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Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Spain is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your Spanish language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, throughout the Spanish speaking world, poverty and drastic differences in socioeconomic status create issues for the various countries.
Understanding the Latin American culture, in general, is tricky because Latin America is quite large encompassing different regions, each with its own unique culture, customs, food, and music. The region is divided further along socioeconomic lines due to the enormous disparity between the rich and the poor. The rich live lavishly behind high walls and have access to the best facilities, whereas those at the bottom of the pile struggle on a daily basis just to make ends meet. In between these two socioeconomic ends are the middle class who always aspire and strive to get to the top of the pile. A short trip to Latin America or visiting indigenous groups in the area is enough for one to learn of the numerous diversities present in the region.
The younger generation of Latin Americans may not subscribe to this portrayal, but there is one characteristic that is common among the Latin Americans that stands out from the historical descriptions of their Spanish ancestors. This attribute is melancholic fatalism, which refers to a resignation that the worst is likely to happen, inevitable doom is looming, and that life has to be hard. One of the historians dealing with the history of Spain and Latin America, Salvador de Madariaga beliefs that the fatalistic outlook stems from the region’s violent past and the Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs. He stated that within the soul of every Spaniard, Moctezuma dies and Cuauhtemoc dies by hanging.
Poverty is one of the challenges plaguing Latin America. The problem is deep-rooted and gets worse by the day. Poverty makes the people opt to live on a day to day basis because of the uncertainty that life in poverty brings. Therefore, people live for the moment and tackle problems as they come. In rural areas and urban slums, poor people live through the daily grind, which is broken up only during the annual cycle of various festivals, or family get-togethers. Since these events are rare opportunities, the people make the most out of it before embarking on the usual daily grind. They live in perpetual survival mode, meaning their choices may be riskier in the long term.
There is a huge disparity between people in Latin America and Spain regarding social classes. At least 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. It is only in urban areas that a good number of the middle class who always strive to get to the wealthy upper class, but are still vulnerable to falling to the poor class given the high living standard in the urban areas. In rural areas, the wealthy are few among millions of people who are poverty-stricken. The situation has been worsening recently because the wealthy keep on accruing more wealth to the detriment of their poor counterparts. Among the poor, the situation gets worse due to the general acceptance of the status quo, probably an unhappy result of melancholic fatalism.
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