Saturday, July 28, 2018

asistencialismo: clientelism

I have blogged asistencialismo twice before - it's a term that is difficult to convey in English but this gets much closer than my previous versions if we go with the google definition of clientelism as "a social order that depends upon relations of patronage; in particular, a political approach that emphasizes or exploits such relations".

I came across this rendition in the NACLA article Nicaragua: A view from the left, which I recommend!

note: after I posted this my colleague Eric Schwartz wrote to say, "I think the other entries you had before are closer. A re-working with "charity" seems like the best bet to me.
But clientelism doesn't seem right. Asistencialismo can be part of clientelismo, but not necessarily. It could just be broader State policy to meet immediate demands and demobilize people in the process, without necessarily feeding into a patronage system." 
I still think my handout-ism option is clunky, but maybe charityism would be understood? 

Monday, July 23, 2018


There have been two radio pieces lately, this one in English, this one in Spanish, about the struggle to get this racist character in blackface (el soldado Micolta, in the photo here) off the air in Colombia. Yes, in 2018.

The Spanish piece kept the term blackface in English, and it seems there is truly no commonly used equivalent in Colombian Spanish. Is there in any other Latin American country? Anyone know? Is 'caranegra' or 'caranegra falsa' used anywhere?

Monday, July 9, 2018

velatón: candlethon (wave of candlelight vigils)

Velatón is a neologism in Spanish, recently used for an event held on July 8th, 2018 in over 100 cities across the world and across Colombia that was essentially a rolling wave of candlelight vigils to call for an end to the wave of assasinations of social leaders in Colombia.

The implementation of the peace accord in Colombia has been seriously crippled in various ways - but one of the most serious is these murders of leaders, almost all of whom were members of their local Junta de Acción Comunal and organizing to support the return of land that was stolen during the war.  This puts organizing in those communities back years, as of course others are then afraid to step up.

We need increased and continued international pressure to stop these attacks. Please keep your eye on this and keep spreading the word about it, perhaps by sharing this new word. To honor this organizing, and the creative neologism in Spanish, I suggest creating a parallel neologism in English: candlethon.

Note: I thought that this word was created for this event but I was wrong. Thanks to my tocaya Sara Tufano on twitter (who does great work there for peace and I recommend following @SaraTufanoz) quien cuenta que "Ya había sido usado en Chile, por ejemplo, en memoria de los estudiantes asesinados en la marcha en Valparaíso. Hubo velatón también por el caso de los 43 estudiantes mexicanos asesinados."