When to Impose Your Gringo Values on Other Cultures?

Posted on 01. Aug, 2016 by in beyond LatAm, latin america

YouTube has removed one of the videos from the Expat Chronicles YouTube channel.

The video in question was one of five videos taken at the Club Gallistico San Miguel in Bogota. The other four videos, for reasons I don’t understand, were left alone.

Here is the notification from YouTube, edited for brevity:

Hi ExpatChronicles,

The YouTube community flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate … We removed the following videos:

“Cockfighting in Bogota, Colombia – fight to the death” (https://youtu.be/4PQ6IqtH9EQ)

If a video contains violent or graphic content that appears to be posted in a shocking, sensational, or disrespectful manner, it’s less likely to be allowed. We also don’t allow content that’s intended to incite violence or encourage dangerous activities. We review content on a case by case basis and will only make limited exceptions for appropriate educational, documentary, artistic, and scientific contexts, where the purpose of posting is clear.

Your account has received one Community Guidelines strike, which will expire in six months. Additional violations could prevent you from posting content to YouTube or even lead to your account getting terminated.

Please note that deleting this video will not resolve the strike on your account. For more information about how to appeal a strike, please visit this page in the Help Center.

– The YouTube Team


Unlike bullfighting, I found cockfighting to be an utter bore. Maybe it’s because I don’t know what I’m watching, or I can’t tell how devastating any particular beak peck was or even whether it landed. The fights take a long time and, from what I remember, a good portion of that time is the winning cock chasing the pending loser around the ring, pecking it slowly but surely until it can pin him down with his talons.

Utterly boring. I left long before the show was over and it has never occurred to me to see another.

But I know that cockfighting has a long history in Latin America, and a lot of people like it. Peru even wrote an exception for both bullfighting and cockfighting into a new animal-cruelty law last year. See Richard McColl’s Look at Cockfighting in Colombia, which illustrates how it’s not “shocking, sensational, or disrespectful” at all, nor does it intend “to incite violence or encourage dangerous activities.”

If it’s bona fide cultural heritage for some societies, where does YouTube get off banning it? How does YouTube discern what values it should impose on everybody?

YouTube is a company, not a state actor. So they can do whatever is in the best interests of their long-term bottom line.

But the episode brings up a common quandary for us liberal citizens of the first world living in a land of backwards savages. When to impose our more advanced values on the lower societies of the world?

If YouTube will yank cockfighting, why don’t they touch bullfighting? Two cocks who don’t need to be taught to kill each other killing each other seems to me a lot less vicious than what humans put bulls through for 15 to 20 minutes. And you get no argument from me in not allowing dog fights.

Beyond animal ethics, there are a plethora of other issues to determine which are OK and which aren’t? Both within Latin America and beyond, to Muslim countries, Atheist countries, peasant tribal societies, etc.

Should gringos push democracy? Term limits? Separation of church and state?

Market capitalism? Monopoly-free markets? Free trade?

Abortion? Planned Parenthood? Gay marriage and transgender bathrooms?

Death penalty?

Many Latin American governments face the same dilemma when dealing with indigenous populations. When is it imperative to insist on drilling that oil or opening that mine on their ancestral land? Good luck trying to tell jungle Indians they have to wait until a girl is 18 before having sex with her. Many governments have lower thresholds to accommodate indigenous populations, which is taken advantage of by citizens who I would call “pedophiles” who aren’t even Indians. Should we liberal gringos insist on 18 years as a global age of consent?

It’s not a right or left issue, because in some situations the “conservatives” would push our values, while in others the “liberals” would, depending on the situation.

In your own life, will you try to implement gringo policies if you, say, open a business and hire local employees? Which policies?


Writing work emails in proper Spanish? (as opposed to a style we would see in text messages between teenagers)

The customer is always right?

Telling the truth no matter how daunting it is?

Saying “I don’t know” when they don’t know?

Conservative dress for women?

And what about your family? What gringo values … on second thought, let’s not open that can of worms.

I have found in my personal life that pushing gringo values is like pissing into the wind. But I have to insist on some. Picking your battles is the tricky part. And I don’t have the answer.

I studied international business, and I loved to dream about the cultural challenges and case studies particularly from the international management and international marketing classes. It sounds fun on paper.


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One Response to “When to Impose Your Gringo Values on Other Cultures?”

  1. Steve

    02. Aug, 2016

    Watch out Colin. You have one strike. I didn’t even know YouTube had strikes. It’s one of the few websites where I haven’t been banned. You probably got turned in by some animal lover. A lot of people care more about animals than they do about humans. I hope they get eaten by a bear. Meanwhile I encourage everyone to enjoy a video of one of my favorite high school songs, the little known Louisiana Cockfight from John Nitzinger who hails from deep in the heart of Texas. Get well soon John. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Yqzm1UWHEk

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