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The Venezuelans

Los Venezolanos

Venezuelans are cheerful, highly sociable people who love to drink and listen to music. If you speak a little Spanish, Venezuelans are easy to get to know, and are generally keen for you to enjoy your stay in their country. They may invite you to hang out with their friends, meet their family or even take you around their town, especially if you are female. You will be invited to parties or trips to the beach, and expected to join in with everybody else.

They are proud of their country and will happily talk at length about all the beautiful places to visit there. They are equally happy for foreigners tell them what they want to hear – i.e. that Venezuela is great, that God was in a good mood when he made their country, that the food is tasty and that the girls are tastier still. The men will ask male tourists what they think of Venezuelan girls, knowing what the answer will be – just tell them what they want to hear and enjoy the company of a new pana.

Just as Venezuelans wax lyrical about the good life to be had there, they do not shy away from being highly critical of the negative aspects of their country too. They are more than ready to blame other groups or factions of society for the sorry state the country finds itself in, be it the rich elite, the uneducated masses or the corrupt government officials – its always somebody else’s fault. Until Chávez came to power, people were fairly unified in their criticism of the government. Now Venezuela is split down the middle – you are either a flag-waving, beret-wearing Bolivarian Revolutionary, or you are a coup-plotting, greedy white capitalist who loves Bush and Blair.

Foreigners are exempt from this simplified classification, but if you spend enough time there people will start to ask your opinion, as an outsider, on the country’s impossibly polarised political situation. Whatever you say, they will have heard it all before, so don’t be afraid to say what you think. As soon as you finish, they will give you their point of view regardless.

Venezuelans are real gossips, they love their soap operas and spend hours chatting about other people’s lives, be they real or fictional. They can be quite direct, and may say what they think without any thought for the person they are saying it to. I know one Venezuelan whose first words to an overweight English girl he had just met were “Hi, I can help you lose weight.” This was delivered in absolute seriousness, as if this was what this girl had been waiting all her life to hear (and no, he was not a professional dietitian). In social situations, take everything you are told at face value.