Venezuela journalist speaks Minnesotan

This article submitted by Aaron Ziemer on 7/21/99.

Carlos Camacho Carlos Camacho visited the Paynesville area this week as part of the World Press Institute, located at Macalaster College, St. Paul.

The WPI is a four-month program running from June until October, that brings in journalists from around the world to tour the different aspects of the American media. During that time the people involved in the WPI will tour many different news medias.

Some of the media outlets they will see include the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and CNN news. Camacho stopped at the Paynesville Press for a couple of days during last week.

Camacho is from Caracas Venezuela. Caracas is the capital of Venezuela and has four million people living in it.

Camacho is working for Bloomberg News, and has worked for the Daily Journal, which is the only English newspaper in Venezuela.

While working for Bloomberg News, Camacho usually writes about oil and the economy, because Venezuela is one of the leading oil producing countries.

He is writing about many of the things he feels differ between America and Venezuela, as well as many of his opinions on American life.

Carlos Camacho speaks. . .
"Please, don't do that. People here will take offense.'' Why, the World Press Institute 1999 Fellows were just getting to know each other--by means of quoting lines from the best-known movie made about the 10,000-lakes state--when the admonishment came down: "Will you guys please stop quoting from Fargo?"

Eager to please, we answered as one: "You betcha!"

Stereotypes are odious, but most Minnesotans (from up in Ely to the Twin Cities and certainly here in Paynesville) actually liked Fargo. Which is a good thing, since what little we know about the state comes from that movie, mainly:

• Minnesotans drink lots of coffee. (Which is also a good thing, since I brought some from my home country, Venezuela.)

• They are quiet. (Now I know why most of the exchanges in the movie were of "You betcha!" or "Yeah!"-length. Must be those Scandinavian roots.)

• They are affluent. (You're darn tootin' they are. According to a study by the Pioneer Press, Minnesota has a median household income of $54,000 a year, compared to a nationwide average of $16,000.)

• And they get the job done. (Yeaaah, Chief Marge got the bad guys in the end, didn't she?)

So as sterotypes go, Minnesotans are doing better than New Yorkers or Californians, and certainly much better than citizens of certain Third World countries.

Even Minnesotans, modest as they are, are starting to recognize the power of the images conjured by the Coen Brothers movie. The Pioneer Press has put up a picture of Chief Marge on its Intranet, with the words:

"Wouldn't it be great if we could all crack cases like Chief Marge...You betcha!"

So there you have it, Lundegards of this part of the world: The "Fargo" syndrome is a good thing. You are remembered fondly, and not because of Jesse Ventura.

Take heart, when the Gophers' scandal dies down, people will still be quoting Chief Marge, that sage of the prairie. And if you are not amused, you can always tell "darn tootin'" foreigners that Fargo is actually in North Dakota.

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