11 Latin American Rivalries That Have People Heated
Many people describe Latin America as a collection of brotherly countries that share a sibling-like relationship, and they might very well be right. No group of siblings gets along perfectly, and Latin America is no exception. We’re always arguing about who plays the best fútbal, who makes the best tamalés, and who overthrew Spain best (okay that last one isn’t too hard to figure out – we all did!). Today we’ll go over our favorite and most infamous Latin American rivalries and let you decide: who actually is right?
1. Colombia vs Venezuela
Imagine two sisters who just happened to love making and eating the exact same food. That, my friends, is what it’s like watching Colombia and Venezuela argue over who invented the arepa. These delicious little corn cakes are a staple of both countries cuisines, and anyone who has eaten one can attest they are in fact worth arguing over. So who actually is responsible for this gift to our mouths?
Turns out they both are, sort of. Well, more accurately, they’re ancestrally both related to the inventors of the arepa. The arepa as we know it evolved from the native cuisine of the Timoto-cuicas, an indigenous group that lived in the northern Andes. The corn snacks are not-so-distant relatives of other bread eaten in the area.
2. Brazil vs Argentina
Ah yes, the two jock brothers of Latin America: Brazil and Argentina. CNN has ranked this soccer rivalry second on their top ten list of international back-and-forths, behind the infamous but objectively less talented England-Scotland rivalry. No other battle on this list is as enjoyable to watch, and consequently, no battle on this list ends with more discord.
Since 1914, the neighboring national teams have played 105 matches against each other. Through friendly matches and world cup faceoffs, the two have learned to love each other and how to improve their skills by keeping each other on the cutting edge of the sports world. And just in case you’re counting: Brazil boasts 41 wins while Argentina holds 38. Between them both they’ve arrived at a whopping 26 draws.
3. The Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico
Take a little trip to the Caribbean and there is no doubt you will run into Dominicans and Puertoricans roasting each other. The two island peoples have a lot in common, with many people knowing someone from either place in their own neighborhood. So why the constant dunking? Probably because to can’t get enough of each other. They both love to dance and claim they have the best sancocho stew. They both play incredible baseball. And because they are, to many other Spanish speakers, totally incomprehensible.
Consider these two the funny kids in the back of the class. Yes, they might be a little rowdy but you better hope they don’t join forces to start roasting you because they’re going to definitely hurt your feelings.
4. Peru vs Mexico
This is the grand battle for best ancient American empire – and best Latin American cuisine. Mexicans pride themselves on their Aztec and Mayan history, while Peru boasts the heart of the Incan empire. Both countries are home to amazing ancient architecture, pyramids that continue to fascinate historians and tourists alike, and delicious cuisine that harkens to their native roots.
While Mexican cuisine is known for its spice and heat, Peruvian food is known for its seafood and variety of flavors and textures. Both countries are known to make top 10 lists of world cuisines, but it all depends on what you’re willing to try. In the Andes, for example, Peruvians have been known to eat guinea pigs and alpacas. On the coasts, their delicate seafood has been melting food critics’ hearts for decades. Mexico has been melting tastebuds with hot chiles and scoring crispy, limey, salty delicacies on their coastal dishes for just as long. This battle might never truly be sorted out.
5. Cuba vs Cuban exiles
Cuba: home to Castro, one of the most successful communist revolutions in history, and a ton of classic cars. Unfortunately, not everyone has appreciated the lack of McDonald’s and flashy new phones. Though the American-backed embargo is behind that big last part, it has affected people on every corner of the island. Many Cubans left the island, but not all the exiles left with great rhetoric after everything was said and done. Wealthy landowners were dispossessed of their riches often joined and lead reactionary right-wing movements in other countries, and since then there’s been a huge fallout between the voting and political patterns of Cubans abroad and every other Latino diaspora group. In the U.S., for example, Cubans are much more likely to vote Republican and support Trump compared to all other Latino groups.
Now, Cubans may have reasons for leaving the island that can be very valid, but the resulting shock between the communities has made Cubans vs Cuban exiles a heated feud for the better part of a century. For all the back and forth, there are still some gains Cuba has at the end of the day: for example, they have free higher education, a 99.8% literacy rate (one of the highest in the world), and boasts the highest doctor-to-patient ratio anywhere on the planet along with universal healthcare. The good news is that as of 2015, the U.S. and Cuba have restored diplomatic relations, allowing for the long feud to finally start coming to an end.
6. Argentina vs. Chile
This family feud is more like two angry twins in the car fighting over who gets to choose the movie on the iPad, only instead of a movie its land and instead of an iPad its the border. Argentina and Chilé are literally right next to each other and have pulled a lot of the same shenanigans everyone else in Latin America resents them for: namely harboring Nazis after World War II. When they’re collaborating it’s a threat to everyone else on the South American continent, and when they’re at each other’s throats it’s an out-of-proportion war over things the rest of us wish they could just civilly work out.
Argentina and Chilé joined forces back in 1836 to go up against the Peru-Bolivian Confederation simply because of the fear the northern neighbors might be too powerful as a cohesive block. For years after that war came to an end, the two nations had a massive tug-of-war over Patagonia and every single river and lake on the border. That animosity has never really fully settled down and most of us hope the two keep each other occupied before attacking the rest of Latin America again or finding more Nazis to harbor.
7. Bolivia vs Chile
Poor Bolivia is landlocked, and its only route to sea has infamously been claimed by Chile who just wasn’t having it. You’d think Chilé would have been busier arguing with Argentina about literally everything, but sadly for Bolivia, the two were at peace just long enough to screw Bolivia out of a coastline. The War of the Pacific, as it was called, lead to Bolivia’s small coast being annexed by Chile.
Bolivia has since been left as the poorest country in South America. Even in the 21st Century, as Bolivia has attempted to get access to the coast to build a pipeline, Chile shut down their idea. To be fair, it wasn’t an incredibly eco-friendly idea, and Evo Morales, the next Bolivian leader, admitted the idea wasn’t worth it anyway later on. Anyway, that little coastline with a handful of angry pelicans pooping everywhere has been the source of most of the strife between Bolivia and Chile as far back as we can tell.
8. Argentina vs Everyone Else
Look, there are a lot of great things about Argentina. The birthplace of tango! Home to a bunch of really cute penguins! Some really delicious meat! But Argentina has historically been at odds with large swaths of Latin America for basically being just a tad bit stuck up. That and the whole harboring Nazis thing.
Argentina has been known to consider itself more “European” than the rest of us, even nicknaming Buenos Aires the “Paris of South America.” It’s hard to say they aren’t a beautiful country, but that whole Pinochet thing should have humbled them a bit. Argentina, remember that time you had a fascist dictator? Remember how you casually use the term “negro” on people of any race to mean “ignorant”? They are prone to think they are more attractive than darker-skinned Latin Americans, but colorism isn’t unique to Argentina either. We might be a tad bit jealous of their gorgeous coastline though, I admit.
9. Honduras vs El Salvador
Have you ever heard of the 100-hour Football War? Shorter than a Kardashian marriage, this little war between El Salvador and Honduras took place in 1969. Historians point to the nationalistic feelings stoked by a series of soccer matches between the two countries, along with a migration of 300,000 Salvadorans to Honduras in search of work during that time period.
The good news is this feud is mostly in the past, and El Salvador and Honduras have more in common than they have to fight about. They are both one of each other’s most prominent trade partners, and since the U.S. has meddled in both countries elections and politics, they’ve got more reasons than ever before to stick together.
10. Mexico vs the rest of Central America
Mexico is without a doubt the largest Central American country. Everything about Central America that has entered the mainstream has largely passed through Mexico. Sometimes this can leave the rest of Central America feeling a little left out, even wanting to distance itself from Mexico’s large presence. For example, if you’ve ever gone to school or work and introduced yourself as a Nicaraguan, a Honduran, or a Salvadoran, odds are someone has asked what part of Mexico that’s in.
In the past 40 years, as more and more immigrants have passed through Central America to the United States and Canada, Mexico has had more power and influence over refugees coming from south of their borders. While most Mexicans may have seen other Central Americans as their own people, others took advantage of refugees and kidnapped or trafficked them through drug cartels. Today, during the Trump administration, most of that seems to be in the past. The current caravans have said that the Mexican people have welcomed them with open arms.
11. Guatemala vs Belize
Poor Belize can’t seem to catch a break. The United Kingdom has attempted to have claim over them since they were colonized as “British Honduras” back in 1862 after the Spanish just weren’t there long enough and the British got bored and seized it. When Belize finally gained its independence from the Queen back in 1981, Guatemala refused to recognize the new nation because of its longstanding territorial dispute with the British colony, claiming that the land belonged to Guatemala.
The people of Guatemala claimed that they had ancestrally already lived and shared space with what is now Belize, and wanted to reunite the land and people free of the United Kingdom’s rule. Belizeans fought against Guatemalan rule, demanding their own independence. Finally, the United Nations ruled to affirm the sovereignty of Belize and called on the UK and Guatemala to find something else to do. Since then the countries have been peaceful neighbors, and many Belizeans and Guatemalans live side by side in each other’s countries, sans the British.
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