Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going Nowhere with Juan Forero

This morning Juan Forero was on the anti-Chavez beat for the second day in a row. On Saturday he runs a fine CIA-inspired piece about how anti-democratic the Chavez government and its supporters are. This morning he was beating the drum again, but with a twist. In the piece, we hear Chavez supporters chanting "Oooh, aaah, Chavez no se va!" and Forero claims that it translates to "Oooh, aaah, Chavez is going nowhere!"

My Spanish is not fluent, but it is adequate - and I'm confident that "no se va" never means "going nowhere." An accurate translation would be "Chavez is not going away" or "Chavez is not abandoning [the struggle]."

It's no secret that Juan Forero works very hard to discredit and misinform listeners about the situation in South America, but I was surprised that he would employ such an easily discredited mistranslation to forward his agenda. I mean it's not like the mistranslation of Ahmadinejad's Farsi statement about Israel's Zionist government "vanishing from the pages of time" being stated as "wiping Israel off the map" - where hardly anyone in the US speaks Farsi. There are millions of people in the US who speak Spanish fluently and millions of others who know enough Spanish to catch such a crude mistranslation as Forero employs.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter how inaccurate and misleading Juan Forero's "reporting" for NPR is, he definitely "no se va" - Que lastima [What a pity.]

Related update: Last week I posted on Forero's nasty piece alledging how anti-Semitic the Chavez government is. I won't be holding my breath for a correction, now that the case has been solved - with aggressive action by the Chavez goverment.


Hubertg said...

Apparently something has been lost in the translation.

Chavez was elected so what is so un-democratic about all that ??
I also admire Chavez for calling Bush "The Devil"...other than that I haven't heard anything good or bad about the guy, except that I know the oil companies don't like him...heh,heh,heh.

Porter Melmoth said...

American interests are fried by Chavez because Chavez doesn't kowtow to them, just like other good little LatAm subserviants do. The only solution? BLACKBALL CHAVEZ! STOP AT NOTHING TO ACCOMPLISH MISSION!

Anonymous said...

"Chavez is going nowhere." in the context of their culture can also mean the equivalent of what we mean in the US when we say "He's not going anywhere," i.e. he's not going away.

In that context I don't see it as dishonest at all, however the translation could have been better so people who aren't familiar with Latin American culture would get the correct meaning.

Anonymous said...

OK: Let's recap: "¡Uh, ah, Chávez no se va!,"--also a great song by the Venezuelan group Grupo Madera--means "Oooh, ah, Chávez isn't going away!"

In French, "s'en aller;" in Italian "andarsene;" in Portuguese it's very similar to Spanish--"ir-se" or "ir embora." I've just mentioned the infinitives.

So, in French, «Ouh, ah, Chávez s'en va pas!» (I have the poetic license to to suppress the «ne», since in French «ne...pas» is the normal form for a negative--a double negative in French.

In Italian, it would be «Uh, ah, Chávez non se ne va!

I have emailed the NPR shill/ombudsman. I'm not holding my breath, those sobs are so brazen.

I'm a translator, and translation that horrible--as horrible as Juan Forero´s--is grounds for firing.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and if you want to listen to the song by Grupo Madera, it is here:


Buzztree said...

Clearly the distinction is the one in English -- between what we mean when we say someone is "going nowhere" and what we mean when we say someone is "not going away." We might even say he's "not going anywhere," but that would still be different from "going nowhere."

Assuming Juan Forero, an NPR reporter, is a fluent English speaker, his semantic abuse was deliberate and dissembling. Though sadly not unexpected.

Anonymous said...

This anti-Chavez stuff is not limited to NPR. The other night BBc and it's Rebecca Keisey (sp?) news program had an international lecturer exclaim that Chavez holds too many elections. I think so also because I have an election every two years here in the Dutch WonderLand where I reside. And when circumstances require I have an election every year.

And thwere is no seperation of power in Chavez land. Like here in the gooder USofA. Now that Democrats control Congress, White House we'll see an "activist" Supreme Court; unlike the 8 years of Bush.

And worst of all? Why does Chavez insist on using oil wealth to improve the lot of the poor in his country? The nerve of that guy!


Arroyoribera said...

I left a comment at
with mention of your blog and your posting regarding Forero. The issues is, again, biased reporting and misleading interpretation. Unfortunately I misspelled his name throughout my post and at this moment due to a cookie problem with my computer I can not access the NPR comments to post a note acknowledging my error. One wishes that NPR would acknowledge its errors. Speaking of Forero, you may be aware of the post at
by V. Jerone Stephens, retired political science professor. In commenting on polling in Venezuela by capitalist polling firms that (quote) Even Juan Ferero, a NPR and Washington Post reporter--and a very poor one at that--finally admitted, after years of claiming that Hinterlace and Keller were reliable pollsters, after the 2006 election that they were pollsters with ties to the opposition. (end quote)

Arroyoribera said...

Just an update. I did do a followup to Forero's NPR piece correcting my error in spelling his name and adding additional comments. Truthout ran the same article about the Texaco/Chevron contamination lawsuit and I posted my comments there as well with reference to your blog. We will see if the comments run there (the screen comments but mine are usually posted).

nym said...

Without ageeing to a right or left wing slant, I have analyzed Forero's work on Colombia, and it sloppy. See