The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, November 21, 2003
 

And now...Morales Live!


For those curious to hear Evo Morales, leader of Bolivian coca-growers, spouting on his hind legs, now you can.

Courtesy of salón chingón, a part of Al Giordano's (Narco News) empire - on the home page, there is an MP3 of Morales' big speech in Mexico City last month, following the ignominious departure of President Sánchez de Lozada for exile in the US. There are also links to the text in Spanish and in English translation. (He strays a good deal, as might be expected.)

I've just listened the once so far, but, for a guy basking in success, I found his performance less than inspiring. Naturally, one expects - and gets - the usual bollocks, content-wise. But one would also expect the style to be passionate, histrionic, full of the tricks of the oratorical trade.

Instead, it struck me as pretty flat, lacking shape and phrasing. And - most importantly - signals for the audience to applaud. When he gets to the end of
El día 17 de octubre, día de la dignidad e identidad del pueblo boliviano, empezamos a derribar al símbolo del neoliberalismo expresado en Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, empezamos a derrotar al símbolo de la corrupción y de la mafia política.
you'd rather expect a tumult of applause. In fact: nada.

I don't think it's a language thing (though I suspect Spanish isn't Morales' mother-tongue, and words sometimes get swallowed) - I have a fairly clear idea of the style of speakers like Hitler and de Gaulle, say, as well as FDR, JFK and Churchill - to name but three. They all used intonation, volume, emphasis and so on to ensure that, when they got to the money phrase, the joint was jumping. (To date, I have spared myself the work of Fidel Castro, but I suspect he does much of the same.)

Poor Evo! He kicks major gringo ass - and no applause from the ungrateful compañeros - except at the beginning and end, which is pretty much the bare minimum. Could it be that, among the leading Reds and pinkoes of the Latin world, he's thought not ready for prime-time?

(He finishes with a plug for his Big Thing, the Cumbre Social - a fringe event at the Ibero-American Summit in Santa Cruz last weekend:
...cómo frenar esas agresiones que vienen desde el gobierno de Estados Unidos contra Cuba, contra Chávez. Algunos dirigentes tanteamos cómo preparar desde acá -los intelectuales, los movimientos sociales, los movimientos políticos- una gran cumbre entre Fidel, Hugo Chávez, Lula, para decirles: "estamos aquí, frente a la agresión del imperialismo estadunidense".

Embarrassingly, as I mentioned on Monday, the Bearded Wonder decided to remain in the Worker's Paradise.)

[Chingón had me wondering: derived from the universal Mexican expletive chingar, which is, I believe, in some way a national icon, the Mexican equivalent of Marianne or the Liberty Bell. And is definitely a word for the unwary gringo to avoid - especially in the Mexican motorist's standard repost to informal peer review of his driving performance,
¡Chinga tu madre!

In fact, according to the RAE Dictionary, chingón is relative harmless, though characterised as malsonante or rude:
Dicho de una persona: Competente en una actividad o rama del saber.

And Collins rates the word as merely informal, meaning big shot or boss ]


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