Tuesday, May 6, 2014

los Rastrojos: the undergrowth (not leftovers)

Caught a bad mistranslation in the New York Times today.  In an article about the latest twist in the Colombian election they say that Santos' campaign manager is accused of accepting bribes from "a criminal gang known as "Los Rastrojos," or The Leftovers."  Well let's start with the more serious misrepresentation.  Los rastrojos are not just any old criminal gang, but rather one of the two most vicious neo-paramilitaries to emerge in Colombia after the so called peace agreement, ie, restructuring, with the former paramilitaries (the other being the Urabeños).  So really, are a group that attacks unionists and others working for justice in Colombia, and that engages in what they hideously call 'social cleansing' of street kids and queer folks, going to call themselves the leftovers? Highly unlikely. 

A better translation, in the Colombian context, would be the weeds or the undergrowth.  In other countries the term gets used to mean the stubble left in the fields after harvest. 
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