Fidel’s New Name for US Citizens

Dmitri Prieto

Fidel Castro with Ecuador's Rafael Correa in August 2009.

Fidel Castro has proposed a new name for people from the USA.  Listening to Fidel’s “Reflections” read recently on the noon news , the Commandant used the term “Usamerican,” an adjective derived from “USA.”

I recognize that ever since I was little, I felt a certain cognitive dissonance for the use (incorrect, I believe) of the word “America” as a name for the federated state created in 1776.  The contradiction comes from the common custom of citizens from that country referring to themselves with that term, a custom shared (when referring to those “Americans”) by non-Hispanic residents of Europe.

I had learned that use of the word since I was a child.  This is why I found it shocking when I heard, for example, that Cuban national hero Jose Marti had created a magazine for the children of “America” while at the same time the “Americans” had transformed Cuba into a neo-colony.  Later on I learned to distinguish which “America” was being spoken of in each case.

The country of Obama occupies only a part of the continent called America, whose name is shared by all of the residents of that continent, everyone with equal right to that title.

On the other hand, in Spanish there exist the variations norteamericano (North American) and estadounidense (US resident).  Nevertheless, North America also includes Canada, Greenland and a part of Mexico.  Actually, the official name of that latter country is “The United States of Mexico.”

There also exists the United States of Brazil and that of Central America, though neither of the two variations really fit.  Notwithstanding, it seems that the republic created in 1776 doesn’t possess a name that it can use with full rights.

Certainly something similar happened with the country that no longer exists that called itself the Soviet Union.  The fact of the matter is that the word “soviet” doesn’t refer to a nationality, but to a political organization (a “council of workers,” the organizational form that lost all its true content after the 1920s).  Such organizations also existed in other countries (for example in Hungary, Germany, Slovakia and China).

In 1991, year of the last final flicker of the USSR, a cleaver news correspondent proposed calling that territory “Gorbistan,” in honor of Mikhail Gorbachev, but like the presidency of Gorbachev, the USSR itself had only days remaining.

Latin Americans sometimes refer to the citizens of the USA by the name “Yankees.” Accordingly, in Latin America the term yanquilandia (Yankeeland) is sometimes used sarcastically.

At one time I proposed the words “yankistan” as the country’s name and “yankistani” for its residents.  In my humble opinion, these are excellent alternatives, because “-stan” comes from the common Indo-European root word and is also politically correct.  Yet no one paid any attention to me.

I know perfectly well, though, that for many of the residents of this country that has borders with Canada and Mexico, the term “Yankee” signifies little more than a great baseball team located in New York.

By the way, the word “Usono” exists in Esperanto to refer to this republic with 50 states, and “usonano” is used for its residents.  These words, of course, should not be confused in that artificial language with “Ameriko” and “amerikano,” which both refer to the continent.

I don’t know how successful the neologism now being proposed by Fidel Castro will end up being.  But perhaps the word “usamericano” will turn out to be more successful than “yankistani.”  I can imagine Cuban school books and reference maps in which that country to the north of Cuba winds up being called “Usamerica.”  That would be interesting, don’t you think?

Or would they prefer “Obamistan?”

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

9 thoughts on “Fidel’s New Name for US Citizens

  • May 20, 2010 at 1:54 am
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    You neglect to mention my favorite cubaism… El Yuma… although now, if I’m not mistaken, Yuma refers to any country or citizen who is not Cuban. Which royally pissed off some friends of mine from Chile who were recently in Cuba with me…they did not appreciate being lumped in with me (a gringo yankee) as a Yumas haha

    I’m down with “usamerican”. I also, being from the empire, am conflicted about which term would be most appropriate for us to use. Something tells me that it may take a while for it to catch on though.

    Reply
  • May 20, 2010 at 9:58 am
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    As for the Usamerica bit, I wouldn’t know. I think that it would probably be short lived. Would the government actually enforce the use of the term? China has started to enforce it’s ban on foreign words, with more focus upon English abbreviations. Their reason is to keep the language “pure”.

    Now using “-stan” for a country not located in Eastern Europe and Asia just seems wrong. I would probably be 99% proven correct should a poll be made, that no one in the Western world would want their country’s name have a “-stan” at the end.

    Would any of you actually vote to change Cuba to “Cubastan” because it’s PC? Speaking of PC, can anyone tell me if Cuba has access to Wikipedia? I have asked this question on other posts but have never seen a quick reply.

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  • May 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm
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    I have always wondered,like yourself,why they call themselves Americans,while America is a continent
    and not a country.
    The probability that it speaks to the arrogance of the people of the USA is probably the reason.
    It is unfortunate because not all should be painted with the same brush.There are many good people
    there.
    Good point though.
    best regards
    Guy

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  • May 20, 2010 at 3:44 pm
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    Hi Dmitri,

    I have been using the tem U.S. American ever since I was conscious of the fact that America refers to both continents north and south. So it is not so new ;)

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  • May 21, 2010 at 4:10 am
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    Along with sami, I’ll take “The 6:10 from Yuma!” (actually, not sure of the time). It was a pelicula which captured the essence of, err, “America,” err, I mean, “The U.S.A.,” err, I mean–oh dear! I have been backed into a P.C. corner. Indeed, “A Bad Day at Black Rock!”

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  • May 21, 2010 at 9:18 pm
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    Hello Dmitri,

    I’ve had heard the Usamerican term before… I’ve always felt angry when somebody speaks of ‘America’ meaning the US alone. Heck, I’m American also. South-American. How much arrogant it is to identify one country with the whole continent.

    Ah, by the way, there exisTED an United States of Brazil.

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  • February 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm
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    The
    problem starts with the fact that the territory that contains the so-called
    ‘americans’ is not a country but a collection of states associates as Puerto
    Rico (this last one, by force) — So, the first thing to do is to give a proper
    name to that part of the world located South of Canada and the Canadians and
    North of México and the mexicanos … but what name to elect if the ‘americans’
    had not a unifying symbol common to all? Including their own flag that is a
    variable collection of stars tie to a permanent number of bars … I propose to
    call to that territory in between México and Canada, as Stoogeland and its
    inhabitants will be then Stooges. Then go to create a new flag which motto be a
    ‘nut’ as in Bascogne … but will all this semantic problem care a nut to the
    so called ‘americans’?

    (The
    author of this brilliant idea is a ‘chileno’ citicen)

    >>

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  • July 9, 2018 at 1:45 am
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    This is super old but I always liked Usonian, similar to Usonano, that’s used in architecture lingo to describe US architecture. I think it’s easier and less clumsy than Usamerican. From Usonia come Usonians. Y en español puede ser Usonia y Usonenses (usonianos/anas)

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usonia?wprov=sfla1

    Reply

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