Escrache is the name given in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Spain to a type of demonstration in which a group of activists go to the homes or workplaces of those who they want to condemn and publicly humiliate in order to influence decision makers and governments into a certain course of action. This term was born in Argentina in 1995 and has since spread to other Spanish-speaking countries.
Origin of the term
The lunfardo term "escracho" has been used for some time in Río de la Plata. It was mentioned by Benigno B. Lugones in 1879 referring to a scam in which a lottery ticket supposedly naming the victim is presented to them and they are asked to pay to receive it, for an amount which is inferior to the amount they have "won" in the lottery. Escrache might also have come from the Genoese synonym for a photo "scraccé", "scraccé" also passed to mean make a portrait, or more recently to smash someone's face in. Another proposed origin is the English to scratch (the tickets used in the lottery scam were scratched to modify the number) or the Italian scaracio meaning spit.
The term came into wider use in 1995 by the human rights group HIJOS, when Carlos Menem 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.
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