Monday, May 25, 2009

Lat-Chino Culture in Nicaragua

“Comidas Rapidas China,” the sign reads. Chinese Fast Food.

The restaurant is situated across the street from various foods stalls and eateries specializing in local Nicaraguan fare: nacatamal, mondongo, pupusas, gallopinto.The Chinese restaurant in the city of Masaya, Nicaragua is yet another example of Chinese influences in this Latin American country.

As the Western hemisphere’s second poorest nation, Nicaragua is a prime location for selling affordable goods– the type China has the capacity to produce en masse.

This is more more than an importation of goods, there is a cultural component, a reframing of what “Chinese” means to Nicaraguans. Another example of this is found in these plantains.

This common Latin American snack was produced in Nicaragua, but is branded as Cantonese rather than as their Latin roots.

Just as “Made in America” is synonymous with high quality and dependable, “Made in China” is coming to mean affordable and familiar. Rather than the perceived imperialistic commercial (and political) practices of the United States throughout the history of Nicaragua, China is branding itself as a culturally-sensitive commercial partner.

It’s hard to say all that from a bag of chips. One last example of this Chinese remarketing is the Asian Cultural Center. This recently built institution is yet another of the cultural exchange between China and Nicaragua. The murals surrounding the facility incorparate iconography from both countries as further evidence of the growing Lat-Chino relations and culture.

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