Our Terminology / 14ymedio
Posted on May 22, 2014
Reinaldo Escobar, 14YMEDIO, Havana | May 21, 2014
The economic restrictions imposed by the United States on the government
of Cuba are called "embargo" in one political pole and "blockade" in the
other one. The country where such measures originate can be called "the
imperialism" (or "the empire"), or by its actual names: United States,
USA, and North America. The team of people that makes the main decisions
in Cuba is called "the Cuban government," "the authorities" or the
"Castroite regime," as well as other flattering names such as "the
Revolution's historic generation" or unflattering ones such as "the
Castro brothers' dictatorship."
The term "revolution" is sometimes written with a capital R, mostly if
it has another name attached to it: French Revolution, Industrial
Revolution, Cuban Revolution. In the 1980s, in order to refer to the
process that Lenin headed in Russia in 1917, it was almost mandatory to
use the following formula: "The Great October Socialist Revolution." In
fact, this was the name given to a sugarcane combine factory in Holguín.
In our case, one can opt for the most affected formulas, such as "the
process initiated in 1959" if one does not want to use the noun
Those of us dedicated to writing about Cuban topics are constantly
subjected to the scrutiny of our critics based on the terminology that
we choose. What should I call Fidel Castro Ruz? Should I call him "our
invincible commander in chief"? The simple and loving "Fidel," or the
distant "Castro"? Once, in the middle of a brainstorm, someone suggested
"the hyena of Birán" and the suggestion stood as a joke. Perhaps it
would be appropriate to call him "the Cuban ex-president," but neither
extreme likes it.
Now that we face the prospect of beginning a new journalistic experience
with intentions of objectivity and moderation, we find ourselves trapped
in the damned circumstance of terminology that, like water to the
island, surrounds us everywhere. It is easy for a panel member on the
Round Table to use labels such as "the Miami terrorist mafia," "the
media war against Cuba," and others lacking as much imagination as they
lack any sense. They are paid to do that.
Nevertheless, how could we capture in one word the millions of Cubans
who for varied reasons have decided to live outside their country?
Should we say "exile," "emigration" or "diaspora"? It is obvious that we
will not say "scum" no matter how unexpected (treasonous) was their
leaving this oven (melting pot), where we were manipulated (formed) as
trash (the New Man).
In this launch, full of mishaps and emotions, we would like to make
clear that each author owns his or her own terminology, as long as it
does not trespass the most elementary limits of respect. This space can
accommodate passion, all passions, but not insult. To the most
sensitive, we beg for tolerance, for words can be the material wrappings
of thought, but not the prison of ideas.
 The Round Table or la Mesa Redonda de Reflexión is a political
"orientation" TV program in Cuba.
Source: Our Terminology / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba -