All you need to know about Iberian America

“It’s Not Europe, It’s Latin America”

In Latin America, you sometimes notice that some of the locals prioritize all things Europe & the US.

In Mexico, they call these people "malinchistas."

For those who don't know, here's the definition of such people as you can see here.

"¿De quién se dice en México que es malinchista? El malinchismo es el fenómeno de preferencia a ciegas por lo extranjero en detrimento de lo nacional. Se dice de alguien nacional inclinado hacia lo que está afuera, menospreciando lo que es propio o del lugar de donde es."

And, in the discourse that some Latin Americans engage in, you can see elements of this in my opinion when they use European countries as the standard for what is all good.

For example, as you can see here, Costa Rica is often described as "the Switzerland of Central America."

As you can see here, Buenos Aires of Argentina is often described as "the Paris" of South America.

They are not described as "the Tokyo" of Central America or the "Tehran" of South America.

They use European areas to compare them to.

Having said that, you also have some Latin Americans who do the exact opposite.

They might still compare their specific area of Latin America to some place in Europe but they might do it in the opposite way perhaps.

Instead of saying "this is the European spot of Latin America," they might instead say something like "no, this is NOT Europe, this is x Latin American place."

For example, I just saw this photo here on Facebook today that shares historical photos of Peru and is run and largely used by Peruvians.

I'm sure there are other gringos in the Facebook group but it's mostly for Peruvians as far as I can tell.

And, as you can see in the screenshot above, the person throws in their 2 cents: "No, it's not Europe. It is the Colmena Avenue in the year 1934."

And so you see this type of phrasing sometimes among Latin Americans.

It still relates or compares some part of Latin America to Europe.

It still brings up Europe as a reference point.

But instead of saying that this area is THE area that is like Europe, it does the opposite of saying "no, it's not Europe. This is some part of Latin America."

Implying that it's so beautiful that you could mistake it for some place in Europe somehow.

But, at the same time, I think such a statement goes deeper than that.

When said Latin American says something like this, I also think it's a matter of saying "look how beautiful our place is. We have places just as beautiful as those in Europe. It is not Europe. It doesn't need to be. It's our corner of Latin America."

Or at least that's how I see it.

On one hand, it still uses Europe as the reference point for what is beautiful in my opinion (and Europe does have plenty of beautiful spots to be fair).

But, on the other hand, it's a matter of reinforcing the idea (perhaps needed for the malinchistas) that you have plenty of places in Latin America that are beautiful also and can stand up to the beauty of other regions in the world.

It reminds me all of a particular moment in real life where a similar sentiment was expressed.

Finding the Europe of Latin America

Back when I was in Bogota, I remember taking a few minor tours of the city.

I normally don't get around to doing touristy things wherever I live and sometimes leave them to do until the very last minute before I leave the city.

Mostly because I don't care as much about touristy things and find plenty of fun in things I'd naturally do.

Anyway, I hadn't spent much time in the city and so I felt pressured to do more touristy things from the moment I arrived with a former girlfriend of mine.

We immediately crossed off as many things of the usual list of places to see in the Colombian capital.

At one point, we even did some very cheap street tour to take us and other folks along for a walk around the city.

There was one point where the guide from what I remember said something similar to the above.

That "this isn't Spain, this is x church in Colombia."

We had visited this area already though without the guide but she took us here anyway (along with the whole group).

And that was that.

Outside of that incident -- as I try to think of other incidents where said statement was used in real life -- I can only remember another ex-girlfriend of mine who was showing me her city in Mexico called Pachuca.

And, though she didn't say "this clock tour is NOT Europe," she did say something to the effect of how "it's like the architecture back home, no?"

So, in a similar sense, bringing some connection between the impressive sights of Latin America to what you might find elsewhere.

Anyway, I wasn't overly impressed with her city (Pachuca isn't a bad place though. Very calm and peaceful) but that's the only other moment that, as of right now in 2022, that I can remember a Latin American giving this type of comparison.

Though, when I was in college, I also remember a Costa Rican dude in my class who gave the usual ol' "Costa Rica is the Switzerland of Central America" talking point.

But I do kinda see that style of statement a little bit different from the "this is NOT Europe, this is Latin America."

Anyway, to be honest, I see more of these talking points online than I do in real life but once in a blue moon I have seen them stated by locals down here also.

Though the stories end at that in which one says something along those lines and life moves on.

Let's move on.

Anything to Add?

To be fair, it's not the biggest topic of the day when it comes to life in Latin America.

But when I saw that old picture of Lima and the description with it, I felt like bringing this point up.

To be fair, I'm open to the possibility of my intrepretation of folks saying "this isn't Europe" up for debate.

As a foreigner, I know I don't understand everything but that's how I've come to interpret this odd saying over the years.

And I say "odd" because nobody back home would go...

"oh, look at this place we have somewhere in Midwest US, it's JUST like Paris! Or no, not at all! It's not Paris. It's so beautiful that you'd think so but it's GARY, INDIANA!"

Just an odd quirk I've noticed about some people down here in Latin America where they seemingly like comparing themselves to random European places.

It's even odder when it becomes quite apparent that the place they are comparing it to is nothing like their corner of Latin America.

Still, above it all though, I do like it when people say "no, it's not Europe. It's THIS AREA."

Not because I like shitting on Europe or comparing Latin America to Europe but because I do see it as an effort by a local to compliment and give proper appreciation to the beauty of their own home.

A beauty I appreciate also and this greater self-confidence among some locals is nice to see.

At any rate, that's all I got to say.

It's not the biggest topic of the day but a small detail you might notice over the years down here.

Got anything to add?

Drop a comment below.

For more on this topic, check out this article I wrote here.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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