Thursday, May 4, 2017

para nuestros muertos ni un minuto de silencio, toda una vida de lucha

On May Day the NY Times ran an article about Colombia with what I thought was mistranslation. It was an article about Julian Conrado, a FARC guerrilla famous for singing rebel songs.

In it they render a line from one of his songs as
"For our dead, not a minute of silence, a whole life of combat."

The version that I am much more familiar with is
"Para nuestros muertos ni un minuto de silencio, toda una vida de lucha." I have repeatedly rendered it as
"Not one minute of silence for our dead, but an entire lifetime of struggle!"

This is not only a line from a song, but is widely chanted at marches and events throughout Colombia, and by Colombians around the world. The vast majority of people who use this line are not guerrillas, but part of social movement struggles. They are not referring to guerrillas killed in combat, nor to continuing combat - but to people killed for their struggles for justice and peace, and to their commitment to continue that organizing work in their name.

So I thought that the original was lucha, and that to render lucha as combat here not only changed the meaning of the original slogan, but dangerously tarred a much broader movement with a guerrilla brush - a long standing tactic to delegitimize justice organizing in Colombia.

But then it turns out that his song lyrics do actually use the word combate, rather than lucha. I'm left wondering which version came first. I'm assuming that it was the lucha version, and that the FARC modified it. Does anyone know?
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