Obama…¡Sí se puede!

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Yes, we can! This catchy phrase used by Barack Obama has its origin in the U.S. Latino culture. It is the adaptation of the slogan coined in 1972 by Dolores Huerta from the United Farm Workers (UFW) and immortalized by labor leader César Chávez.

Although, the exact translation of ¡Sí se puede! is “Yes, it can be done!” the colloquial translation has evolved to Yes, we can!, the phrase has been used in different contexts on both sides of the US-Mexico border during the past 30 years.

It was first used by César Chávez during his 25 day fast in Phoenix Arizona in 1972, then in became the rallying cry not just for the UFW but for union and Latino activists in the U.S.

During the 2006 immigration reform rallies, ¡Sí se puede! became the common yell in marches all accross the country.

In México, the phrase has been used as political slogans. Felipe Calderon Hinojosa when sworn in as President of Méxio said during his remarks “Sí se pudo y sí se puede” (Yes, we were able to, and yes, we can), referring that his election victory in July 2006 was contested by oponent candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador but ratified by the Federal Electoral Tribunal in September 2006, and that Lopez Obrador’s follower were determined to not letting him take oath as President.

¡Sí se puede! has also been used as a war cry during sports events, specially if it involves the Mexican National soccer team (Selección Nacional)playing against tough rivals such as Brazil, Argentina, France and the U.S. But it is also used for local and regional teams both amateur and professional. It is common to hear the shout when the local or favorite team is loosing or the score is tied.

The ¡Sí se puede! soccer chant can be heard whenever the Mexican National team plays in U.S. stadiums.

Another famous use of ¡Sí se puede! comes from Venezuela where a video against the regime headed by President Hugo Chávez was disseminated through YouTube in June 2007. The video has images of rallies held by young Venezuelans and it is complemented with a song from Venezuelan singer and super star José Luis Rodriguez “El Puma”. A very powerful piece.

After all, the constant use of ¡Sí se puede! can attract many Latino votes…maybe Hillary and McCain can start using ¡Yo también puedo! (I can too!)?

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One Response to Obama…¡Sí se puede!

  1. […] Finally, as a suggestion, the Spanish-language version of the page should also contain quotations from Obama as the English-language one does. Ideally, the page should contain the phrase “¡Sí se puede!” given the phrase’s strong appeal among U.S. Hispanics. (If you want to read more about the origin and usage of the phrase click here.) […]

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