Thinking in Latin America

I live in Latin America now (in Costa Rica) and I am happy to be living here. But I keep noticing the many areas where they cannot think.

Yesterday, for example, I was watching a soccer game – Ticos are passionate them. One of the players was injured – but no one took care of him properly – they just pushed him off the field, and went on playing. His injuries were probably not serious, but this decision should have been made by a medically competent person – a medic.

They should have had a stretcher on the sidelines – ran onto the field with the stretcher, and carried him off to where he could get adequate medical attention. Injuries are bound to happen – and they should be planned for.

But, strange as this seems – Latinos cannot plan. This is something the North learned as a result of Industrialization – and this did not happen much in the South. That is why it is so poor.

They cannot do a cost-benefits analysis. Calculate the costs and the benefits, of different alternatives – and pick the best one for the job. This seems too logical to them – and Latinos pride themselves on being an emotional people.

They should prize their emotions – but some decisions should be made without them.


1954 Guatemalan coup d’état


This article was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, when I went there looking for something else.

This article would have a shocker when it happened, back in the Fifties – but this information was successfully covered up then. And Americans went on believing in their Righteousness. As far as they were concerned – none of this ever happened.

Note the side bar on the right – Covert United States Involvement in Regime Change.

This would eventually kill millions of people closer to home – in San Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.


I must still be an American, at heart. I bought a bottle of this stuff, and I love it!

I had a breakfast of pizza, from the Pizza Hut (a money-making franchise in the nearest large town) and helped myself to some grape goober (America’s Favorite!). There is a Wikipedia entry for it – using the Gullah word for peanut, guber.

I traveled a little in the Honduran islands where this dialect is spoken, in the Seventies. They were poor, but friendly – but have since become dangerous places to live.

Their children, traveling by themselves, on freight cars across Mexico – have flooded across the American border. As described by Delancyplace,

The Blessing of the Buses

The local bus company, that runs a bus between Orosi and Cartago, the next large town, every 15 minutes (and more often during rush hour) – has bought seven new buses. And lined them up in front of the church to be blessed. For such complicated machines, they are quite reliable, and don’t really need to be blessed – but it pays to be safe.

The commuters riding these buses to work – two hours each way – plus eight hours of working – could use some blessing themselves – but they can go to Mass for that.

The Discovery of the World Outside Us

This was also the discovery of the world inside us. The world that made us, and everything else.

Previously, we thought in religious terms – which was only natural, since we are religious beings. The discovery of something else, not religious at all – and much larger (and smaller) than us, that operated by its own laws – was quite a discovery!

This was usually attributed to Newton, and his laws of gravity. That were a sensation at the time. And spurred a search for other universal laws. The realization that there were such laws had a huge effect on the economy of Northern, Protestant Europe. It made them rich!

Living, as I do, in Latin America – I can see this difference every day. They do not have the analytic skills necessary for them plan their world. They cannot conceive of unlimited (but well-organized) time and space – that the North takes for granted.

I will get more specific. In the developed world, every building can be specified with two coordinates – street name and building number. But in Latin America, the address for any building is a long description of how to get there, starting from a reference location, everyone is supposed to know about. This description can occupy several lines of text.

The Post Office in Costa Rica tried to simplify this – but Ticos will have none of it – they want the old way, because it feels better to them! If this is not efficient, to hell with efficiency!

I Go To the Dogs Again

I know this will not interest you, but it is of vital interest to me – so please hear me out.

I live in a house, where the owner of the house (Ray) has three large boxer dogs, that are the love of his life. Today, for the second time, I let one of them out – and he is distraught.

When loud fireworks go off, as they did today, for religious reasons, the dogs go out of their minds, and will do anything to get away from the noise. Including knocking me over as I open the gate to the front yard, and running up the street, to parts unknown.

I should have heard the fireworks, and done nothing until Ray came home, from wherever he was, and took care of his dogs.

But my old mind was not working very well.

How Latin America Makes it Hard on Itself

This is all a part of its history – as I keep saying, over and over. In the 15th Century, Northern Europe separated from Southern Europe. The North became Protestant, and the South remained Catholic. The North accepted Science and Industry – and became wealthy. The South remained poor.

Since I now live in the South, in Costa Rica – I have experienced first-hand some of the problems associated with living here. I can summarize them easily – the South was organized to make life easy for the powerful – and difficult for those below them, most of the population.

I experienced this recently, when I opened a bank account here, and tried to use its online site. This was much harder than it needed to be. Latinos instinctively make things hard for users – exactly the opposite of what American software designers try to do – make it easy for their users.