What is a “Gocho”, and why are they laughing at Maduro? / ¿Qué es un “Gocho”, y por qué se están riendo Maduro?

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Táchira is one of the 23 states of Venezuela, located in the western part of the country, bordering Colombia. Due to its location beyond the Venezuelan Andes, it has remained somewhat inaccessible until the start of the 20th century, and as a result, developed cultural differences from the rest of Venezuela.

VZ Map - closeup of Andean States

Gocho” is a term used to refer to people born in Táchira. Their cultural differences and phonetic accents are noticeable among inhabitants of other states, just as a Texan would stand out in the middle of New York. “Gocho” is used as a term of endearment among Tachirans, but carries a distinctly negative connotation in almost all other states of Venezuela, implying that Gochos are clumsy, naive, and easily fooled – i.e. “Country Bumpkins”.

What many people do not understand is that the folks born in the Andean Mountains have the particular characteristics of being respectful, patient, tolerant and calm or quiet compared with the people who are born in the rest of Venezuelan states. Part of it is due to the traditional way of life and strong family ties, and part of it is due to the weather factor: when it’s cold outside, you tend to spend more time indoors, thinking or talking to family, and before going outside, think and re-think and re-think a 3rd time, before committing to an action. It’s the same characteristic that can be observed in lumberjacks, coal miners, and other people who constantly have to deal with a harsh and unforgiving environment. There’s a Trujillo proverb – “Gocho pendejo, se muere chiquito” – “a naive (stupid) Gocho, dies young”.

“Gochos ruled Venezuela since the begining of the XX century to 1958 when dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez ran away because he didn’t agree to attack the soldiers and cadets involved in the coup d’etat (by the way, he’s considered the best president in the modern history of Venezuela despite his crimes)” (H/t Marcos Gonzalez).

But, during the recent unrest (sparked by the violent repression of a peaceful student demonstration in Caracas on February 12, 2014), the Gochos have distinguished themselves by not only offering the greatest levels of resistance to the government thugs, but apparently relishing the challenge and having a great time. Remember the famous Gocho patience and calm? Well, they’ve had 15 years to think and re-think the situation facing the country. And now they ACT. Oh, do they ever act.

A picture is worth 1000 words, so I’ll just let the images do the talking…

 

EVEN! MORE! GOCHOS!!!

Latest Gocho joke: Venezuelan government has just banned marriages between Gochos and Ukrainians… for the safety of the planet.

Prohiben Matrimonio

Image via @27Lucille, joke via h/t @EngerlyP & numerous E-mail tips.

This Gocho is so “arrecho” (meaning “angry” and “badass”, depending on context), that he deserves a whole article all to himself – check out the story of General Angel Vivas on “Another Day, Another Gocho Nightmare for Nicolas Maduro“.

Gocho Arrecho - Nivel Leyenda (Badass Gocho - Legendary Level)

Gocho Arrecho – Nivel Leyenda (Badass Gocho – Legendary Level)

Gochos don’t mess around when it comes to barricades. “Gochos working – Venezuela under construction” (referring to the ongoing political opposition). Image via @DanielKrdns.

Gochos don't mess around when it comes to barricades.

Gochos don’t mess around when it comes to barricades.

The government never did get around to finish the water-supply system here… but they left these giant concrete pipes – let’s put them to good use!

tuberias

After the death of Jimmy Vargas, Gochos fortified their barricades with shipping containers. I wish the best of luck to the GNB battalion that has to clear this particular barricade:

Pueblo arrecho del #Táchira comienza a fortificar barricadas ante asesinato de Jimmy Vargas.

Pueblo arrecho del #Táchira comienza a fortificar barricadas ante asesinato de Jimmy Vargas.

Pueblo arrecho del #Táchira comienza a fortificar barricadas ante asesinato de Jimmy Vargas.

Pueblo arrecho del #Táchira comienza a fortificar barricadas ante asesinato de Jimmy Vargas.

Molotov Cocktail Sniping seems to be a pastime in Tachira. Here’s a video tutorial in how to nail a passing GNB armored vehicle with ONE Molotov shot:

The award for “Best Use Of Fake Testicles In Political Protest” goes to… *drumroll* *opens envelope* – this Gocha girl who has more balls than Maduro’s soldiers!
“Soy Gocha y tengo de sobra lo que a algunos de ustedes les falta” – “I am a Gocha, and I have plenty of what some of you are missing”. Image h/t @Rpolicial, explanation h/t @Pirouette_G3.

Gocha with balls

Why throw rocks by hand when you can rig a giant 3-man slingshot? Angry Birds, Gocho-style. Original image h/t @lucho3008, captions mine.

Angry Birds - Gocho-Style

Angry Birds – Gocho-Style

When Nicolas Maduro sent in military troops and engineering equipment to destroy the barricades, instead of being upset, Gochos saw the humor in it. “Los Gochos somos tan arrechos, q pusimos a los militares a barrer nuestra calles…!” – “The Gochos are so badass, we even get the military to clean up our streets!”. H/t @Pirouette_G3.

Los Gochos somos tan arrechos, q pusimos a los militares a barrer nuestra calles...!

Los Gochos somos tan arrechos, q pusimos a los militares a barrer nuestra calles…!

…and another version, this one talking about getting the GNB (Guardia Nacional Boliviarana) to clean up the streets. Image via @Orlandoguidicci:

Arrechos-GNB

Somos tan arrechos que ponemos a la GNB a barrer las calles – We’re so badass that we get the National Guard to clean up our streets!

Iron Man, Gocho Version… Loki: “Tengo tanquetas” – “I have tanks” … Tony Stark: “Tenemos Gochos” – “We have Gochos”.

Loki: "Tengo tanquetas" - "I have tanks" ... Tony Stark: "Tenemos Gochos" - "We have Gochos".

Chuck Norris can rest easy – Venezuela is in good hands. “Chuck! Venezuela needs your help! – What for??? If you have Gochos!!!”. Image & translation h/t FB: ViktorOm.

Chuck! Venezuela needs your help! - What for??? If you have Gochos!!!

Policeman: “Play dead! The Gochos are coming! :(“. H/t Gladys Hoyeck via @Mmorin_Informa. Thanks to commenter Mari for clarifying the meaning!

"Hazte el muerto...vienen los gochos 😥"

“Hazte el muerto… vienen los gochos 😥”

Nicolas Maduro gets desperate and sends in helicopters to detect protests and barricade crews – Gochos respond by making “Heliport” markings on roadways. It may seem like a threatening gesture (“land here, see what happens”), but combined with other slogans – “Venezuela Ya Desperto (Venezuela Is Awakened)” and “Tachira Se Respeta (Tachira Respected)”, I think it’s more of an appeal to the chopper pilots’ consciences. The Maduro Mustache (TM) is a nice touch. H/t @geraldinehl.

Helipad, Gocho Style

Helipad, Gocho Style

View of the same helipad from the apartment building:

Gocho Heliport - from the building

Another message to helicopter pilots – “Tachira No Se Rinde” – “Tachira Does Not Surrender”:

Tachira No Se Rinde

Tachira No Se Rinde / Tachira Will Not Surrender

Another message “welcomes” the G2 (Cuban Intelligence Directorate) operatives to Tachira. The joke here is that Maduro keeps pretending that he’s not importing thugs from Cuba – but the Gochos know better! Image h/t @VzlaSinMordaza.

Bienvenidos A Tachira, G2 Cubano // Welcome to Tachira, Cuban G2

Bienvenidos A Tachira, G2 Cubano // Welcome to Tachira, Cuban G2

Maduro sends in tanks – Gochos steal them and use them to block streets. Recycling – Al Gore would be SO proud!

Gochos steal a tank

“Venezuela would be better if these Venezolanos (major part of the country) were more like these Venezolanos (pointing to Tachira). In Tachira beats the true heart of Venezuela”:

Venezuela would be better if these

Practicality. “If we’re all going to hang out here, and we’ve got fires going, hey, might as well make something good to eat.” Where else in the world are you going to see a street blockade – with a STEW POT in the center? Only In Tachira (TM)… I’ve been told that Gochos love their “hervido“, this seems to be proof positive:

Stew pot

Regular people use broken-down pallets & assorted boards to build barricades – Gochos cut down entire trees:

Gochos cut down trees

The “oversizing” trend isn’t limited to arboreals. Here, a couple of dozen Gochos drag a humongous rock toward a blockade position. I’d love to watch the GNB try to clear THAT obstacle!

TEAMWORK!

TEAMWORK!

"If you take this away, I will try again, I'm Gocho"

“If you take me away, I will put again, I’m Gocho”

A street blockade in Tachira reads: “Si me quitas / me pongo otra vez / soy gocho” – “If you take me away, I will put this again, I’m [a] Gocho”. Well, that’s the literal translation. A commenter points out that “when they say “If you take me away, I’ll put myself back”, they are referring to the gochos presidents in the past, since government’s motto is “No volverán” (“They will not come back” – to rule the country)” – ‘they’ referring to the Spanish Empire’s rule over this land before Simón Bolívar successfully fought for Latin America’s independence. Tachira has produced 7 presidents, so the Gochos are proud of their state’s contribution to Venezuelan history. Image h/t @NotaSinCensura.

If you take this away, I will start again, I'm Gocho 2

Another shot of the same blockade, h/t @JohanJurado.

En Tachiro Estamos

“In Tachira, we’re waiting for the Navy down by the Torbes river… we look like we’re shaking (with fear)… HAHAHAHAHAHA”.
Image h/t @AnonsVenezuela, translation h/t @lugoadvertising. UPDATE: The joke here is that the Torbes River is very shallow and full of rocks, so even a small boat would be unable to navigate it, much less the Navy. Also, Rio Torbes is very representative of San Cristobal because of its red color – Gochos are very proud of their river! [Thanks to Marcos Gonzalez for the explanation!]

To build barricades, most Venezuelans use motorcycle and car tires. But not Gochos. Oh no. They take it to a whole new level:

Burning Rubber: Gocho Level. Quema de caucho nivel Gocho.

Burning Rubber: Gocho Level. Quema de caucho nivel Gocho.

A group of Tachira opposition fighters bring a giant tractor tire to use in barricades. Original image posted with rhyming caption “quema de caucho, nivel Gocho” - “Burning Rubber: Gocho Level”.  H/t @Alesaotesi.

Concrete blocks, rebar, and construction debris – Gochos don’t mess around when it comes to guarimbas. H/t @yorsegabriel.

Gocho Guarimba in Tachira.

Gocho Guarimba in Tachira.

Gocho barricades are used as examples to others. H/t @soylindsay.
UPDATE: It has been pointed out that this is actually in the Ukraine. However, it’s still in the spirit of the thing!

Barricade, Gocho style. Guarima, estilo de Gocho.

Barricade, Gocho style. Guarimba, estilo Gocho.

Another “Gocho Guarimba”, this one employing a crane used for building skyscrapers.
Image h/t @Percy_Michael, explanation h/t Marcos Gonzalez.

Guarimba in Las Vegas de Tariba, Tachira, Venezuela.

Guarimba in Las Vegas de Tariba, Tachira, Venezuela.

For comparison, here’s a typical street blockade:

guarimbas_index

It’s not just the streets that get blocked, either. If you’re going to close off a bridge serving one of the largest highways in the region, you might as well do it right. Another Gocho construction:

Puente Libertador between Tariba and Carabobo.

Puente Libertador between Tariba and Carabobo.

But it’s not just the construction skills and the penchant for oversized barricades that earned this group their own distinctive hashtag #GOCHOSARRECHOS (“Angry Gochos”). It’s the combination of ferocity, cavalier attitude in the face of imminent attack, and a refreshing touch of insanity… for example, while normal people hide behind barricades, Gochos bring out a couch and put on a Batman mask:

Gochos hanging out. Avenida Pueblo, San Cristobal, Tachira, Venezuela

Gochos hanging out. Avenida Pueblo, San Cristobal, Tachira, Venezuela

Image h/t @jsideregts.

…and in between repelling GNB attacks, apparently they like to watch TV:

Gocho TV.

Gocho TV.

Image posted by @choisy91 with caption “Los gochos son otro nivel” – “The Gochos are on another level”. Marcos Gonzalez adds that the “Maduro-in-crossed-circle” image on TV is forbidden by the government (shocker!), and its usage in this context means that people want to see TV that’s not ruled by the government.

Apparently, the current exchange rate is 1 Gocho : 5 Araguans:

Trade 5 Araguans for 1 Gocho

“I’ll trade 5 Araguans for 1 Pissed-Off Gocho”. Image h/t @pettybooshwah.

And there’s plenty of Gochos to go around:

Tachira: yes, the protests are super-sized too.

Tachira: yes, the protests are super-sized too.

Massive demonstration in Tachira, with the crowd fading all the way into the horizon… Image h/t @ReporteYa, with caption “Mi TACHIRA grande! Dando ejemplo! Caraqueño te falta espíritu GOCHO!” – “My great Tachira! Giving an example! Caracas, you lack the Gocho spirit!”

Gochos aren’t very big fans of Nicolas Maduro, either:

Gocho Art

“Maduro metase su felicidad suprema por el…” – “Maduro can shove his ‘supreme happiness’ right up…”. Image h/t @Sangarccs. Thanks to commenters “Miguel” and “Vannessa” for the translation!

G-2 is the Cuban intelligence agency (the equivalent of CIA).
G-8 usually stands for the “Group of Eight” (world’s largest economies), but in Spanish, “8″ is “ocho”, so this becomes a pun: G-OCHO.
So, while the “sellouts” consort with the Cuban G-2, the Venezuelan patriots count themselves alongside the Gochos. (H/t

G-OCHOS

G-OCHOS.