Chile From Within

Don Güill y Chile Mierda, response

Posted in Chile culture, mierda, Santiago, Viva Chile by tomasdinges on June 8, 2007

In the spirit of Doctor Wagner, who I think is a Mexican lucha libre star…I shall proceed, and insert with my incisive prose.

I respond to Don Güill’s prettily packaged thrust, and parry.

It all started when Pato (R.I.P.) said, “I’d love to now what the hell you’re doing in Chile”. Unwittingly, he touched on an question that I’d already had in store for my new Chileno FAQ. But a FAQ, even a Chileno FAQ, can’t explain a bloody corpse. So I continue:

Tomás Dinges, who is soon to grace the Halls of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, whose family hosted the Queen of England during her Visit to Chile, chose a more delicate yet equally poignant form of expressing Pato’s sentiment when he nudgingly proposed not only that I leave Chile but that I “go suck dick in Argentina”.”

1. When you refer to the Queen of England you use “Her Majesty,” as in “Her Majesty’s visit to Chile” not “her Visit to Chile”. Furthermore, your use of capitalization on “Visit” begs me to reevaluate my estimation of your attention to detail as well as your overall intellect.
2. My “nudging proposal” that Don Guill go “suck dick in Argentina” surged apropos of this particular mamón statement of Argentine ego proportions. I highlight the most mamón “section.

So it’s fine that Argentina is superior to Chile in cuisine, culture and hospitality. It should be easy for anybody to recognize that. Its one possible drawback is a possible B-Side Europe kinda feel. An Argentinean friend told me he is much more stimulated by the history and culture of Spain than that of Argentina. But he’s from Argentina. I think it’s totally fascinating, and I know nothing about it yet, but want to learn — from the gaucho culture to its writers, Ernesto Sabato, Borges, Cortázar.

Lets continue…on the flipside of:

“TOMÁS VS CHILENO…FIGHT! or is it Chileno v. Tomás

Enjoy Chile, or leave Chile. Colgate or Crest. Is that the mentality? An exploitative north American sampling the local culture and taking pictures? Should I apply for a refund if I’m not satisfied with my experience? This “love it or leave it” mentality suggests that tourism is the only capacity of a foreigner, and it’s insulting.

Xenophobia? Not you Tomás, but [turns to crowd] all of Chile. Okay, not all of Chile, but rather the typical provincial xenophobia that seems to be so common a defense in uncomfortable encounters here. When, on the metro, I complain to people for standing in the doorway as I try to get on, forcing me to push into them and potentially knock the baby out of their arms — they stand there when there’s plenty of room further back — I complain and inevitably will overhear “oh, it’s because he’s a foreigner”.

Or when I knock on a neighbor’s door and ask her to turn her music down, or Tío José, the bus driver who let’s his car alarm whistle for 10 minutes straight, the typical response is: oh, well, in your country…”

1. Xenophobia is described by the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, as “An unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of strangers, foreigners, or anything perceived as foreign or different.”
2. Why does the explanation “because he is a foreigner” count as xenophobia, when you push your way out of the metro. Or for that matter, how does it explain the “typical response,”: oh, well, in your country… Nada que ver. I also push forcefully through the stupid and annoying masses (including students, older women and tough guys) who think that the best way to get on a full, but to-be-empty metro is to stand in front of the doors, blocking efficient exit.
3. Why would you be so forceful so as to “potentially knock the baby out of their arms.” Women with babies have privileged status, in most places. Your baby-jostling force is also called, “being an asshole.”

My theory on you getting screwed by taxi drivers, doormen, neighbors…anybody else?? is because you behave foreign and impetuous, a similar trait characterizing the aristocratic elite of the country. So, consequently you fit into the historical social hierarchy of Chile, a relationship between an all-powerful patron, and his subject, the peon. In this case, you act as the all-powerful patron with people providing you services. But, the difference is that we are not on your fundo, or in your factory, and the peones…the common service-providing people, screw you when they can, how they can, making your life in Chile a big pain in the ass…The doorman comes to mind. Also, remember the first time I met you…the Mayo Incident…OYE!, OYE!, although there were no negative consequences in that case.


Culture of Exile. Deal with your problems by leaving Chile. Whether you’re an aristocrat packing up when Allende comes into office or a leftist escaping torture and death, Exile has been a prominent feature in Chilean history.

Yet I would caution both Tomás and Pato to be very, very careful when recommending Exit as a solution to anybody unhappy with some or all aspects of Chile. Anyway, Exile is part of your history which you should not forget, but I would humbly recommend you not see it as a solution for those who are dissatisfied with certain aspects of Chile.”

Dude, otro Nada que Ver.

1. I recommended you to leave Chile because it seemed through your blog entries that your experience here was overwhelmingly negative and thus as a consequence you expressed this dissatisfaction by dribbling vitriol all over the people when you write, or act. Maybe you are the same in the US.
2. Exile is a legal method to prevent re-entry into a country by people considered non-grata, or “expulsion from one’s native land by authoritative decree.” ( It is also defined as “Self-imposed absence from one’s country.” Some people did not want to leave, but were forced to because of threat of death, torture, etc. They were then prevented from returning…turned away at the fucking customs gate at the old Arturo Merino Benitez airport, you know, the long flat one on the right, now used for cargo shipping, and forced to say goodbye to your dying father through the big window, and sent back to England on the same plane you came in on. And, imagine, this guy was a Garcia-Huidobro…talk about last names…imagine the fate of a dirigente of the Communist Party, systematically executed by the Delfin group of the DINA.
3. Your are confusing the two different definitions of exile.

I’m against whitewashing Chile, bitch. Let’s open our High School history books:

1939 — Controversy over John Steinbeck’s book The Grapes of Wrath led to a decision to ban it from Kern County libraries and schools. The Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce ran a 3-reel film called The Plums of Plenty in rebuttal.”

1. I’m just saying that for the health of all, you should leave, or at least clean-up the acidic spittle from your mouth when you talk.


Sure, I like fresh fruit markets here too, I’m into the authenticity, great prices, and folksy, distinctly Chilean experience. Sure.

But let’s not pretend that Chile is a haven of gusto and good cuisine. Far from it. Sure you can find good food if you really, really look hard.”

1. Please note that there is a big difference between fresh fruit markets (vegetables too) and cuisine. I talked about fresh fruit markets and have no pretense that Chile has good cuisine, although I really don’t eat out that much. When I do its pretty basic. But the basic food is incredible. Lets talk Pernil and Pan Amasado.

2. See this article by the NY Times, which talks about this entire subject.

And a note about self-criticism, which Chileans like Pato and sometimes you seem to have such a hard time with. I know why it might be hard for you; it might be confused with ‘positive discrimination’ which in simpler words is kinda like self hatred, a lack of feeling of self-worth that Chileans are slowly emerging from after Pinochet. Yet there is a difference, and now is the time for Chileans to acknowledge that difference and learn to constructively criticize themselves.

[Despite being thrown out of the ring Tomas lands easily because he is good at constructively criticizing Chile]. But nevertheless the crowd liked the stunt, and I follow up by yelling:

On the world-scale, nobody really gives a shit about Chile, and so the Plums of Plenty crowd gets away with murder. I give a shit about Chile, and I bitch.”

Bitching is tiresome and don’t shit on Chileans. Don’t denigrate the people for being people. You are in Chile, and thus should be sensitive to Chileans. If your way of life, or way of looking at things is different, so be it. Your criticism frankly made me feel ill at one point and thus my commentary. Maybe its just a question of style.



11 Responses

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  1. Chileno said, on June 8, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Excellent response. If I were Pato I’d say, “I disagree with everything you said” and I’d leave it at that without explanation. But I’m not Pato, so give me a sec and I’ll break down every single point you made and throw you over the ropes again 😉

    Real quick though: I may be an asshole, but I’m not an asshole who pushes over women with babies 😉 My point is that when it’s a question of entering the metro or having the doors slammed on me and slowing down the commute of hundreds of people, I’m going to push forcefully. I have never pushed a woman holding a baby, much less knocked a baby out of someone’s arms. I wrote in self-evident hyperbole in order to demonstrate the fact that it is in people’s best interest to move and make room WHEN THERE IS ROOM because I don’t enjoy knocking into people when entering the metro nor do I think they enjoy it. I saw a problem and a solution and thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to write about it :-).

    More soon!

  2. tomasdinges said, on June 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    You are SO constructive.

    Ok on the baby pushing. It sounded like its been done by you.

    I actually like knocking into people so that they clear out of the way when Im leaving the metro. Especially when I have a puffy jacket on.

    Again on obsession with Pato…it sounds like Im from California when I say this, but, why criticize him for his minor grammatical mistakes? One begins to think that you really don’t respect him as a person when you henpeck his grammar, and then question his overall intelligence.

  3. Ani said, on June 9, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    People in the service industry will try to “screw” with anyone they perceive as weaker, could be a “clueless” turista, a peon or a soft-spoken elderly lady. However if they see the outcome is not going to be in their favor, they will back off.

    In all fairness Tomas, you also have been perceived as a member of the much hated old ogliarchy by some of your compatriots. Most people in Chile probably don’t see you as one of them; even if you are sensitive or empathetic towards them. (^_*)

  4. Chileno said, on June 9, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Yo, when did I henpeck Pato’s grammar? He’s the one who started out by saying “maybe my English is not as rich as yours” and I said weon, habla en espanol entonces (dude, talk in Spanish then!).

    It’s all about close-reading T-Dog. Your professors will appreciate it at Columbia.

    Another thing: the only grammar that I henpecked was yours. I was being too subtle, obviously. I was trying to point out the fact that the only time Chileno can be used as a noun is when it’s referring to ME or my BLOG.

  5. tomasdinges said, on June 11, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    I cited your henpecking of his grammar in some communication we had. Maybe Im just doing a classic US political correctness mistake… I read into your henpecking of his grammar and saw you harping on his immigrant imperfections, driving your knife deep, and twisting, where as maybe you felt offended when he said “maybe my English is not as rich as yours” was a class jab, that im not sensitive to in a US context.

  6. Chileno said, on June 14, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    >>>I read into your henpecking of his grammar

    You read into my words AS henpecking of his grammar, but the fact remains that I DIDN’T henpeck his grammar. That’s an erroneous extrapolation on your part. Clean it up.

    >>>saw you harping on his immigrant imperfections

    Huh? That’s quite a statement to make without any examples, mr. Journalist. Please expatiate or keep your mouth shut.

  7. Chileno said, on June 15, 2007 at 12:58 am

    Hey T, didn’t mean to leave off so harsh on that last comment, but the point remains: if you’re going to accuse me of henpecking grammar or a strange form of xenophobia against Pato (i.e. ‘harping on his immigrant imperfections’) you’re going to really need to back it up. Point out WHERE i do so and/or HOW you can possibly interpret it like that. I honestly think you’re confusing my words with those of other people who comment on my blog.

    I detect an uncharacteristic carelessness on your part at times when it comes to your analysis of things I do or write. Please be more careful. Or at least provide substantiate your controversial statements about me when you make them.

    In other news, I finally thrust your parry:

  8. Ani said, on June 16, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Lately there has been much critism regarding “Political Correctness” in the USA. Surprisingly from educated minorities who feel white people are “walking on eggshells” around them. It is a patronizing and unsincere attitude. There have been times in the past where people mistook me for a white girl, the experience let me infiltrate places “offlimits” to other minorities. The bigoted comments that people said were eye opening to say the least. The old, white, rich and conservative republicans where not the only ones descriminating or bashing. Once they realized I was not a white girl, there was this akward discomfort on their part. They were so embarrassed in being caught not practicing their “political correct” idiologies. Such a priceless moment. Tomas reminds me in a way of a young Miucca Prada. 😉 As a young woman, Muicca was heavily involved with the communist party in Italy. She would be handing out fliers on the street of Milan wearing a Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Suit and estate jewelry. ((smirk))

    The Smoked Salmon Socialist idealogies of egalitarianisms are just noble ideas. In reality since the dawn of the 20th century people in different countries have tried to bridge the gap between the worlds poor and the fabulously rich with not much success. Most of those countries where they over threw a monarchy, or colonial goverment did not make the lives of people better. After the chaos it was quickly replaced by another oppressive goverment. Why? Well most humans become greedy and blinded by the thought of power. Those revolutionary comerades soon forgot all about the people.

    As much as I love the US, found the American Political Correctness as a tactic used by the ruling class and the public sector. Very smart way of keeping certain demographics in their “place”. They throw a “bone” at those communities to make them feel social progress is happening.

  9. Tom "el Comendador" R. said, on June 28, 2007 at 12:40 am

    I’ve enjoyed the tilting jousts between you and Will – having met with Sr. Sherman a couple of times last month while I was in Santiago.

    I am a fan of your father’s writing – being a member of his generation (which means sitting back and watching your generation pass us impressively – if we’ve done our jobs properly).

    I’m also a ‘Chile -nut’ – having been there 24 times since the late 8o’s – Pin8’s final 2 years – and through the 90’s when I lived in Stgo for 3+ months every year. Those wonderful days when Chile rediscovered its democratic days.

    Best of luck in your studies … I look forward to reading posts from your new location …

    Tom Routledge
    Vancouver, BC

  10. tomasdinges said, on July 4, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Hi there Tom,

    You must have some interesting perspectives on how Chile has been changing over time, with all your short visits over the years.

    Out of curiosity, what brought you to Chile initially?

    Im looking forward to finding a new voice from New York City, as well as hooking up with the Chilean community in NYC. It should be fun.

    Be well,

  11. Tom (OK, OK - I'll be 'Tomas') said, on July 8, 2007 at 9:55 am

    Hi Tomas ~

    I’m tempted to post some entries in my new and neglected blog (El Comendador) … concerning my love-affair with Chile – that started in 1986 in Australia, of all places.

    I have a number of journal-entries that I should edit into the blogger format – or, as with Will Sherman, I could send you a copy via e-mail.
    (my e-mail address is , if you’re interested.

    My initial introduction to Chile started in the mid-70’s while I was working in Seattle. The former head of the CIA married into the family that owned the company – and he officed close to mine. We shared coffee quite often and he would regale me with stories about his view on the whole mess. I guess he was trying to reform my “Canadian-bleeding-heart-liberal ideas”. Interesting, but it confirmed my distaste for fascist states and US meddling in grand plots.

    It wasn’t until 1986 that I renewed my interest – through meeting two Chilean exiled university students in Melbourne – too long to relate here – but I’ll send you the account, if you’re interested. The point was that they ‘adopted’ me as their “Tio Tom” … we hired them in our Australian offices, moved them to Vancouver the following year – and sent them home to Santiago after the Plebiscito in ’88. By then I was involved in Vancouver with our large Chilean community – and eagerly went to Santiago with them for my first visit. Thereafter, I went to Chile 3 or 4 times a year – through the election, Inauguration of Aylwin, Frei’s years – and began working with (the then Minister of Education) Lagos on a Canada/Chile Intercambio de Estudiantes.

    Eventually I opened an office in Santiago (IT consulting practice) but spent more time on things like some of the new government’s projects – and with a gang of kids in a ‘hogar’ in Penalolen. Thirty kids, 2-18 yrs … my ‘southern family’. And now, many of them have kids of their own … recently making a fuss over this ‘abuelo’ on my recent visit. Wonderful!

    My writings are quite different from Will’s (*wink*) – in that I found that to love Chile, one has to love ALL of Chile – warts and all. And, although aware of the frustrations and injustices of the wealth-distribution (some would argue that it’s a growing North American problem as well) – to me, everything is relative. And the Chile I see today is far ahead of the Chile I first encountered in the 80’s. One would hope that Bachelet will apply some ‘fetters’ to the Friedman-free-enterprise model (oops – my ‘Galbrathian’ past is showing).

    My friends down there range from the ‘tienes’ in Las Condes to the ‘no-tienes’ in Conchali and La Florida. A great friend is Roberto Marquez (of ILLAPU fame) – who shares Will’s distain and criticism of some of the current situation in Chile.

    I met Father ‘Gerry’ Whelan of ‘Machuca’ fame a few times and know people like Eduardo Aninat (former Ministro de Hacienda and World Bank/IMF heavyweight) – so I’m aware of the historical and current problems from both ends of the spectrum.

    I’m sure you’ll love NYC – as my son did – living there for 7 years until a year or so ago. I look forward to hearing that ‘new voice’. Your father must be delighted with your adventures in ‘Las Americas’ – in light of his own impressive adventures and contributions.

    Suerte, Tomas …

    Tom Routledge
    Vancouver, BC

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