Not unemployed, “available”
Junio 28, 2009 at 17:38 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión
Because of that cute way the Cuban revolution has of transforming everything, including the language, you can almost say that we do not speak Spanish here. After decades of constant abuse of the language, where “comrade” substituted “sir”; “provisioning”, “rationing”; “blockade”, “embargo”; “UMAP”, “forced labor camps”; “special period”, “economic crisis”, and a whole very long and unique list of euphemisms, not to mention the historic sorts that convert “setbacks” to “victories”, “defeats” to “moral victories”, “dissidents” to “mercenaries”, “dissatisfied” to “confused”, or any mention of the “Cuban critical socioeconomic situation” to “enemy propaganda”, now it turns out that there are no unemployed on the Island.
Every day, the official press repeats the jingle with glee, as if it were the epitaph of capitalism, of the ever-increasing unemployment figures, mainly in the United States and Europe. Their intention is for us Cubans to feel secure and confident in our benevolent social system “that does not abandon anyone”. Maybe because of that, no matter how much I browse through the eight miserable pages of Granma, and no matter how I fine-tune my hearing and my sight during the broadcasting of the TV news, I cannot find the slightest mention of Cuban workers who, suddenly and in growing sequence, have found themselves taking forced vacations after the sudden shutdown of their work centers. There are so many examples that I am going to limit myself only to what is happening in the town of Güira de Melena, in the province of Havana, a sufficiently documented case by sources affected by the new measures to “save” that imply, in many cases, to cease production, for the absolute purpose of “avoiding expenses”: a phenomenon that could only be legitimized in a system such as ours. Anyway, they have closed the canning, tobacco and carts factories; all employees have been sent home “on vacation” (here they apply another euphemism before the impossibility of calling it “vacation” they prefer to use the phrase “paid rest”). After which, workers will be collecting 60% of their salaries for a few months, and will remain “available” for an indefinite time.
If I understood this substitution of terms correctly –which might well go global to nominate a linguistic-derived science which we might call euphemismology- in the front page news that Granma published this past Saturday, June 20th if we substituted the word “unemployment” for the one used in Cuba, the headline would say that “the availability in Florida exceeds 10%” or that, -according to the Labor Department of that state- there are 417,500 workers “available” in Florida in the last 12 months… Only that they (the American officials) most likely publish it in English or maybe in regular Spanish, languages that appear not to have the rich flexibility of the Cuban revolutionary language.
Illustration: Photograph of a group of baseball enthusiasts who meet every day from morning to sunset, year-round, in a fixed area of Central Park, -in the shade of the trees to the left of the statue of the Apostle- only to have heated discussions about that sport. The vast majority are men of working age. It is unknown whether they can be officially called “unemployed” or “available”. The sources of their livelihood are also unknown, but the truth is that they are either not disposed to join the government jobs or are evidence of the new system of “savings” upheld by the revolution.