What’s an escrache?

An escrache is what you do when politicians aren’t listening to your pressure group—not even to your rallies, proposals for acts of parliament and other methods for exerting public pressure.

First seen in Argentina, this phenomenon is now being used in Spain by the Mortgage Victims’ Platform (PAH, Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca). Escraches are basically mini-demonstrations against politicians held outside their homes or workplaces. They can also occur on the street when the activist group comes across its targets ‘by chance’.

Escraches are controversial. Politicians from the two major parties don’t like them at all. The governing party has even equated them to Nazism and wants to prohibit them. Minor parties see them more favourably, and around 60 % of the population approve of them as a method for getting politicians to listen.

Politicians don’t seem to be listening yet, although the escraches have got everyone’s attention. TV and radio pundits love arguing about them. Most just focus on whether they are legal, but some go a little deeper and ask the more interesting question of why escraches are occurring. The obvious reading is that people feel they have no other option. Not great for a democracy.

What’s an escrache in English?

At the moment everyone seems to be calling them “escraches” and providing a description. If the phenomenon rears its head in an English-speaking country (if it hasn’t already somewhere), we may end up doing away with the description.

See here for what Wikipedia has to say about escraches.

Written by Rob

Rob Lunn is a freelance legal translator based in Spain. He translates from Spanish and Catalan into English.

5 comments to “What’s an escrache?”
  1. I don’t know what we’d call them. I suppose it’d depend on how they came about and evolved. Maybe it’d be down to the first journalist on the scene to give them a name 🙂

  2. Pingback: Escrache to a Partiodo Popular election campaign in Hospitalet | ENRIC CATALA

  3. How about a political “annoyance”. Am reminded of someone scratching a blackboard for effect

    • Well, I guess having one on your doorstep would be annoying! I haven’t thought about this term for a while, and I don’t remember ever having to translate it. But there’s got to be a better term/way than escrache, which I would only consider using in translations talking about escrache as a cultural phenomenon in which you could describe it as such. However, I’m sure most contexts would give enough room to move to describe the term in the translation (maybe using annoyance along the way) without having to use the term itself. Thanks for your comment, John.

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