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Mexico News Dictionary

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From the archives. Many thanks to Mark Stevenson and Tom Buckely for input

Beneficio: Beneficio can mean a mill or milling process in agriculture; in legal terms “beneficio” or ‘proteccion de la ley” means granting an appeal. Almost never ‘benefit’ (job benefits are ‘prestaciones’).

Brujo (a): in Central Mexico, usually a faith or herbal healer or traditional practicioner; seldom witch, or warlock.

Centro de Readaptacion Social (Cereso): a prison, can be federal or state, or both. (as opposed to Centro Penal de maxima seguridad, penitenciary). Absolutely no reform or redemption element to them.

Consulta medica: doctor’s appointment or medical care (not “medical consultation”)

Cortar: in agriculture, to harvest (sugar cane). El Corte – harvest.

Damnificado: literally “affected,” not necessarily homeless

Declarar: testify, offer a statement. Not ‘declare’

Declaracion patrimonial: statement of assets, net worth

Delegacion: in Mexico City, a borough or district.

Demanda penal: criminal complaint (if it’s filed by a citizen, it’s just a complaint – authorities will decide whether it’s a criminal matter)

Denunciar un crimen: report a crime, file a criminal complaint, but rarely “denounce” a crime

Elevar: increase, raise, promote (not usually “elevate”)

Ejercer accion penal: Arrest, or charge (usually, it’s just an arrest)

EPR: People’s revolutionary army (not “popular”)

Fama: Reputation (not “popular”)

Fraccion Parliamentaria: legislators of a political party; in a stretch, caucus or delegation. (not “fraction” or “faction”)

Hacer votos para: wish, hope, not vote

Incompetente (declararse): recuse one’s self from a case, or refuse a case on jurisdictional or other grounds, never “declared himself incompetent”

Invasion: Land take-over, land seizure by squatters, not “invasion.”

Investigacion: Investigation, only in police context. In academic context, it’s called ‘research.’

Lamina: corrugated sheet roofing, can be tar-paper, fiberglass, zinc, galvinized steel.

Marco logistico: tk

Marino: sailor of the Mexican navy. Mexico has no Marine Corps as such

Militante: “member” of a political party, never “militant.”

Militar: belong (to a party).

Ministerio Publico: Public Magistrate, or (better) local prosecutor. These people are basically investigative police officers responsible for taking statements and putting together cases. If federal, they are part of AFI. There are also local MPs.

Neo-liberal: market-oriented, or free market. The term “neo liberal” does not exist and usually confuses people in English.

Partido de Trabajo: Labor Party. Not Workers Party

Perito: a certified expert, or expert witness. Accent on first syllable, unlike “perrito,” a little dog.

Pliego (or pliego petitorio): list of demands, or request or motion to a judge in a court case.

Porra: policeman’s nightstick. In Mexico, usually used to mean a group of sports fans (often rowdy ones) or a university youth gang. A porro is a member of a porra.

Proteccion Civil: Civil Defense (not ‘civil protection’)

Protestar: not just “protest,” it also means swear, as in take an oath of office, or claim, as in “protestar su inocencia”

Punto de Acuerdo: nonbinding resolution, called in U.S. a “sense of the House” or Senate. Not “point of agreement.”

Ratificar (also careo): a sort of cross-examination, in which a witness is read back his original testimony and asked to confirm or change it. Not ratify.

Responsibilidad civil: found liable, or liability in a lawsuit

Responsibilidad penal: criminal charges or conviction. Not ‘penal responsibility.’

Revindicaciones: usually, demands. revindicar – support or achieve a demand. It’s ‘demand,’ not ‘revidicate demands.’

Saldo blanco: zero casualties

Sanction administrativo: a fine, (sometimes ban from holding office), as opposed to a jail term.

Seguridad Publica: Public Safety, not Public Security

Seguro: safe (or confident, or insurance policy, or lock), not “secure” unless as in ‘seguro de si mismo’

Semi-automatic: An outdated term; means every time you pull the trigger, one bullet comes out, without cocking or reloading. That describes anything from a normal pistol to almost any rifle or shotgun without a bolt- or pump-action. Rarely do we need to specify this by using the term; if we do, it’s better to say “pump-action shotgun” or bolt-loading rifle, with the implication that they’re primarily hunting weapons or outdated military stock.

Tanqueta: a small armored vehicle. The Mexican press uses the term to refer to anything from an armored Humvee to an armored personnel carrier, or APC. It is most frequently applied to heavy-tired armored cars, such as the Panhards that the Mexican army used in Chiapas. Mexico’s military does not operate main battle tanks. Tanks by definition have TREADS, not wheels, and a main CANNON, not machine gun.

Tema: issue, subject, topic (not usually “theme”)

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