Monday, May 21, 2007

Oaxaca, Mexico: Where a boycott ain't a boycott

I noticed this lost-in-translation problem a few years ago but paid it little mind. It has now become, or will become, a much more important issue.

Sección 22 (the teachers who go on strike every year and have for the past 26 years or so) as well as APPO, have announced that they will "boycott" this year's Guelaguetza festival. From Cambridge Dictionary of American English:

verb [T]
to refuse to buy (a product) or take part in (an activity) as a way of expressing strong disapproval
The union called on its members to boycott the meeting.


noun [C]
She organized an economic boycott of the company's products.
The actual word used in the Spanish language versions, both in Oaxaca as well as other national news media sources, is "boicotear". From
verbo transitivo
to boycott
Well folks, that is not correct. A "boycott" in Mexico, as well as other Central and South American countries, is to blockade. That is, the boycotters not only refuse to buy or participate in an activity, but they also stop you -- by force -- from doing so.

That's a "boycott" in Mexico.

In fact, APPO and Sección 22 stated that they would "boycott" this year's Guelaguetza festival "like we did last year". Uh-oh. Last year's "boycott" included the burning of the amphitheater's dance floor, twice, the painting of slogans all over the walls and seats, the theft of light fixtures, electrical and sound cables and all the plumbing fixtures from the restrooms and, ultimately, the cancelation of the state's bggest money maker, the Guelaguetza festival. All that to the tune of some 900 million pesos in losses to the state's inhabitants.

The bright side to this impending disaster is that the state won't lose that much money this year. Oaxaca no longer has 900 million pesos to lose.

Please visit the Pale Horse Galleries online store
for art, gifts and collectibles -- all hand made
by Mexican indigenous artists.

Cross posted at Pale Horse Galleries

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