Por Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2011, Derechos Reservados.

La vida lo va llevando a uno por los caminos verdes alguna vez transitados por otros, pero no por uno mismo, y cuando uno sabe que no le queda alternativa más que la de enfrentar lo que se avecina, tiende a hacer acopio de fuerzas, a enfocarse, a disponerse a pasar el vendaval que desde el horizonte negro se acerca ominoso, listo a derramar sus vientos y sus aguas a nuestros pies. En ese esfuerzo de concentración a veces olvidamos momentos felices, instantes especiales, no porque uno lo quiera así, sino que parece no haber tiempo, ni espacio, ni pensamiento, más que para timonear astutamente en las aguas turbias del presente incierto que no podemos eludir.

Como no pretendo que se lean todo este blog para conocer mis antecedentes quiero ofrecerles un tanto en este sentido. Muchos que ya me han leído sí saben, que soy cubana, exilada de Fidel en Miami, ciudadana estadounidense, esposa de un maracucho bien chévere y por lo tanto, desde hace tres años exactamente, residente oficial de Venezuela. Por muchos años mi esposo y yo entretuvimos la idea de venir a vivir a Isla Margarita, abrir una muy pequeña posada para alquilar habitaciones sólo en épocas de temporada alta y así hacer nuestro retiro tranquilos y lejos del bullicio y mareo de las ciudades grandes de Estados Unidos.

El sueño se tornó en pesadilla cuando por la crisis financiera de EE.UU. decidimos apurar el paso y hacer el cambio antes de lo que habíamos previsto. Así nos vimos en el Aeropuerto Internacional Santiago Mariño, “navegados”, como se les dice a los que vienen a asentarse a la isla, con nuestras maletas y nuestros animales: Simba, un ansioso golden retriever pelirrojo y la magníficamente bella, pobre gata Maggie que estuvo tres días sin comer ni moverse de su jaula después de su traumatizante experiencia del viaje en avión. Ahora pienso que como gata al fin, hermética y pausada, fue ella la única que intuyó y supo lo que nos venía encima, y desde el principio no lo quiso ni creer, ni aceptar. Lo que sucedió entre que aterrizamos en la isla y logramos tener nuestra nueva pero vieja casa en estado de ocupación humana pasaron alrededor de dos años y eso…, eso no se los voy a contar en este artículo porque, o todavía no he logrado procesarlo, o en realidad estoy con la digestión emocional paralizada precisamente para no desmoronarme.

Ya se agolpan sus preguntas en mis oídos: ¿Pero venir para Venezuela? ¡Si lo que nosotros queremos es irnos para EE.UU.! ¿Pero ya tú no viviste esto en Cuba? ¿Qué vinieron a buscar aquí? En verdad no tengo respuesta justificable, excepto una cosa que leí de Hayek, un economista de la escuela austríaca, que dice que en momentos de una crisis general, especialmente las económicas, de los seres humanos se apodera una especie de hipnosis que los lleva a “meter la pata”, y que por eso en momentos de incertidumbre, no se toman decisiones que impliquen grandes cambios existenciales. Por ende soy culpable, muy culpable, aunque vine en diciembre del 2007 a presenciar las elecciones y no fue sino hasta saber sus resultados que tomamos la decisión de venir a vivir a Venezuela.

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La Guayabera-Part IV

noviembre 12, 2010

By Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Afterword

Interestingly enough, as I was doing research for this piece, I came across several articles written by Cuban researchers living in Cuba who bemoan the fact that younger generations of Cubans raised in the island were not interested in the guayabera, did not wear it and considered it attire only for older men. Coincidentally, then, as the guayabera was becoming more popular among the younger Cuban generations that went into exile, the opposite was true in Cuba, where the use of the guayabera waned, partly because with the revolution, it somehow became tied to the government’s definition of corrupt politics and politicians, and the so-called “decadent” way of life of pre-Castro Cuba.

Probably a better reason is that as the Cuban revolution implemented its communist economic policies, which included the taking over of all of the means of production and distribution, such as the textile industry and all of the existing department stores, the country became immersed in years of scarcity and dearth during which very basic materials like cloth and thread to make guayaberas, were not readily available. Another reason very prevalent in the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, probably still valid today, helps explain this rejection of the guayabera among other Cuban patriotic symbols, especially that of national hero José Martí: unhappily, it was probably the only way that the Cuban youth, trapped by a Marxist system, as many believed they were, could quietly reject a revolution which insisted on ramming political indoctrination down their throats disguised as patriotism.

José Aurelio Paz was probably one of the first Cuban writers in the island to identify the negative attitude towards the guayabera evident among Cubans living in Cuba. In his article for Juventud Rebelde, he suggests that they should recapture the pride of wearing the guayabera and shed the shame associated with it, which is understood as the corrupt government bureaucrats and politicians of the pre-Castro era. But, although he identifies shame as one of the reasons for its lack of popularity among the younger generations, he doesn’t define very successfully the source of that shame. He goes on to say that whereas the guayabera came forth from the working classes and was once available at prices easily affordable by the common man, nowadays it is only available in commercial establishments limited to tourists, at prices too high to fit the skinny national salaries.

One supposedly Cuban online store I checked, TurismoenCuba.com uses the slogan “Powered by Amazon.” All of us who have had a business on the internet know what that refers to. Prices go from $24.99 to $55 US dollars, an amount difficult to come up with by a common working class Cuban who, unless he or she is employed in the tourist industry, his salary does not even come close to $20 Cuban pesos a month. But, of course, this Cuban online store, is not for Cubans inside the island who don’t have ready internet access or credit cards to purchase over the internet. Cubans in Cuba who want to buy a guayabera will not be able to do so in any store within their reach. And yet, guayaberas are available in the government-sponsored stores for foreigners (such as Cubans in exile and their families who visit the island), tourists, diplomats and the privileged of the Cuban ruling elite.

The government-sponsored online store that offers Cuban-made products, Mallcubano.com, does not even include a guayabera in its online catalog. Oh! And one note of irony here: “mallcubano”, pronounced in Spanish, sounds like mal cubano which means “bad Cuban”, “Cuban malady” or “Cuban evil”, but none of them good… Um, I wonder who came up with such a name?

In order to rescue the dwindling interest in the guayabera evident inside Cuba, writer Ciro Bianchi Ross along with Carlos Figueroa Crespo and others, suggested the establishment of The Socio-Political Project of The Guayabera within The Provincial Historical Museun of Sancti Spiritus. The Project already includes guayaberas donated by a roster of politically slanted though undoubtedly significant and historically prominent people of the last 50 years. They are the distinguished famous or infamous, depending on which side of the political divide you belong to, or how objective you manage to stay as you read this list, since, of course, donations of guayaberas by the political center and the political right are non-existing. The list includes, Fidel and Raúl Castro; Hugo Chávez, who donated his red guayabera, a gift from Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil; Colombian and Guatemalan writers, the Nobel laureates Gabriel García Márquez and Miguel Ángel Asturias; Shafick Handal (1930-2006) Secretary-General of the Communist Party of El Salvador; the Puertorrican independentists Rafael Cancel Miranda and Filiberto Ojea, and world renowned Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, as well as many others of the political left.

It begs the question, are these personalities who have been given the task of “uplifting” the pride and honor of the guayabera, and of redefining one of Cuba’s most endearing symbols by uncoupling it from the pre-Castro imagery of “corrupt politicians” and then re-associating it with their own supposedly pristine Marxist values, up to the challenge? Can they actually sway the minds of thousands who can finally see beyond the party line, but are still not able to purchase a half-way decent guayabera, in their own native Cuba?

One thing is certain: Miami, the capital of the Cuban exile, may or may not have a guayabera museum and although I think it is a terrific idea, the fact is that we could establish one not because we are not interested in the guayabera, but rather because we have made it popular in the most unexpected places and seen it escalate the loftiest of scenarios. There are guayaberas for all tastes and pocket sizes, and we certainly are not ashamed to wear one. National symbols are not responsible for the actions of irresponsible greedy politicians no matter where they fall within the political spectrum. A reminder: the next time you find yourself close to a guayabera, if you are Cuban, do this: run your fingers over the deftly sewn back pleats that together make up the Cuban flag!

The author holds a M.A. from the University of Miami. She is a free-lance writer and the editor of http://jose-marti.org and http://unacuartilla.wordpress.com.

Editor’s note: Ramon Puig photos courtesy of Three Guys From Miami™

Sources:

La guayabera por María Argelia Vizcaíno

http://jose-marti.org/jose_marti/simboloscubania/guayabera/laguayabera/01laguayabera.htm

La guayabera cubana

http://www.radiohc.cu/espanol/a_sugerencias/2010/jun/guayabera.htm

La guayabera en el Cocodrilo Azul

http://cocodriloazul.blogcip.cu/2009/10/24/la-guayabera/

Verdad y mentira de la guayabera cubana

http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/columnas/lectura/2010-05-22/verdad-y-mentira-de-la-guayabera/

El origen de la guayabera

http://lecturas.cibercuba.com/lecturas/artes/el_origen_de_la_guayabera.html

Por qué la guayabera es puramente cubana

http://www.autentico.org/oa09148.php

García Márquez dona guayabera a museo

http://www.larepublica.pe/cultural/13/04/2010/garcia-marquez-dona-guayabera-museo-cubano

Chávez dona guayabera que le regaló Lula

http://www.7medios.com/index.php/2009/10/19/chavez-dona-guayabera-que-le-regalo-lula-a-institucion-cultural-cubana/

Museo cubano atesora guayaberas de personajes famosos

http://spanish.china.org.cn/international/txt/2010-04/25/content_19901930.htm

Guayaberas impopulares y escasas en Cuba

http://www.turismoencuba.com/Guayaberas-impopulares-y-escasas-en-Cuba_i718.html

T-Shirts, Guayaberas y algo más

http://www.turismoencuba.com/T-shirts-Guayaberas-Cubanas-y-algo-mas-_i197.html

¿Por qué se le puso guayabera a esa prenda de vestir?

http://www.desdecuba.com/mason/?p=1613

Contrapunteo Caribe entre el liqui-liqui y la guayabera por Juan Jorge Álvarez Sánchez

http://www.delagracia.de/san_1.htm

La Guayabera por Hilda Anaya Sotelo

http://es.shvoong.com/humanities/1810175-la-guayabera/

Diferencia entre la guayabera yucateca y la guayabera cubana

http://www.guayaberas.com.mx/articulos/la-guayabera-se-origino-en-cuba/

María Elena Molinat

http://www.opushabana.cu/pdf/MA-2008/Maria_Elena_Mollinet.pdf

La diferencia entre la guayabera yucateca y la guayabera cubana

http://www.guayaberas.com.mx/articulos/diferencia-entre-la-guayabera-yucateca-y-la-guayabera-cubana/

Mallcubano.com

https://www.mallcubano.com/men_207categ.html

La Guayabera-Part III

septiembre 24, 2010

By Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

A bit of sewing

Back yoke of the guayabera/

Back yoke of the guayabera

So, the shirt that would become today’s guayabera was probably first made sometime in the XVIII Century. It then developed gradually over the XIX Century, not as a design made by one person, but rather as the result of the many shirt variations existing in the island and the efforts of several seamstresses and tailors who complied with shifts in taste and fashion by adding or deleting features to the original prototype. Someone, we cannot identify who, added the collar. Someone else, who surely possessed very high sewing skills, must have thought of adding the narrow pleats with their miniscule stitches down the front and back of the shirt. Then, at some point during the Cuban wars for independence from 1868 to 1898, the design of the Cuban flag was incorporated onto the back of the guayabera. This idea probably originated from the Cuban insurgents’ habit of wearing Cuban flags, or red and blue handkerchiefs tied together on the backs or fronts of their shirts, along with their religious medals, as a symbol of patriotism. But Spanish authorities declared this practice a form of treason and soon the Spanish soldiers began executing any Cuban insurgent caught wearing a Cuban flag. Some expert hands must have drawn the highly stylized and clever design of the triangle on the shoulder area of the shirt and divided the back into horizontal stripes separated by rows of pleats. A person deft with needle and thread must have sewn the triangle on. One of the angles of this triangle falls very visibly at the top center of the back, as they do on each front canesú or yoke, and on the top of each pocket of an authentic guayabera. Any error in stitching, or failure to align or fold the fabrics properly would cheapen or ruin the piece. It must have been a very patient person who decided to pepper the shirt with its twenty-seven tiny buttons, and was then willing to sew them on and make 27 buttonholes, all by hand! Finally somebody must have noticed the wear and tear the flaps were always under and decided to reinforce the bottom edges and side openings. Most writers agree that the traditional guayabera owes much of its success and beauty, not surprisingly, to shirt makers and seamstresses of the Sancti Spiritus area and of another town nearby called Zaza del Medio. I would like to comment that it is indeed a pity that users who buy guayaberas are unaware of the sewing skills that were required to finally arrive at the design of the guayabera as we know it today. Its early evolution took place in the absence of the precision sewing instruments available to us. I was taught to sew by my grandmother, who learned the craft as a young girl working with her father, a Spanish tailor who established his shop in the city of Havana in the 1920’s. Among many other sewing skills, she taught me how to make tiny buttonholes by hand. It is a painstakingly slow, careful process that of making tiny stitches that must fall one after the other in a horizontal row to secure the fabric underneath. One hand crunches over the small needle and thread; the other must hold the opening still, in order to avoid stretching at the edges of the cut fabric, in this case, fine linen, which, with the well defined warp and woof of natural fibers, ravels easily and would render a sagging and crooked buttonhole. I must say I never qualified, for lack of patience and dexterity, to make twenty-seven of those buttonholes in a row! I’m glad my grandmother also taught me Math!

The final touch came after the guayabera was finished. Experienced pressers where required to press the seams, pleats, buttonholes and folds into place. Later, when the guayabera had to be washed, a home-made starch was concocted from boiling water and grated yucca that was then strained and allowed to cool. The starch was more or less diluted with water depending on the user’s preference. The guayabera would be dipped into the mixture once or twice and then hung to dry. After it dried, the laundress would sprinkle water on the stiff sun-dried shirt and then wrap into a bundle until it was time to press it. I wonder if Ramón Puig uses Niagara starch today… I do!

The Guayabera-Part II

agosto 29, 2010

The insurgent guayabera
By Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Ciro Bianchi Ross, writing in the Cuban government-sponsored magazine Juventud Rebelde, points out that this early, and from his point of view “questionable” story about the Sancti Spiritus origins of the guayabera, if nothing else, marks the recognition of the existence of this special shirt and places it within the Cuban historical timetable. He explains that the guayabera or a description of it is not present in Cuban literature of the XIX Century, until the 1890’s when author Nicolás Heredia writes about it in his Cuban novel, Leonela. Furthermore, Bianchi Ross says that the Cuban peasant did not wear the guayabera, but rather normally donned a loose blue or striped shirt over his trousers, a straw hat or sombrero de yarey, boots, a neckerchief to wipe off his sweat and his machete.

La Condesa de Merlín

Condesa de Merlín

When the Countess of Merlin, (Havana 1789– París 1852), a Cuban aristocrat married to a French count, who is considered the first female Cuban writer, visited Havana in 1840, the guayabera was either not popular yet among the Cuban peasantry around the capital, or it was not known by that name. She does not mention it in any of her well-known writings or in the copious journal she kept of the trip. However, the fact that she does not mention the guayabera, does not mean it did not exist, at least as a prototype.

Guadalupe Yaujar in her article La guayabera cubana, quotes chroniclers of the mid-XIX Century who write that the guayabera existed and was already popular when Narciso López first raised the Cuban flag in the city of Cárdenas on May 19th, 1850. In 1856 or ‘57, Juan Cristóbal Nápoles Fajardo, better known in Cuban literature as “El Cucalambé”, published Rumores del hórmigo, a book of poetry that includes a description of the guayabera and calls it by its present name, establishing him as the first writer on record to acknowledge the existence and use of the guayabera. He became the most quoted and most popular poet of the mid- XIX Century in Cuba, probably helping to disseminate awareness of the guayabera throughout the island. “El Cucalambé” was honored in 1953 by the Cuban government which chose his birthday, July 1, as the official Día de la Guayabera (Guayabera Day).

El Cucalambé

Juan Cristóbal Nápoles Fajardo, El Cucalambé

By 1866, in the town of Güines, political reformer and activist Nicolás Azcárate is elected delegate to the Information Council of the Spanish cortes or parliament. His followers organized a victory celebration in his honor and it is noted by eyewitnesses that the peasants of the surrounding countryside showed up wearing their classical guayaberas and jipijapa or straw hats. The operative word here is classical since it implies time, design, tradition and the conscious acceptance by a social group that an item of clothing clearly identifies them. Other writers agree that when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes rang the bell of his sugarmill La Demajagua on October 10th, 1868, calling for Cuban independence from Spain, some of the men who joined him were wearing, not the military shirt known then as the chamarreta, as Ciro Bianchi insists they did, but rather one very similar to what is known now as the guayabera. I differ from Bianchi Ross on this fact because it seems incongruous that a group of colonial men, ready to fight the mother country for the freedom of their land, would go to do so dressed in the enemy’s uniform. I tend to think that if they were indeed not wearing a guayabera, they had to be wearing something very similar, a regular light colored, long sleeve shirt or camisa, the striped peasant shirt, or some early guayabera prototype.

This puts us right in the middle of an ongoing debate as to whether or not the Cuban army used the guayabera during the fight against Spanish colonialism. Many photos still exist showing the Cuban mambí, the name given to the Cuban insurgents in the wars for independence, men like Generals Enrique Loynaz del Castillo, and Máximo Gómez, Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Army, wearing a shirt that is indeed very similar to the guayabera.

Los mambises

The mambí/mambises (pl) or Cuban insurgents in the wars for independence against Spain.

The Cuban army had no military uniform and dressed in whatever the men could find. At the start of the last War of Independence in 1895, in his Diario de campaña, Cuban national hero, José Martí, mentions the chamarreta, the military shirt, and not the guayabera. Charito Bolaños, the woman who reputedly sewed for many insurgents during the war, among whom were generals of the stature of Mayía Rodríguez and Mario García Menocal, states that she never sent a guayabera to the manigua, as the rough wilderness where the Cuban army fought against the Spaniards was called. But then, men such as those mentioned above, who could have had clothing sewn especially for them, were probably not going to choose to wear a shirt that was so similar to the one used by the common peasant. It must be remembered that Cuban wars for independence were fought for political independence from Spain, not necessarily for social equality. María Elena Molinet, Cuban costume designer in charge of important historical films that cover this period of Cuban history, such as Baraguá and La primera carga al machete (The First Charge of the Machete), after collecting and studying many such photos, asserts that none of the Cuban rebels is wearing a guayabera. It must be said, however, that the chamarreta had many details that coincided with the design of the guayabera, such as the long sleeves, the four large front pockets and the side flaps to ease it over men’s trousers.

The fact though that the controversy does exists, is an indication that the guayabera was probably already competing favorably against very similar shirts used by Cuban men of the XIX Century. It is also possible that as the century unfolded, and the popularity of the guayabera increased, it underwent important changes that improved its design. This in part explains the variations described as well as assertions made by observers of the time, which, as history has it, lend themselves well to unending controversy.

The Guayabera-Part I

agosto 14, 2010

By Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Salsa is Cuban. The bolero is Cuban. So is a cigar worthy of the name, the Cuba libre, the mojito and also, believe it or not, the guayabera. I can’t remember life without it. I bought my Chinese-Cuban-American grandson his first guayabera, the tiniest thing, when he was barely a few days old: “Little man” I said, “Welcome to our culture!”

I think most Cuban women are emotionally bound to the guayabera through memories we hold very dear of fathers, grandfathers, and older family patriarchs wearing them. I can remember the day my then young and very conservative grandfather, finally gave in to my grandmother’s pleas to wear long-sleeved guayaberas instead of sitting through his meals fully suited, in the hot, Cuban weather. I recall my dad sweeping me off the floor as a little girl, smelling his clean-shaven face and feeling his crisply pressed guayabera, double-dipped in thick and gooey homemade starch as he carried me in his arms. I cherish the memories of Sunday afternoons at the Yacht Club watching all the elegant men strolling everywhere in – of course – their guayaberas.

As a young girl growing up in Cuba, I instinctively understood there was magic in the guayabera. Women with men wearing them seemed to be more romantic, sensual, feminine and beautiful in their own summer attire, usually made of light summery fabrics that rustled in the sea breeze. I remember very airy organza blouses and guayaberas; white linen dresses and guayaberas; blue polka-dotted dresses and guayaberas; soft, straw wide-rimmed hats and guayaberas; cigars and guayaberas; a well-groomed gray beard and guayaberas; the aromas of sweet lime cologne, café cubano and guayaberas; the mojito, a cubilete game and guayaberas; the smell of the ocean permeating Havana evenings and the guayabera.

The guayabera is solidly etched in the psyche of a Cuban woman of my generation. When I became an adult, and settled in the States, with a husband and young children, I made sure my husband had a guayabera. I think I was probably one of the first young Cuban matrons who pushed for this very special shirt to be worn again by our men. It was a national emblem that lent us a visible identity during our early years in exile when we were all frantically holding on to our values and traditions which we felt were being threatened by the larger Anglo culture surrounding us. The guayabera became the expression of an emotional need deeply buried in our national memory. In Miami, during the early 70’s, the guayabera gradually gained renewed interest among what were then known as the yuccas (young up and coming Cuban Americans), an acronym derived from the name of an edible root, very popular in the Cuban diet.

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Extremo este de Playa El Agua

Por Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2010, Derechos Reservados.

Playa El Agua aún duerme. La fina y tibia arena provoca tocarla. Uno que otro somnoliento cuidador de restaurante playero, anticipando clientela, barre de la orilla los montones de algas que dejó olvidada la marea en su viaje de retroceso recogiendo el mar. Poco a poco las tumbonas blancas colocadas sobre la arena por los cuidadores, van acaparando su espacio junto al fuerte e incansable oleaje milenario de esta amplia y magnífica playa. Sobre las tumbonas, los toldos multicolores, como bonetes domingueros de niñitas, pintan el paisaje, aquí rojos, allá azules, más allá verdes y morados, así hasta el horizonte del extremo opuesto de la playa. El tenue vientecillo que sopla desde el mar envuelve la costa con una neblina vaporosa de minúsculo y casi imperceptible rocío de sal. Pasa de vez en cuando alguien que deja sus huellas sobre la arena mojada, huellas que se unen a las tantas que han ido y venido. Se van desvaneciendo como se desvanecieron las anteriores y como desparecieron todos aquéllos que vinieron y se fueron desde los principios del tiempo. La marea está muy baja y se dibuja sobre la arena húmeda una ancha avenida que delinea el verdadero alcance del siempre turbulento mar cuando regresa a cubrirla. El agua transparente se confabula con el sol y juntos hacen veloces caleidoscopios de luces que se reflejan en el fondo del mar. Las olas van y vienen. Se derraman extenuadas en la orilla, trayendo algunas tiras de algas, unos delgados pececitos, nerviosos y fugaces, un pequeño cangrejo que surge de entre la espuma y se pierde corriendo sobre la arena, buscando el diminuto agujero que le sirve de casa.

Los viejos cocoteros verdes de largas y mañosas cabelleras, se alzan elegantes, como centinelas cuadrados en atención, formando una alta muralla que separa la playa de la carretera. En lo más alto, unen sus frondosas cabezas verdes y al moverlas la brisa, se convierten en amigas con mucho que contarse porque hace tiempo que no se ven. Ahora se acercan y secretean dos; ahora se separan y parece que se dieran la espalda; ahora una se mece sola, como si escuchara una melodía personal, distinta; ahora los cocoteros parecen todos un coro de voces verdes vibrando en el aire, frotando sus pencas como los grillos sus patas, allá en lo más alto, donde casi nadie mira.

Frente a la playa en el medio del mar yace el Archipiélago de Los Frailes que en la mañana se viste con los colores que el sol naciente quiera enviarle. Hoy puede ser morado, pero mañana podría ser violeta, o lila o quizás naranja. La bruma lo envuelve misteriosamente. Muchas veces lleva por sombrero una gran nube que parece taparle la frente y los ojos.

Unas ligeras y pequeñas lanchas, los gráciles peñeros, que salpican con su colorido toda la Isla de Margarita, se divisan yendo y viniendo por delante del horizonte, entre Playa El Agua y Los Frailes, haciendo su travesía pesquera madrugadora. Se oye muy a lo lejos el runrún de los motores y se ven parados en cubierta a los pescadores, verdaderos expertos en desafiar el movimiento del mar con su fino equilibrio. Van cortando el mar a gran velocidad abriendo un surco que al mismo tiempo se cierra detrás de la lancha. Queda la tenue estela que marca el camino del peñero sobre la mar. Se forman, a cada lado de la proa, un par de abanicos líquidos. Salta la lancha por sobre las olas y, al volver a caer, zapatea como la bailarina española. El pescador sigue allí parado, sólidamente, una figura de plomo, imantada a cubierta, contra el telón azul claro del cielo, que hoy contrasta con el agua verde-azul. Las gaviotas, las tijeritas y los pelícanos también conocidos como “buchones”, comparten el espacio de aire sobre Playa El Agua con los zamuros grises que aterrizan en la arena en un lugar apartado, como si supieran que su presencia no es precisamente bienvenida.

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Por Hilda Luisa Díaz-Perera. 2010, Derechos Reservados.

Es triste el estado en que se encuentra el español a nivel del ciudadano de a pie. No podemos conformarnos conque sólo los privilegiados de la educación lo manejen correctamente, ya que el ser humano no se hace conocedor de su lengua con sólo hablarla. El idioma es un gran edificio que se construye a partir de una base sólida, ladrillo a ladrillo, cuyas materias primas incluyen su abecedario, su vocabulario, su acentuación, su puntuación, su ortografía, su gramática, y su composición; es comprender sus reglas y es saber cómo y cuándo éstas se pueden franquear; es saber forzarlo, pero también es saber respetarlo. Es más, se empieza a conocer íntimamente nuestro idioma cuando debemos traducir de otro. De esta instancia hablaremos más adelante.

Supongo que estas consideraciones me podrían colocar entre los puristas que se sienten cómodos con un idioma estacionario y no así con uno que contiene las semillas de su propia metamorfosis y rejuvenecimiento. Quiero  aclarar que aunque prefiero, quizás por mi edad, el orden y lo predecible, siempre me ha gustado ensayar y repetirme en silencio alguna palabra nueva o giro de decir innovador que tengo la fortuna de encontrarme en mis lecturas y mis intercambios con otras personas. También aplaudo las reformas de la Real Academia de la Lengua  Española (1) que simplifican pero patrullan el uso del español, y recogen y acogen palabras que por su ubicuidad merecen ser aceptadas por el idioma formal. Me hace feliz la jerga, el espanglés/spanglish, el guarañol y el portuñol, pues son españoles bastardos, bandidos y atrevidos, que se burlan de la Academia entrando y saliendo con su contrabando lingüístico por las fronteras geográficas y por las del desconocimiento o facilismo del que los usa. Pero son también caldo de cultivo de soluciones que resuelven el encuentro de dos culturas y la forma en que ambas logran llegar a acomodarse y entenderse. En muchas ocasiones es a través de estos híbridos como surgen las palabras nuevas que le ofrecen un fresco ímpetu al español.

Me llena de ternura escuchar a un niño de ascendencia hispana en Estados Unidos luchar con las enrevesadas conjugaciones de los verbos irregulares del español, o cuando al traducir, en su afán por darse a entender, convierte play the piano en “jugar el piano”. Pero, precisamente por verme en ese espejo, por vivir, crecer y estudiar en Estados Unidos durante tantos años, dudaba de mi propio conocimiento del español. Sin embargo, después de mudarme a vivir en un país hispano ¡he perdido todos los complejos! En dos años he podido empaparme de un español anárquico, que se mueve por donde se le antoja, sin guía vigilante que encauce sus bríos. Por ser este un tema imposible de cubrir en un artículo, quiero ser puntual y ceñirme a algunos de mis “descubrimientos” que quizás sean los que más me turban. Empecemos pues: la palabra conseguir se define como alcanzar, obtener o lograr lo que se desea. Por lo tanto, yo no puedo “conseguirme con Carlos en el centro”, pero sí puedo “encontrarme con Carlos en el centro” o “Carlos y yo nos encontramos en el centro”, porque la palabra encontrar significa dar con

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