Wednesday, September 30, 2015

cacique: political boss

I'm talking here of when cacique gets used outside of its traditional indigenous referent. I've used strongman for both this and for caudillo before, but thanks to colleague Nancy Viviana PiƱeiro for this great rendition. She also suggested political chief but political boss sounds much better to my gringo ear. Just chief I think could be easily misread as being indigenous, but then I suppose in Spanish some might also think that cacique meant an indigenous cacique.

I did notice that the wikipedia entry for political boss links to caudillo when you click for the English option on the lower left (always a good trick). I think cacique and caudillo both get used to mean this, in some contexts. I know they have different histories and etymologies, but I think they often get conflated in common use today. Or am I missing some subtle difference?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

vacuna: protection racket money

Ok, my summer blogging break is over! Of course I should be preparing my courses instead, but I'm motivated to post because I have been watching the new show Narcos about Pablo Escobar. It's crazy problematic that it completely elides how the creation of the paramilitaries was tied up in the story, or Escobar's ties to former president Uribe. It also fudges all sorts of historical details (Ivan was dead by the time the M-19 attacked the court, for example). BUT if you can stand Escobar's accent (the actor is Brazilian) it sure is full of good vocabulary, including this one.  They actually render it as just racket money, which I don't think is quite as clear. A trailer for the show is below: