While living in Latin America, it’s not uncommon to notice how governments and individuals in Latin America try to sweep issues under the rug.
It could involve various methods, including but not limited to:
- Outright denying something happened.
- Promoting a campaign internationally that something isn’t the way people think it is.
- Silencing journalists.
- Governments offering misleading or false data on statistics regarding the economy, safety and more.
- Individual citizens in the country reacting insecurely to foreign perceptions about a problem in their country.
- Individual citizens and governments trying to blame foreigners as being the primary cause of whatever the problem is.
- Trying to put the problem out of view for tourists (such as taking homeless people away from certain areas).
- Foreigners working on basically the same purpose to highlight the positives of a country and disregard or ignore any of the negatives.
And much more!
Now, to be fair, just about every government on the planet has swept something under the rug.
They’re probably doing it right now as we speak!
But this article will focus anyhow on examples of this happening in Latin America by both governments and individuals living in Latin America.
After all, this website is all about Iberian America!
Or Latin America?
I get confused on that all the time.
Anyhow, let’s get to some interesting examples.
The Big Bad White Man Fucking Our Women!
This is a personal favorite example of mine because of how funny and hypocritical it all is.
Not just with what we’ll see happened in Costa Rica because the issue at hand here is really with Latin America more broadly.
Though the issue is more common in certain countries than others (Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, etc).
The issue being sex tourism.
Here is an interesting case about that regarding an American named “Cuba Dave.”
He is an older guy who got locked up in Costa Rica after the country passed a law that made it illegal for anyone “who promotes or establishes programs, campaigns or advertisements through any medium on a national or international level to project the country as an accessible destination for commercial sexual exploitation or prostitution.”
Effectively, prostitution is still legal there from my understanding.
You can fuck a prostitute!
Just don’t promote it.
And it’s from my limited understanding that “Cuba Dave” didn’t really sell any sex tourism services.
He was simply a random dude who posted about his adventures in Costa Rica.
So, in this case, you can say they really just wanted to make it illegal to even talk about sex tourism in the country.
Not just those promoting it.
And, from my understanding, I haven’t seen too many other gringos locked up for similar reasons to Cuba Dave.
It seemed like, from what I could find out online, that they simply wanted to make an example of the dude after years of Costa Rica being branded as a safe place for foreign men to come by to get their dick wet.
Of course, while they pursue Cuba Dave, they still have prostitution as being legal in the country and don’t bat an eye to locals going for prostitutes either.
And I’m sure plenty of foreigners still went there afterwards for prostitutes since most aren’t dumb enough to tell the whole world on the internet about how they’re fucking prostitutes in Latin America.
So the issue still persists but let’s scare people from writing about it.
And, as I hinted at before, it’s not just a thing in Costa Rica.
You have had locals and governments get bitchy about foreigners coming to other countries like Colombia for sex tourism.
Or to do drugs.
In large part because, similar to the Costa Rica example above, many don’t want their respective countries labelled as “sex tourism” paradises.
When looking at other countries, you have this example here of a company hosting sex tours in Colombia that had to move its operations to Las Vegas after the backlash it got.
With the Colombian government also promoting campaigns like this one here to make Colombia seem like a peaceful place without any of the vices we associate it with.
And it’s funny now because things like prostitution are still legal in these countries with many of the locals engaging in the behavior.
But yet it’s only us foreigners doing it, right?
Be it Costa Rica, Colombia or anywhere else.
Still, on that note, these examples (among others) just seem to be examples of the governments and people living there wanting to change the narrative by sweeping it under the rug without changing the reality on the ground.
Anyway, let’s move beyond sex tourism.
It’s an easy example for the purpose of demonstrating how governments or individuals want to “sweep issues under the rug.”
Here’s a video that discusses “Cuba Dave” some more.
But let’s now tackle some other examples.
Sweeping 43 Students Under the Rug
In Mexico, huge news broke out in 2014 after the disappearance and murder of 43 students from Ayotzinapa.
According to this article here, there was an independent report on the matter that revealed bad practices in the government investigation into the incident.
Specifically, some of the bad practices applied in the government investigation were the following:
“It accuses the government of failing to follow up key lines of investigation, manipulating evidence, protecting officials suspected of involvement into the enforced disappearances and torturing alleged suspects to secure “confessions”. The experts were denied a request from the families to extend their mandate and continue with their investigation.”
Still, while there were great errors in the Mexican government investigation that seem like they were trying to cover some things up, there were some individuals that were arrested and locked away as you can read here.
Far from arresting everyone involved though and it’s a pretty good example of how governments down here will try to either bury issues at hand.
Here's a video also that goes into greater detail about the incident at Ayotzinapa for those curious.
Bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires
In 1992 and 1994, there were bombings targeted against the Jewish community in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.
The Israeli Embassy was the first one to be bombed in 1992 with 29 dead and another bombing at a Jewish community center happened in 1994 with 87 people dead.
In both incidents, there was someone assigned to investigate what happened so that justice could be brought forth against who did it.
However, both investigations led to nowhere as they were done improperly.
Still, despite the relative lack of efficiency in the investigations, there were 6 Lebanese immigrants and one Brazilian individual that were taken in for their role in the embassy bombing but they were ultimately released due to lack of evidence.
More evidence about the incidents would come out in the years that followed.
For example, in 1996, a group of engineers theorized that the bombing could have happened from inside the embassy instead of coming from outside of it.
In 1998, it was revealed that the Iranian government had some involvement in the embassy bombing and 6 Iranian diplomats were expelled from Argentina.
Finally, more breakthrough information came out in the 2000s with the following information revealed:
“For a number of years the case remained dormant, but in 2005 new evidence about wanton mistreatment and abuse of the case was revealed. That year, Justice Galeano was impeached for allegedly paying a witness $400,000 to change his testimony and for burning incriminating evidence from the AMIA bombing case.
Later, in July 2005, President Nestor Kirchner formally admitted past Argentine government culpability in the investigation of the 1994 AMIA bombing when he stated that the government withheld crucial information that could have solved the case.
An Iranian terrorist organization was still suspected of carrying out the bombing, but Kirchner claimed that much of the responsibility should fall on the past Argentine government for its poor handling of the attack.”
In the years after that, more details about the involvement of the Iranian government came out and arrest warrants were made for 5 Iranians and a Lebanese person.
Similarly, charges were brought forth against former Argentine President Carlos Menem on grounds of concealing evidence and abuse of authority.
Other Argentine government authorities were charged and brought to trial also.
Finally, in 2015, the special prosecutor responsible for presenting his investigation in front of the Argentine Congress, Alberto Nisman, was found dead hours before his presentation would happen.
He was likely murdered in his apartment with a bullet in the back of his head but his case was originally ruled a suicide by the government.
His investigation did find out who in Hezbollah was responsible for the bombings, exposed the Iran terror cells and found Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to be guilty of helping cover all of this up.
Anyway, there are many more details that could be included with this story but those are the basics.
A story that I always found interesting and is a great example of a government down here “sweeping things under the rug.”
Here’s an article that discusses the topic in greater detail and here’s a video that goes into more detail on the second bombing.
Putting Away the Disposables
Years ago, I remember reading a story about how apparently the Mexican government would try to “hide away” the homeless people around Cancun area.
That way tourists and other more desirable individuals wouldn’t have to be exposed to that while on vacation.
If I remember right, I believe it was a story I read in the Mexican Reader book that you can see here.
Anyway, because I don’t have that book on me now, let’s discuss something similar with its own differences in Colombia.
When trying to find some material for this happening, I remember seeing this video here discussing the topic of “social cleansing” in Bogota, Colombia.
In which homeless people were (and might still be) a target for killings by armed groups wanting to get rid of them.
The video above does the topic more justice though than whatever I could put into words.
Though I don’t usually like Vice, they do have some older documentaries that actually uncovered very interesting aspects to life abroad.
But I can’t bring much justice to this topic because it’s not something I have had personal exposure to.
I haven’t seen any “undesirables” be taken away in Mexico City or anywhere else.
Having said that, I have heard stories from locals down here about “undesirables” being taken away.
But undesirables being a broader term that I would use here not just for homeless people.
For example, a year or so ago, I remember hearing a story from a Mexican chick about how some random dude was masturbating in front of her at the metro station.
Long story short, the police would not do anything legally to the guy for whatever reason but they offered to take him away to “beat him up” privately.
Didn’t hear anything about him being killed though.
Which, on the topic of “folks disappearing,” that’s usually what’s implied from my understanding.
So, in some cases, I’m sure some folks might argue in favor of these acts if it targets groups like sexual predators or other unfavorable characters doing shit like that.
Though, as I have read and seen online like in the video above, you have had some documented cases of homeless folks who don’t deserve death being taken away also.
Again, I can’t comment personally on how often this happens because it’s not within my own personal experiences.
But it all does make an interesting example of how certain segments of the police are literally swept under the rug not to be seen again.
Be it for the tourists of Cancun, the property owners in Bogota or for broader society when targeting folks committing acts that people don’t like.
Sweeping Demographics Under the Rug
Finally, you have examples of folks trying to “sweep under the rug” the demographics of their respective countries.
In Argentina, as you can read here, there was a policy by the government a long time ago that encouraged migration from Europe out of the thinking that a whiter population will lead to more development.
From what I remember, there was a similar story of something like that happening in Brazil under the “Brazil Reader” book that you can find here.
Much of it referred to as “Social Darwinism” from what I remember.
Something you can read more about here.
Anyway, outside of those practices, you also had other efforts in Latin America to, what I could call, “sweeping demographics under the rug.”
In which governments prefer whitening up their population like in the examples above.
Or, in other cases, trying to sterilize the indigenous populations that exist.
For example, as you can see in this video here, such efforts were not uncommon in Peru for example.
All around, I guess this takes on a different meaning of “sweeping something under the rug.”
Instead of trying to sweep under the rug the existence of sex tourism to the involvement of powerful people in bombings and killings…
I see much of this as sweeping under the rug the existence and influence of indigenous culture in Latin American society.
After enough time here, you realize that, as a side point, it seems like plenty of Latinos have some respect for indigenous roots in their country’s history but a complete disregard or even a distaste for current indigenous people living in their respective country.
Similarly, I do feel some folks persist with the mindset that “all things European or foreign” are better while “all things indigenous” are backwards.
In Mexico, this type of person would be involved in “malinchismo.”
Something I should write about someday but you can read more about it here in Spanish.
All around though, with plenty of examples of governments wanting to “erase” the indigenous influences in society, I see that as them wanting to “sweep all of that under the rug” when it comes to the national image of what their country is and who lives there.
Something I wrote about here when it comes to national identify and how that connects with race also.
Anyway, here’s another video about indigenous folks being sterilized in Mexico.
Personally, I was thinking of including more “individual” examples of folks trying to sweep things under the rug down here.
Of course, I think sex tourism is an obvious way to find examples of that when it comes to the ire locals have against foreign sex tourists despite tolerating their own doing the same thing.
Regardless, I’m sure there’s plenty of good examples out there that don’t involve that.
As well there’s plenty of other examples more broadly of things being swept under the rug down here.
But this article is already long enough.
If you have any examples, feel free to drop them below in the comment section.
Or any general comments you have anyhow.
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Thanks for reading.