The Expat Files: Living in Latin America A guide to moving to Latin America, finding work, and settling in.

February 27, 2012  

-The sad, hard truth about the oligarchs that subtly milk each Latin country (called Criollos). Here’s the scoop on the ten to twenty ultra-rich families that have historically owned and operated traditional industries like coffee, tobacco, sugar as well as owning monopolies on basic products like beer, liquor, steel cement, etc. They, not the politicians, have held the real power since Spanish colonial times and remain a somewhat hidden force behind all high elected officials. And despite lip service to the contrary, they pull the strings that keep the majority indigenous poor population barely educated and as unorganized as possible. Criollos have become rich on dirt cheap indigenous labor and intend to keep it that way.

-Here's one easy way that rich Latin families keep score on who they grant (and withhold) their favors

-You thought bowling was a lower-middle class, somewhat borderline white-trash pastime? Not in Latin America! Just check out all those bodyguards and late model SUV’s in the parking lot and you’ll see what I mean.

-Here’s a good question: if most Latin countries have an indigenous underclass of up to 50% of the total population, and they hate being treated as second and third-class citizens by the rich upper classes in power- then how come they just don’t just organize and vote out the old corrupt regimes and put in their own indigenous leaders? These are democratic countries after all and the Indians certainly have the numbers to pull it off.

Answer: it’s complicated!

-More reasons why I don’t recommend living or doing business in Mexico (except if you want a nice, cheap vacation)

-Some thoughts about driving a car from the states down through Mexico and then on through Central America

February 24, 2012  

-The truth about those famous “pensionado” programs for first worlder’s in places like Costa Rica, Panama and Chile. And why you should think twice about applying for that dubious status yourself

-10 reasons why its not a great idea to move to Panama these days no matter what you’ve read on the internet.  In fact, it can be dangerous to your (financial) health

-To bank in Panama or not- an IRS trap meant for you to fall into

-The many, many untold advantages of sending your kids to a very high-end Latin American Private University (besides the fact that tuition is only $5000 a year compared $30k in the states)

-Email me on questions about Latin America at

February 20, 2012  
-Some surprising things you never knew about Latin American sweatshops, and why most Latin countries have a two-tier minimum wage structure.

-You’ll never guess the #1 complaint with sweatshop workers. And it’s not the pay or the heat (why do you think they call them sweatshops?) or the bathrooms!

-Discussing the standard Latin American 44 hour work week

-Every Latin country levies a personal income tax. Even so, nearly everyone pays zero in taxes... and its absolutely legal

-How Latin governments fund their toxic buerocracies

-The truth about Latin American social security (and you thought ours sucked!)

-Latin workers get guaranteed job benefits by law from their employers. Sounds great for workers but its more a gift to employers

February 17, 2012  
-Some disturbing facts for anyone thinking about moving to Brazil
-Why Brazil is NOT on the US state department’s traveler’s warning list but definitely should be

-DYK three out of four Latin countries make their police officers buy their own bullets? (which is probably a good thing)

- DYK that Brazil is the only major country that does not allow derivatives trading or the holding of derivatives in their bank portfolios? (an undoubtedly great thing!)

-The truth about trying to live off your savings in Latin America

-How to land a good job (in your chosen career) with a first world trans-national company even before you land in Latin America

-A bit about the IRS foreign earned income tax exemption

-Email me on questions about Latin America at
February 13, 2012  
-Johnny describes more of his upcoming very special Latin American Insider’s seminar
-Some pertinent email questions from a non-Spanish speaker who’s about to make his/her first trip down to Latin America

-How to find an honest cab driver and a safe, cheap hotel when you first step off a plane in an unknown Latin country

-Some very short and easy phrases for non-Spanish speakers that will get you through the first few bumpy days

-How to accurately determine the good, bad and the ugly parts of any Latin town when you first arrive (even a night!)
-Taxi tricksters and what you need to watch out for

-More tips for finding and hooking up with a Latin lawyer on your first time down

-Due to the First World “lag time” effect, paper telephone books are NOT dead in the water like they are in Cleveland, not by a long shot

-Email me on questions about Latin America at

February 10, 2012  
- Cuba’s most effective export; it’s not Communism, Cohibas, nor baseball players or even sexy salsa dancers, but medical doctors. Why you shouldn’t believe all the great stories you hear about the people’s party medical system.

-Expat Eddie ends up in a Cuban hospital

-The two tiered medical care in Cuba, and why patient’s rights don’t exist

-Notes on Latin American militaries. While no military is a good military, Latin armies are very small per capita and extremely underfunded. You rarely see any solders on the street- not like in the old Reagan Cold War times. Expats really have nothing to worry about.

-The few minor exceptions to the above statement

-Send your emails to

February 6, 2012  
-Ordering items by mail/internet from the USA. The shipping costs, methods, duties, customs, tariffs and security issues.

-Tips for hand carrying newly purchased items through 3rd World customs

-The low down on Latin brand name plumbing supplies as well as Latin made kitchen, laundry, bathroom appliances, tools, air conditioning units and Jacuzzis (yes, they do nice clones of Jacuzzis too!). And so much cheaper than First World name brands- they seem to look and work just fine. But do they really last?

-There is a certain bored upscale Latin female market for trashy self-help NYT bestsellers. That’s why books like “The Secret”, some of Oprah’s favorite picks and other mind-numbing new-age junk gets quickly translated into Spanish and shows up in the bookstores right along with the original English versions of the same faddish stuff.

-One of the few excellent things about popular LA tourist sites- the 1st World style used bookstores.

-How the sun deceives in the altiplano. Why (in 70 degree weather) many a freshman tourist has been fried like an egg after just a half hour

-Some tips on Third World insects and pests.

-Why Gringos use shorts and bug spray, and Latins don’t

- Your run of the mill snake encounters, and the truth (and the rumors) about poisonous snakes

-Send your emails to
February 3, 2012  

-The Politically incorrect truth about how the “Gringo Advantage” affects mating, dating and romance between First World men and Latin Women.

-The scoop on internet dating and mating services that promise love and romance with beautiful Latin women, and why they generally don’t pan out.

-The US divorce rate is well over 50% and the divorce rate in Latin America is below 20%. And it remains below 20% even when Expats marry Latinas- as long as the couple DOESN’T move back to the USA!

-Romantic advice to lonleyheart Expats: don’t set your sights on wealthy Latin women or the daughters of wealthy or upper class Latin women. If you fall into that trap you’ll be sorry.

-Ten reasons why you should NEVER bring the Latin love of your life back to live with you in the USA

-Email me on questions about Latin America at


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