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Venezuela - Etiquette and Respect


Generally avoid discussing politics in public, particularly if you have strong viewpoints yourself, except with well-known acquaintances or relatives that have your trust and confidence. Politics has become a very divisive issue in recent years and you may easily offend or provoke a strong reaction from either supporters or detractors of President Hugo Chávez.

Most Venezuelans are laid-back regarding racial issues, since white or creole persons blend naturally with natives and Afro-Venezuelans in everyday life (education, living, politics, marriage). So the word "negro" can be used regardless of who's saying it, or who is being referred to in this way. Expressions like "negrito" or "mi negro" are often used as a term of endearment. You could hear someone calling "negra" to a woman, regardless of the race of the person. And in general, Afro-Venezuelans don't find it offensive, as they are simply variations on the Spanish word for "black". Similarly, don't be offended if someone calls you "flaco" (thin) or "gordo" (fat) as these may also be used fairly indiscriminately, and often as a term of friendliness.

Differences between Brits, Americans or Europeans are not perceived by most Venezuelans. Hence, you can expect to be called "gringo" even if you are, say, Russian. Don't let this offend you as a non Spanish-speaking visitor.

Venezuelans, like Colombians, have a very amusing way of pointing to objects by pouting their lips and lifting their chin, so don't assume that people are blowing kisses to you when you ask for directions.


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