Friday, November 30, 2007


sororidad: sisterhood

Certainly not sorority! Maybe there are some feminist sororities out there, but they tend not to be. This term seems to be more and more frequently used by feminists across Latin America, including the Ruta Pacifica that I went on the amazing mobilization with last week. Over 5,000 women shut down the Colombian-Ecuadoran border for an hour and a half! Very thankfully, there was no repression after all. My pictures of it are here.

(hermandad of course could mean both brotherhood and sisterhood, but tends to mean brotherhood, thus the turn to the term sororidad).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

hit the streets

hit the streets: quemar pavimento

This is the first year in many many that I'm not hitting the streets on this weekend to close the School of the Americas. Many thanks and saludos to my fantastic interpreter compas who are there in my place. News, photos and videos of the vigil are up at a the SOA Watch site. This is the largest ongoing protest against U.S. imperialism happening inside the U.S., and the largest ongoing act of civil disobedience in the United States. As far as I know we are the only large outdoor protest in the US to have the entire event interpreted simultaneously into Spanish. I'm very proud to be part of organizing the vigil with the interpretation and translation working group.

I am missing the SOA vigil this year because I'm going to be quemando pavimento in a few days with the Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres, who are caravaning from all across Colombia to the border with Ecuador. Some buses are leaving today, we'll leave Bogota on Wed the 21st, and we'll all meet for a march to the border on Friday the 23rd. Ecuadoran women are marching from the other side to meet us. The march is timed around the international day against violence against women, the 25th. The violence in the border region has gone from bad to worse and streams of Colombians have been displaced into Ecuador. The mobilization is focusing on violence against women on both sides of the border, and how militarism leads to various forms of violence (including hunger, rape, displacement, forced prostitution, domestic violence, child abuse, etc). The Ruta has always emphasized that women are the most affected by war, and the best placed to make peace. They reworks the dynamics of war with poetry, and their peace rituals are beautifully symbolic, visual and theatrical. They will march as women in black, woven together with orange ties of resistance. Photos to come. There is some real chance, ironically, that the march will face a violent response, so please hold us in the light next Friday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Spanglish: InglaƱol

Why do we always just leave it as Spanglish? English hegemony just maybe? The googlage difference between these two terms is stunning.

Friday, November 9, 2007

campesino (redux)

campesino: family farmer (campesino)

In my previous entry for campesino I argued for importing, and keeping it as campesino. I still think that in a lot of movement contexts this is best, but in the recent Witness for Peace newsletter (not yet online) I noticed that they used "family farmer". I like this much better than the "small farmer" I gave as the other option to campesino. Obviously "family farmer" has different emotional weight in the U.S. than campesino, and I think it's a wise move for drawing connections and making a political impact. Of course the life of a family farmer in the US is quite different than that of a Colombian campesino, but both are being squeezed out by corporate agribusiness and "free" trade agreements.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


observatorio: watch

Observatorio de racismo, observatorio de genero y justicia, observatorio de inmigracion ... there are tons of them here in Colombia, and all over Latin America and Spain. I've seen this translated into English as observatory, but it seems like a false cognate to me. We don't normally use that term for anything like that in English. We do however have several similar organizations that use the term watch, most notably the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and Amazon Watch (both of which I interpret or translate for). I think the connotation in Spanish is a bit more academic, that is to say that a lot of the observatorios are associated with universities - but observatorios certainly do plenty of lobbying as well, based on the documentation work at the heart of these organizations, both North and South.

Thanks to Andrea for helping me think this through, and my compas on the SOAW interpretation working group. Ojo que some SOA activists have used observadores, but I've been lobbying for observatorio. Not only is it the closer equivalent, but observadores y observadoras de la escuela de las americas is a mouthful.