Fed up with corrupt politicians and royalty, the Spanish have taken up a new form of protest called Escrache. It is a type of demonstration in which activists go to the homes and workplaces of those who they want to publicly humiliate.
The term is alleged to have originated from Río de la Plata, Argentina. Benigno B. Lugones used the term in 1879, referring to a scam in which a lottery ticket was presented to the winner who then had to pay for it, but for an amount which was inferior to what they had allegedly ‘won’ in the lottery.
Another suggestion is that the term ‘Escrache’ might have come from the Genoese synonym for a photo or scraccé. The word also means to make a portrait, or to smash someone’s face in.
The term is similar to the English word to scratch where the tickets used in a lottery scam were scratched to modify the number. In Italian scaracio means to spit.
The term came into wider use in 1995 by the human rights group HIJOS, when Carlos Menem (President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999) pardoned members of the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional who were accused of human rights violations and genocide. Using chants, music, graffiti, banners, throwing eggs, street theater, etc, they inform neighbors of the presence of criminals in the neighborhood.
In Chile these actions are known as funa. In Peru they are known as roche and are often signed “El roche”.
By 2013, the term was in wide use in Spain to define the direct action protests of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca. (Pah) It means ‘The platform for those affected by mortgages.’ Recenlty, banks have reclaimed many houses, leaving the occupants homeless.
Until there a seismic shift in attitude by politicians, things will only get worse. Perhaps they should start caring for those who elected them.