In a Word or Two or Three

I stumbled across this headline in the Sun-Sentinel recently:
Cuba’s economic czar promises to rebuild storm-ravaged homes in Baracoa
I don’t want to make light of the predicament of those who lost their homes, but I do want to point out the irony. I could start with the vow, which would better be directed at the Victims of the Storm, by that I mean the ones who have had their homes crumble over their heads, as well as the victims of the storm. But let’s accept the article’s view of reality. There is no housing problem in Cuba, and these are the only unfortunates left homeless. Not to worry, however, Carlos Lage, passed over for the number two spot in the government but happily endowed with a new title by the Sentinel, “economic czar,” has promised to rebuild. Czar, what a grand ring to it, kinda like “Czar of All the Russias.” Of course in his case, he’s been about as effective as our drug “czars”’ and in this particular matter might better be described as the potentate of plaster…of the crumbling variety, that is.


Another interesting point of diction occurs when translators have Cubans speaking as if they were at a cricket match. This makes for some interesting usages. In an article about the dismal state of merchandise offered in stores, Reuters has shop assistant Belkis Martinez complaining that they have “knickers,” but only in small sizes. Somehow, I just can’t picture poor Belkis bemoaning the paucity of full-sized knickers. Bloomers might have been more believable, since it is closer to the Cuban usage, even panties.
The latest example of this phenomenon appeared in an article in a Chinese government organ which quotes the coma andante thus:
“We see around us a great frenzy, as though we lived in Bedlam,”
I know he was educated by Jesuits and all, but I can’t see him using the word Bedlam. Bedlam is one of those words that hasn’t been used outside of a PBS series in at least half a century. Derived from the name of an actual asylum, the Hospital of St. Mary’s of Bethlehem, which with the English proclivity for clipping words became bedlam, it had to be the translator’s equivalent for Mazzora, the Cuban asylum of lore. So I ventured into enemy territory to read the original in Spanish. Nah, it was just “casa de loco,” or “crazy house.”
All of which brings to mind another headline this one from an article by Guillermo Fariñas:
EL INSEPULTO TRADUCTOR EN JEFE
He asks the question, if the Cuban population is 100 per cent literate and politically educated, why do they need the blogger in chief to translate the news for them. Strikes me as a nicely phrased question. And that “insepulto,” now that’s a great word.

2 thoughts on “In a Word or Two or Three”

  1. Calling Carlos Lage “an economic czar” is of course an outrageous overstatement, a gross euphemism, a free [undeserved] handout to the regime, in other words, part and parcel of the usual pro-Castroism of the mainstream media [no wonder the average American is so confused when it comes to Cuba!]. To me, “an economic czar” is someone who is a brilliant economist, someone who through sheer economic genius is able to turnaround a bad economic situation. I could be wrong, but that’s the connection that I make. Naturally, Carlos Lage is none of this. One would have to have a vivid imagination to think that he is all that. Carlos Lage is nothing more than another clog in the Castro, Inc. machinery. A trained M.D., [not an economist to my knowledge], the man does nothing more than follow orders and sustain the monstrous regime.

  2. Perhaps this “Economic Czar” is also responsible for what is happening in Las Morlas, Matanzas.
    The following information is from “The Real Cuba.” It’s listed under the heading “Who Owns the Tourists Resorts in Cuba?”
    http://www.therealcuba.com/Page18.htm
    “In January of 2008, I received a letter from a Canadian who was in Cuba twice, at the end of last year. He was very concerned to hear what was happening to the residents of a small fishing village known as Las Morlas, near Varadero. Here is part of what he said:
    ‘I visited Varadero, Cuba, in November for one week and in December for 2 Weeks. My friend has a few friends in Las Morlas, a 100 year old town that is forcefully being moved. A checkpoint with police is nearby for intimidation. This December I learned that all remaining families must leave within 10 days. These people are fishermen, their boats were confiscated, palm trees burned and many houses bulldozed. The entry road was torn up from Nov-Dec. Journalists say nothing can be done and fear for their lives. The residents are to be given an apartment and not allowed to fish. Can you help?’ I told him that I would do whatever I could to let people know about what’s happening to the residents of Las Morlas. With the e-mail, I received many photos of the homes that have been already destroyed and I also received a legal eviction noticed, that was given to one of the residents of Las Morlas who was refusing to move. On page 1, of the 6 page document, a lawyer seeking the “forceful eviction” states that she represents “ALMEST, a Real Estate Investment company belonging to the revolutionary armed forces.” It is the first time that I have seen a legal document from the Cuban government saying that the armed forces are the owners of a tourist resort. Now, all the tourists that go to Cuba wont be able to say that they were not aware that the money they were spending in Cuba was going directly to Castro’s corrupt generals and the armed forces that have kept the dictator in power for almost half a century. The document goes on to say that the home belonging to the person that they want to evict is inside a zone of “370 hectareas” (about 915 acres) that is being developed by the Cuban regime as part of the Punta Hicacos Tourist and Real State development in Varadero. The total cost of the project of this development owned by Castro’s armed forces is 100,000,000USD, according to the document! I spoke with a young Cuban who used to live in Las Morlas until he left for Canada a few years ago. He has been back to Cuba on several occasions and keeps in touch with the residents of the town. He told me that the police went there and pulled several of the residents out of their houses, while workers took all their belongings and dumped them in trucks. Then a bulldozer came in and leveled the house. “They do not want to have any Cubans living in the Varadero area,” he told me. “If you don’t have an ID showing that you work for one of the hotels, no Cuban will be allowed to get even close to Varadero.” Castro continues to treat Cuba as his own private farm, and the 11 million Cubans as his peons.”
    Map of Las Morlas
    http://nona.net/features/map/placedetail.862940/Las%20Morlas/

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