or stupidity or just plain meaness. I don't agree that ignorance is bliss, at least not all of the time. Maybe naivete, but not ignorance.
The other day in class with a student we were discussing many things. I had given her an article to read. Instead of commenting on the context of the article she began to berate the foreigners here in Argentina..completely forgetting that I am one too.
Argentina allows anyone in the country to avail themselves of free education and medical care. While in theroy this sounds great, it is actually destructive for the system here. The country pays millions for people who come in busloads from outside the country for medical care. I am not kidding. People in Brasil, Bolivia, Chile, organize bus tours for medical care in Argentina, which is free.
Students come from Colombia, Brasil, Chile, and other countries to study in the Universities here..for free. This includes medical school. These people pay nothing to study here. A little crazy.
My student was ranting and raving about the Paraguayans, the Bolivians, the Peruvians who all come here and take advantage of the system. I told her it was really simple. In the hospitals they should ask for the DNI (national identification document). If the person doesn't have it, charge them something.
I told her how in California out of state residents and foreign students are charged more than California residents. You need to be a resident of California for a year in order to receive the lower tuition amount.
The constitution in Argentina was written to guarantee free health and medical care to all. It was seen as a right. I don't think that when this was written they envisioned the world coming here for free services. Times have changed.
Funny that the President sees it more beneficial to change the constitution so that she can run for a 3rd term than to protect the rights of the cititzens of the country. If non-residents had to pay, this would better the services of education and health instead of drain them.
Unfortunately my student sees the foreigners as the problem rather than a societal change in the constitution. "If those people did not come here.." she rallied on and on blaming them for everything that was wrong in Argentina today.
I decided to change the converstaion. I mentioned that I was going to Chile for vacation. For me Chile is like a second home. Much like Buenos Aires was when I lived in the US. I love Chile. I always enjoy myself there. I have a small group of friends that I meet with. The shopping is way better than Buenos Aires. The seafood is spectacular.
Well, if I thought talking about Chile would defuse the talk about foreigners, I was wrong, very wrong. Smoke came from the nostrils of my student. "Chileans are horrible people, they hate us." I hear this from Argentines, but the reality is Chileans could care less about their neighbor country. There was a time when Chileans were jealous of Argentina, but no more. In fact they mostly worry and wonder about the country.
I laugh at my student and tell her "That is not true." She tells me "Oh they are only nice to you because you are a foreigner." I tell her how another of my students was sent to Santiago to work. He was nervous after all that he had heard how Chileans hate Argentines. When he returned he was glowing about his 2 months there. "No one cared that I was Argentine." he said, "They only cared that I did a good job. Plus people were so nice to me."
My student ignored what I said. "Chileans," she tells me are jealous of us. Hello? In what way? They have a democratic government, freedom of the press, a booming economy, tons of foreign investment. What the hell would they be jealous of? "We are better educated. More intelligent." she tells me. If that is true, why did IBM and Oracle move many of their departments to Santiago? How come Chile has 2 Universities in the top 10 in Latin America, and Argentina had none? She has nothing to say. Then she looks at me and says "They are ugly, we are much better looking." Only an Argentine would bring this up.
That is debatable these days. The level of obesity is shocking in Buenos Aires. People are not dressing like they used to. There was a time not too long ago when I never would have worn jeans on the street...or even tennis shoes. Now anything goes, regardless of what it looks like or how it fits.
My student then tells me that Chile only has two classes; poor and rich. They have lots of poverty. Just like the USA. I do not want to argue this point with her. She is only going to deny anything I say. Until she says Chile unlike Argentina is very prejudiced, with lots of discrimination. This from a woman who just lambasted Bolivians, Peruvians, Paraguayans, etc.
I tell her I don't agree. There is lots of discrimination in Argentina just like everywhere else in the world. She becomes violently angry. "There is no discrimination in Argentina." she insists. I don't dare mention her diatribes. Instead I try to personalize it. I tell her "I suffer discrimination all the time. So do many of my American and European friends."
"Argentina has no discrimination." she says. This is the same woman who went off on the foreigners from other parts of South America. I tell her how a group of my friends from different countries all compete to see who got told "Andate a tu pais" the most in a week. She tells me to ignore it. I explain to her how people hang up on me, how they think I am paid in USD. All kinds of annoying nonsense..some which you can laugh at, and others that are hurtful. She insists that Argentina has no discrimination.
"Look at the US," she says to me. "The discrimination is horrible there. Look at what you do to black people. They live in slums. They have no opportunities." I am amazed. "What color do you think Obama is?" I ask her. "Oh," she says, "He is a rich black. He doesn't count."