Saturday, July 25, 2009


piquetero: piquetero (member of the Argentinian unemployed workers movement)

Hoy el wiki lo define asi: Los piqueteros son activistas, que pertenecen al movimiento social iniciado por trabajadores desocupados en la Argentina a mediados de la década del '90, poco antes de que la crisis económica provocada por la desindustrialización y reducción de las exportaciones argentinas estallara en 1998, dando lugar a un período de grave recesión que llevaría al gobierno de Fernando de la Rúa a un fin anticipado.

Nacidos como una agrupación ad hoc formada para canalizar la protesta contra los despidos de trabajadores en la empresa del Estado Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF, luego absorbida en el conglomerado internacional Repsol YPF) en la provincia argentina de Neuquén, los cortes de ruta ("piquetes") realizados como medio de protesta dieron su nombre a los numerosos movimientos de desempleados que se han institucionalizado progresivamente, formando la contrapartida obrera a los cacerolazos empleados por la clase media-alta para expresar su descontento con la acción gubernamental.

Y el wiki en ingles dice:

A piquetero is a member of a political faction whose primary modus operandi is based in the piquete. The piquete is an action by which a group of people blocks a road or street with the purpose of demonstrating and calling attention over a particular issue or demand. The trend was initiated in Argentina in the mid-1990's, during the Administration of President Carlos Menem, soon becoming a frequent form of protest in other parts of the country. Seventy percent of the piqueteros are women [1].

The word piquetero is a neologism in the Spanish of Argentina. It comes from piquete (in English, "picket"), that is, a standing blockade and/or demonstration of protest in a significant spot.


As I've argued before, it can be useful and interesting to compare the two versions of wikipedia. I actually think that picket is a false cognate here in English. Most pickets in North America do not block streets, which is the whole point of a piquete. I would use barricade or road block. I do agree that it's worth importing piquetero into English as a neologism, but I do think that for most audiences the first time you use it you need to describe it, as above.

Ojo que a piquete in Argentina is not only or necessarily done by piqueteros, but can be done by students, etc. To make things more confusing, as I understand it piqueteros also do marches and other forms of protest that aren't always just road blocks.

Monday, July 20, 2009

bloqueo/ barricada

blockade - bloqueo (In Mexico sometimes tope de carretera - can also be piquete in Argentina - see note below)

Barricade; road block - barricada

Any other local terms for these out there? What do they use in Bolivia for example?

(see and add to great comments for more)

So Hondurans are not only on strike to bring down the coup, but they've ramped it up with a blockade of Tegucigalpa. It's crazy inspiring. Check out the great coverage by narconews here and here. As Al Giordiano points out, there are only four routes in and out of Tegucigalpa.

According to today's wikipedia, A blockade is an effort to cut off the communications of a particular area by force. It is distinct from a siegein that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. Also, a blockade historically took place at sea, with the blockading power seeking to cut off all maritime transport from and to the blockaded country. Stopping all land transport to and from an area may also be considered a blockade. Blockades are often partial, with the object of denying the other side its major form of communication or access to key resources.

And wiki says that A barricade is any object or structure that creates a barrier or obstacle to control, block passage or force the flow of traffic in the desired direction. Adopted as a military term, a barricade denotes any improvised field fortification, most notably on the city streets during urban warfare.

Barricades featured heavily in the various European revolutions of the late 18th to early 20th centuries. The very first barricades in the streets of Paris, a feature of the French Revolution and urban rebellions ever since, went up on the Day of the Barricades, 12 May 1588, when an organized rebellion of Parisians forced Henri III from Paris, leaving it in the hands of the Catholic League. Wagons, timbers and hogsheads (barriques) were chained together to impede the movements of Swiss Guards and other forces loyal to the king. ... A major aim of Haussmann's renovation of Paris under Napoléon III was to eliminate the potential of citizens to build barricades by widening streets into avenues too wide for barricades to block. Such terms as "go to the barricades" or "standing at the barricades" are used in various languages, especially in rousing songs of various radical movements, as metaphors for starting and participating in a revolution or civil war, even when no physical barricades are used.

the English wiki entry says nothing about the recent use of barricades in Oaxaca, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru or, now, Honduras. Anyone want to work on that?

La version del wiki en español tampoco, pues dice

Una barricada es un parapeto improvisado que se hace con barricas, carruajes volcados, palos, piedras, etc. Sirve para estorbar el paso al enemigo y es de más uso en las revueltas populares que en el arte militar. Despues habla de su uso en Francia y España.

Thanks to my friend Jill for the Mexico terminology. If you haven't seen her movie Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad - do! It has great footage of the barricades in Oaxaca, and check out the fab “son de la barricada” in the soundrack.

Oh, and piquete - well, it's complicated because it refers to both a tactic and a particular movement. I'll make it a separate entry, soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Unlike translation, interpretation is a performance art. You have to practice your scales - but then when you're on, it's not about mere replication. Like performing music, it helps to have magic. It also helps to have had sleep, to not be stressed out, to have good working conditions, to not be interpreting for hours on end ... it's harder for the magic to flow when you're tight! Sadly, social movement interpreting rarely makes space for this kind of magic. Lets change that!

Monday, July 6, 2009

la tierra es de quien la trabaja

I am such a geek that sometimes while watching subtitled movies I write down translations I either like or don't. I recently sat through all 4 hours of the movie Che and wrote down a bunch.

por las nubes - through the roof (in reference to mortalidad infantil)
desmontar - clear the land
concéntrate - stay focused
romper monte - bushwhack (not what they used in the movie, but I would)
que te vaya bien - have a good trip?! (what they used in the movie, bit bizarre)
pendejo - moron (well, I've heard many versions, but in some instances this would be just right)
mocoso - snot faced kid
contrareplica - rebuttal
dale candela - torch it
temerario - reckless
proclamar - cry (as in, patria o muerte)
cual es la postura de la organizacion - where does the org stand
su puño y letra - his hand and word ?! (what they used, sounds awful - his words in his handwriting I'd say)
la tierra es de quien la trabaja - the owner of the land is the one who works it (what they said, and wow does it sound awful. how about the land belongs to those who work it!)