CHAPTER X Synthetic Nationalism

THERE IS NO QUESTION that the twenty republics are sold on nationalism.

At first, in your foreigner's ignorance, you may not quite realize this. Architecture may not differ from one land to its neighbor, cooking and customs and manners change no more than between counties in Iowa. Political behavior patterns may be the same. There may be no detectable variations in the local idioms. Latin- American nationalism, you conclude a little pompously, is an empty formality of flags, national anthems and customs examinations.

But sooner or later someone will enlighten your darkness. Each republic, you find, is a glorified demonstration plot of the special virtues it admires in itself. Each neighbor republic, it appears, is a poisonous distillation of the vices which your host republic of the moment peculiarly detests.

"Ah, señor," they told me in El Salvador, "we Salvadoreños are not perfect. We are a passionate people, and we massacre in war, and we kill when we are thwarted in love. But we do not kill in cold blood simply because we love cruelty like the Guatemaltecos. And we are hard workers. We support our families. We are good to our children. We are kind to our animals. We do not let our fields go back to the jungle and starve our families and abuse our stock like those lazy savages in Honduras."

Sure enough, on the town streets and the country roads in El Salvador the babies, the burros, the oxen are fat, the dogs and

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