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Old 02-01-2019, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Somewhere flat in Mississippi
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It seems to me that a narrative has emerged on the North American Left over the years that rich people in Latin America got that way through corruption, drug-running and/or oppressing and murdering the poor. How accurate is that narrative?
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Old 02-01-2019, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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In Latin America, there are people who get rich through legitimate business, but usually along the line these people are having to deal in one form or another with the other side of the law in order to move forward or to stay afloat. You have to know how to navigate those waters, just like in this country business people sometimes need to know how to navigate their local political waters - down there navigating those waters necessarily involves dealing with things on the other side of the law.

This doesn't mean that they are killing people or smuggling contraband. What it means is that they're having to navigate forms of corruption on some level, and they're having to do business dealings with people who are on the other side of the law. The presence of organized crime is much more prevalent and has its fingers in many more things in Latin America than it does in the U.S.
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:20 PM
 
Location: Pereira, Colombia
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My city Pereira, Colombia is known as a place where mafia families can live a calm life away from the tension of other areas..but it´s still thick up in here. I´m talking some of the parents at elite, English-instruction schools may live in a subdivision with their bitter rivals whose "foot soldiers" are killing each other in another part of the country, but every morning they wave to each other as they get the paper from the doorstep, and their kids are even in the same homeroom. These families by no means constitute the majority of our school, and I´d say they represent 10-15% of the total population...this though is after years of effort on the school´s part to weed those families out, and more importantly to let it be known that if you´re involved in that, you can´t show off and act a fool...or you´ll be asked to leave. Less prestigious but equally expensive schools in our city probably have higher numbers of these families.

The Paisa (Medellín and the Coffee Triangle) way is to turn dirty money into clean money, to have legit businesses to take heat off the illicit ones..this is why Pereira, Armenia and to a lesser extent Medellín bosses have longevity in this, and as my friend 80keys mentioned, any saavy businessman knows how to navigate the corruption and shady dealings, no matter what side they´re on when dealing with particular transactions. Many of these families make great strides to make it all look legit, and even their teenaged kids sometimes have no idea what was coming when Papi gets extradited (rare but it has happened) to the United States.

The Valle del Cauca (Cali, Cartago Tuluá, and their stomping grounds on the Pacific Coast) way is not as well planned out, and the mafia there often doesn´t invest in other industries, so when they get caught it´s all the more devestating. This is one of the many reasons why Cali is so much less desirable a place now compared to Bogotá and Medellín; when the latter two cities were still horribly dangerous in the bad old days, Cali was paradise in comparison. When the tables turned and the organized crime bosses started getting busted, a lot of the jobs and easy life made by the artificial economy there went bust as well. Cali simply couldn´t catch up, and the pursuit of easy money has gone from big deals to common street crime.

What 80keys said too about honest folks rubbing shoulders with criminals is true as well. On a social level, it´s no big deal for honest Christian families to befriend mafia families, don´t ask don´t tell. I´ve been invited to lunch at a nice finca of some parents, and sitting together at the table with me were a few other teachers, a neurologist/psychologist couple, a legit businessman who imports flowers with his homemaker wife...and a druglord whose brother is a high ranking paramilitary boss. Non chalant for them, super uncomfortable for me. I binged a bunch of Sopranos episodes a few years ago, and all of it seemed shockingly similar to some of the observations I´ve made over the years. These people could be a lot more blantant and all, but...in the end, people on the outside figure out who you are and how you got all the money you have.

It´s not just family outings either. To many, business is business, and when the mob is allowed to do their thing unmolested, there are plenty of honest opportunities to go around. My mother in law worked as a secretary for a company that installed and serviced central AC systems for businesses, they received an offer they couldn´t refuse, paid at double the quoted price so long as secrecy could be maintained. A few technicians were sent, blindfolded and in an armored Land Cruiser (the mob car of choice in Colombia) to an unknown location, where they were asked to service the central unit of a warehouse. It went well, and on another location with the same origanization, the technicians entered a warehouse only to see two dead bodies hanging from the beams of the ceiling...their boss at the A/C company apologized for the inconvenience, sent them home for the rest of the week and made them swear they wouldn´t tell...business is business sometimes.

The term ¨rich¨ here is also incredibly relative. There are crazy rich people here who have gigantic mansions, several people working in the home, etc. They travel where they want, when they want; before their kids go to the most expensive private university in Bogotá they send them to Europe generally for a year of...well...doing almost nothing but travelling around and maybe going to a language institute. Many other families (probably 2/3 at my school) are only rich by Colombian standards, and generally live a life that would be considered middle class by most North Americans. They most likely have a housekeeper or nanny just because it´s so cheap here, but they might only have one compact car, live in townhouse style subdivisions, save to maybe visit Miami or Disney World every few years...and that´s about as far as it goes. All of these people though of course experience things that most Colombians can only dream of...to even have the US tourist visa is quite a privilege, believe it or not.

Maybe other countries are different, but I also knew a mafia family from Lima, Perú with more or less the same story to tell; their son confessed the whole smuggling in speedboats, dirty to clean money, rag to uber-riches story once he was safely attending college with me in the United States.

I wish I was making this up, but this is real account of 6 years of living here.

Last edited by aab7855; 02-01-2019 at 04:31 PM..
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Somewhere flat in Mississippi
9,522 posts, read 9,402,418 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
In Latin America, there are people who get rich through legitimate business, but usually along the line these people are having to deal in one form or another with the other side of the law in order to move forward or to stay afloat. You have to know how to navigate those waters, just like in this country business people sometimes need to know how to navigate their local political waters - down there navigating those waters necessarily involves dealing with things on the other side of the law.

This doesn't mean that they are killing people or smuggling contraband. What it means is that they're having to navigate forms of corruption on some level, and they're having to do business dealings with people who are on the other side of the law. The presence of organized crime is much more prevalent and has its fingers in many more things in Latin America than it does in the U.S.
Where did this culture come from? Spain isn’t like that.
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Old 02-02-2019, 06:52 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouldy Old Schmo View Post
Where did this culture come from? Spain isn’t like that.
I've reflected on that over the years. I have sort of a unique perspective on it because I was raised in a Hispanic community in the American Southwest and I have family in both Mexico and Colombia, so I've been able to observe Hispanic culture over a wide area. One thing is for sure, Hispanic culture definitely has an element of violence to it, almost as if it never quite got over the days of the "Old West." I think Latin America and even Chicano communities in the U.S. are still kinda stuck in that mentality.

Regarding the mentality of corruption, part of the culture definitely comes from Spain. Last year when I visited a friend there I was able to observe some types of corruption that seemed pretty similar to the kinds of things you would see in South America. For example, there's a city government building in Valencia that has only been open to the public for a year, because the previous mayor had basically seen herself as a dictator and for twenty years didn't allow the public into the building.

Another thing is that the "conquering and taming" of the New World was a long, difficult, and violent process. You had, on the one hand, the fervor of the Spaniards and, the other hand, native tribes who were often ruthless in their own way. Mix that together for a couple hundred years ...
It also has to be pointed out that England and northern European cultures tend to take a different approach to things compared to the southern European cultures. The former tend to be much more well-organized and methodical about things; the latter tend to be more reactionary, emotional, and quick-to-the-draw. Hence you've got different types of organizational skill sets depending on which culture you're talking about. The upshot of that is if you have a long history of government that can't get its act together, then organized crime and corruption prevail. You see this not only in Latin America, but in Russia, southeast Asia and other places.
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Old 02-02-2019, 08:00 PM
 
Location: La lune et les étoiles
17,611 posts, read 19,033,833 times
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Your post reminded me of this....



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsOHr0aBIvU


Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
I've reflected on that over the years. I have sort of a unique perspective on it because I was raised in a Hispanic community in the American Southwest and I have family in both Mexico and Colombia, so I've been able to observe Hispanic culture over a wide area. One thing is for sure, Hispanic culture definitely has an element of violence to it, almost as if it never quite got over the days of the "Old West." I think Latin America and even Chicano communities in the U.S. are still kinda stuck in that mentality.

Regarding the mentality of corruption, part of the culture definitely comes from Spain. Last year when I visited a friend there I was able to observe some types of corruption that seemed pretty similar to the kinds of things you would see in South America. For example, there's a city government building in Valencia that has only been open to the public for a year, because the previous mayor had basically seen herself as a dictator and for twenty years didn't allow the public into the building.

Another thing is that the "conquering and taming" of the New World was a long, difficult, and violent process. You had, on the one hand, the fervor of the Spaniards and, the other hand, native tribes who were often ruthless in their own way. Mix that together for a couple hundred years ...
It also has to be pointed out that England and northern European cultures tend to take a different approach to things compared to the southern European cultures. The former tend to be much more well-organized and methodical about things; the latter tend to be more reactionary, emotional, and quick-to-the-draw. Hence you've got different types of organizational skill sets depending on which culture you're talking about. The upshot of that is if you have a long history of government that can't get its act together, then organized crime and corruption prevail. You see this not only in Latin America, but in Russia, southeast Asia and other places.
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Old 02-02-2019, 09:20 PM
 
Location: Evanston & Lake Forest, Illinois
1,452 posts, read 710,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouldy Old Schmo View Post
It seems to me that a narrative has emerged on the North American Left over the years that rich people in Latin America got that way through corruption, drug-running and/or oppressing and murdering the poor. How accurate is that narrative?
That's not accurate, although 'rich' is relative. Your average millionaire family in São Paulo or Buenos Aires is probably at that level because of professional qualifications and above-board entrepreneurship. The billionaires are more questionable, as there is a lot of wealth derived from monopolies in Latin America. That being said, most Latin American countries are relatively stable.
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Old 02-02-2019, 10:34 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles
2,995 posts, read 1,640,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouldy Old Schmo View Post
It seems to me that a narrative has emerged on the North American Left over the years that rich people in Latin America got that way through corruption, drug-running and/or oppressing and murdering the poor. How accurate is that narrative?
Latin America is one of the most unequal parts of the world. The standard international measurement of inequality used by economists is the Gini Coefficient. A score of 0 means complete equality and a score of 1 means complete inequality.

Latin American countries tend to be in the 0.45 to 0.50 range. By comparison the USA is around 0.41, Canada and the UK are mid-to-high 30's and the Nordic Countries (Sweden, Norway, etc.) tend to be in the 0.25 to 0.30 range.

https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/ind....GINI/rankings

Economist Leonardo Gasparini has said this inequality has deep-rooted historical origins: “Latin America has been very unequal since colonial times. Part of the current gap [between rich and poor] is down to a long history of elitist societies, with largely undemocratic political systems and exclusive economic models."

To end on a more positive note, the period from about 2000 to about 2014 saw a decline in the Gini Coefficient in most countries in Latin America. Focus Economics said the reduction in inequality and poverty in Latin America from roughly 2000 to 2010 resulted in an increase in the middle class that almost doubled, from 100 to 186 million people.

"Over the past 20 years, the region has experienced a generalized increase in household incomes, infant mortality has fallen by 65%, access to primary education has practically become universal, and improvements in the quality of life have increased the average lifespan by 8 years since 1990."

https://www.focus-economics.com/blog...-latin-america
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Old 02-02-2019, 11:55 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
4,375 posts, read 1,660,383 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mouldy Old Schmo View Post
Where did this culture come from? Spain isn’t like that.
Don't forget that in my lifetime, the first time I visited Spain, it was still the military dictatorship of Generalissimo Franco and the Guardia Civil. Until 1975. I didn't know it in much depth, but I could only imagine.
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