Friday, December 23, 2022

acumular fuerzas: build the base

As in build the number of people active in the organization, the grassroots base. 

I got this great translation in a lovely email describing 'acumular fuerzas' as one of the urgent priorities for stopping Bukele's neodictatorship in El Salvador. The letter was from CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. My first paid organizer gig was with CISPES a zillion years ago and they taught me so much about solidarity, I'm grateful and proud to be a monthly sustainer now. 

I know what a difference having a steady income flow makes for grassroots groups so this is a plug for those of you making year end donations - consider instead upping the total a bit but breaking it up and making it an automatic monthly sustainer pledge on your credit card. It will be easier on your budget and much better for theirs.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

dar la cara

Dar la cara, in Colombia at least, carries the double meaning of both face the music (acknowledging responsibility) and press the flesh (physical presence). I don't know of any way to convey both meanings in English - do you? I appreciated the discussion of the meanings of this term and how the Colombian state does and doesn't dar la cara in this episode (particularly around minute 55 and on) of the podcast Colombia calling, with Gwen Burnyeat and Andrei Gomez-Suarez discussing Gwen's new book
"The Face of Peace: Government Pedagogy amid Disinformation in Colombia."

Saturday, November 5, 2022

raspachin: coca picker

I was reminded of this term by this spectacular long read analysis in the New Left Review by Forrest Hylton and Aaron Taus of the current Colombian conjuncture, placed in the long arc of Colombian political history. I can not recommend this article enough. If you are looking for a good recent Colombia 101 piece to give someone (say students) this is a great option. Fair warning, it took me an hour and forty five minutes to read - but they were well spent!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

hackles up: erizado

To get your/their hackles up refers metaphorically to the literal act many mammals do when threatened, of raising their shoulders to protect their neck. On dogs it's particularly clear, as their hairs there stand up. I understand it to refer to how we can automatically puff up to defend ourselves,
without it being a thought out response. Gracias a Diana Ojeda for this fabulous suggestion of a Spanish equivalent. Nos erizamos, we get spiny like a sea urchin.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

desaliñado/a (noun): Scruffy, disheveled.

Or gender neutral: desaliñade. Not exactly a social change related term - other than that social change folks may tend to be (though certainly not the folks in this picture). Also not sure if this use if particular to Colombia? I was reminded of this term, and given the translation, by the great compas at Pirate Wire Services, which I highly recommend. Check out their inspiring story this week on a gang truce in Colombia (that the picture is from) and subscribe! You can subscribe for free though donations help them keep doing this good work.  

Sunday, September 18, 2022

a skill share: una circulación de saberes

Yesterday I participated in Reeds and Roots, a very sweet earth skills skillshare event. Here we're learning about composting using the bokashi method, which I'm excited to try. I also learned a ton about the latest soil science. The way bacteria communicate and move around in the soil blows my mind. It all left me feeling really hopeful. There's so much we can teach each other in spaces like these.

Monday, July 25, 2022

hacer una denuncia: issue a public condemnation (or ...)

hacer una denuncia: issue a public condemnation (or ...)

Depending on the context sometimes 'file a complaint' will be a better fit. Sometimes you can just use denunciation (it has surprisingly high googlage actually) but I think public condemnation will be more clearly and widely understood.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

vivir sabroso: living deliciously

I suppose this could also be deliciously alive, but vivir sabroso is clearly a play on vivir bien - and since that is living well it makes more sense to me to keep the same structure. Note that this is quite different than vivir bonito. For those who haven't been following the Colombian election campaign, vivir sabroso is a tag line being used by the historic pact on the left. Here's a ton of energy and excitement for real change this Sunday! And a goofy fun short video to set the mood. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

terrajero: tenant farmer

 This term is used in Colombia. Is it is also used in other countries? If you've heard it elsewhere please say so in the comments. I saw this translation in this NACLA article about the inspiring resistance of the Misak: Indigenous Community Confronts a Colombian Paper Giant. 

They are “reclaiming the territory to reclaim everything.” Indeed.

Friday, April 22, 2022

grassroots diplomacy: diplomacia desde abajo

I usually render grassroots as popular (and vice versa), but sometimes as 'de base.' I've posted before about trabajo de base, and organización de base. An exception is comunidad de base (in the liberation theology tradition), where instead of grassroots I would use organized community. For grassroots diplomacy (people to people work, like delegations and exchanges) you could use de base too, but I heard this desde abajo rendition from Maguemati Wabgou and I love it. He used it on a panel entitled Geografías afrodescendientes y diálogos con las Áfricas which was part of the section Diálogos improbables: movilidades y disputas de saberes en el Segundo Encuentro Latinoamericano de Movimientos Socioespaciales y Socioterritoriales. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

bollard: bolardo

Perhaps not normally a social justice term, but back in 2016 there was an explosion of bollards in Bogota, which was seen by many as a misuse of city funds by the mayor to cover up other scandals. They even put in bollards to protect other bollards, such as those in this photo (thanks to @ContraGodarria on twitter for the pic).

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Plan Lazo: the Snare Plan

I have always seen plan lazo imported into English in discussion of Colombian history and politics, so I was surprised by this rendition in this recent very mainstream timeline of US-Colombia relations published by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). 

Plan Lazo is widely written about as establishing paramilitaries. Note how the CFR reframes this in the following text:

Plan Lazo Creates Counterinsurgency Blueprint

In response to the persistence of armed guerrilla groups in the countryside, U.S. military advisors, led by General William P. Yarborough, work with the Colombian army to develop a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy known as Plan Lazo (the Snare Plan). The plan centers on public works projects, civilian defense networks, and an aggressive military assault on “independent republics” formed by communist insurgents during La Violencia. Plan Lazo becomes the template for decades of counterinsurgency and civic action programs in Colombia.

(photo is of Yarborough) 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

green new deal: nuevo pacto verde

Webinar: Impactos de los nuevos pactos verdes sobre Amèrica Latina. ¿Hasta qué punto los diferentes GND propuestos en los EEUU, Europa y en otros lugares, tienen en cuenta los impactos que podrían tener en otras regiones del mundo?


Thanks to compa Nancy Piñeiro for the heads up on this. Looks great, though I'm annoyed that they use translation when they mean interpreting. I know Nancy disagrees, but I thinks it's important to distinguish these as two different skills! You can show that you know and care about language access by getting it right. 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

frailejón: frailejón (mountain sunflower?!)

I have always before seen frailejón just imported into the English - so it stood out to me that this article in CNN did so but then followed it with the description "mountain sunflowers 6 feet tall that capture water vapor from clouds and release it to the ground creating water springs." I've never thought of them as sunflowers, but now I see it. You could also of course use the latin name, espeletia. But mountain sunflower isn't bad. Relevant for social justice because these grow in the fragile páramo in Colombia which is at serious risk from both the climate catastrophe and extractivism.

Monday, January 17, 2022

campesino: another option

I have blogged repeatedly about options for campesino. None of them are great wihch is why I tend to import it. It's a concept that just doesn't translate well since it includes not only family or small-scale farmers but also farmworkers, loggers, artisanal miners, and lots of other people that live in the campo. I liked the way this great article (that helped me see how we need to look both above and below the land to understand land issues in Colombia) went back and forth between using small-scale farmer and campesino throughout, though again, that leaves a lot of people out.

My compa Kath Nygard has lately been trying to convince me to use peasant. As I've blogged before, it's worth nothing that the Via Campesina uses International Peasant Movement as their official translation. I don't think I'm quite there yet, since the connotations in English seem still too closely tied to Monty Python type peasants (see video).