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Venezuelan slang: A Bolivarian-English dictionary

20151121_AMD002_0Insults are not in short supply

VENEZUELANS are famously inventive with words. After 17 years of chavismo, the left-wing ideology of the late president, Hugo Chávez, they have plenty of material. Insults aimed at his “Bolivarian revolution” abound; the regime, now led by Nicolás Maduro, hurls its own ammunition. With parliamentary elections due on December 6th, The Economist offers a sample.

Bachaquero. Derived from “bachaco”, a voracious large-bottomed leaf-cutter ant. Bachaqueros are black-marketeers, who have flourished with the slump of the oil-dependent economy. Often to be found at the head of the perpetual supermarket queues, they buy up scarce price-controlled goods, such as eggs, detergent and nappies, and resell them for a handsome profit. Classy bachaqueros supply delicacies to the rich.

Boliburguesía. The class that profits from the Bolivarian revolution. Chávez promised to break the power of the bourgeoisie but his regime created another. As the out-of-favour elite vacated mansions in the exclusive Country Club neighbourhood of Caracas, the boliburguesía bought them up.

Enchufado. Literally “plugged in”. An enchufado uses government connections to enrich himself, usually through the Byzantine system of exchange controls. A dollar costs ordinary Venezuelans around 800 bolívares on the black market, but an enchufado can buy one at the official rate of 6.3 bolívares. Many tool around Caracas in Chinese-made Chery cars, bought with permits from the transport ministry. With super-strong bolívares, they cost a few hundred dollars.

Patriota cooperante. A government informant. Diosdado Cabello, the head of the National Assembly (and possibly Venezuela’s most powerful man), uses his television show to broadcast incriminating titbits about the regime’s enemies, supposedly gleaned from public-spirited patriotas cooperantes.  

Pelucones. Literally “bigwigs”. Mr Maduro applies the epithet to his nemesis, Lorenzo Mendoza, a luxuriantly haired billionaire who runs Polar, a food and drinks company. If the revolution falters, warns Mr Maduro, pelucones will return to exploit ordinary Venezuelans.

Vendepatria. The opposite of a patriota cooperante, who will sell Venezuela to the highest bidder. Opposition leaders, citing the regime’s dependence on bail-outs from China, hurl the insult back.

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