The magic of ignorance promoted by a powerful elite and a self-gratifying international press

Anonby stan-sandy_anonby at
Sat Jan 8 11:25:49 UTC 2005

I can think of a few circumstances where people have to choose between
maintaining their culture and economic prosperity. Maybe that's where
Chileans are at too.

Stan Anonby

----- Original Message -----
From: "R. A. Stegemann" <moogoonghwa at>
To: <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 10:55 PM
Subject: The magic of ignorance promoted by a powerful elite and a
self-gratifying international press

> Dear list members,
> "I share concern about Venezuela s current political process. I do not
> support Chavez and worry about Venezuela s democratic future. However, I
> am equally concerned with the hysterical tone of many foreign commentators
> and think that much journalistic analysis such as Larry Rothers article in
> today's New York Times--smacks of orientalism. Facts are subtly distorted
> or presented in a tone that makes Chavez and his supporters look
> irrational, emotional, erratic, childish, disrespectful, and generally
> uncivilized."
> David Smilde
> University of Chicago
> Universidad Central de Venezuela
> Source:
> Best wishes for the New Year!
> R. A. Stegemann
> EARTH's Manager and HKLNA-Project Director
> EARTH - East Asian Research and Translation in Hong Kong
> Tel/Fax: 852 2630 0349
> On 30 Dec 2004, at 03:15, Harold F. Schiffman wrote:
>>> From the NYTimes, December 29, 2004
>> Learn English, Says Chile, Thinking Upwardly Global
>> SANTIAGO, Chile - In many parts of Latin America, resistance to cultural
>> domination by the United States is often synonymous with a reluctance to
>> learn or speak English. But here, where Salvador Allende was once a
>> beacon
>> for the left, the current Socialist-led national government has begun a
>> sweeping effort to make this country bilingual. Chile already has the
>> most
>> open, market-friendly economy in Latin America, and the language plan is
>> seen as advancing that process. The government has negotiated free trade
>> agreements with the United States, Canada, the European Union and South
>> Korea in recent years, is in talks with New Zealand and Singapore, and
>> this fall was host to the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference,
>> with President Bush among the leaders of 21 nations in attendance.
>> "We have some of the most advanced commercial accords in the world, but
>> that is not enough," Sergio Bitar, the minister of education, said in an
>> interview here. "We know our lives are linked more than ever to an
>> international presence, and if you can't speak English, you can't sell
>> and
>> you can't learn." The initial phase of the 18-month-old program,
>> officially known as "English Opens Doors," calls for all Chilean
>> elementary and high school students to be able to pass a standardized
>> listening and reading test a decade from now. But the more ambitious
>> long-term goal is to make all 15 million of Chile's people fluent in
>> English within a generation.
>> "It took the Swedes 40 years" to get to that point, said Mr. Bitar,
>> adding
>> that he sees the Nordic countries and Southeast Asian nations like
>> Malaysia as models for Chile. "It's going to take us decades too, but
>> we're on the right track." In any other Latin American country, a
>> campaign
>> to make English universal and obligatory would inevitably arouse protests
>> about the destruction of the nation's sovereignty and cultural identity.
>> In Brazil, for example, legislation has been proposed to prohibit the use
>> of English in the names of stores or in advertisements and to create new
>> Portuguese-language verbs to designate basic computer operations.
>> Here, in contrast, what little criticism there is of the plan has focused
>> on the argument that schools should teach children to speak Spanish
>> better
>> before they try to learn English. Only a very small number of groups have
>> opposed the program on ideological grounds. "We're quite worried about
>> this because it takes an economic hegemony and translates it into a
>> cultural hegemony," said Sara Larran, a leader of the Chilean Social
>> Forum, a coalition opposed to corporate-led globalization.  "Chile's
>> insertion ought to be into the world at large, not into the U.S.  empire.
>> These are not Roman times, when Latin was the universal language."
>> But the Chilean government has presented the English initiative as an
>> eminently democratic measure, in Mr. Bitar's words "an instrument of
>> equality for all children" in Chile. That argument seems to resonate
>> deeply with working-class families eager to see their children prosper in
>> an increasingly competitive and demanding job market. "This kind of
>> program didn't exist when I was in school, which meant that only the rich
>> kids in the private schools got to study English," said Fabiola Coli,
>> whose daughter is now learning English at the Benjamin Vicua MacKenna
>> Elementary School here. "If you couldn't afford to pay, and I couldn't,
>> you were left out. This is better because everyone can benefit."
>> At the school, kindergarten pupils are learning to count to 20 in both
>> English and Spanish , and can already address a visitor in English: "My
>> name is Araceli. What is yours?" The principal's office has a sign in
>> English announcing itself as such, and various items in the classrooms
>> are
>> labeled in English "window," "emergency exit" and other things. At the
>> college level, some universities are already requiring that all their
>> students study English. Others are also beginning to teach courses in
>> some
>> majors, like foreign trade and hotel management, in English, and have
>> plans to extend the use of English to math and science courses.
>> "More than a choice, it's a necessity," said Patricia Cabello, rector of
>> the University of the Americas, one of Chile's largest. "Our mission is
>> to
>> train professionals for an internationalized world, and this is the only
>> way for this country to develop the way it wants." Though the main focus
>> of the program is young students, the government has also sought to reach
>> adults by encouraging businesses to offer English courses to employees.
>> As
>> part of the program, tax credits are to be offered to companies, and
>> Rodrigo Fabrega, director of the effort, talks of "flooding the country
>> with English-Spanish dictionaries and English-language textbooks."
>> President Ricardo Lagos, himself a former minister of education, has done
>> his part to set an example. Unlike the presidents of some neighboring
>> countries, who insist on sticking to Spanish or Portuguese, he makes a
>> point of speaking at least some English in public whenever he meets with
>> Mr. Bush or Tony Blair or the foreign press.
>> "We spoke about the English language and how important it is to be able
>> to
>> foster through our ministries the learning of English," Mr. Lagos said at
>> a news conference last month after a meeting with Mr. Bush. "As a
>> country,
>> we want to be a bridge and a platform for flows of international trade
>> and
>> in the Asia-Pacific region."
>> Government officials say that their biggest problem now is a lack of
>> qualified teachers. But they hope to recruit volunteers from
>> English-speaking countries to come here, and are also sending Chilean
>> teachers to places like California and Delaware.
>> "The first thing we have to do is train an army of English teachers,"
>> said
>> Mr. Fabrega. The quality of the English that will eventually be spoken
>> here may not rival Shakespeare's, he conceded, but he said that did not
>> matter. "We'll speak English Chilean-style, because the important thing
>> is
>> to understand English and to be able to use it as a tool in our favor."

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