Sunday, October 31, 2010

zona campesina

"small farmer reserve zone" - see the video below about this zone, one of various attempts in Colombia to create safe/peace spaces - also called humanitarian zones, peace laboratories, peace communities, communities for dignity and life, communities in resistance, and I'm sure other names that I've missed.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

plata o plomo

I recently watched this movie, and in it a DEA officer mangles this saying. His Spanish is so bad he says they were facing "plato o pluma"!! Talk about how accent can change meaning! Plate or pen. I'm still chuckling in horror about this. Dramatically less dire than bribe or bullet! If you want to be even clearer and aren't doing simultaneous, you could render this as 'take the bribe or take the bullet' - as Winifred Tate does in her fabulous book (2007, p. 49). This is a threat that was widely used on Colombian government officials by drug traffickers in the 80s.

Tate, W., 2007. Counting the Dead: The Culture and Politics of Human Rights Activism in Colombia, 1st ed. University of California Press.

Friday, October 15, 2010


It depends on the way the word is being used (ie, with what definition),
but it is usually NOT compromiso!! (a common and dangerous false cognate).

My friend Sarah Henken asked me to blog what I use for this. I like punto medio acordado (and when doing simultaneous after the first time I just use punto medio). There's also acuerdo mutuo. Any other suggestions?

Friday, October 8, 2010


lobby: hacer incidencia (cabildeo, lobby)

Last week John Pluecker commented on advocacy that Mexican human rights activists and lawyers were using the term "hacer incidencia" - but this is actually what I use for lobbying, as distinct from the broader term of advocacy. In Colombia I often hear the term lobby used in English, as in, 'toca hacer lobby.' I think the RAE would probably go for cabildeo, but this seems more formal and less widely understood to me than incidencia. Thoughts?