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Well it may have seemed like a good idea at the time. In fact considering the pretty poor level of English in Colombia in general, most people probably have no issue with it, insofar as the meaning is lost on them. Plus, what it represents is something largely positive, or at least that’s the hope.

RAPE Bogota Humana Ya FB

Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro at the launch of Rape. Well if he’s happy with it… (Photo from Facebook.)

Yet, given the initiative is due to ‘breathe new life’ into Colombia in terms of development, promoting it under its acronym Rape is a tad unfortunate. OK, in Spanish this obviously does not have the same meaning as it does in English. It just stands for the not-at-all controversial Región Administrativa de Planeación Especial (Administrative Region for Special Planning, or something to that effect).

However, in a country that is officially trying to significantly increase the use of English among the populace, a little more thought could have gone into this one.

Sperm deportes II

A rather oddly named sports shop in Bogotá. (Photo from civico.com.)

Picture the moment when the guys behind this thing look to Big Daddy USA for some financial assistance: “Any chance you could fire us a few million dollars for our novel Rape project? We’re just trying to improve the lot for our most neglected and vulnerable.” “Erm, your ‘what’ project?” Cue a bit of awkward explaining.

Now even allowing for what appears a rather odd liking for not very appropriate English words in certain contexts (see adjacent ‘sperm’ photo for one example of this), surely those working with Rape don’t really want the name. Well you’d hope so, once they’ve been told its English significance.

So here’s a suggestion. Rename it Región Administrativa de Planeación, Infraestructura y Desarrollo (Administrative Region for Planning, Infrastructure and Development; that works, right?), or Rapid in its acronym form. Much less offensive don’t you think? Indeed, it’s even progressive sounding. Heck, some people get paid big bucks for such consultancy work. Here I am proffering this for nothing.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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  1. paolahernande0723

    Since the official language in Bogotá is Spanish there is not point in comparing the acronym RAPE with the english noun rape. Probably in colombia the Administrative Region for Special Planning (as you translated it) is called La RAPE not just RAPE and for international media RAPE should be translated (as you did). Without mentioning that the pronunciation is completely different R A P E in Spanish doesn’t sound like [reyp]. So, there is not reason to feel that the acronym is offensive. I’ve been in different countries with poor level of Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese or French, so turn off your English and turn on your Spanish.

    • Never said I found it offensive Paola, just an unfortunate arrangement of letters, that’s all. But of course there is a government plan (not mine!) to make Colombia a bilingual country (Spanish & English) in the next few years. So avoiding acronyms such as this one might be a good idea.
      Sobre todo, relajate parcera. Es una broma! Disfruta el sol!

      • marthagutierr0930

        Brendan, I think that your words are true, sometimes in Colombia, the people don´t accept that in the country all opportunities to do “culture” or to have different expressions such as RAP is easier than to look for two-ways in a word.

        We need to find more activities to increase the knowledge in the country to hold our mind with important things and looking new ways to learn and to teach good experiences.


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