Are Cubans Spanish

Cuban Spanish - German

The Little Business Dictionary - Exercise 10:
Everyday struggle and back and forth business behind the shower curtain.




Cuba is a unique organism that is totally geared towards improvisation. In the language, too, you are constantly improving or inventing new words. Sometimes this is taken so far that the Cubans can no longer see through it themselves. For example, when people talk about the left, the back or the shower curtain - and everyone means the same thing: the black market.

por la izquierda |to the left or black market, the
por detrás |around the back or black market that
detrás de la cortina |behind the shower curtain or black market that
If you don't understand this straight away, ask - and ask about the mechanics.

¿Qué es la mecánica? |literally: what is the mechanics? (means: how does it work?)
Small businesses are also called mechanics. Every Cuban operates a little mechanism. You deal with everything: packed lunches, flip-flops and cheese wedges, on the left, around the back or behind the shower curtain. It is important to squeeze the juice out of everything.

sacar el jugo a algo |literally: to squeeze the juice out of something (means: to get the best out of it)
Cubans consider themselves very diligent in this activity. So hard-working that many can barely get to their actual work. Many cannot afford their own job. There is a lack of wages.

el salario |Wages (a kind of symbolic value in Cuba)
A doctor receives a good 500 national pesos a month. That's about 15 euros. He could use it to buy national pesos in state stores, but there is little. In the state stores for the second currency, the convertible foreign exchange peso (CUC), there is a little more, but you cannot afford it (500 national pesos = 12 CUC). One therefore often groans and scolds life a "lucha".

la lucha |Fight, the (is waged daily, see also squeezing juice)
The fight begins with the morning glass of milk. It is rationed, only available on grocery cards for parents of small children - or for foreign currency. So the real value of a job lies in the options it offers for all types of mechanics behind the shower curtain. One speaks quite soberly of an extra income.

el dinero extra |Additional income (usually the actual income)
The waiter lives from the tourists' tips, the cook from selling various delicacies from his employer's kitchen, the chauffeur from trading in diverted gasoline. A doctor can sell the car purchase authorization certificates issued specifically for his occupational group. Such a note brings up to 3000 CUC on the black market. He could then use it to pay for a used car, but unfortunately he no longer has an authorization card. Life is a struggle - and mostly illegal in Cuba.

illegal |illegal (normal state for mechanics of all kinds in the area of ​​additional income)
When it comes to illegality, Cubans come closest to the socialist ideal: everyone is equal on the black market. Everyone needs it to survive, the illegal aftertaste is washed down with a good shot of double standards.

la doble moral |Double standards that
This goes so far that everyone happily operates their mechanics behind the shower curtain, while at the same time being careful that others don't do this. Most of them just pretend to be careful. For example at the “guardia”.

la guardia |Guard that
To this end, the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution calls on the citizens in turn. Every night it is the turn of someone on his street to sit in front of the front door from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. and keep your eyes open. Anomalies are written in a booklet. But most of them are just careful not to get caught with mechanics themselves. Because a “chivato” could lurk anywhere.

el chivato |literally: billy goat, the (paraphrase for informers)
The fact that there are many of them has to do with a distinctive trait: envy.

la envidia |Envy that
Everyone is envious of everyone, be it friend or neighbor. Therefore, mechanics are actually practiced behind the house or even behind the shower curtain. If you get caught, a multa blooms.

la multa |Punishment that
The black market in beef is imprisoned, small offenses - such as taxi drivers for tourists - are punished with fines, paid off in monthly installments. If you don't pay once, you start all over again. Cubans are not resentful, however. You use a multa for new friendships.

la amistad |Friendship that
Anyone who is sentenced to a punishment by a traffic policeman for transporting foreigners to the police force immediately asks in a friendly manner about the state of the wife. They willingly offer to get a small soft drink. If you have done this often enough, policemen who are friends with you and turn a blind eye to the next offense will always catch you. You have to get the refreshment anyway.

Somehow this is how the mechanics work in Cuba, but nobody really looks through it. A saying goes:
Todos tienen hambre, pero nadie se muere de hambre - Everyone is hungry, but nobody dies from it. ---