isto é, o oposto a você, e ao contrário, atreveram-se a se posicionar lado a lado com você?

Outro ponto recorrente é a insistência em frisar que o Brasil é um país multicultural, enquanto a Argentina seria um país monocultural. Mas eu acredito que você já conhece o Brasil a tempo suficiente para perceber que o nosso multiculturalismo é, em grande medida, uma peça de propaganda. O Brasil é, isso sim, multirracial, mas aqui os descendentes de africanos não falam as línguas de seus ancestrais - falam o português deixado pelo colonizador. Os cultos afro-brasileiros foram todos inventados aqui, a África atual é quase toda muçulmana. O que os brasileiros têm de africano, afinal? O carnaval? É uma festa européia, que jamais existiu na África. O samba? Foi inventado no Rio de Janeiro no início do século 20, e jamais existiu na África. A capoeira? Também inventada no Brasil, e jamais existiu na África. A feijoada? Tem várias origens. O Brasil, tal como a Argentina, é um país integrante do mundo ocidental, produto de uma colonização européia, assim como os EUA e o Canadá. Se são diferentes em muitos aspectos dos EUA, do Canadá e da Europa do norte, no mais das vezes essas diferenças não são culturais, mas produto de degradação originada da pobreza - ignorância, falta de educação, baixa escolaridade, violência, famílias desfeitas, etc.

Aquilo que é apresentado como "peculiaridades culturais" brasileiras, não raro, são imagens de exportação, feitas para serem vendidas ao estrangeiro (o carnaval é um bom exemplo) com a finalidade de materializar essa expectativa de ser o brasileiro (e o sul-americano em geral) o produto de uma civilização original e totalmente distinta, pronta e exibir o contraste civilizado X bárbaro que eles procuram, consciente ou inconscientemente. É claro que eu entendo a atração pelos opostos. Só não me peça para chamar isso de amizade.

brucey M

LOVE the post im from london and always wondered how complex the relationship is between two countries. Brazils almost inevitable golden age is round th corner and the difference between Brazil era and argentinas era back in the 1920's is that now countries are more co-Dependant economically and MUCH more connected than ever before.

This means that Argentina along with the rest of South America (particularly the southern cone) will be more ready to share in the prosperity.

I love this blog and its fascinating posts. It definitely gives me my fix on my Brazil obsession. And to make it better, its an exciting time to be in Brazil.

Keep up the good work and wud love for you to post more often! =-)

Mario Testrim

Por ser paulista e paulistano, não vejo diferença entre nós e os argertinos. Talves um baiano ou um amazonense se sinta mais distante, da mesma forma que eles se sentem distantes dos paulistas. Quanto as outras nacionalidades, é sempre mais fácil se aproximar de sul americanos, europeus, australianos, libaneses, japoneses etc... do que de americanos ou canadenses, em geral.

Eduarda

Pedro, a cultura predominante pode ser a européia, mas isso não faz do Brasil monocultural. Vai no Sul e vê se a cultura de lá é igual à do Nordeste.
O samba e a capoeira nasceram aqui, verdade. Mas eles têm fortes raízes africanas, assim como os cultos afro-brasileiros - o nome já diz ( aliás, o que acontece na África atual é irrelevante para essa questão. ).

Já sobre a teoria sobre os americanos e europeus, eu achei muito interessante mesmo.

Simone

Acho que o melhor desde post foi o comentário do Pedro. Excelente! Sentia falta de algo assim. Legal também os esclarecimentos da Eduarda no que concerne ao Brasil ser multicultural e a Africa.

The Gritty Poet

I think the fundamental difference between Latin America and North America is that the first holds a Latin-Catholic outlook and the latter an Anglo-Protestant one, except for Quebec.
Pedro states that the difference isn't that great. I disagree, to me it is enormous.
I experienced the same sensation in Europe. I lived in Northern Europe and visited Spain at times. It was like I was leaving a bit of America behind and entering a Latin American society.
Regarding being exotic or not many people from Southern Europe think places like Germany and Sweden are quite exotic, at least to them.
As for Brazil, it has a Latin feel to me, but I find something in Brazil to be very intersting: it seems to be a rather fluid society, a place where change is more likely to happen because customs and traditions are not as set in stone as in Spanish America. Is that good? Depends on what you like I guess. I think it is a huge advantage over the rest of Latin America and most of the world.

Colin

Good one!

Ray Adkins

Pedro,

Very interesting observations, you make great points.

Tiago

Eu discordo do comentário do Pedro.

O Brasil é multicultural sim. Assim como temos o carnaval, samba e capoeira temos a Festa da Uva, Oktoberfest e a Schützenfest que são festas de origem europeia no Sul do Brasil.E ainda a culinária e cultura indígena predominantes na Norte, quem aqui ouviu falar no açaí?E o Tanabata Matsuri, em São Paulo?

No entanto o carnaval, caipirinha e feijoada são mais conhecidos no exterior porque o Rio de Janeiro é a porta de entrada dos estrangeiros no país, nada mais coerente que a cultura local seja a mais conhecida.

Tiago

Enquanto os argentinos, não tem jeito mesmo. Eles são arrogantes, chatos com nariz empinado além de invejosos, dotados de um imaginário intelecto superior. Bem feito sua economia entrar pelo cano abaixo!
Quem sabe agora ficam um pouco mais humildes e menos preconceituosos.

O que o intrigou o povo brasileiro foi à ausência da presidente argentina na posse de Dilma, sabe o que é isso? Inveja! Ver uma mulher que nem ela governa um país próspero emergente rumo ao G5 em 2016.

Pedro Mundim

Respondendo a The Gritty Poet, você desviou um pouco o tópico da discussão ao referir-se às diferenças entre a Europa nortista e a sulista. Concordo que as diferenças são enormes, mas não concordo que essas diferenças tipifiquem origens distintas: tanto a Europa do sul quanto a do norte (e por extensão, as ex-colônias européias do Novo Mundo) são ramificações de um tronco único de Civilização Ocidental, surgido da junção do herança greco-romana com a tradição judaico-cristã. É um bom ponto aqui lembrar uma declaração do papa a respeito das relações entre a Igreja Católica e as igrejas protestantes: "A Igreja Católica não pode ver as outras igrejas como irmãs, pois na verdade é a MÃE de todas elas". Eu concordo.

Mas já que você tocou no assunto, aproveito para manifestar aqui meu desacordo com o uso da expressão "latino" para denotar uma oposição Europa do Norte X Europa do Sul, e particularmente, América do Norte X América do Sul. Que eu saiba, o termo "latino" referia-se originalmente à região do Latium, na Itália central, onde surgiu Roma. A herança "latina", ou romana, é comum a todos os membros do mundo ocidental. Por que motivos os sul-americanos deveriam ser considerados "mais latinos" que os norte-americanos? Penso, antes, que é o contrário. Se quiser uma prova, procure palavras inglesas em um dicionário: apenas uma fração delas tem origem latina, mas são justamente as palavras de cunho mais erudito e científico. Isso deixa claro que o atributo "latino" se aplica ao núcleo, ao estrato mais elevado da civilização ocidental, e não à sua periferia.

De resto, eu suspeito muito daqueles que insistem em enfatizar os aspectos não-europeus da América do Sul, particularmente do Brasil. Pode ser mero tributo ao politicamente correto, mas eu percebo aí intenções que nada têm de bondosas ou ingênuas. Na época atual, poucos conceitos tem sido mais deturpados do que o multiculturalismo, e o vício mais comum é usá-lo como álibi para justificar comportamentos incorretos, imorais ou criminosos - como todos sabem, cada cultura é auto-suficiente dentro de sua própria escala de valores, e condená-la é manifestar intolerância e racismo. Enfim, se "o outro" age diferente, isso é porque ele tem uma "cultura diferente", ninguém está autorizado a julgá-lo, e devemos deixá-lo proceder como quiser. Um bom artigo sobre esse tema, de Reinaldo Azevedo (revista VEJA) está aqui: http://veja.abril.com.br/051207/p_116.shtml

Simone

Um achado teu site, Pedro! Escreves muito bem e além do mais não temes ir contra a opinião da maioria. Adorei. Se desse pra virar fã aqui, viraria. :)

Rodrigo

Hi Gringa, I´m a huge fan of your site. As an argentine living in Brazil, I think that the whole Argentina vs. Brazil subject is not as evident as many people think. Sure, we´re talking about historic rivals in South America, but go to Argentina and ask, soccer aside, who they really "dislike". The most likely response you will get will be the U.K. (because of the Falklands/Malvinas war), not to mention that we were on the brink of war with Chile not too long ago. That said, I disagree with your observation in which argentines think they are "superior" to brazilians; after the 2001 crisis argentines are demoralized, and there is a huge admiration and even envy of how good Brazil is doing. We are constantly comparing ourselves with our big brother, and really critic towards our government (Cristina Kirchner has about 30% of public approval), local polls show that if Lula da Silva ran for president in Argentina, he would easily reach the presidency! Our main trade partner is Brazil, while for Brazil it´s China and the U.S. Last but not least, the "european" argentina is Buenos Aires, travel to the North, South or West and you will find a different Argentina; Brazil will always be a lot more complex since it´s four times our country and population! Just thought I could contribute with an "argentine" view on this wonderful blog.

Rio Gringa

Hi all, thank you for your comments!

@Rodrigo, thanks, that is very nice to hear! I think you're the guy from La Nacion blog, right? If so, great blog!

@Gritty Agreed. I think countries with large scale immigration from different regions of the world tend to have more "flexible" cultures, even if newcomers aren't always accepted (the US being a good example). Often, whether people like or not, new traditions or even language have a way of creeping in and influencing or changing the existing ones.

@Pedro, You got me thinking, so here's how I see it. I was actually disappointed that Argentina was not at all what I was used to and was surprisingly outside of my comfort zone. I was in a lot of culture shock being in a big city that felt so much less diverse than other big cities I'd lived in. Plus, it was a matter of personal interest: multi-cultural countries in Latin America are the ones that are most interesting to me, like Colombia or Brazil, and Argentina just didn't have that same feel. So while I fell in love with the city and enjoyed the amazing food and the low cost of living, I sought out as many different communities I could find: the Portenos who I managed to break through with, Paraguayan kids where I volunteered at a public school, foreign students in my university classes, and finally, the Brazilian community, which eventually lead me down a whole different path. I do think the lure of exoticism plays a big role anytime you go abroad, but when you live somewhere, finding a niche with a certain level of familiarity and comfort is also very important. I feel a lot more comfortable amongst Brazilians, in the end.

Also, to address your points about Brazilian culture: I don't think multiculturalism is a myth; racial democracy on the other hand, is a bit trickier. Just because something was born in Brazil doesn't make it monocultural; there were various groups of people that made that tradition a reality. Carnival may originally be European, but now its most elaborate traditions are now found in Latin America, celebrations that have integrated local traditions, a mixture of European and African influences that gave rise to new musical and dance forms; Italians don't dance to samba or soca at their parade. Brazilian samba started in Salvador and mixes African-style instruments and rhythms, and some historians believe its earlier forms actually began in Cabo Verde and Angola. Feijoada is allegedly a result of slavery, when the slaves would mix the leftover meat with beans, but much of African-inspired Brazilian cuisine actually comes directly from West Africa and still exist there (mocoto, acaraje, etc). Some historians have found evidence that capoeira actually may have began in Angola. Anyway, you get the idea.

There is something I do believe is worth exploring though that you didn't really talk about but you did make me think about. I'd originally read in this blog post that annoyed the hell out of me: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2009/08/17/4-reasons-travel-for-fun-is-a-waste-of-time/ But the more I thought about the issue of socioeconomic differences, the more I agreed with her. Socioeconomic levels definitely vary between countries with different GDPs, but it does make sense that people of similar economic backgrounds would understand one another better than those from different ones. Maybe something for a future post.

Eduardo Marques

"Feijoada is allegedly a result of slavery,(...)"

Pois é: a feijoada não é, de fato, produto da escravidão. Na verdade, tem origem européia. A origem é creditada a tradições culinárias do norte de Portugal. Essa origem, dos escravos, é apenas lenda.

http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feijoada_brasileira

Desculpe o português aqui. :)

Rio Gringa

Good call Eduardo! After further research I found some more info with that idea. Here's one:

http://g1.globo.com/Sites/Especiais/Noticias/0,,MUL1197792-16107,00.html

There is a lot of stuff out there about the slavery theory; I need to read up some more because the majority of English info on feijoada talks about it. It looks like black beans, native to Brazil, were the "new" ingredient used, and that it was actually quite popular amongst the elite.

Also, for more information than you ever needed to know about beans, see here: www.dc.mre.gov.br/imagens-e-textos/revistaing13-mat06.pdf

AFF

The comments are great! I'm learning a lot.

Pedro's points are excellent: it's true that North and South America share common "parents" and that many North Americans visiting South America search hard for the differences rather than acknowledge the similarities staring them in the face.

I'm certainly guilty of this myself. As a college student, I decided that I didn't want to study in Western Europe since that would be tame. I thought that learning Chinese or another language in Asia would be too difficult without common Latin roots. I was suspicious being seen as a poverty tourist and visiting sub Saharan Africa or Bolivia or rural Ecuador, and besides I like material comforts (somehow I imagined Ecuador would require camping). I thought the inter-cultural distances in very poor country would be too vast for a gringo to bridge in 6 months. I knew I wanted cities, friendly people and a beautiful beach. I went to Chile because it was different, if only enough. Forgive me my reasons. They were a little stupid--I was younger. But, I made great friends who listened to some of the same music I did (Weezer, Against Me, Juanes) and that also introduced me to completely new music and fiction (Victor Jara, Alberto Fuguet). It rocked my world and opened my eyes. It also was good practice for my next move: Brazil.

Marcio Goncalves

" When living in Buenos Aires, I had the sense that while parts of the culture were considered uniquely Argentine, a lot of the culture seemed to be an adoration or imitiation of European culture"

This is pretty offensive Rachel. Pedro points are dead on about this. Really think about it.

This is not adoration or imitation - this IS THEIR CULTURE! The core of argentine culture is Spanish and Italian (with a stronger native-argentine/african aspects on the border states, but the core is still european).

You should take a look in old pictures from Brazilian capitals before the modernist movement in brazilian architecture - you would be surprised of how "european" Sao Paulo, Rio and Curitiba were, pretty much like Buenos Aires is.

You'd probably say that we were "imitating" europeans back then too. I wonder if you'd say that San Francisco, were I live, with its wonderful victorian houses is also just adoring and imitating England. What about Boston, with its very london-like houses?

This really hits me home because I'm from the South of Brazil and we get the same kind of bullshit from foreigners and from other brazilians: we are not really Brazil, we are pretending to be "europeans", etc...

It's annoying and stupid - like the core of argentine culture is spanish/italian, the core of brazilian culture is portuguese (and guess what, Portugal is an european country).

But because Brazil is such a big country, our "combo" of culture is way more diverse: so in Rio it's more portuguese/african, in Sao Paulo more portuguese/italian/spanish, etc..., in Curitiba Portuguese/Polish/Ukranian, in Belem Portuguese/Native-brazilian, etc

In a lot of ways Brazil can claim to be way more western than the USA (we were actually the head of an European Country during the brief United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and Algarves. our two Emperors were from european dynasties, married to european nobles. Our legal system follows the Roman tradition, etc...).

I don't say this to deny the important african and native-brazilian elements of our culture, but only to pinpoint what it's obvious from a brazilian point of view: It doesn't matter if the brazilian looks racially black, indian, japanese, german, etc... the core of our culture is portuguese, thus european, thus western.

This part it's really difficult for an American to grasp, because here in the States "race=culture", something that does not compute for a brazilian. So for an american, the fact that brazilians are mostly mixed (and a good number of our "brancos" are not "white" in the american sense) and argentinians are "hispanics" (even though they are white) creates a incompatibility with "western culture" because this is understood as "white culture".

As you lived in Brazil you probably don't think 100% like that, but reading your posts I can see that it's difficult for you to really get away from this notion.

Hence you're very offensive post against our "hermanos" argentinians (as most brazilians I'd rather make fun than defend argentinians...lol But your post was really offensive, even though I'm sure you didn't intend to be so).

Rio Gringa

Hi Marcio,

I don't think it was offensive, but you don't like most things I write so I don't mind. The point I was trying to make is that I don't enjoy Argentine culture like I enjoy Brazilian culture. Of course it's theirs and it is what it is, but it's just not my cup of tea. I just find Brazil more interesting. Also, if you look in the comments you'll see I talked about culture and socioeconomic class, which I think is very true in Brazil and Argentina, in that people in the same socioeconomic group have similar cultural or leisure interests. On this note, I think race may not necessarily = culture in Brazil, but social class most definitely does.

Marcio Goncalves

"I don't think it was offensive, but you don't like most things I write so I don't mind."

Hi Rachel. I'm sorry you think like that.

It goes without saying that I wouldn't bother reading your blog if I didn't think your a very good, talented and interesting writer. But that doesn't mean that I will agree with you just because your post is well written or interesting.

I actually think this post in particular is really good, with very good insights about the Argentina/Brazil love-and-hate relationship (I loved how you cited that the two countries actually went to war with each other before, something that most brazilians don't even know).

But that sentence on the fifth paragraph was pretty unfair and offensive to argentinians - it kind ruined the whole text.

But going back to being offensive: it's like Alex Castro likes to repeat in his blog - it's the offended person who knows that something it's offensive or not.

I said your post it's offensive because it's almost identical to things that southern brazilians have to hear and I do think it's offensive.

But to be clear on this and to check if I was being a little bit unfair, today I've asked an argentinian (half argentinian, half brazilian to tell the truth) what she thought of your post. Guess what? She thought it was pretty offensive.

I'm pretty sure it would never occur to you to call the rich afro-brazilian culture of Bahia of some kind of "adoration and imitation" of African culture - likewise it's not fair to say so of argentinian culture or any other latin-america culture that it's closer to european culture than something that seems more exotic.

Simone

Rachel is a great writer and she knows it. We have told her many times and that's why we keep coming back, as readers and even as "writers". But she is very sensitive to criticism and I don't blame her. It is hard to please everyone. It's hard to be yourself and not annoy someone else from time to time. It happens. People often misunderstand one another, especially on writing. And to be fair, sometimes the comments are just cruel. I know I have been hard on her sometimes. Touchy subjects often trigger emotional reactions. I love people who think, who dare to take a different stand - and not only for the sake of it. It does not mean, by any means, I would always agree with them. It does not mean I won't say things as they are to them - given the chance to, of course. I guess that's what happens in here. Being this a blog, it is easier to say things honestly.

By the way, I also thought the comment on Argentinians was harsh, maybe offensive... nonetheless, it is true. People often say that of Argentinians (even though is really people from Buenos Aires) and to say otherwise is hypocrisy. We all know the complex some Argentinians have... although I have met wonderful Argentinians who never thought of them as "special", I have also met a few that 'put wood to the fire'. I guess the point is not that they are wrong to think this way, after all, their background is European, like most of us from the American continent, but that they are arrogant about it. Again, some of them.

I loved Pedro's comment on this because I think Americans often think of themselves as better. I admire their capacity for analysis. I refer to the American who actually travel around the world. They can observe and describe other cultures in a way that I believe most of us, Brazilian or otherwise, are not able to (with exceptions, of course). I don't think that's necessary arrogant but comes from an inflated/better self-esteem whereas ours comes (unfortunately), most often than not, from a lower place.

The United States has been top in the world in many different aspects (whether that's true or not is reason for another comment) for a while and, though that is changing, is normal for them to think the rest of the world is backwards. I can see this attitude is not on purpose only after years of living there. I see, many, if not most of Americans, do not even realize this, so I do not blame the regular American folk. The problem is with authority (government, corporations, people in position of power, etc.) that use this to their advantage often taking advantage of the most vulnerable. So this is food for thought... maybe if Americans treats us more as equal, we (Latin Americans) will have more of a reason not to resent their behavior. It will finally put the complex of left-behind, if I am not mistaken, described in the book "Open Veins in Latin America" and repeated to ad-nauseam, behind. This will be beneficial not only to the region but to the world, if only... Americans stop looking down on us.

Rio Gringa

Hi Marcio,

Ok point taken. But I'd rather be honest and piss people off than be boring, I guess, which I have a tendency to do whenever I let my opinion slip in, which is why for a good part of the past 6 months or so I've been trying to do thematic posts instead of "things I think about..."etc. Someone had asked about why I didn't like Argentine culture awhile back, and I figured I'd slip it into the post, and be very straight up about it. I've had this conversation about cultural preferences with other gringos who love Latin America and inevitably people fall into groups; it's very interesting and is a surprisingly very personal thing.

As far as the Bahia thing goes, I wouldn't say that because I don't think it's true. I would say that there is also sorts of imitation and adoration of other cultures in Latin America; even in Brazil, you'll sometimes find that with US culture (washed-up rock bands on tour, shopping malls, English abound), although it's obviously complex and a love-hate relationship.

Anyway, the truth is I'm the kind of person who's very upfront even in person (I have told Argentines very honestly about my experiences there), but really about anything. But everything is different when you put it online, and get a constant stream of people telling you "You're doing it wrong!" I guess I'm desacostumando to my thickened skin, due to a (thankfully) slower stream of angry comments.

Carlos

I'm a Brazilian who has been to Buenos Aires, and I liked everything except the people. I'm not saying this to fuel the flames of any rivalry; I'm simply stating what I felt.

The architecture of the buildings was exquisite; the alfajores were delicious; I enjoyed the steaks; the tango show was fun to watch. But other than the employees at restaurants or the tour guides, the people I met there were by and large cold and unfriendly. I wasn't expecting Brazilian-style "calor humano," but it had been quite a while since I'd been made to feel so unwelcome as a visitor in a new city.

At one point, while shopping in downtown Buenos Aires, I entered a small mom&pop-style deli. The woman behind the counter was a senior citizen. It seemed like a family-owned business. There were two teenage girls sitting there as well, and two middle-aged adults. I picked a soda which said "pomelo." I wasn't sure what that meant, and in Spanish, I asked them if they knew the translation of that in Portuguese. No one knew. Perhaps it was naive of me to think they'd know, but the woman behind the counter (the senior citizen) asked me "por que queres saber?" in an almost shouting tone. I quietly responded, "para aprender espanol." There was a collective "AHHHH!!!!" which meant they now realized I was a visiting Brazilian, and the old lady was suddenly all nice and said, "mira que buenito." Right.

On my last day there, my mother (who speaks English and Portuguese as I do) went shopping in Recoleta, and we tried the following. We decided only to use our US-issued credit cards or dollars, and unlike in other situations, we did not disclose we were visiting from Brazil. We would simply say, "we're from NY." The treatment was suddenly a lot better - they were much more polite and far friendlier than their counterparts had been.

My mother, who is a very kind person, was so turned off by the whole experience that she told me on the plane, "I will not return to Argentina." And neither will I. I can write here about incidents involving expatriates from Argentina 10, 11 years ago involving soccer, but none of that compares to the behavior I experienced in that country. One can argue that I was simply unlucky or unfortunate, but this experience served to cement every "ugly" stereotype Brazilians have of Argentines: cold, arrogant, and unfriendly.

I will even say that after that visit, Brazilian soccer victories over Argentina became even sweeter. You can therefore imagine how delighted I was when my national team defeated Maradona and his team in Rosario in September 2009.

The funny thing is... Argentines are living in the past when their country was once upon a time the richest in the continent. Brazil has since left them behind, and perfect proof of this was published in a Buenos Aires daily I happened to buy when I was in Argentina. It was when French dignitaries were visiting Brazil to seal military technology agreements. An editorial said that whereas Brazil advanced in leaps and bounds in bettering its military technology, Argentina's armed forces lacked ammunition for more than one day of battle. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or to cry, but I did pity them.

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