Thursday, April 17, 2014

asistencialismo: welfarism (but ...)

I've blogged asistencialismo before as charity, which works in some contexts and I think is clearer that welfarism, which is listed in many Sp-En dictionaries and sounds like it might be right, but the wikipedia definition of welfarism in English is something totally different than the wikipedia definition for asistencialismo. I noticed that Austin, in the fabulous article here about Bogotá, uses the Spanish version and then adds "(a pejorative neologism akin to “welfarism”)". What do folks think, does this work? Of course hard to add all that when you're doing simul - and I wonder if listeners would get that it's pejorative without that being pointed out? 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

yet another option for campesino

I have blogged repeatedly about the various options for translating the term campesino. Rural poor, which is one that does not get used often, jumped out at me in the article below, reposted from new matilda.

Whose Revolution Gets Televised?

While anti-government protests rage in Venezuela, across the border in Colombia a genuine uprising of the rural campesinos has gone almost unreported, writes Christian Tym
Not all revolutions are created equal. In fact, often the media elevates a protest movement to the status of a revolution, while a mass uprising of the poor and dispossessed receives no attention at all.

It all depends, naturally, on who the target of protest is. Neighbouring Latin American countries, Colombia and Venezuela, have both recently been in turmoil.

After five weeks of protests against Venezuela’s socialist President, Nicolás Maduro, the death toll in Venezuela has reached 30. The Guardian described the situation as one of “brutal repression” and supposed “free-fire zones.”

But just five of the 30 deaths occurred at the hands of state security forces, and only two of those were carried out by the National Guard, the forces under the direct command of the socialist federal government. Most of the violence has been carried out by armed radicals on either side of the political divide.
Despite this, the Venezuelan protests have received uncritical praise in the media. On 13 March, the SMH ran a feel-good profile of Juan Requesens, one of the student leaders. The Independent raised the prospect that the protests represented the seeds of “A Venezuelan Spring.”

Across the border in Colombia, an unreported uprising continues to simmer. On 17 March, in the capital Bogotá, campesino (rural poor) organisations announced a two-week deadline for the government to implement the agreements that resulted from protests in 2013.

“We are tired of the invisible gag put on us by our beloved country, which is now no longer our own,” said Óscar Salazar, spokesperson for the negotiating committee of campesino organisations.

The massive Colombian uprising of August-September 2013 was scarcely covered in the English-language media and its rumblings this year haven’t yet been mentioned.

On 12 August last year an estimated 250,000 campesinos went on strike and set up road blockades across the country. For weeks, the principal highways were blocked in the provinces surrounding the capital, Bogotá, and blockades were also set up around the major cities Cali and Medellín.

All transport with Ecuador to the south was blocked by barricades in the provinces of Cauca and Nariño. Indigenous Amazonians shut down Putumayo province in the far south and blockades in Barranquilla in the far north stopped commerce with Caribbean ports.

The central demand of the Colombian campesinos was for guarantees of fair prices for agricultural products and in particular, the cancellation of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with USA and the EU. The FTAs removed import tariffs but placed no restrictions on subsidies in rich countries, thereby allowing agribusiness to sell commodities in Colombia at obscenely low prices.
FTA provisions also included the compulsory registration of seeds nation-wide, a move that paves the way for US agribusiness to corner the market with patented seed varieties. In Huila, 70 tonnes of rice harvested from unregistered seeds was seized from campesinos and dumped — this in a country with a poverty rate of 32 per cent.

Following the initial blockades, the uprising became a lightning rod for dissent, spreading in urban areas to unions of teachers, health workers, students, transport sector workers and miners.

At the height of the uprising, on 29 August, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos militarised Bogotá and mobilised 50,000 troops across the country. During the month-long uprising, organisers say 19 people were killed by government security forces and over 600 were injured.

More ominously, the left-wing opposition has since suffered targeted attacks. Marcha Patriótica, a central protagonist of the uprising, has lost 29 of its organisers to assassinations since the 2013 uprising ended. Unlike in Venezuela, the protestors are receiving the full brunt of the violence.

Colombia’s campesinos are attempting to change a system of entrenched privilege. For example, the Minister of Agriculture, with whom campesino leaders are expected to negotiate, was until 2013 general manager of a company with some of the largest holdings of palm-oil and rubber plantations in the Colombian Amazon.

By contrast, the Venezuelan protests are backed primarily by the Chamber of Commerce and students of private universities. Over the past 15 years, the socialist government they are targeting has eroded entrenched privileges and given black and mixed-race Venezuelans a role in deciding the future of their country.

The English-language press rarely tells this story of Venezuela, instead painting a picture of economic collapse with no mention of the dramatic reduction in poverty and the establishment of universal education and healthcare.
By contrast, the Colombian uprising, still far from over, presents a systematic alternative to the pro-corporate policies being forced onto vast stretches of the planet via Washington’s Trans-Pacific Partnership and its Latin American correlate, the Alliance of the Pacific.

“It should be the people and communities who order territory and lay out the different ways to make use of it,” agreed campesino organisations at the national summit on 17 March. They call for “the exercise of sovereignty” in place of the dictates of the international market.

Comparing Colombia and Venezuela shows whose side our major media outlets are on. We need to be careful whose revolution we are cheerleading.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

degrowth: decrecimiento

thanks to @dualectico on twitter for pointing me to this great explanation of it en un minutico

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

affirmative action: afirmación positiva (Col)

Acción afirmativa does get used in Colombia, but afirmación positiva is much more common.  It has much higher googlage along with the word Colombia - though I wonder if some of that is people talking about saying nice things to yourself (ie, positive affirmations), but it IS the term that government agencies use for what we would call affirmative action in the US. I think in other countries discriminación positiva might be the more commonly used term.  Thoughts?

Friday, March 7, 2014

trueque: barter

What goods and services do you/ could you barter in your community?

Que vivan las economias alternativas!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

buycott: anti-boicoteo

This neologism seems to get used in two ways in English, but I think anti-boycott is probably the most common. 

The wikipedia entry USED to say: It has many names: “buycotting,” ethical consumerism, moral economics, latte activism, critical consumption. Whatever you call it, buying is getting ever more political across the affluent world. A car is no longer just a car, nor a cup of coffee just a cup of coffee. In the age of hybrids and fair trade, the mall is a forum to express convictions and hopes.

but NOW it says:

An anti-boycott or buycott is the excess buying of a particular brand or product in an attempt to counter a boycott of the same brand or product. It is also sometimes, incorrectly referred to as a "counter-boycott" (which, by the definition of "counter" would actually be the boycotting of another product/brand in response to a boycott).
The usual reason for an anti-boycott is to prevent a company or entity from backing down on the decision that initially caused the boycott.
Some examples of recent anti-boycotts include:
And, of course, now there is a buycott app, which actually seems to use the first broader definition. If you were talking about the app you could also try my absolutely made up neologism of compracoteo, which has 0 googlage and is unlikely to be understood! :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Quaker terminology Sp<>En glossary

I imagine very few if any of you would ever have reason to use this, but as a Quaker I'm proud that this glossary exists (thanks to Pablo Stanfield for the link).

As we put it, I am holding in the light Pablo and the other interpreters serving right now in Chalatenango, El Salvador, at the Let the Living Waters Flow meetings of the Friends World Committee for Consultation (Comité Mundial de Consulta de Los Amigos).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

how to self-train to do simultaneous interpreting

In this video Andrew Cliff presents several ways you can practice and improve your simul skills. 

Thanks to cross-cultural communication for highlighting this video in their fabulous intersect newsletter, which I can't recommend enough.

Friday, February 7, 2014

changes in activist terminology

art by Rini Templeton

English language activist terminology has changed significantly in the course of my lifetime, and even more so since the 60s.

This fabulous blog post looks at changes in some key terms, and how those reflect broader changes in the ways we struggle for social change.  It's well worth a read.

I'm left wondering how to distinguish, in Spanish, the difference between the term the people and the term folks.  Would gente work for folks? And what are, um, folks using for check your privilege?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

vivir bonito: living nicely

Nicaraguan politics today is just so bizarre.  I just read this fabulous portrayal of how surreal it all is, which I highly recommend.  In it Julie recounts that the current FSLN (a strange mockery of its former self) promotes 'vivir bonito' and rather than rendering it literally as living pretty, she renders it as living nicely.  I think this works well, since presumably they are not getting at living with more makeup, but living with more collective well-being.  Though really, I'm note entirely sure what they're getting at and how it's different than the much more common term 'vivir bien' widely used in the left in South America, which I've blogged about before.  It seems likely that Daniel Ortega just wanted to distinguish himself from Evo Morales and have his own version of the concept - but maybe there's more to it? Thoughts?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

injerencia politica: political meddling

I like this rendition, used in the important nacla article below, forwarded to me by mining watch and well worth a read.

(and note, I corrected last weeks entry - it turns out secuestro express is a broader term and does not mean ATMs are involved) 

Close the NGOs: Asserting Sovereignty or Eroding Democracy?
Bret Gustafson
Extractives in Latin America
December 31, 2013

In past weeks, the governments of Ecuador and Bolivia moved to shut down or expel major NGOs (non-government organizations) that work on issues of the environment, extractivism, and indigenous rights. In Ecuador, the Ministry of Environment dissolved the Fundación Pachamama (Pachamama Foundation) after accusing it of anti-government activities. Despite the NGO’s own denials, President Rafael Correa alleged that the organization was involved in protests against the latest round of bidding for oil concessions in the Amazon. Shortly thereafter, the Interior Ministry’s Twitter feedannounced tersely, amidst reports of drug busts and other police actions, that it was moving to close the NGO for “aggressions” against public order.

Fundación Pachamama works with indigenous organizations contending with oil development. It derives significant support from the U.S.-based Pachamama Alliance, which is in turn funded primarily by American (non-governmental) donors. When Ecuador’s government deemed the group’s opposition to oil bidding an action against “internal state security” and “public peace,” it treated the NGO like a criminal, sending a signal to environmental activists about limits on opposition to extraction. Yet the Correa government maintains that their dissolving of the organization is an assertion of sovereignty against the political meddling of foreign-backed organizations. (Incidentally, seeNaomi Klein's open letter to Correafollowing the threatened closure of another NGO, Acción Ecológica, in 2009).

A few weeks after Ecuador’s closing of Fundación Pachamama, the Ministry of the Presidency in Bolivia announced theexpulsion of the organization IBIS, a kind of parastatal NGO supported primarily by DANIDA (Denmark’s government foreign development agency). IBIS has long worked with indigenous organizations in Bolivia, supporting land reform, bilingual education, and the right of “prior consultation.” The MAS government accused IBIS of injerencia política (political meddling), though it published no allegations of specific actions. It appears that the government was punishing the NGO for having weighed in on the side of CONAMAQ (an Andean Indigenous organization) and CIDOB (an organization of Eastern Bolivian Indigenous Peoples) in recent conflicts with the state. For the MAS government, these critiques of state policy seem to have gone too far.

Are the governments of Ecuador and Bolivia simply establishing limits for foreign entities, and thus reasonably asserting sovereignty against foreign intervention? Or, is this a deleterious move against social movements and democracy through an attack on their bases of foreign support? 

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The NGO (non-government organization) is a flexible entity whose existence has been central in the rapidly transforming politics of extractivism and social movements in Latin America. Almost invariably, where there is mobilization around land and nature, there are NGOs. NGOs provide legal expertise for leaders and resources to bring communities together; they facilitate engagement between movements and outsiders, whether scholars, solidarity activists, industries, or the general public; the best NGOs disseminate news, information, and research, all part of complex political practices that go beyond their ostensibly ‘development-oriented’ origins. In an emblematic case, indigenous and human rights NGOs in Bolivia, many backed by European progressives, played a crucial role in supporting the rise of Evo Morales and the MAS.

Even so, just as government dependence on foreign capital can erode national sovereignty, movement dependence on foreign aid can weaken the political legitimacy of a movement, raising important critiques around foreign intervention. From a structural level, even progressive NGOs have goals of institutional survival that may undermine local movements. Other NGOs, more frequently in the model of the think-tank, are fronts for conservative ideologies, operating much like U.S. non-profits. When they receive support from American entities like USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) or the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), NGOs particularly in Ecuador and Bolivia face critiques of complicity in foreign intervention, given the U.S. government’s broader intentions to weaken Correa and Morales.

These, at least, are the reasons Bolivia’s MAS gave for the expulsion of USAID from Bolivia earlier this year, and they likely underlie USAID’s announced withdrawal from Ecuador. Whether IBIS and Fundación Pachamama are shown to have played some interventionist role remains to be seen. While Fundación Pachamama is tied closely to the United States and has been involved in large-scale projects in whichUSAID also participated, so have virtually every other NGO and indigenous organization, as well as many state and private entities. According to its director, Fundación Pachamama has never been funded byUSAID. The expulsion seems to be a warning that comes on the heels of “Executive Decree 16,” a law passed in June of 2013 that set new rules for civil society organizations and social movements. Fundación Pachamama is appealing the decision in the courts.

In the case of IBIS, the Danish-funded organization has an almost three-decade history of what by all accounts is popular solidarity; Denmark is not known for imperialist meddling. IBIS did take a strange turn when it embarked on an experiment to train locals in high-end Andean gastronomy with a Danish cook in La Paz. Yet IBIS’ proximate sin may be its strong stance on free and informed prior consultation. In Denmark, where the public and the government have long advocated for indigenous rights, there is still surprise and general confusion about this announced expulsion. As noted by Bolivian Indigenous leader Fernando Vargas, it is paradoxical that Evo (and for his part, Rafael Correa) were products of NGOs themselves. In a public statement on December 24, Vargas said: “The NGOs took Evo Morales into power…now he’s throwing them out…because he does not want anyone to aid us technically, to orient us, so that [now] we thus have to subordinate ourselves to the Government.” Adding salt to the wound, the MAS government is celebrating the environmentally noxious spectacle of the Dakar Rally, with its motorcycles and racecars that will roar through the high Bolivian Andes in mid-January.

Activists and movements might use the expulsion of Fundación Pachamama as an opportunity to reflect on the limits of foreign dependence, potentially hindering the strengthening of cross-movement political ties with other sectors of Ecuadoran and Bolivian society. Conservative observers will relish this chance to criticize Bolivia and Ecuador. For different reasons, the state of NGO activity is less stable in countries likeHonduras and Colombia, both under U.S. tutelage, where activists are routinely murdered for their support of human and community rights. Bolivia and Ecuador, comparatively, are safer places for NGO work. In the United States itself, the situation carries its own nuances: while our government would surely move quickly to restrict foreign aid for Native American opposition to extractivism, many American citizens currently face repression of their activism because of their opposition to fossil fuels.

Invoking the notion of sovereign control over foreign NGOs on which movements depend, the governments of Ecuador and Bolivia enact a double standard: they exercise ‘sovereignty’ in order to guarantee privileges to other foreign entities upon which they themselves are dependent—namely, foreign oil and gas industries. Often through executive decree, these governments are rewriting the law to appease the contractual terms and time frames of exploration, drilling, and commercialization demanded by foreign companies. The crackdowns undermine citizen rights in favor of industry rights: once the state deems extraction inevitable and legal, it can brand even moderate citizen opposition as outside the law. Whether this happens under right-leaning or left-leaning governments in the Americas—or in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, or the tar sands fields—is immaterial. As Timothy Mitchell argues in Carbon Democracy, a government dependent on a narrow-based fossil fuel economy tends to rely on narrow-based legal and political orders—in other words, the erosion of democracy.

Bret Gustafson teaches anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Among other concerns, he studies the politics of energy and redistribution in Latin America, with a particular focus on Bolivia, Brazil, and natural gas. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

paseo millonario (Col): express kidnapping

In other countries in Latin America this actually gets called secuestro express in Spanish. I don't think
paseo millonario would be widely understood outside of Colombia.  For those lucky enough not to know what this is and worry about it, it's when you get held for several hours and forced to take money out of cash machines several times.  People are often held until the next day so they can take money out again.  This is why folks are paranoid about writing down the license plates of taxis.

Glad not to be worrying about this one at the moment.  I'm at the opposite extreme of Bogotá really - holed up in a cabin in the woods of Northern Michigan, surrounded by snow.

update: Thanks to Andy for a correction on this one - it turns out secuestro express is a broader term and does not necessarily involve ATMs, but could.  I still think it's your best choice when going in this direction, but you could add the ATM's bit if you weren't doing simul. Ojo, there's even a Venezuelan movie called Secuestro Express! no ATMs involved.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

tips for breaking in to interpreting

congrats to cross-cultural communications on their fabulous new community interpreter site!

I am particularly impressed by the fabulous weekly interpreTIPS videos - if you are new to or looking to break in to interpreting check out the one below

Thursday, December 19, 2013

guapa: strong woman (Colombia, colloquial)

I got alot of "que guapa"s recently for carrying around a heavy backpack in Cali.   Just goes to show words don't always mean what you think they mean!

Hoping to be guapa with my suitcases again tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

tocaya: name sister

tocayo: name brother

Rather than call another Sara by her name, in Spanish I would often call her tocaya.

Since this concept doesn't exist in the Anglophone world, these terms don't really exist in English -  I made them up! But I've been using these terms for years and people seem to understand them.

I'm grateful to have so many fabulous tocaya compas.  Las quiero mujeres! Thanks for all your sistership.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

global care chains: cadenas globales de cuidados

Sometimes this is rendered as cuidado, but I like the plural version, since these chains involve so many forms of caring.  The s could also refer to how the caring happens daily. 

To quote the gender wiki:

"The term ‘global care chain’ was first used by Arlie Hochschild to refer to “a series of personal links between people across the globe based on the paid or unpaid work of caring”.[1]  This concept rephrases an earlier idea introduced by Rhacel Salazar Parrenas, which she called the international division of reproductive labor or the international transfer of caretaking.[2] [3] Hochschild first came across this idea when she read the dissertation of Parrenas, as she had been a member of her dissertation committee at UC Berkeley. [3]
In this pioneering work, a global care chain was seen to typically involve: “An older daughter from a poor family who cares for her siblings while her mother works as a nanny caring for the children of a migrating nanny who, in turn, cares for the child of a family in a rich country.” [1]

Monday, November 25, 2013

botín de guerra: war trophy

this is a repeat post, because I saw this term mistranslated several different ways today (including war bounty!) in tweets honoring today as international day against violence against women.  (by the way, I also learned today that the reason we focus on this on Nov. 25th of all days is because it was the day that the Mirabel sisters were killed in the DR in 1960.  It was proclaimed as a day of action by activists in '81 and recognized by the UN in '99).

botín de guerra: war trophy

"El cuerpo de la mujer no es botín de guerra" is a slogan of the Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres in Colombia. This photo is from their mobilization in Nov. 07 where they shut down the border between Colombia and Ecuador to highlight how many women are being forced to flee their homes and cross that border, and how war particularly affects women.

When I first heard this slogan the term that came to me in the moment was war booty, which not only sounds like pirates, but makes you think of women's butts! Clearly one to avoid. So my next thought was spoils of war, but that is a much higher register in English and sounds ridiculous in a chant. Women's bodies are not war trophies, now that seems to do it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

plantón: protest camp (Mex), demonstration (Col)

In Mexico a plantón is a somewhat long term encampment, a protest camp occupy style. The Mexican teachers union (the largest union in the Americas) annually during contract negotiations does a plantón in the main plaza in Mexico city, and this year they were violently ousted by riot camps.

Thanks to my colleague Eric for pointing out to me that in Colombia the word is used quite differently, to refer simply to a short demonstration, often in front of a building.  Today a plantón in miniskirts is being held in front of the restaurant Andrés Carne de Res to protest rape culture and the comments by the owner that the young woman raped in his parking lot asked for it.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

sitdown strike: huelga de brazos cruzados (o brazos caidos)

according to wikipedia, "A sit-down strike is a form of civil disobedience in which an organized group of workers, usually employed at a factory or other centralized location, take possession of the workplace by "sitting down" at their stations, effectively preventing their employers from replacing them with strikebreakers or, in some cases, moving production to other locations."

(thanks to Jorge Lawton for the cruzados version, not sure exactly how it varies by country but both should be understandable)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

vias de hecho (Col): nonviolent direct action

Many thanks to my fab compas Kath and Fiona who have had extended conversations with me about this.  The term is often used to refer to blockades/barricades in particular, but is also more widely used to refer to reclaiming land, etc.. 

It seems to mean different things outside of Colombia, so I'd be curious to hear - does this term get used in this way much in movement circles outside of Colombia?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

transversalizar: mainstream

As in, vamos a transversalizar género en esta conferencia - so as opposed to having break out sessions just on gender it's going to be discussed in all sessions (in theory).  In other contexts temas transversales I also render as croscutting themes. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

workshop at wayside on interpretation for social justice

Wayside (in Virginia) is doing another training led by fabulous colleagues of mine from October 25 - 27th.  It's aimed at bilingual activists who want to break into doing interpreting for the movement. Please please, if you know folks who would be a good fit, tell them about it.  Fee is on a sliding scale. 
bilingual social justice activists and workers who would like to learn more about interpreting and translating in a social justice context to empower immigrant communities and build alliances across communities. - See more at:
bilingual social justice activists and workers who would like to learn more about interpreting and translating in a social justice context to empower immigrant communities and build alliances across communities. - See more at:

Monday, September 23, 2013

volunteer terps needed to shut down the US army's School of the Americas!

I am yet again helping to organize the interpreting at the vigil to close the School of the Americas - a US army training camp for Latin American military officers. This protest is the longest ongoing protest against US empire happening in the United States.  It is also the longest ongoing act of civil disobedience.  But no CD required to participate! You can be an essential part of it all by helping us interpret.  It really is an amazing experience and a great way to be at the heart of a deeply inspiring weekend, where folks gather from across the US and the Americas and share experience and analysis. 

We're looking for volunteers with professional experience who are comfortable doing simul with equipment in a conference setting.  We cover the hotel and have a travel fund.  We pay you with boundless gratitude and appreciation from the crowd. 

The vigil is Nov 22 - 24 in Columbus Georgia - but you could come for just one or two of those days.  It's the 23rd that we most need folks.  If you can't come but know someone who might, please spread the word!  We're especially looking for folks who live in the South and don't have to travel so so far to get there.

If you're interested or have questions please be in touch.  I'm at sara (dot) koopman (at) gmail (dot) com