I’ve swum in a few of Colombia’s rivers, but I’ve never fished in any of them. And perhaps that’s for the best– it doesn’t look like that activity is looked upon too favorably, especially now that many of the country’s agricultural sectors are on strike. I’m referring to a phrase that’s been ubiquitous lately: pescar en río revuelto. I know it means to seek to cash in on a bad situation, but I’ve really had to rack my brain to translate it in a way that sounds natural.
Mucho oportunista que se regodea con el malestar de Tunja. Esos vivos intentan pescar en río revuelto que ellos mismos agitan.
Many opportunists are licking their lips over the problems in Tunja. These schemers are trying to profit from the chaos that they themselves are whipping up.
Como siempre unos aprovechados creando zozobra y confusión. Pescando en río revuelto.
Just like always, self-serving opportunists are stirring up anxiety and confusion. They’re trying to take advantage of the bad situation.
Los que siembran papa, cebolla y arroz están en paro, por que los que siembran cizaña trabajan horas extras y saben pescar en río revuelto.
The people who plant potatoes, onions, and rice are on strike, leading those who love to sow discord to put in extra hours as they are experts at exploiting others’ misfortunes.
It looks like to fish in troubled waters is a phrase in English, but it’s not one I know. A río revuelto, ganancia de pescadores is apparently the standard proverb in most countries. The proverb is predicated on the claim that fishermen have the most luck when fishing in choppy water. If a fisherman was catching an eye-popping number of fish while, say, the rough water capsized a boat and people were drowning on the other side of the river . . . well, you can see how that situation would be problematic. Especially if he were to somehow figure out a way to secretly make the water be rough so as to catch more fish, human casualties be damned. But enough about fish–have you learned any proverbs lately? Learning proverbs is definitely one of my favorite things about studying Spanish. So long as it’s in Cervantes’ language, feel free to moralize all you want around me.