Reaching Latinos: Marry marketing psychographics to multidimensional demographics

by Andrés T. Tapia – medicalhomearticle.LatFamily-300x208

(This article was originally published on my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/18562142)

In the last post, we finished talking about the second of three strategies corporations can use to seize the opportunities offered by the growing Latin talent pools. In this post, we’ll cover the third and final strategy.

Strategy 3: Marry marketing psychographics to multidimensional demographics

A telltale sign that there is lack of clarity about how to best reach Latino talent and consumers is that many are confused by just the most basic terminology: is it Hispanic or Latino?

The very fact that these terms are often used interchangeably in the media, but have meaningful although not-so-simple-to-explain differences in their origins and who uses them and how, is telling in itself.

But which term to use is only the tip of the iceberg. When we say Latino or Hispanic are we referring to the first-, second-, third-, or fourth generation Latino? The Boomer, Xer, or Millennial Latino? The English-, Spanish-, or Spanglish-dominant Hispanic? The Peruvian immigrant or the Honduran American born in Wichita? Or any of the other hyphenated Latinos coming from 27 different national heritages? This is the demographic part.

Then, as marketers well know, there is a psychographic part—the drivers that influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Do they buy for comfort? For adventure? For status? For being on the cutting edge?

Latinos, like members of any other group, also have psychological drivers unique to the individual. Marketers have been able to group these individual psychological drivers to segment consumers. So even within the same demographic group they can go after segments such as hipsters, rebels, or security seekers. These are the psychographics.

The next step is to marry demographics with psychographics to create the most targeted approaches to attract talent and consumers. In other words, knowing the multidimensionality of demographic characteristics of Latinos is exceptionally important, but it is not enough without also layering in the various psychographic profiles.

This then gets us to the motivations of Latinos as it relates to cultural identity. How much do they or do they not want to identify with their ethnic roots versus how much do they want to embrace mainstream American culture as the core of who they are. Are they assimilationists? Are they Upwardly Mobile Aspirants? Are they Nationalistic in their ethnic country of origin pride?

The psychographic profiles that people will take are unpredictable to discern for individuals. But patterns do emerge. And now we can combine appealing to the demographic of the Millennial Puerto Rican to the psychographic or those who are Assimilationists or Nationalistic for example.

When the media zeros in on the undocumented (11 million) and the marketers on the Spanish speakers (34 million that is inclusive of the undocumented numbers), they are looking at important segments within the Latino umbrella but not the whole.

For example, they most often overlook the 26 million English-dominant Latino Millennials who paradoxically also tend to identify with the heritage of their parents’ country of origin (Colombian, Costa Rican, Argentinian, etc.) according to Pew Hispanic Research.

Marisela, my daughter, is a case in point. I think back just a few years ago, tiara perched on her jet-black hair, looking radiant and happy, surrounded by her friends and family. It was her quinceañera—her fifteenth birthday—a rite of passage in the Latino culture where a girl becomes a young woman. Mom, a European-American, and Papi, proud…and torn. Our daughter was coming of age and this joyous celebration with 200 people, a live salsa band, and a Peruvian food buffet, also marked one major milestone in Marisela’s passage toward independence and growing into her own identity.

So Marisela talks about being Peruvian American even though she was born and raised in the United States. She embraced becoming bilingual and multicultural as her friendships include young people who are Jewish, European-American, Black, and Latino. She spent extended time in Peru, where she found love and ended up marrying a Peruvian.

Adult choices

While Millennial Latinos are shaping their own Latino identities so are those in the older generations in the rapidly changing demographic landscape.

This was the lively topic of conversation at dinner in Boston’s North End, at the outdoor patio of Ristorante Fiore, an Italian restaurant on Hanover Street, after a successful diversity conference. A group of us Latinos sat, sipping our wine or espressos, began debating the role of accented English as it related to Latino identity in the workplace. Why is it that having a French or British accent is seen as a plus, but having a Spanish accent a drawback? And because of this, should Latinos who speak English with a Spanish accent work at reducing their accent? As the alcohol and caffeine took its effect, the conversation around how we sound dipped into a discussion about identity and success when one is in the minority.

The answers are not easy, the implications uncomfortable. Here we are a table of Latinos from different countries, different migration stories, different choices. What path should each of us take? I described facing ridicule and teasing at best, discrimination at worst due to my heavily-accented English during visits to the United States when I was young. This experience motivated me to work on my accent when I came to back to the United States to attend college.

As I did, the change in responses to my words clearly shifted toward more positive reactions as I calibrated my inflections, pitches, and tones. From that point on, it was as clear as the Peruvian brandy pisco that many English-dominant European-Americans heavily weighed their assessment of the value of words by the density of the accent of Spanish-dominant speakers.

But others around the table at Ristorante Fiore have made a different choice, equally valid. For them, how they sound, including their accented English, is part of their Latino identity. It is a marker of who they are culturally in the same way that Martinez, Ochoa, Jimenez, and Castillo are name markers of a Latino identity that is so paramount that even when offered a choice through different circumstances of a more Anglicized name, they don’t take it up. While others do.

We pick our cultural identity spots. ‘Este es quien soy’. ‘This is who I am’. Increasingly, for more Latinos, particularly Latino Millennials, the assimilation survival tactics of their parents are not as necessary or desirable.

Instead, our choices of how to let our Latino selves show up in American society are as diverse as the various peoples that make up the Latino/Hispanic fabric “en los United States de America.”

Promising future For Latinos—and the companies who hire them

I hope you have enjoyed and taken some good takeaways from this series. It takes two to tango. If Latinopalooza and corporate America can learn to dance together, the benefits of the reverberations of this multicultural choreography will be felt in the workforce and marketplace for a long time to come.

Reaching Latinos: Understand and Embrace the Multidimensional Diversity Within the Latino Community

by Andrés T. Tapia – Mixed group of nations behind the American flag.

(This article was originally published on my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2GLbzz5IxAOAl4u7o72q9a?trk=prof-sm)

In my previous post, I mentioned three strategies corporations can use to seize the opportunities offered by the growing Latin talent pools. We’ll begin by discussing the first strategy in more depth.

Strategy 1: Understand and embrace the multidimensional diversity within the Latino community

First, we need to understand Latino diversity.

Though grouped together as Latinos or Hispanics, there are many layers of diversity within this population. Some are the same layers that every group faces, with their own unique twist, including:

Generational—For predominantly English speaking Latino Millennials, only 16 percent of them see themselves as white compared to twice as many older Latinos. They are less likely to have assimilated than their first-generation parents, who—as they faced discrimination due to their limited or accented English—chose not to teach their kids Spanish.

Plus you can add the dynamics of the creative tension among the generational diversity of Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z also shows up in Latino communities.

Language—There are Latinos who are Spanish English or Spanglish dominant. Seven in 10 young Hispanics report they regularly blend English and Spanish into a Spanglish hybrid.

Identity—Many Latinos straddle the fusion of more than two identities. Millennial Latinos are more likely to be in mixed ethnic and racial backgrounds and they self- identify with the blended identities of “Blaxican,” “Mexipino,” or “China-Latina” and more. These young Latinos epitomize the new Latino-American multidimensional identity.

History in the USA—Latinos in the USA can be recent immigrants or be fourth or fifth generation. Latinos in the USA can either be economic or political refugees. Or be ancestors of families that were of that part of Mexico annexed by the United States in the Spanish American war.

Country of origin—Latinos come from 27 different nationalities with a wide range of races and ethnicities. Spanish speaking Blacks come from the Caribbean, Colombia, Perú, Panama, and other countries. Millions of those characterized as Latinos come from indigenous backgrounds from Tierra del Fuego in the farthest southern reaches of Latin America to the Rio Grande border with the US.

 Given all this variety, Latino identity cuts across a wide spectrum of choices, so individual Latinos face complex choices of how much of it to embrace. This cultural identity spectrum can go from the fiercely nationalistic to the fully assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture.

Next, embrace this diverse multidimensionality of Latinos in talent and marketplace penetration.

We need to differentiate among the various Latino talent pools and segmented markets. There is no one Latino market in the same way there is no one Latino talent force; therefore, we must be wary of jumping to conclusions about your talent attraction materials. In order to have effective strategies for sourcing, attracting, hiring, engaging, advancing as well as selling to Latino talent, we must differentiate and define whether we are targeting the first, second, third, or fourth-generation Latinos. The Boomer, Xer, or Millennial Latino, The English-, Spanish-, or Spanglish-dominant Latino.

Be crossculturally agile. Ensure you don’t inadvertently use slang, cultural references, and pictures that are meaningful to say, Puerto Ricans, when you are trying to reach those who are mostly Mexican.

Don’t be paralyzed by fears of offending. By feeling you have to guess what the identity choices are of Latino talent or consumers. Watch, study, observe. And then, when necessary, which will be often, ask.

Be Latino diversity savvy by grasping the vast diversity among what often gets lumped under the simplistic umbrella of “Latinos.” Learn this and shape your talent attraction and marketplace penetration strategies accordingly. Just by doing this you will go a long way in enhancing your attractiveness to this highly desired talent pool.

My next post will zero in on “Strategy 2: Become Self Aware of how Corporate Cultures Are and Are Not Attractive to Latino Talent.” Stay tuned.

For Diversity to Work, Recognize Differences, Not Just Similarities

by Andrés T. Tapia —Multiracial Hands Making a Circle

There is no question that embracing diversity by finding common ground with others has been a good idea. It has been a key to transcending racism, sexism, homophobia and other prejudices. Societies that have found a way to discover or create shared values to reconcile cultural clashes have experienced much healing and prosperity.

But this approach, heavily shaped by the gospel of tolerance and sensitivity, can also have a shadowy side. Assuming sameness can mask ways in which we are different. If key gaps are not recognized by assuming differences, it can lead to a different form of bias. When we assume that everyone is the same, we are assuming that everyone is “just like me.” This, ironically, is the very essence of self-centeredness.

Tolerance is an antidote to defensiveness on the part of majorities toward those who are different. It’s manifested in statements such as: “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.” “We’ll agree to disagree.” “Live and let live.” It’s the answer to, “Why can’t we all just get along?” But tolerance does not delve into differences. It maintains a “truce,” rather than “seeking the truth” and the awkwardness that often accompanies uncompromising candor.

Sensitivity takes the cultural “cease-fire” a few steps further. It finds its voice in statements such as: “I will work at understanding that you have unique needs and preferences.” “When you say something bothers you and it doesn’t make sense to me, I accept that it is important to you.” Between the lines, it says, “I’ll let you have that, ‘gimme’.”

But sensitivity and tolerance are not enough to guarantee progress after a “culture war” ends. Ignoring or glossing over differences won’t make them go away.

Here is one example of how I made a mistake in assuming similarity, and my co-workers erred as well.

I was working on the leadership team for one of the largest human resources consulting companies in the world. Most of my colleagues were white, Midwestern and female. I was a male from Peru. We liked each other personally and professionally. We seemingly wanted the same thing, which was to serve the organization well with our best thinking while living by the company’s values of collaboration, integrity and respect.

So when the breakdown happened, none of us saw it coming. It played out like this: I would present an idea to the group, and I would hear responses such as “Andrés, I agree with you 100 percent.”

So after the meeting, I thought I had gained agreement from the group and took the next steps with assurance. But then the e-mails and voicemails started flying in: “What are you doing? This is something we did not agree to!” Confused, I replied, “What part of ‘100 percent’ didn’t I understand?”

World Cup Fervor Shows How USA Has Assimilated to Immigrant Cultures

by Andrés T. Tapia 

Watching the World Cup in Brazil got me to thinking about how World Cup fever has exploded  in the States. From sports bars and airports to public arenas, a cross-section of Americans have joined with the rest of the world to watch in rapt attention.  It just goes to show how assimilation has turned into a two-way phenomenon. Check out my recent Huffington Post piece on how World Cup Fever Shows How USA has Assimilated to Immigrant Cultures.”

 

 

The Metamorphosis of Global Diversity

iStock_000012215038XSmall.globeflags.purchasedby Andrés T. Tapia –

In recent months, I’ve given in to my global wanderlust. In November, it was immersion in São Paulo, Brazil for our Diversity Best Practices Global Member Conference. In December, it was homecoming, visiting family in my native Peru.

There’s nothing like jet lag, the cacophony of different languages, new and childhood taste experiences, and newspaper headlines not about fiscal cliffs and sequesters to freshen up one’s perspective—and prompt these few thoughts on the state of global diversity today.

Global diversity continues to accelerate its rise in importance and, with that, it’s metamorphosing into something much more multidimensional and unexpected than the first wave of exported Made-in-USA diversity.

Take, for instance, three different invitations I have received in the past six months. The U.S. subsidiary of a Belgium-headquartered company calls asking for help on building out its diversity strategy. Then, a German company calls seeking help with getting its American affiliate to come up with a U.S. response to their global diversity imperative because they are behind their counterparts in Europe and Asia. And last year, a Korean multinational asked me to present to 500 company leaders from all over the world on how they can be more inclusive in the various countries it is expanding to, from Vietnam to India to the USA.  

This is all part of a trend of non-U.S.-based multinational companies making diversity an imperative—not only in their countries of origin but throughout the globe. Now Not-Made-in-USA diversity accountabilities are adding to the rising calls-to-action that an increasing number of American business leaders are facing regarding diversity and inclusion.

This is just one way in which diversity is changing globally. A few others:

  • To be a woman is to be rising in opportunities. Women’s advancement is the most frequently cited diversity issue today. It’s the one global diversity issue that arises on all continents as the common and urgent issue we must address now. The challenges are often the same regardless of country. From Chicago to Shanghai, women are pressing to fulfill their ambitions for leadership positions and a growing number in profit and loss roles. And women, at all levels of the organization, no matter where in the world, yearn, fret, and fight for work life flexibility.
  • Socioeconomic disparities are masking the realities of colorism. The United States isn’t the only country facing race and class disparities. In a host of countries, societies are stratified based on one’s economic status. Yet, in countries such as India, Brazil, and Peru those with darker skin are more likely than their fairer counterparts to be members of the lower socioeconomic classes. This is far from a coincidence. While there’s a great deal of denial about this reality, it’s true that in many countries a preference for those of a lighter hue is blocking access to educational and employment opportunities for a significant percentage people. Until countries where colorism prevails recognize the impact of this form of discrimination, companies in these countries will continue to struggle to have true diversity in the workforce.
  • Millennials are civilization’s first global cohort. Whether they grew up in South Africa, Egypt, Romania, Laos, or Venezuela, many members of this generation shared the reality of growing up digitally and interconnected to the rest of the world. Global terrorism, global recession, global warming, and global social media have meant a common experience in many formative ways of how the world works. When a billion go “Gangnam Style” around the world in a matter of weeks, when the Arab Spring inspires Occupy Wall Street (and not vice versa), and when the Twitter-nation transcends all borders with 500 million users (making it the third largest population in the world), an unprecedented shared upbringing across the world’s 24 time zones is in the making.
  • Employment gains for people with disabilities. While in the United States the Americans with Disabilities Acts made it the law to make workplaces physically accessible to those with disabilities, there is a growing global trend to actually make it the law to employ those with disabilities. Brazilian law stipulates that depending on the size of your employee base, 2 percent to 5 percent of your workers must be people with disabilities. On Christmas Day 2012, a similar law went into effect in Peru. And in the United States, the Federal Government has put into place guidelines that those doing business with the government must have 7 percent of employees be people with disabilities.
  • LGBT rights on the march. The wall of resistance around LGBT rights is tumbling in countries across the globe. In 2009, the high court in New Delhi, India struck down the law that made same-sex sexual activity illegal. In 2010, Mexico City and Argentina legalized same-sex marriage while Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay all started to recognize same-sex relationships, such as civil unions. This is an enormous gain for the LGBT community in Latin America, which has long been characterized by its strong Catholic roots and machismo undertones. And putting an exclamation point on the importance of worldwide LGBT rights, in 2011, President Barack Obama and then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced that LGBT rights would be a criteria for whether a country will receive U.S. foreign aid.

Just a few examples of how diversity and inclusion are playing out globally. This trend is unstoppable. Next generation diversity practitioners would be wise to track and then ride these trends for the good of their organizations.

When’s your next trip to another land?

Peru Election 2011: Peru’s Poor Make Their Voices Heard

by Andrés T. Tapia –

This article was published by the New America Media

PeruElection_humala_500x279

No to trickle down economics. No to corruption. No to human rights abuses.

These were the electoral reasons why the Peruvian public elected Ollanta Humala, 49, as their 94th President, marking the sixth consecutive peaceful transfer of power since 1980.

In sending Keiko Fujimori to defeat, a very narrow majority of Peruvians indicated they were more troubled by her filial links to her father, former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori who was imprisoned for corruption and human rights abuses, than with Ollanta’s two failed insurrections against democratically elected governments.

In fact, for many voters, these rebellions were seen as bona fides for his willingness to take matters into his own hands to bring about change. Those more ambivalent about this recent past were able to put their fears at bay either through wishful thinking, hope, or real belief that Humala’s radical, Hugo Chavez-like ways from five years ago were merely a phase, and that there was real substance to his recast image as a reasonable non-radical who could address the needs of the destitute poor without pitting them against the rich.

This is the first time in 40 years, since the Cuban-Revolution-inspired military coup of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado under which I grew up, that a leftist president will be ruling Peru. The big question is whether it will be in the mold of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, or that of Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The first would deeply and destructively divide the country. The second, which simultaneously and successfully made the poor a priority, while stimulating the economy, would be transcendent.

Key to Humala’s win was the full endorsement of Alejandro Toledo, former Peruvian president, who was originally one of the first round candidates in the presidential election. True to the twists and turns of Peruvian politics, one of Humala’s insurrections was against then-President Toledo.

While the recurring story lines of the election campaign were the Fujimori family’s disgrace and the radical past of Humala, the most profound back story was that Peru’s poor — heavily represented in the rural areas and outside the power center of the capital in Lima — decided Peru’s new President.

Despite the fact that in the last five out of six years Peru’s GNP grew at a steady 8% annually, making Peru a much richer country that could invest in infrastructure that brought in foreign investment, nurtured local industry, and helped make Peru a global tourist magnet, many of Peru’s poor have been left behind.

While it’s true that the poor of Peru have seen their numbers drop, from 50% of the population to 30% during the economic boom, Sunday’s vote declared that it is still unacceptable that one-third of the country is below the poverty line of $2 a day in earnings. Peru’s prosperity should be beneficial for all Peruvians, their vote proclaimed.

They believed Ollanta Humala, the maverick outsider with no links to the elite in Peru, the United States, Europe, or Japan, would be the one who would deliver. But there are jitters that his nationalistic, populist ways will derail the Peruvian economic miracle of the past few years.

His immediate top priority between now and his inauguration on July 28th, Peruvian Independence Day, will need to be calming nervous investors and markets, assuring them that his promises for the poorest of the poor can be fulfilled, while still nurturing the long Peruvian boom. This should not be difficult to do, at least rhetorically.

Already, some of those who did not support him are working on reassuring themselves that Humala will do right by the markets. As a commentator said on Panamericana TV, “There is no appetite to mess around with prosperity. Not even Humala is going to want to do that.”

Still, there is a significant amount of apprehension about whether he has a hidden agenda against the powers that be. And so when the stock market opened on Monday, it dropped 12.5%, the biggest one-day drop in its history, before regulators closed the market down.

Keeping a close eye will be his defeated rival. At 36-years-old, and having won nearly half the vote (she lost by just a few percentage points), Keiko Fujimori will remain a force to be reckoned with for some time to come.

But for now, this is Humala’s moment. As he addressed his supporters in his victory speech around midnight in rolled-up shirt sleeves and no coat and tie, on a stage that jutted out into the crowd at Plaza 2 de Mayo, he laid it out plain and simple. Without thundering against the elite, and without specifics, his message was all about the poor’s plight — lack of potable water, electricity, education, nutrition, health and living wages.

The poor have spoken. This is their man.

Keiko Fujimori Loses Peru’s Election, But Diversity Message Struck a Chord

by Andrés T. Tapia –

This article was published by the New America Media.KeikoFujimori_500x279

Keiko Fujimori lost Peru’s presidential election Sunday. But don’t expect the dynamic, if difficult, Keiko–age 36, female, Gen Xer, of Japanese descent, mother of two toddlers, spouse of an American and daughter of a former president, who is now incarcerated–to fade into the shadows of Latin American politics.

Keiko–as she’s known universally in Peru–has been the candidate of the unexpected and a force that likely altered Peruvian national politics for years to come.

At the presidential debate last week with her second round opponent–and Peru’s new president–Ollanta Humala, her opening statement had a greeting in Quechua–the language of the descendants of the Incas in the Andes of Peru. And her closing statement concluded with sign language.

What’s more, Keiko appealed to the youth vote by laying out her “Mi Primera Chamba”–My First Gig–scholarship program and to the Mom vote by promising to create nutrition programs and quality education for children.

This is not just typical political pandering in Peru, but stem from who Keiko is. She allowed TV hostess Magaly to come to her home. After they chatted like two girlfriends, she gave Magaly a tour of her middle-class home. Along the way she showed off Peruvian Andean landscape paintings her imprisoned father has done in jail, and then the pair ended up in Keiko’s kitchen, where she expertly chopped vegetables for that evening’s dinner.

Defying Expectations
Keiko–as everyone calls her–has become adept at presenting herself in visuals that defy traditional expectations.

When her parents split up in a bitter divorce during her father’s presidency, Keiko, then age 19, officially became First Lady to fill in for her exiting mother’s responsibilities.

Despite ample opportunities to go anywhere for college, she headed to Boston University to earn a degree in business administration. She returned married to Mark Vito, an U.S.-born IBM consultant, who did not speak Spanish.

Without a hint of self-consciousness, Keiko projected her Japanese visage on big screens at political rallies surrounded by a sea of dark-skinned indigenous Peruvians. Though her roots are Asian, she appealed to them as one of them, her racial minority physical features presenting a kindred-outsider status to the marginalized people of Peru–just as happened when her father ascended to power.

The elements of her biography don’t merely translate into images defying the status quo; they drive her fusion of a right-of-center and a populist political platform. Her ease with crossing socioeconomic and racial barriers has influenced a right-brain/left-brain, left-wing/right-wing heterodoxy that is both pragmatic and passionate.

Despite deeply held reservations by many Peruvians about her filial links to her father, jailed for corruption and human rights abuses, Keiko’s implicit and explicit diversity and her messages of inclusion, helped propel her into the second and final electoral round having beat out another former president, Alejandro Toledo, and a successful former minister of finance and economy, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski–a graduate of both Oxford and Princeton Universities, no less.

Presidential Candidate Mom
Keiko was also nearly the first Latin American female president with young children and, therefore, the first high-profile role model for work-and-family flexibility. As is typical of middle-class Peruvians, she has live-in childcare help. But her fluid movement in and out of her roles as leader and mother seems remarkably seamless.

After the first-round election results were announced and Keiko was declared one of the two finalists, Keiko handled her press conference with ease.

Afterward as she exited through the phalanx of journalists, her 18-month-old, Kaori Marcela, straddled in her left arm, Keiko took impromptu questions shouted out by journalists. As the child began to fuss, she switched from potential president of Peru to attentive Mom. With a smile, Keiko said, “Ok, it’s time–got to go.”

And with no apology, she left. Whatever else may come for Keiko, that’s what her multicultural country folk will remember. Keiko–young, centered and, without apologies, very much herself.

Now in her loss, she must plot out her next career move while Dad sits in jail with no chance of a pardon and her children continue to make their toddler demands. Meanwhile, she will watch as her rival takes the reins of the future she had been so certain was destined to be hers. 

She has time – a lot of it – to let things play out. Five years from now Keiko’s Magical Diversity Tour still likely to be fueled up and waiting for her to lead the way.

Peru Election 2011: Keiko Fujimori’s Magical Diversity Tour

by Andrés T. Tapia –

This article was published by the New America Media.

KeikoFujimori_500x279Keiko Fujimori–age 36, female, Gen Xer, of Japanese descent, mother of two toddlers, spouse of an American and daughter of a former president, who is now incarcerated–may be Peru’s next president.

If chosen in Sunday’s election, Fujimori would be Peru’s first woman president and one of four today in Latin America—and one of only seven in the region’s history. Like Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, her gender will influence her agenda. But so will her youth.

At the presidential debate last week with her second round opponent, Ollanta Humala, her opening statement had a greeting in Quechua–the language of the descendants of the Incas in the Andes of Peru. And her closing statement concluded with sign language.

What’s more, Fujimori appealed to the youth vote by laying out her “Mi Primera Chamba”–My First Gig–scholarship program and to the Mom vote by promising to create nutrition programs and quality education for children.

This is not just typical political pandering in Peru, but stem from who Fujimori is. She allowed TV hostess Magaly to come to her home. After they chatted like two girlfriends, she gave Magaly a tour of her middle-class home. Along the way she showed off Peruvian Andean landscape paintings her imprisoned father has done in jail, and then the pair ended up in Fujimori’s kitchen, where she expertly chopped vegetables for that evening’s dinner.

Defying Expectations
Keiko—as everyone calls her—has become adept at presenting herself in visuals that defy traditional expectations.

When her parents split up in a bitter divorce during her father’s presidency, Keiko, then age19, officially became First Lady to fill in for her exiting mother’s responsibilities.

Despite ample opportunities to go anywhere for college, she headed to Boston University to earn a degree in business administration. She returned married to Mark Vito, an U.S.-born IBM consultant, who did not speak Spanish.

Without a hint of self-consciousness, Keiko projects her Japanese visage on big screens at political rallies surrounded by a sea of dark-skinned indigenous Peruvians. Though her roots are Asian, she appeals to them as one of them, her racial minority physical features presenting a kindred-outsider status to the marginalized people of Peru–just as happened when her father ascended to power.

The elements of her biography don’t merely translate into images defying the status quo; they drive her fusion of a right-of-center and a populist political platform. Her ease with crossing socioeconomic and racial barriers has influenced a right-brain/left-brain, left-wing/right-wing heterodoxy that is both pragmatic and passionate.

Despite deeply held reservations by many Peruvians about her filial links to her father, jailed for corruption and human rights abuses, Keiko’s implicit and explicit diversity and her messages of inclusion, helped propel her into the second and final electoral round having beat out another former president, Alejandro Toledo, and a successful former minister of finance and economy, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski—a graduate of both Oxford and Princeton Universities, no less.

Presidential Candidate Mom
Keiko would also be the first Latin American female president with young children and, therefore, the first high-profile role model for work-and-family flexibility. As is typical of middle-class Peruvians, she has live-in childcare help. But her fluid movement in and out of her roles as leader and mother seems remarkably seamless.

After the first-round election results were announced and Keiko was declared one of the two finalists, Keiko handled her press conference with ease.

Afterward as she exited through the phalanx of journalists, her 18-month-old, Kaori Marcela, straddled in her left arm, Keiko took impromptu questions shouted out by journalists. As the child began to fuss, she switched from potential president of Peru to attentive Mom. With a smile, Keiko said, “Ok, it’s time–got to go.”

And with no apology, she left.

Peru Election 2011: Democracy’s Faustian Choices

by Andrés T. Tapia —

This article was published by the New America Media.

peru_election_500x279

On Sunday, June 5, I will join thousands of expat Peruvians at St. Agustin College in Chicago to vote in the second and final electoral round in choosing the next president of Peru.

The collective mood of Peruvians is highly apprehensive about what’s next, despite–or perhaps because ofthe country’s substantial eight percent growth in gross national product in five of the last six years. That is among the highest in the world.

Sunday’s election is where the red-hot issues of race, gender, age, imprisonment, insurrection, poverty and economic boom will be shaken in a volatile political cocktail.

The choice between Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala has come down to two candidates with a lot of potentially problematic baggage. Keiko is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori who is serving multiple multiyear sentences in a maximum-security prison in Lima, convicted of corruption and human rights abuses.

Ollanta led two failed insurrections in the Andes against democratically elected governments, and his father espouses an indigenous nationalistic ideology that borders on reverse racism.

These are not the kind of pedigrees that inspire change Peruvians can believe in.

Below the Surface
Yet…Yet, as is often the case in surrealistic Peru, what is on and below the surface, confounds logic. And unexpected turns of events can be equally damming or redemptive. Both candidates are exercising considerable effort to cut the binds of their political past.

In the final debate last Sunday between the two, Fujimori did her best to paint Humala as a destabilizing force, but he held his ground as someone who has recast his persona–aided by Brazilian political consultants–as a man of reason, rather than as a firebrand revolutionary.

And try as Humala did to link Fujimori to the corruption that had led to her father’s imprisonment, she stopped him in his tracks by asserting that Humala had spent most of his time debating the wrong person. “I am the candidate, not the man who is sitting in prison.” The sins of the fathers, she insisted, should not be visited upon their offspring.

While many Peruvians are willing to give Fujimori this pass–as she leads in the polls by about four percentage points but with a very large percentage of undecided voters– many are not.

Bitterness still surfaces at what many consider betrayal on the part of Alberto Fujimori, who arguably could have gone down in history as one of Peru’s greatest presidents after he tamed hyperinflation, defeated two terrorist movements, and laid the foundation for Peru’s sustained economic boom.

His downfall?

Whether it was willingly or coerced, Fujimori entered a Faustian pact with Vladimiro Montesinos, his head of DINCOTE, the Peruvian secret service. Montesinos bribed politicians, generals, TV station owners and journalists with bundles of cash, while he lead a brutal, no-holds-barred war against terrorism.

After separate fugitive escapes to other countries both men were dramatically captured and ended up in the same prison convicted by Peruvian courts on multiple counts. As befitting of a Latin American novel, they were initially incarcerated in  the same jail holding Abimael Guzman, the Peruvian Osama bin Laden. Through his Shining Path movement, Guzman had unleashed real and psychological destruction on Peruvian society. He had heroically been captured under the leadership of his current prison mates.

Terrorism, Torture and Human Rights
So it is that Peruvian society is highly polarized about Keiko Fujimori’s father in a way echoing the U.S. debate around whether torture– along with its the suspension of human rights– is justifiable when facing nihilistic terrorists willing to kill anyone and everyone.

But it wasn’t the human rights debate that sunk Peru’s first president of Japanese descent. Most Peruvians, who lived the sheer terror of Guzman’s Shining Path, with its car bombs and massacres, were willing to make their own Faustian deal by looking the other way as Fujimori’s regime put an end to the Shining Path’s madness–but only by responding in kind.

No, what did Fujimori in for many Peruvians, was the blatant bribery conducted in the name of a leader, who had established a new pragmatic, non-ideological paradigm for bringing about change.

It was under Fujimori that the longstanding practices of massive disregard for paying taxes came to an end, as he prosecuted many of the nonbelievers in paying state tribute.

Even as people were pissed off at having to pay taxes, grudging respect became growing respect for a president, who made it clear that there were rules all–with no exceptions even among the elite–had to follow.

As Peruvians got in line with the country’s new path, state revenues grew and were put into transformational use, building thousands of schools, kilometers of highways, electrical grids and water systems.

That the exemplar of rectitude had under his nose one of the most blatant bribery campaigns the country had ever seen was unforgivable.

It’s forgiveness, however, that’s on Keiko’s mind–or more accurately, a pardon. It’s no secret that she does not believe innocent people should be in jail and since she insists her father is not guilty, she would likely pardon him.

While Peruvians debate the limits of forgiveness, Ollanta offers another test.

His first presidential campaign five years ago when he lost to Alan Garcia was partially bankrolled by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. His policies are antithetical to the free market economic programs that have reduced extreme poverty in Peru from 50 percent to 30 percent. Massive foreign investment in Peru has fueled the economic transformation.

Still, that leaves one-third of the country in abject poverty, a damning metric. It is this proportion of the population that has declared trickle down a fiction and see in Humala someone who will plead their cause regardless of his history of insurrection or suspect influences. They are willing to make this Faustian tradeoff.

For Ollanta, though, Chavez’s well documented ambition to extend the Cuban Revolution into modern day Venezuela–and his eagerness to influence other parts of South America via Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa–are the very things that may make enough Peruvians turn away from him and look the other way, yet again.

If so, they in turn will cast their own Faustian vote that may indeed free Alberto Fujimori, as the price for hopefully preserving the economic boom.

Brazilian Particularism – The Ying and Yang of Going With the Flow

by Andres T. Tapia —

Brazil_-_Rio_de_JaneiroMilton really had me. As my driver in Rio for a full day of sightseeing, attending a futbol match, and then taking me to the airport, he had me fully enthralled by his stories, carioca philosophy, humor, and ability to tap into my Latin sense of solidarity. And by the end of the day he also had me in that he cheated me out of an extra $50.

Or maybe he didn’t. And it’s in the ambiguity of what happened that doing business in Brazil is often like.

So, to understand the rest of the story, a rapid explanation of two contrasting worldviews in how fairness is interpreted: Particularism is a worldview that is comfortable determining what is fair based on circumstances vs Universalism which believes that what is fair is based on rules that apply to everyone equally.

The day had unfolded in a comfortable particularistic way for this Peruvian who also comes from a spontaneous society. On a whim here and there, I had Milton stop there and here. The beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain), Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer). We stopped to see a samba school practice on a side street. I got out and walked on the malecon along the coast with azure waters to the East and lush green mountains to the West.

Near Copacabana he convinced me to check out an exclusive jewelry sale where, if he dropped off someone he had “recruited,” he would get a “drop off” commission. I was willing to help him get some extra cash because I saw it as a good opportunity to journalistically experience one of those exclusive sales where smartly dressed women and men pull out thin drawers of the most exquisite and expensive jewelry. Half a million dollars worth of jewelry were paraded in front of me with the salesperson’s promise that my wife would love me forever if I succumbed to their rubied and topazed enchantments.

After extricating myself from the hard sale hiding behind a veneer of upper class feigned detachment, I found Milton waiting for me, engine running to scoot me over to that famed soccer temple, Maracana Stadium, where two of Rio’s archrival soccer teams were playing against each other. The elite’s favorite, Fluminense, and the passion of those living in the impoverished favelas, Botafogo. Thanks to his connections he helped me get last minute tickets to the sold-out game where the torcidas, fan sections, shashayed for 90 minutes to the samba rhythms drummed out of the baterias.

As he dropped me off, the easy camaraderie that we had developed was reinforced as he pumped me up with fascinating stories of the long standing soccer rivalry. He gave me explicit instructions about leaving the game 5 minutes before the final whistle no matter how exciting the game was to ensure we would not get caught in the sea of jubilant and dejected fans from the two different teams and where to find him so he could whisk me off to the airport to catch my flight in time.

And true to plan, there he was in the designated spot. I hopped in, he shook my hand, and we celebrated the eventful game. He had listened to the game on the radio so we easily shared in the replays of the great moments.

The day had been fun and joyous, and I gotten to do all that I had hoped for during my last day in Rio. As we neared the airport and I was pulling out the cash to cover the agreed-to fare for the full day with multiple stops, he had “unfortunate” news to share with me. While waiting for me outside the stadium, he had had to take a risk and had parked in a no-wait zone and a policeman had fined him $50 and could I include that in my fare since he had risked it just for me? Hmmmmm…..

One of Brazil’s greatest assets, as well as challenge, in consolidating its position as the fifth largest economy on the world stage, is a cultural trait of being able to flex to whatever gets put in front its people. Whether it be unexpected events, laws, circumstances, Brazilians are adept at going with the flow, a trait caricaturized by the brilliant soccer metaphor of joie de cintura, game of the waist, full of flourishes, feints, dips, knee bends, and hip throws.

What Is Right?

For Americans and other cultures that are more universalist, this can be challenging. I realized then that Brazilians were even more particularist than the particularist Peru I had grown up with. But was this truly a particularist situation where Milton was asking me to partake of the risk and rewards of going with the flow that sometimes included bending the rules? Or was this a con?

I was conflicted. I felt the twinge of this being a set up, but on the other hand Milton had truly provided me with an extraordinary day. Was this a way of him making sure I tipped him? Was it an indirect way of recoupping the low ball day fare he had offered me before he realized how many places I would ask to go to? Was there a real fine in the mix or a bribe he had to offer the police officer to get his driver’s license back? I had no idea. And there I was in the back of the seat of Milton’s cab, door open, next to the TAM Airlines departures entrance.

So I split the difference and said, l didn’t ask you to park illegally but since you did it for my benefit, I’ll pay for half of that fine. I added $25 to the total agreed to amount for the day. Milton’s mood darkened as he took the money. We said our tchaus (goodbyes), and I had many obrigados (thank yous) to shower on him, but the spell had been broken. And so with my carry-on to my side, I lingered standing on the curb, as I watched Milton drive away. The Brazilian saying, “to a friend, everything; to an enemy, the law” scrolled through my mind.

As I have written in The Inclusion Paradox I believe that every culture has the virtues of its worldview plus the shadow side of that worldview that, when left unchecked, leads to less than ideal behaviors. Is the shadow side of particularism that with ever changing rules others can be more easily manipulated? Is the shadow side of universalism mercilessness when not considering individual circumstances in the imposition of the law?

To this day I don’t know what Milton had intended, if anything. I just know that I was uncertain in the moment of the ask, and in my response. I simply did not know what was below the waterline. I just knew that I could not rely on what I felt.

And that did not feel good.

World Cup: Welcome to Fútbol, Middle America

by Andrés T. Tapia

WorldCupWatch_062610_KansasCity_ecstasy

Ecstasy as US scores equalizing goal against Ghana. Photo by Rich Sugg, Kansas City Star

Photo by Rich Sugg

Agony at the final whistle. Photo by Rich Sugg.

In the waning minutes of the USA – Ghana World Cup 2010 game, as it became clear that the USA was out of come-from-behind memes, the sadness and disappointment descending on American crowds from Manhattan oyster bars to Kansas City plazas to San Francisco cafes signaled a cultural transformation. Middle America had gotten seduced by the beautiful game and it broke its heart.

Immigrants in the US have long stoked their passion for soccer by filling Giants Stadium and Soldier Field to capacity for exhibition matches between foreign teams such as Barcelona FBC of Spain vs Chivas of Mexico, and on a regular basis filling the smaller soccer friendly Major League Soccer (MLS) soccer stadiums. And quadrennially they have packed their ethnic neighborhood  bodegas, bars, and homes with painted faces and national team jerseys to cheer on their teams till hoarse. But the big story in the US this time were the ecstatic white male crowds in the American heartland — in Louisville, Kentucky, in Kansas City, Missouri, in Burlington, Vermont — emotionally committed to how the USA did.

(Despite it’s ethnocentric view that equates “the world” to the USA, a compelling bit of video.)

There they were at 9 on a Tuesday morning glued to the TV sets either at home or in a public place grabbing their heads in response to the near American misses, holding their breaths as the British, Ghanaians, Slovenians, and Algerians counterattacked, yelling out in ecstasy as American strikers drilled the ball into the back of the net.

Here’s how Kansas City Star described one of these new fans:

He’d rather stay anonymous because he’s a grown man with a family and, well, otherwise respectable adults just aren’t supposed to paint their faces and be half-tilted in the early afternoon. But then again here he is, in the middle of a Saturday wearing an American flag across his face that he strategically kept away from his lips because he didn’t want to taste it with his Miller Lite. “I usually don’t like to watch big games in big crowds,” he says. “But how could I not come out here?”

As I witnessed all this, I flashbacked to when I first moved to the US as a college student. I had made the Northwestern soccer team as a midfielder the first year it was upgraded from a club to a varsity sport but while through this I connected to nomadic tribes of a cult sport,  in mainstream America soccer was invisible. It was hard to find fields with soccer goal posts. Our games were sparsely attended. As I traveled to Big Ten Tournaments across the Midwest, my non-soccer friends at the university kept forgetting I would be out for the weekend at a soccer tourney.  Sports columnists either disparaged soccer or apologized sheepishly if they had happened to be excited about a great play.

Worst of all, during the 1986 World Cup hosted by Mexico I couldn’t find a single channel on TV that was broadcasting the games. This was inconceivable to me.

Back in Peru at World Cup time, whether Peru was in it or not, the World Cup was the talk of the day whether we were in the middle of a dictatorship, a financial meltdown, or a natural disaster.  If a World Cup game where Peru was playing happened to be on during the school day, one of us would bring a portable 2′ by 2′  black and white TV, plug it into a classroom socket, move the rabbit ears to reduce the fuzziness, and gather round on the floor amidst our history textbooks and spiral notepads. This was la vida. Life!  But in the US, this biggest of stages with billions around the world mesmerized, was mostly invisible.  In Chicago, our small band of sports renegades had to scour for bars doing special live satellite transmissions.

Fast forward to today in the USA. Every single game is transmitted on ESPN/ABC and on Univisión, the Spanish language network. There are pre and post game shows. There are experienced commentators from around the world. There is an iphone app that answers every game stat query imaginable, and — wouldn’t you know it — there’s even a live feed of the games to feed the addiction.

Soccer fields dot the American landscape, not only in the multiethnic cities but also across the Nebraska tundra. In fact, now it’s the most common sports field around. More male and female kids, teens, and college students play soccer than any other sport.  While in college it was rare for me to meet someone who had grown up playing soccer, today most Millennials talk about their firsthand experience with the sport. When I coached AYSO teams for seven years as our daughter was growing up, I never got over the fact that in our city of Highland Park in Illinois we had over 450 kids enrolled on teams.

During this South Africa World Cup the trend and movement have crested. In the US, after sweeping up immigrant groups, then kids and, by default their parents, this time it rolled in that group that did not grow up with it, did not understand it, had made fun of it for the longest time. And when the USA team began unfolding a Hollywood style story (as described here in earlier post), it finally fit an American narrative that got Middle America’s attention. We can now add fútbol to globalization’s financial, technological, and environmental tendrils that have interconnected the entire world.

Suddenly what had been the love of affair of handfuls has become the love affair of millions.

But will it be a lasting relationship or simply a summer fling?

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