Saturday, September 18, 2021

Traditions & Customs in Chile

South AmericaChileTraditions & Customs in Chile
  • Although modern in many ways, Chile is still fundamentally traditional. You will fare much better if you do not openly denigrate or disrespect these traditions. People speak in conversational tones.
  • Unlike other Latin American countries, the Chilean police are admired for their honesty and competence. Report any complaints to the police as soon as you receive them, including criminal activity. Bribes are not accepted in Chile, unlike the rest of Latin America, and you will probably be arrested if you try.
  • Do not assume that your hosts in Chile will have a low opinion of Pinochet. It may surprise you, but his government still has many supporters, so be careful about bringing up the subject. Also, if you want to talk about political issues other than Pinochet, people can have very strong opinions and even raise their voices when it comes to politics. Depending on your opinion, they may call you a “communist” or a “fascist”.
  • Chileans are very friendly people. Most of them are ready to give you advice and help you in the street, at the bus stop, in the metro station, etc. You just have to use your common sense to avoid danger.
  • Be careful what you say: many young people can speak and understand English, French, Italian or German, be polite.
  • Chileans hate arrogance. Be arrogant and you’ll get in trouble; be friendly and everyone will try to help you.
  • Chileans will know you are a foreigner, no matter how good your Spanish is. Don’t get upset if you are called a “gringo” – most foreigners are called that, it is not an insult.
  • If you are black or have dark skin, you are kindly called a “nigger”. This is not at all comparable to the “N” word. Most Chileans are not racist, but unlike in other South American countries, almost all people of African descent are foreigners. Similarly, “nigger” is a common nickname for dark-skinned people. (Negro is the Spanish word for black).
  • Chile was involved in the Pacific War against Peru, Bolivia and Argentina from 1879 to 1883. Patagonia used to be part of Chile, but Argentina threatened to attack it, so the territory was annexed by the Argentines, which still angers many people today. Both Peru and Bolivia have lost territory in what is now northern Chile, and the conflict is still hotly debated. Some even make racist remarks about guest workers and illegal immigrants from Peru or Bolivia. Bolivia is still demanding the recovery of lost territory or an “exit to the ocean”, which has angered many Chileans. Some will agree to give Bolivia a corridor with access to the ocean, but be careful when you say that Bolivia or Peru have the right to recover their former territory from Chile, it will cause you a lot of trouble! Ask questions rather than say what you think, because Chileans will get angry and have a heated debate with what they consider an “uneducated foreigner who has listened to the enemy’s propaganda”.
  • Chile has the largest Palestinian diaspora outside the Arab world and many of them express pride in their heritage, but also support for the Palestinian cause. You will also meet some who know very little about their ancestors, the conflict with Israel, etc. Don’t be discouraged, remember that they consider themselves primarily Chileans, not Palestinians or Arabs. It is estimated that less than 1% of them speak Arabic. So don’t expect to be able to converse with them in Arabic if you are from an Arabic-speaking country or have some knowledge of the language.
  • In southern Chile, a considerable number of people claim German heritage and are very proud of it. Even though they do not have a German surname and most probably have a German grandmother or great-grandmother, they identify themselves as German Chileans. As for people of Palestinian origin, very few speak German. There are German-speaking populations in some southern villages, but you probably won’t visit them at all. Everyone speaks Spanish, so it is not necessary to know German if you want to travel in southern Chile.