In this interview, Pepe Mujica, former president from Uruguay, uses the phrase tener una tacita de marfil while talking about wealth in countries:

Queremos compartimentar. Queremos construir alambrados y muros... y que la desgracia quede a aquel lado y nosotros tener una tacita de marfil... es imposible. Europa termina café con leche, es cuestión de tiempo.

What is it supposed to mean?

  • Could you edit the question to include the context? Some people (me, for instance) are on limited data connections and can pull up videos or may be somewhere where they can't listen to audio. Jul 25, 2018 at 7:41
  • 2
    The subtitles are quite bad; the correct spelling is una tacita de marfil. Anyway, it is not a usual expression, he just uses it figuratively and it would mean the same in any other language. It just means something very delicate and clean, as opposed to the dirty, ugly world outside.
    – Gorpik
    Jul 25, 2018 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


The comment makes reference to have the best part on our side and let the ugly and problematic things outside.

He makes an analogy with having a ivory cup that is delicated, clear and clean.

The spelling on your question is not correct, it should be tacita de marfil instead.

  • 1
    "tazita de márfil" is in official video subtitles, that is where I took it from, just for explanation
    – ludgo
    Jul 25, 2018 at 17:51

I guess it was a confusion by Pepe Mujica when trying to use the torre de marfil metaphor.

As explained in Quisiera saber qué significa la frase "estar encerrado en una torre de marfil”:

Se dice del escritor o artista que vive desvinculado de la vida cotidiana, aislado voluntariamente de todo lo que le rodea y atiende solo a la perfección de su obra, indiferente ante la realidad y los problemas del momento. Se aplica al elitismo académico: incapacidad para comunicarse con el mundo exterior y para percibir las necesidades de la sociedad que les rodea.

That is, it refers to a way of evading from the reality in a nihilistic way. Generally used for artists and writers, it can be used sometimes in other contexts such as the one Mujica is expressing: we pretend to live in a perfect world, closing the eyes to injustices that are outside our borders.

  • O quizás confundió marfil con porcelana.... Jul 26, 2018 at 3:48
  • @aparente001 podría ser, bien visto.
    – fedorqui
    Jul 30, 2018 at 7:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.