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    Cuba, An Island of Euphemisms

    Cuba, An Island of Euphemisms
    March 30, 2012
    Dariela Aquique

    People who were the "maggots," "worms," "traitors" and "scum" are now
    called "community members" or "Cuban-Americans" or "those living outside
    of Cuba."

    HAVANA TIMES, March 30 — Euphemisms (which are of course words and
    expressions used for replacing other ones that are considered bad
    sounding, distasteful or inappropriate), are commonly used in Cuba,
    especially by those seeking to avoid "annoying interpretations."

    An annoying interpretation, in turn, can be a word that describes a
    possible reprimand from a superior, boss or colleague who thinks your
    term is inappropriate. Let me give you some examples:

    The words "maid," "housekeeper," "servant" and "service employee"
    disappeared from the national lexicon as they were considered bourgeois
    expressions, and all vestiges of the bourgeoisie needed to be eliminated
    from the lives of Cubans.

    With the passage of time and the incontrovertible existence of class
    differences in the country, these types of words have reappeared among
    those who need to pay other people for domestic services and those who
    need to get paid for those services.

    The circumstances have returned, but with new designations. Now these
    people are called "the woman who does the cleaning" or "the man who runs
    errands"; or — more amicably — they might be referred to as "the person
    who helps us at home," thus creating some degree of ambiguity. One might
    even get the impression that this person is not bound by money in
    providing this "aid or assistance."

    People who were the "maggots," "worms," "traitors" and "scum" of the
    mass exoduses (from the port at Camarioca in 1960 and Mariel in 1980),
    after certain social and political conjunctures began to be referred to
    using gentler terms like "community members" or "Cuban-Americans" or
    "those living outside of Cuba."

    This is why it's not at all uncommon for people who are "fired" or "laid
    off" to be described as having experienced "employment reorganization."
    Likewise "evictions" become the "distrainment of real property."

    And anyone who provides information about other people to the police or
    to the Ministry of the Interior — rather than being labeled as
    "informants," "snitches" or chivatos — they are described as
    "auxiliaries" or "civilian collaborators."

    A "prostitute" is now called a jinetera (escort), and theft (on a large
    scale by certain officials) has been dubbed "the mismanagement of

    But there are some terms that are completely exempt from the possibility
    of receiving any softer kinder euphemisms. These include "independent
    journalist" or "blogger," which are smeared with words like
    "cyber-dissident" or even "mercenary" in the worst cases.

    In other words, euphemisms are employed to a degree directly
    proportional to the level of the commitment they have for the
    implantation or ordering by the system, in accordance with the period
    and the context.

    These are the reasons my writings are never published in official media.
    Don't imagine, my friends, that the cause of this is "censorship" or a
    lack of "freedom of expression" its that I'm very apt to use amplified
    phraseology and opinions that are "exaggerated," "distorted,"
    "imprudent" or "inconsistent" with our reality.

    Please, I'm not asking for anyone to describe me as being "sardonic"
    with this. I'm only being "funny."

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