It's a long standing complaint across Latin America: Who Gave the people of the United States the exclusive right to call themselves 'Americans'? With President Obama on a state visit to Chile, columnist Orlando Alfonso Olave of Chile's La Nacion exhorts his compatriots to take back a word that he asserts belongs just as much to Latin Americans as it does to people living north of the Mexican border.
For Chile's La Nacion, Orlando Alfonso Olave writes in part:
"In our collective imagination, when Europeans or North Americans refer to us as "South Americans," the tone of the expression provokes suspicions of class discrimination. The same cannot be said of their proud people when they refer to "American" or "North American." We give it this meaning ourselves.
"As if by some sadomasochistic act, we of the 'backyard' define ourselves every time we criticize the U.S.' political model. However, 'they,' thanks to the construction of an identity and image projected through popular culture, have managed to shamelessly appropriate the term 'American,' as if to snatch half of our continent from under our feet. What is so pathetic is that it succeeds, thanks to our own gentle compliance and the kind patronage of the mass media and a majority of its journalists.
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