In the midst of a presidential election, it’s worth noting the misstatements and missteps that US politicians have made in Latin America, particularly South America, where their ignorance is almost breathtaking. On a visit to Brazil , an aging Ronald Reagan infamously toasted his hosts as “President Figueiredo and all the people of Bolivia.” In 1990, on an official visit to Chile , then Vice-President Dan Quayle drew international chuckles for his purchase of an indio pícaro  (naughty Indian ), a lasciviously smiling and anatomically explicit Mapuche  novelty that, when picked up, exposes himself (or herself). It's closest counterpart in the English-speaking world might be a bobblehead.
For the lightly regarded Quayle, things got worse fast. His faux pas made him the target of ridicule in the satirical comic strip Doonesbury  and Chileans found it so amusing that, before long, local craftsmen had produced similar figures with the Quayle’s own visage. It hasn’t gone away, either, as a new generation of carvers have made similar figures of the current Republican nominee  in advance of the November election.
That’s not the only current item of anthropological or archaeological interest. At the same time, the iconic moai of Easter Island  (pictured above) are also playing a role in the campaign, even though it’s not coming directly from the Chileans. Rather, this week’s New Yorker cartoon caption contest uses the iconic stone statues to depict the nominee  – as of writing, the contest is still open, so submit your suggestion by Sunday, September 9.
Addendum: The link to the cartoon in question is no longer live, but when the New Yorker posts the contest results, I will link to it in another post.
Tango by the River
As announced previously, I will give a digital slide lecture on Buenos Aires  at Tango by the River  in Sacramento, but it has been postponed until Friday, September 21st, at 6 p.m.
Limited to a maximum of 50 people, the event will also include tango performances; admission costs $10 at the door, or $8 in advance. I have spoken here several times before, and we always sell out, so plan in advance. Signed copies of my Moon Handbooks on Argentina , Buenos Aires, Chile  and Patagonia  will be available at discount prices.