In a post where Quico flat out won the internets (and my eternal respect) by getting my favorite expletive in all the universe the word “¡mamagüebo!” (complete with diéresis, ghetto b, and upside-down-exclamation mark) into a prestigious U.S. publication, you wouldn’t expect any other aspect to catch my eye.

But it did, because the most insightful bit from his piece in The Atlantic yesterday is that Quico, apparently, loves cacerolazos:

The Cacerolazo’s genius is in how it lowers the cost of protest, breaking down the isolation that autocratic regimes like Maduro’s, and Hugo Chavez’s before him, rely on to break down their opponents. Amid a cacerolazo, you can actually hear the sound of those who feel the way you do. Things you would be too scared to voice openly, the cacerola can say on your behalf. In fact, the ruckus turns the tables on government supporters: Normally, they can enforce silence, but during a cacerolazo, they’re the isolated ones. And for the security forces, a cacerolazo presents an insurmountable problem: How do you repress a protest that’s both everywhere and nowhere in particular at once?

Ever since 1S, the opposition twittersphere has been awash with indignant slams of cacerolazos as timid and inefficient. Does Quico know something we don’t?


What’s your favorite Venezuelan curse word? Mine is mam…allright, I’ll stop.

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  1. Great article in The Atlantic!

    Favorite curse word? “Masburro.”

    (Just kidding. Vaina wins, hands down, even if it’s used so much it’s not really a curse word. Vaina is so versatile, colorful, and adaptable. ‘Sa vaina! Le pusieron una vaina! Vaina con eso! “Dame la vaina esa! No, no, la otra vaina alli! La vainiata encima ‘e la vaina.” (Joanna ) And of course just to confuse things, you have vainitas – which you eat. I don’t think there’s a single word in any other language that has so many uses, so many inflections and implications.)

  2. One thing I ve always missed when expressing myself in english is the chance of using all those savory , richly expressive and rotund cuss words that abound in Venezuelas vernacular language, seems as if any speech devoid of all those emphatic picturesque expletives loses much of its potentially expressive force and power………, the way they underscore the emotional tone behind the words being spoken , or contemptously cut short someone elses silly statements with just a bit of practice become music to ones ear…………every time professionally I had to engage in negotiations with others , there was this big difference when you did it in english or spanish , in english you could be sharp and cool but in spanish you could use expletives to have fun and bring a bit of biting humour into a phrase !!

    We shall be forever beholden to Francisco Toro for his introduction of this wonderfully scandalous expletive into the sacred temple of the Atlantics usually burnished highly sophisticated style of writing.

  3. To me, mmwbo sums up everything that is wrong with Venezuela and Venezuelans. Absolutely loathe that word. When I was a kid, back in the dark ages, it was THE worst of the worse swear words, the one you could never say unless you were ready to back it up with fists. Sorry to disagree. I never expected to read that word here, nevermind lilygliding about it.

  4. I like cacerolazos. I was a teenager when we began to cacerolate (new English verb – ha ha ha) CAP. I wouldn’t thought we would still cacerolating (here is again) 20 plus years later. One thing about cacerolating is that it let you know which neighbor is pro or against the protest.

    Furthermore, if you happen to live in Caracas East, you will have the opportunity to shake up the mid and high ranked bosses of the government. They ain’t living in Caricuao or La Vega, they all live in Caurimare, Cumbres de Curumo and Prados del Este; and there cacerolazos seem to get louder.

    My mom is having a blast cacerolating a prominent Chavista government officer (she is very high in the food chain of the Ministerio Popular para la Educacion Universitaria yada yada) that lives couple of floors below her apartment in Prados del Este. Golden…

    My favorite curse: “Anda a comerte un cerro e’ mierda mama ubre” (this long one was heard the first time during a sensational domino match at Aula 33 Bar near by the U-U-UCV, it stuck with me since).

  5. What is kind of depressing for me, though, is that most leaders in the opposition seem to be very fond of that new Bolivarian constitution created in 1999. I’ve already seem all of them holding that little book high as if it was something worth of mentioning. Thus, if MUD loses that date to make the recall, they will probably stay quiet and say things like: “No somos golpistas”. And this madness will last until blue helmets are deployed.

    My point is, there’s a limit to make changes legally. Ceausescu was not removed ‘according to the constitution’, right?

  6. Was Villa Rosa a carcerolazo, or was it something distinct with elements of the carcerolazo: face to face civil disobedience and protest. Villa Rose was remarkable for being identifiable, personal and direct. It entailed significant personal risk. It was, as we say up here, crazy shit. A carcerolazo is anonymous and indirect. You can do it in the relative comfort of your home. There is little cost and little risk to you, meaning in other words, it demands little commitment.

    I fully support the banging of pots and pans. It has a proud tradition. It has a psychological impact. But I think the impact is more on the bangers of the pots, than on the intended audience, who are labyrinth dwellers.

  7. “Trimarrrdito”
    Not content with damning you once, I have to do it three times and attack the Spanish language while I’m at it to make it sound more contemptuous. Few insults can give you that satisfaction.

  8. Cacerolazos were the beginning of the end for Pinochet’s regime but we can’t romanticize them to the point where it’s ok to do just that and nothing else. Cacerolazos should be today what they were back then in Chile: a way for people to bring out their anger and channel it to demand a plebiscite or a recall.
    I was never much of a fan of banging pots because I saw it so many times without any concrete result, but unlike every single one of them before Villa Rosa, Maduro’s caceroleo was a powerful thing.
    When the PSUV hacks need to make tweets and news articles to put that down or condemn them as terrorist acts, you know that they’ve finally hit a nerve.

  9. I’m tired of all the “this doesnt accomplish anything” whining.

    Nothing accomplish anything… except everything accomplish it. That is, yes, ONE cacerolazo will not accomplish anything… but keep the pressure. As the next one, and the next march, and all the small things that will accomplish anything BUT keep the pressure, keep making it clear the situation is not solved, people are not cowed, etc.

    If you are expecting Superman to come and oust Maduro, fix the economy and be done in 30 minutes, you are a fool. Every time you minimize or discount the actions of protests, you are a fool. Protest has to keep going on with “useless” stuff if it is going to accomplish anything – or you think every single change in the world was done in a weekend? That any regime change did not involve a lot of days, months of “useless” protests just to get the message there, just to encourage more people to protest, just to get to the critical mass of people that will make it impossible to ignore or repress or sidestep?


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