Never Underestimate the ‘Feet Vote’

I’m a member of several Facebook groups with names like “Expats in Peru,” “Expats in Lima,” “Lima Garage Sale” and even “Expat Moms and Dads in Lima.” This was recently posted in one of the groups by the admin:

If you are not Expat, please do re-read the pinned Post at the top of this page, right now. It pains me, but I must say this: Unfortunately I had to remove a thread this morning not primarily due to the original content but to the inordinate reactions of people who are here as guests since they are not themselves expatriates. I will not hesitate to ban such individuals from this community if they make continued swipes at expats who are venting their real feelings here. While you may not agree with everything said by them, they are right, this is the place to vent those feelings whilst you dear Peruvian friends, are here as guests and yes, if you don’t like the rules of this forum, please do vote with your feet. We don’t need or want your backlash here. Sorry, but you are free to go start your own group, don’t keep telling people to like it or lump it or leave your fractured world.

The money quote there is “vote with your feet,” and I’m going to turn it around from the Peruvians complaining about complaining expats, and apply it to ourselves. No matter how much we complain, the fact that we choose to live here is a greater compliment than the combined sum of all those complaints.

About a quarter of this blog’s Peru-related posts are rants and complaints, which was about the same when I lived in Colombia. Despite those rants, we expats actually go out of our way to live here. We have to go to Migraciones every year to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and even pay for the privilege of residing in Peru. Not to mention the opportunity cost of lost income given that most of us are expats, as opposed to immigrants.

So to all the sensitive Peruvians and Colombians or whatever you are, don’t forget the feet vote. Ignore what we say. Watch what we do.

Sensitive Latinos are not the only ones ignorant of the “feet vote.” This recent spot has irked their reactionary counterparts in the United States. Some space-cadet college students in CA voted to prohibit the American flag on their American campus.

Who cares what they say about the flag? Based on where they have chosen to go to school, take out loans and pay tuition, work, etc., they’re super-fuckin’-patriots.

I scream-caps HATE this clip from this HBO show which seems like I would like it but I simply can’t get past this fucking clip which just won’t disappear from my Facebook feed.

It always comes from well-meaning lefties who have just gone a little lazy intellectually. So here’s my stock answer from now on, which you can copy and paste every time one of these types posts it to your feed.

He forgot the most important measure. This measure it’s so important it carries a 90% weight, and the other measures he mentioned have to divide the remaining 10%. So the country that wins this measure wins the “greatest country in the world” title, and a country’s final ranking in the world is not far from where it ranks here. The measure is the “feet test,” and it goes like this: If the world became borderless tomorrow, and people did not need permission or visas to emigrate/immigrate to live anywhere in the world, how would each country’s population change? The greatest net gain is #1, and so on down to the greatest net loss. We actually don’t how all the countries rank according to this measurement because it’s hypothetical. But you know, we know who wins.

I have an outspoken friend in Colombia who is always baiting people into FB arguments, and I’ve managed to resist his criticisms of U.S. aid via Plan Colombia. But it’s tempting to point out that he moved to Colombia in 2008, one of the first years when Colombia stopped being quasi-failed state and started becoming the hottest gringo destination in Latin America, an open economy and the region’s most important U.S. ally. Because if he wanted a place free of American imperialism, there was at the time a very similar culture down to the arepas next door in Venezuela. This particular gringo will never convince me he chose Colombia for the vallenato, so he can talk all he wants. His feet gave a more credible verdict. Plan Colombia worked wonders!

Speaking of Venezuela, the Bolivarian revolution offers a case study in how the feet vote can be applied to people’s children too. Lucia Rodriguez is the daughter of Venezuela’s former vice president and current mayor (effectively) of Caracas Jorge Rodriguez. Lucia is also the niece of foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez, the biggest psycho in the regime. Both are two of the most powerful figures in the PSUV.

Living in the world’s most dangerous city is no sweat for Jorge given he’s king of the town, but what does he do with this young single daughter who isn’t going to be whisked around in security caravans all day every day? She studies graphic design in …






A posh beach town outside Sydney to be precise. This video just made the rounds, Venezuelans confronting her on the beach.

So the official family line is there being no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but in reality what kind of father would want his twentysomething daughter studying, dating and discovering the world in that shithole?

Here’s a gem directly from her, posted to her now-defunct Instagram account:

She wears that so she seems brainy to the blond surfer dudes of her dreams (this guy).

Fox News followed up the Lucia Rodriguez harassment in Australia with a story on “Venezuelan ‘daughters of Chavismo’ exposed living lavishly overseas.”

Over the years publishing this blog and living in Latin America, I’ve met many gringos who argue for “21st-century socialism” and the models of Chavez, Cristina Fernandez, Lula or whoever. That talk has diminished a little since the receding of the pink tide.

But whether online or in person, these gringos never live in those countries. They defend them while living in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Mexico if Latin America at all. But more often they taught the virtue of those countries from home in the United States, Canada or Europe.

Somebody is reading this and thinking, “He’s talking about me.” But it’s not just you. There are many of you.

You certainly have a very legitimate reason for having to live in the pro-growth, market-based economy where you live. It’s beyond your control. Of course you would move to Russia or Cuba or wherever, but you can’t because XYZ. And people politely smile and nod. Don’t worry about them. It’s more important that you convince yourself.

Back to me. Am I full of shit?

I studied international business and fell hook, line and sinker for the idea of globalization and emerging markets. So I took a job in an open, neoliberal, emerging-market economy and I’m still here after almost 10 years. I am a champion for Peru and Lima on the interwebz and in life. I love it here.

But for all that I criticize Donald Trump, I may have a bit of white nationalist in me. The older my boy gets the more I realize I don’t want him to be too Peruvian. I don’t want him buying into the silly idea that soccer is a men’s sport. I don’t want him putting on airs because he’s white and from an upper social class, and he will have those airs if he grows up here, that pituco complex. I don’t want to have to give him a slap and send him home to work lawncare in St. Louis for a summer.

Actually I do want that, but without the slapping part.

The point is, I can talk Peru up till death do us part. But if I go back to Gringolandia with some excuse about the children’s upbringing, I hereby invite you to call BULLSHIT.



  1. Colin, I have to say I agree fully with your last sentence, and not at all with your introductory quotation.

    I’m privileged, though, being retired and having no ongoing responsibilities such as employment and child rearing. My life choices allow me the time to figure out integration stuff without all the daily hassle that you and the other expats have to go through.

    That said, personally it strikes me as both defensive and arrogant to run websites for expats based in a foreign country with the mindset that local comments are bannable for whatever reason, quality, quantity, hostility, etc., etc.: or in simple terms refusing to listen to what the residents have to say, where refusing to listen is a big potential risk to life and limb, or basically just stupid. It evinces a lack of confidence.

    But then, “we” Anglos, Euros, Yanquis, like to think we always have the best ideas. Actually, we do – in our own countries. If we choose to transplant ourselves elsewhere and do not take local advice we cut ourselves off from the experience. This is what I see in the quotation with which you begin this blogpost.

    My recipe would be to adopt a more humble, listening, attitude, even to address this by sticky posting a forum introduction.

    Something like, We are people who have come to take a look at your country, do something useful*, and stay for a while, and are willing to take on board suggestions from nationals and other residents.

    *implies asking what can usefully be done!



  2. Just got back here … I’m not sure whether yours is a response to mine 🙂 — see later!

    Never mind. I’m grateful for the chance to fix my over long rant style post above.

    Simply: You can’t run a public forum if you don’t want to risk controversy.

    An example of this may be moaning expats (Aus.:Whingeing Poms) imagining their own special snowflake space is a Human Right. Go down the bloody pub if you want to whinge.

    And it is not uniformly true that all visitors are welcome,especially if preceded at some time by a real piece of shit that looks roughly like oneself.

    All this stuff about “would if they could” is Dreamland.

    Faced with the imminent reality of expatriation upheaval, Actually Doing It, a good % decide Home Sweet Home is better after all. Stupid Survey (TM).

    Sorry. Anyone not liking a rant, feel free!


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