When we moved here almost 4 years ago from our home in suburban Connecticut, many friends and family didn’t get it. Because we chose to leave the country and move specifically to Argentina, it was incredulous to them that we were leaving our life in the States for apparently no economic upside and seemingly a lot of inconvenience. And their bewilderment became even more pronounced when we would need to tell them Argentina was on the South American continent. I think most people in the States think South America looks like Mexico and this is what they think Mexico looks like.
And for those people who were somewhat acquainted with Argentina, many of them seemed to think that it was being run by a military junta. While the political history was a bit spotty in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Argentina has a long history of democratically elected presidents, and for the most part in recent history, this has been the case. The point I am trying to make is that many North Americans believe Argentina is a poor, heavily catholic and dusty country run by fascists .
Today I was at the shop talking to one of my employees about the upcoming elections and the candidates for president. In Argentina, voting is compulsory, although no one has been able to tell me what happens if you miss an election. So she and her family are going to be driving 3 hours Sunday to the little provincial town they have a home and are registered to vote in. I asked who she was going to vote for. This is something you can do here. It is not indelicate or rude to talk politics and people tend to have strong opinions that they are willing to talk about and defend if need be.
She told me Elisa Carrio.
Elisa Carrio is the candidate that I like and would vote for if I could. I did say that I had one reservation about her and that was her religion. She is a hardcore Catholic, the kind that sees the Virgin Mary in the drapes. I said that can be dangerous. For example, George Bush.
She said religion and government would never mix, it is in their constitution…
I said its suppose to be that way in the States, we have protections too, but in the last seven years that has changed with Bush who has a religious agenda
She says…no por favor, it cant be!?
Yes, there are public schools overseen by non-secularists that want only creationism taught and evolution thrown out.
Not possible, like the Scopes Monkey Trial? she said.
My head was spinning I was having a conversation with a girl from a country that most people think is in some arid corner of Mexico run by Mussolini. She cant believe that my country the United States of America would confuse the roles of the church and state. She could relate what is happening in some schools districts in the States to an historical event that is over 80 years old. An important event in the social history of our nation that most Americans couldn’t identify even if they had seen the movie version with Spencer Tracy. Ironic.