Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Cuentos Chinos (Spanish Edition)
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on June 19, 2006
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Permítame que respetuosamente discrepe de algunas de sus aseveraciones en su crítica a "Cuentos Chinos" de Andrés Oppenheimer. Pienso que este libro promueve EXACTAMENTE el mensaje que America Latina debe leer y asimilar, so pena de quedarse inevitablemente en el oscurantismo economico en pleno siglo XXI. Es verdad que, como usted dice, este no es un texto tecnico o riguroso desde el punto de vista macroeconomico. Dudo que esa haya sido la intencion de Oppenheimer, quien es un periodista y relator, mas que un tecnologo de ciencias economicas. Su prosa amena y anecdotica tiene como finalidad llegarle al comun de los lectores interesados, no aisladamente al aparatchnik academico.

Oppenheimer SI menciona, en varias ocasiones, que la apertura total no es necesariamente la receta ideal. De hecho, en su demostracion de el exito alcanzado por China hace manifiesto el hecho que esta economia ha tenido exito abriendose poco a poco, y sin abandonar el ferreo control estatal en las areas que le interesan.

Tambien menciona instancias en que paises han tenido exito al abrir sus economias, dandole la espalda a recomendaciones del FMI o el World Bank. (al no tener el libro a la mano, lamento no poder dar citas especificas, ni dar paginas).

El mensaje mas importante que el libro da, y que es necesario que los latinoamericanos captemos, es que las vias populistas, izquierdosas y paternalistas representan una vision retrograda (CEPALista) de la cual nuestros paises no han podido zafarse, y que, al igual que un ladrillo encadenado al cuello, representan un lastre que impide el surgimiento de nuestras economias en el ambito de las naciones.

El anti-americanismo a ultranza que su comentario pareciera proponer, forma parte del problema latinoamericano. Estados Unidos, como cualquier pais del mundo, velara SIEMPRE por sus propios intereses primero que los de los vecinos. (Usted cree que la Union Sovietica no era asi?) A sabiendas de este hecho, Los paises que, por su situacion geografica estan en el area de influencia del coloso del norte TIENEN QUE lograr establecer solidos acuerdos de desarrollo con los Estados Unidos, que por un lado impidan que este gigante atropelle nuestros intereses, pero por el otro lado, que nos permita abrir nuestra influencia a un mercado pudiente de 270 millones de personas, para poder comerciar con algo mas que economias extractivas, o rubros agricolas.

Si el libro no menciona, como usted dice, el intervencionismo norteamericano en el pasado de nuestras naciones, es precisamente porque esa es la mentalidad NO PRODUCTIVA que hay que colocar a un lado si queremos crecer como paises. Olvidemonos de los rencores del pasado, que solo sirven a los politicos para ganar votos populistas! Vamos a seguir llorando por lo de Chiquita banana en centroamerica, y la explotacion Americana del cobre en Chile, del hierro y el petroleo en Venezuela, etc. etc.? Hasta cuando?

Compare usted a Chile, a Costa Rica o incluso al beneficio que Mexico ha obtenido de NAFTA, con la retorica primitiva y atrasante de un Evo Morales o un Hugo Chavez, que basan el exito de sus estrategias en la circunstancia siempre cambiante de los precios energeticos y en la ignorancia y atraso de sus respectivas audiencias.

La senda hacia el desarrollo esta llena de dificultades, entre las que se cuentan extraer y eliminar la "cultura del subdesarrollo" tan predominante en nuestras naciones, combatir la corrupcion a todos los niveles, y acabar con el nacionalismo a ultranza, que aisla y atrasa a las naciones. "Cuentos Chinos" muestra de una manera sencilla y amena, como paises anteriormente acosados por males similares, han logrado sobreponerse a ellos y estan compitiendo en las "grandes Ligas" de la economia mundial. Este libro no tiene desperdicio, y lo recomiendo sin reservas.
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on December 1, 2005
I just finished Cuentos Chinos. A a veteran Latin Americanits going back to the beginning of the 60's I find that Latin America has stayed behind of other regions of the World- Europe and Asia. Poverty has kept at an intolerable rate of 42%. The massive fleeing of capital- $ 400,000 Million- most of the time hidden- shows total lack of confidence by their own business community. The worst part is the need for a major investment for education. Oppenheiomer leaves the door open for some poor countries to copy China, Ireland, Singapure and Botswana who made it very fast through education.Oppenheimer has done a very serious research with his traveling and interviews.he has shown courage when discussing crime rates in different areas. Mor policeman killed last year in the City of Rio de Janeiro than in all U.S.. Most of his findings are on the dot. Dr. Bernardo Benes- SURFISDE, FL.- 305-785-7028
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on February 20, 2006
Cuentos Chinos" is a great read, and makes an extraordinary contribution to current writings on Latin America. While most other authors compare Latin America's present to its past, Andres Oppenheimer compares its current situation with that of China, India, Eastern Europe and Ireland. Throughout the book, Oppenheimer tries to answer a key question: Why are countries like China and India succeeding in reducing poverty, and Latin America not? To find out, he takes us to China, and tells us through interviews with government officials, business people and academics, how China is ironically much more "capitalist" than Latin America. Among many examples, the author points out that while China is teaching compulsory English to all schoolchildren starting at 3rd grade, countries such as Mexico and Argentina are teaching English starting at 7th grade, two hours a week. "Cuentos Chinos" makes a compelling case that Latin American countries must become more competitive in the global economy, or they will fall farther behind.
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on April 14, 2006
Yeah, this is a very good book and I agree with the past reviews. I am from Mexico so I have some idea about what Andres O. (AO) wrote on Mexico and his mistakes and good points could be extended to his whole book somehow.

AO didn't write about the biggest white-collar fraud in Mexico in the last decade: the FOBAPROA. Most of the Mexican media have remained quite silent about this fraud and most of the population is totally ignorant about this problem, even those who read the news. I am not well informed either, but let me summarize it: Mexico had serious crisis in 1995 and many banks were about to go bankrupt, thus the government has been giving them money until now. The problem is that many banks got in trouble because of their own corrupt practices, sort of Enron type. Today the Mexican banks are booming and have the best of two worlds: the independence of private companies, and the fat money from governments. "Our" banks barely, if ever, loan money to people to start business, their customer service is terrible (it's normal to wait at least half an hour in queues) and they charge commissions for every single things you do with them. They are worse parasites of society than people on welfare; at least this is how many Conservatives regard poor people who happen to need government help.

Second, AO only criticized the public universities, which is a very popular practice in here. But he left alone the private ones whom I know by personal experiences that are plain terrible. Their basic flaw in these schools at all levels is that they do pay too much attention to consumer service -unlike the banks- in the sense that it's students who rule in those schools. If they don't like a teacher he simple gets fired, and it seems this problems is worst in the most arrogant of these junk colleges: Tec de Monterrey (ITESM). Examples:

Eduardo Sojo is an ITESM graduate and top government official. Around June 2005 he explained Mexico's situation to several international economists (such as Nobel Prize winner Lawrence Klein) with hats of different colors rather than using advanced statistics. Some journalist poked fun at his superficiality but these guys are really basic, even when Eduardo might hold a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. I gave them a class on thermodynamic one time and they wanted me to explain terms like energy with fancy drawings like fires, seriously. But they did clarify that it's the students who evaluate the professors and can dismiss him really quickly. No wonder ITESM perennially recruits professors. Next, their graduates take on manager positions in both a failed Mexican government, and in companies which are being wiped out by foreign competition.

All in all, the Mexican private companies and businesspeople cannot be looked up, despite the fact they consider themselves great. I do believe that the upper class in Mexico keeps this nation poor and expelling its population abroad, especially USA as everybody knows.

However, AO did show the many mistakes from the current Mexican presidency which is lead by affluent people, the same types as the bankers and graduated from private schools. So therefore, AO didn't focus in two important groups of the Mexican riches but rather on how they have governed Mexico now for first time in about 75 years. These people had complained bitterly about the government for all those years and in 2000 they finally took over the presidency...with disappointing results for Mexico.

Let's say that AO watched the forest rather than trees with good final analyses. Or perhaps he prefered to do the opposite and focused on a few topics from each country in order to explain bigger areas. His search reached a good level of insight while being easily readable at the same time. It was a nice reading for me.
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on April 15, 2006
Great Read!! Highly recommended to the not so well informed on latinamerica and the well informed as well. Must read for every latinamerican!!! As I read it, could not help and compare it to classics like El Manual del Perfecto Idiota by Vargas Llosa, Montaner, and Mendoza, Who Prospers? and Underdevelopment is a state of mind: A Latin American Case Study by Lawrence Harrison.

All in all, Andres Oppenheimer compares the political and especially economic policies of most Latin American countries(with the exception of Chile) with the policies of countries as diverse and far away as China, Ireland, Czech Republic, Poland, Botswana, Vietnam, South Korea, India and Chile(the lone latinamerican country according to Andres Oppenheimer that has gotten it right). It is here where Andres makes one of his very few mistakes. It is one made by ommission. He claims only Chile has gotten it right, which is not true. Small, tiny El Salvador has been doing the same thing for the last 8 or 9 years, with great results. As of today Chile and El Salvador enjoy the least risk to investors in Latinamerica according to Standard & Poors.

Nevertheless hes absolutely right in stating that the latinamerican left has remained in the past, thinking about revolution, social justice, big government, looking at its belly button instead of opening up to globalization. As a matter of fact this very word, GLOBALIZATION, is a curse word in most latin american countries. He also straight shoots against latin entrepreneurs who have joined the government to establish monopolies. Our entrepreneurs are allergic to competion.

The title and most of its content revolves around China and its free market revolution since the times of Deng Xiao Ping, which hits the nail right on its head because most latin american leftists(the majority) are under the delusion that China is an example of a communist revolution gone well. This book is going to shatter a great deal of myths all over latin america. In explaining why latin america has lagged behind, this is a TOP 5 book along the books mentioned above plus Fabricantes de Miseria also by Vargas Llosa, Montaner and Mendoza.

Aside from not mentioning El Salvador, Andres makes two other mistakes, which in no way undermine the stature and quality of the book. In my opinion in an attempt to see his book legitimized by the latinamerican left(could and hope Im wrong), he joins the "Blame America First" crowd. He lays blame on America for not helping latinamerica enough, and the Bush administration for prioritizing the war on terror instead of Aid for latinamerica. Andres forget that no country has aided latinamerica economically more than the US. He forgets about organizations like US AID, which is an example of aid around the world, he also forgets that most NGOs in latinamerica are in some way financed by the US government or US citizens. As for the Bush administration prioritizing Irak or Middle East over latin amrrica, well, it is perfectly understandable and everybody saw it coming after September 11. In my opinion blaming America for not helping latin america enough is dangerous and aids the side that is against chinese/czech/polish/chilean type economic reforms. It is(and Ive seen it first hand)exactly this what the left says. It is America to blame!! Lets hear what American Imperialism says and do the opposite!! The other mistake, Andres makes, is he shrugs cultural determinism as nonsense. Ive read a great deal of cultural determinist books, and they reach very similar conclusions reached by Andres in Cuentos Chinos. Andres himself states, that Chinese officials told him that one reason latinamerica is not developing as fast as it should is because we still believe in the Dependency Theory. Cultural determinist like Harrison for example, reached the same EXACT conclusion. The Dependency Theory(theory that claims rich countries have built their wealth at the expense of poor countries) is very well ingrained in our latinamerican psyche. You would not understand how many times fellow colleague teachers of mine have told my students that making money, seeking profit, and entrepreneurship are sinful. How many times Ive heard Catholic bishops and archbishops that all forms of material gain are wrong. Cultural determinist also reached the same conclusion Andres did, that things can change, culture can adapt. Nevertheless, this book is one of the best Ive read, since it tells us whats wrong in our side of the world and tells us what to do to solve these problems, as well as being extremely researched. This book will be a classic, and if your are a latin american you should buy it, read it and recommend others to do the same.
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on July 23, 2014
Excelente lectura! ampliamente recomendable. Me apenó haberlo leído hasta hoy casi 9 años despues de su publicación pero al mismo tiempo me permitió tener perspectiva de sus premoniciones las cuales son muy acertadas. Todos los capítulos muy interesantes sobre todo su empeño en hacer énfasis en la importancia de la educación. El único capítulo que me cansó fue el que habla de México y me hubiera gustado que abundara un poco mas en Centroamérica. Lo he recomendado mucho!!! y lo conocí a través del programa de WOBI donde tuve la oportunidad de conocer al autor.
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on December 28, 2014
Oppenheimer show a deep instinct to forecast. This book written 2007 certainly can not predict H.Chavez death in Venezuela or the arrive of Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. But since is an immersion in the ways, politics and attitudes in the soul of the America's actors, it remains as an excellent guide about how the history of the region is developing. I read this immediately after his 2014 book about innovation and creativity and next to 'Basta de historias' are fundamental to understand latin america an my country Mexico.
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on November 29, 2014
Don Andres Oppenheimer es uno de los poco periodistas que habla las cosas claras por su nombre sin rodeos y siempre buscando que las personas veamos mas allá de lo que dicen lo politiqueros de oficio, los gobernante que solo quieren un pueblo ignorante y mas allá de lo que nos muestran los medios... Una visión clara de como algunos personajes solo quieren caernos a "cuentos chinos"... Periodismo de investigación de alta calidad! No caigas en la trampa de mas cuentos chinos!! La información es Poder!
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on February 21, 2012
Aqui en Brasil, yo li este bueno libro. La portada del libro tiene una simpática caricatura de Chávez, Vicente Fox, Bush, Lula y Kirchner vestidos como cabaleros Jedis, como en el filme americaño Guerra en las Estrelas. El libro, dividido en diez capitulos e un curto epilogo. El mejor capitulo del libro es último capítulo: "América Latina en el siglo del conocimiento". Esto capitulo es acerca de la deficiente educación en Latinoamérica. Afuera el capitulo ocho, los mejores capitulos son:
* Capitulo un > El desafío asiático.
* Capitulo dos > China la Fiebre Capitalista.
* Capítulo tres> El milagro irlandés.
* Capitulo ses > Argentina: el país de los bandazos
* Capitulo nueve >México: el país que se quedó dormido.

Dos problemas nieste bueno libro. La fuerma es un libron con lietras mucho pequeñas e el capitulo site, sobre el Brasil es son regular.
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on September 11, 2007
Excelente libro! La sociedad latinoamerciana ha preferido seguir los líderes populistas que le ofrecen una vida "fácil". Bajo esta doctrina, los gobiernos ayudan a la gente mientras siga siendo pobre. No hay planes económicos concretos y cuando los llega a haber, cambian los gobiernos y a volver a empezar! Aquellos que llaman el libro neoliberal no se dan cuenta que la propuesta de Oppenheimer aplica a todos los modelos políticos, siempre y cuando la economía se enfoque en la competitividad. Ha entrevistado a muchos de los actores principales del desarrollo económico mundial. Muy buen trabajo de investigación y opinión.
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