Down in the jungle where no one texts
"Tierra y Libertad!" With this war cry, an army of Indians marched out of the jungle in the south of the republic to overthrow the dictatorship and to conquer land and freedom for themselves.
Plain and short, whatever this war cry was, for the marchers it sounded like a hero's song.
What they felt in their depressedness and in their pitiful ignorance of poetry, of longing for beauty, of desire for peace, of love for people and creatures, of natural belief in an unshakable justice that had to be found somewhere, as well as what they were about They felt deep sadness for comrades who had been shamefully murdered or brutally tortured to death, all that and much more that, unconsciously, slumbered in them, they were able to express in that war cry. Even if, as a closed mass, driven by one and the same will, they stretched their clenched fists up with one jerk, as if they wanted to encourage God not to forget them, and at the same time they roared their scream into the universe as if with a united voice, that it sounded as if a mighty wave of the sea crashed against the rocks, each one in the crowd clearly felt his own call, for he felt it in his soul as if it were his very own, his very personal prayer.
Folk songs, melodious rhymes, political and patriotic phrases immediately lose their meaning and meaning and reveal their hollowness at the same moment when they are soberly examined and consequently thought through. And it might well have happened that this war cry of rebellious Indians, too, if freely examined, would have dissolved into meaningless words.
When their sufferings, their torments, their privations, their defenselessness against the rulers in the jungle, the Caoba concessionaires and their vassals, had become so unbearable that they, and strangely enough, all of them almost at the same time and at the same time in the most distant regions of the tropical rainforests When they realized that it was better and more humane to perish in a revolt than to live longer under such humiliations and torments, they grabbed hold of it. They gripped tightly and firmly to finally bring about an end, be it an end to their own life or an end to the life of their tyrants.
Despite their sufferings and humiliations, they still had a glimmer of understanding for their bitter situation. In view of the birds in the jungle, and even the millions of insects, all of which, in freedom and joy of life, came and went as they pleased, they never lost the feeling of longing for freedom.
Scared, timid, insecure at first; vigorous and resolute immediately afterwards, they had finally made up their minds to rebel. Once started it all went much faster than they ever thought it could happen.
The owners, stewards, and overseers in the monterias, feared more than God Almighty because of their power and cruelty, shrank in the first two hours of the uprising as soon as they saw their authority over even the most intimidated and beaten up ox boys to helpless, pitiful dolls who suddenly seemed to have forgotten how to speak, how to move and how to accept their long-earned just wages with decency.
In a short battle all who did not belong to them, the rebellious Indians, were slain.
Here the rebels captured some weapons. There weren't many. About twenty-five revolvers, not all good. Hunting rifles about twelve. Some of them are unreliable and completely rusted in the ever-hot, humid climate of the jungle. In addition, there were a few light bird cans and ten old Spanish muzzle-loaders. The captured ammunition, not much, was as uneven in caliber as the weapons were.
However, all the muchachos carried machetes, machetes, axes and hatchets as excellent weapons. With these weapons they, who had been forced to fight the jungle every day with these machetes and axes, were able to use them better and more skillfully than with bolt-action rifles.
In relation to the modern armed Federal troops and the troops of the Rurales, the rebellious caoba workers of the jungle could of course not speak of an armament. With regard to the regular troops, their courage, their hatred, and their wild anger against their oppressors had to make up for what they lacked in weapons. Each of them knew that. And everyone considered that hatred and anger to be greater
Combat value as an excess of ammunition.
Under the dictatorship, apart from the dictator El Caudillo, no one was feared or hated more than the Rurales.
The Rurales were a mounted state and land police force, the special weapon of the dictator, who at times was not entirely safe for the officers of the Federal Army. The rurales, especially feared by mutinous and striking workers, were a select troop of men and boys, excellently armed, excellently drilled, well cared for and well paid. Hundreds of young men were added to the troop, especially because of their sadistic instincts. For the actions and deeds, arrests and executions, perpetrated by the Rurales, their officers were not responsible to a judge, but only to El Caudillo, the dictator himself. They were the instrument of terror that El Caudillo used to ruthlessly and mercilessly suppress any, even the tiniest, rebellion or criticism of his rule. If, as happened in several textile workers' strikes, the army officers refused, after the suppression of the strike, to carry out a brutal slaughter among the now humiliated and defeated workers, as ordered by El Caudillo, a troop became Rurales sent in forced marches to the region. And what the officers of the army had refused to do, the Rurales now carried out, and they carried out it with such bestiality that in the general slaughter they spared no one who had the misfortune of being in that factory workers' village or in that part of the city that had been surrounded by the Rurales. Workers and non-workers, women, children, old people, the sick, no distinction was made. And that did not happen during a strike, but happened days, often two weeks after the end of the strike, when the workers went into the
Factories had returned and the place was completely calm. It was the criminal and vengeance court that the dictator ordered as a warning to all who disagreed with him as to the merits of the golden and glorious age that he, El Caudillo, had brought to the people.
To meet half a battalion of these Rurales on their march must, according to any sound judgment of any reasonable man, mean the certain doom of the crowd of insurgent jungle workers, and with their annihilation the swift end of the revolution in the regions of the jungle.
Although the war cry of the muchachos who had set out to overthrow the dictator seemed clear and precise when it was shouted out with enthusiasm, all people would have been taciturn if someone had asked them what they were actually doing underground Freedom they thought they had decided to fight for. each and every one of them carried a different, purely individual idea of Tierra y Libertad. Because for each of them earth and freedom meant something different, depending on their wishes, worries, circumstances, hopes.
Some who had been sold to the Monterias as contract workers for their own debts, or for debts of their father, or for unpaid police fines or court sentences, or as surety for insolvent relatives who had died, owned a piece of their own land in their home village, that they loved and would not exchange for any other conquered land, even if it should be better and richer. For these people, the battle cry didn't seem to matter because they already owned earth. But to cultivate them and to enjoy the products of their labor in peace and quiet, they lacked freedom.
And they lacked freedom from the thousands of corrupt officials of all kinds, large and small, bred by the dictatorship for their protection and maintenance, who had to be fattened in order not to be dangerous to El Caudillo. No judge sentenced them. If it happened that their actions began to stink too much, then they were excused for having acted out of overzealous interest in the interests of the state and out of devotion to their adored El Caudillo. Whoever was freed from these parasites could rightly say that they now know what freedom is.
For others, Tierra y Libertad meant the unhindered freedom to return to their parents, their wives, their children, their brides, their friends and relatives, their native villages.
Still others saw in Tierra y Libertad the simple right to work where they pleased and for whoever treated them well and for a wage they recognized to be fair. For the majority of these Indian caoba workers, ninety percent of whom were agricultural workers, the term libertad was condensed into a simple, clear wish to simply be left alone by everything that called itself government, state welfare, patriotism, increased production, economic expansion , Conquest of the markets, obedience, duties without rights, smooth integration into the whole of the people, and what more of these thoughtless and senseless virtues were that were nurtured under the dictatorship to stupid the brains of the governed and prevent them from looking there, where the roots of all evils proliferated.
When they shouted for Libertad, the muchachos hoped that, after they had won the fight for freedom, they would want to lead their lives in their own way, undisturbed by men whom they could not trust because they understood nothing of their needs and worries and made no effort to understand them, just kept coming up with slips of paper that had to be filled out and paid for. The liberated wanted to enjoy the products of their hard labor alone; and they did not want to be deprived of a hundred jobs of these products or of a considerable part of their labor for purposes which had no meaning and no value for them and only served to give El Caudillo more opportunity and means to rule his rule in his golden age bloat.
However unclear in detail the terms earth and freedom might be for the rebels, they nevertheless instinctively felt right and completely right what they wanted. And what they wanted was to no longer be controlled, no longer commanded. To participate in the great cultural assets of modern civilization, as the industrial proletariat of civilized peoples demands in its programs, such a wish was alien to them. They would not have understood such a desire if one had tried for days and weeks to make it clear to them. They knew nothing about democracy, socialism, organization. And if anyone had said they should ask for a seat in parliament or in the nation's congress, they would have taken whoever advised it to be an impostor who only wanted to confuse them, and they would no doubt have replied, “What Parliament and Congress take care of us, we want to be left alone, damn it, that's all we want, and now out with you, you swindlers. "
The unworthy, shameful, and cruel treatment that she and everyone who belonged to her social class had been forced to endure during the long years of the dictatorship had fundamentally changed the character of the rebels.
From peace-loving farmers, woodcutters, coal burners, potters, blanket weavers, hat weavers, basket makers, tanners, mat weavers who wanted no other goal in life than to be able to work unhindered, to cultivate their land, to raise their cattle, to bring their goods to the market without being disturbed, to start a family, to have children, to celebrate an occasional festival, and to make a pilgrimage once or twice a year to the great ferias in the state, and then, having grown old, to be able to die in peace and quiet with good friends and neighbors , the dictatorship had understood how to transform these people into vengeful, unruly, eternally suspicious, contentious, hypocritical, brandy-hungry savages. For that reason, and only for that reason, once the rebellion had begun, these savages thought of nothing else than to destroy everything they came close to and to ruthlessly destroy anyone and everyone who wore uniforms or even a uniform cap on their heads and all those who, according to their position and occupation, had to be regarded by them as their tormentors and oppressors.
They had been treated like underage slaves who were only allowed to open their mouths when asked. And now they behaved like slaves whose fetters were suddenly broken.
They had been tortured, whipped, humiliated, and slapped in the mouth by beasts with human faces. And like beasts, they set out to devastate the land and slay anyone who did not belong to their class.
When one day everything will be destroyed and devastated that El Caudillo had built with their blood, with their sweat, with their misery, with their grief, with their tears, the golden age of the republic, then they would be satisfied in their vengeance , return home, back to their homes, villages, settlements and huts, and from now on lead a peaceful life according to their wishes.
It was to be foreseen that the Pharisees and scribes of all countries in their descriptions and historical research would put all the bestialities that were perpetrated on account of the savages, who had no understanding of the great times in which they lived.
And it was also to be foreseen that the dethroned tyrants and their admirers here and everywhere on earth, when it was all over, would announce to the listening world that everyone could now see and understand why the dictatorship was right to treat these savages in this way how they were treated under the dictatorship, and why the dictatorship, an iron and ruthless dictatorship, was the only form of government with which one had to rule a people made up of slaves and had nothing but a slavish mind for their own good. Down with corrosive democracy! Viva the fresh and rejuvenating dictatorship!
The rebel band was nearly six hundred strong.
Every day, during the march through the jungle, small groups or individual scattered people joined here and there on the paths who had deserted from the furthest districts in the jungle where they had worked, even before the general rebellion in all the Monterias had started. Peons who had escaped from their fincas and were hiding in the areas near the jungle took the opportunity to continually break free from their debt slavery, and they went happily with the army, happy to have met the rebels, some of them vague and unclear rumors had reached those regions.
Many were lost on the difficult march through the great jungle. Some drowned crossing rivers; some sank in swamps and marshes; others were swept away by severe attacks of fever in twenty-four hours; several were bitten by snakes and stung by poisonous insects; still others were beaten by frightened horses or mules when they were on narrow mountain trails, and they fell into the abyss. Then there were several who died of wounds that they still had on their bodies from their work or from torture and which their comrades could not heal. So the number of people changed every day.
A good number of women and girls and perhaps two dozen or more children, members of the families of the workers who had been sold to the Monterias, marched in the troop. These women and children did not want to leave their husbands, fathers, brothers and nephews and voluntarily moved with them into the jungle.
The army was led by a fellow, twenty-one years old, whose name was, or at least so called, Juan Mendez, but was called by all Muchachos general.
He had belonged to the small group of workers who started the uprising. Since he had military training, it was quite natural that he should be entrusted with the command of the army.
According to his race he was an Indian of the Huasteca, apparently mixed with some Spanish blood.At sixteen he had joined the army as a volunteer. Here he quickly made it to the sergeant before he was nineteen.
He persuaded his favorite brother, a few years younger than himself, to also become a soldier and join the same battalion. The boy committed negligence in the service of no great importance.
Under normal circumstances, such negligence would have been punished with two days of detention or some uncomfortable extra watch. A comradely feeling lieutenant would have sucked the boy down as hell and the incident would have been forgotten. Under the dictatorship, however, the superiors, both those of the Federal Army and especially those of the Rurales, were raised more and more to infallible saints who God had to represent on earth. The subordinate soldier had no other right vis-à-vis his superiors than to obey blindly and in silence to accept what was imposed on him. So it happened that an officer, who was probably also drunk, dipped his head in a bucket of water because of his negligence and put the officer's boot under it for so long
Water was held until he drowned. The murderer was not punished, but received an honorable mention in the order of the day for acting in the interests of discipline, as it was his duty, for discipline was the highest sacrament.
The sergeant was not yet completely stupid in the sense of the dictatorship, perhaps precisely because he was more of an Indian than a patient soldier. For an hour he forgot the officer's likeness to God and stabbed him to death without feeling the slightest remorse for what he had done. This act made it necessary for him to desert and leave it to the army to decide how to develop without his help.
His best comrade in the battalion was a Cabo, like him of Indian descent. He was the only man to whom he confided what he had done and where he hid the idol's carcass to buy time to escape. The Cabo valued loyal friendship more than patriotism and even more than the solemnly sworn oath of loyalty, which was as indifferent to him as a tightrope-dancing monkey was divorced in Tlaxcala. "You know, Juanito," he said simply to his comrade, "I'm going to hell and damnation with you, with the whole goddamn army and all that stinking shit of patriotism and patriotism, which for my sake may piss on dogs if they want to What's that to do with me? ”So the two of them set off together.
They intended to escape to Honduras or to Salvador. Just out of this holy fatherland.
On the way there they met a recruited group of Indian workers who were driven to the Monterias as contract people. You were recruited for this squad. Nobody looked for them in the Monterias, and no one took them out, no matter who was looking for them or what they had committed. Anyone who worked as a contract worker in a monteria was ten times worse off than in the penitentiary or in El Valle de Muerte, the dreaded concentration camp for political prisoners, from which no one returned rarely, and when they returned they were broken for the rest of their lives.
The Cabo, by name Lucio Ortiz, had appointed General Coronel in the army.
He appointed Celso Flores, a Tsotsil Indian, to be his chief of staff. Celso had worked as a racket in the Monterias for several years. Although he was ignorant of reading and writing like all caoba workers, he possessed a high natural intelligence. At the same time he had the rare talent of inspiring people to exert themselves to the utmost, mostly in the Indian style. He did not ask for anything he could not show himself and do better than anyone else when it was claimed that it was impossible to carry out his command.
The Muchachos appointed Andres, a Tseltal Indian who had worked as an ox-hand in the Monterias, towing the beaten logs, as their catering general. He could read and write and had acquired experience and certain economic and business knowledge as an ox-handler for the Carreta caravans, which brought goods and passengers from the railway station on the coast to a distance of four hundred kilometers into the interior of the state.
The spiritual leader, the brain of the army, was Professor, as the muchachos called him. He had been Professor De Segundaria. Little by little he began to understand the real situation in which the people lived under the dictatorship. It so happened that wherever he had the opportunity, in school, on the street, in kitchens, in cafes, he rioted the dictator and his rule, although he knew what would happen to him if he did not come like his Professional colleagues called it to reason.
He was moved further and further down from well-paid positions in higher-level schools and in the big cities. Any new transfer was preceded by a few months in prison or concentration camp.
Profesor was finally enlisted in the Transport of the Incorrect and Irreversible, a transport that was brought to El Infierno, a concentration camp for political prisoners, which was only called "Hell" because a stronger word with which to designate this hell can, until that day even the funniest vernacular could not have invented.
Here, too, Professor did not shut up. He was gagged at times for seventy-two hours; He was neither given water nor given shade in the tropical sun. But no sooner had the gag been removed and the cramp had hardly left his tortured lips than the first thing he screamed: “Abajo El Caudillo! Que muere la dictadura! Viva la revolution social! Sufragio efectivo! No Reeleccion! Viva la revolucion del pueblo! 'Immediately his mouth was gagged again and, like a pack, he was brought into the blazing sun and laid on the sand. He and several fellow sufferers, most of whom either perished or were recaptured and then slowly tortured to death, had finally managed to escape. On his escape he came across the Sergeant and the Cabo, who came along in a mess and could not be distinguished from wandering Indian peasants.
And with these two he was also recruited as caoba workers for the Monterias, in the hope of awaiting the outbreak of the revolution, which was already smoldering all over the country, in the depths of the jungle, to strike from here and the south of the republic to win for the revolution.
Of course, Tierra y Libertad could only be conquered if those who owned and defended those goods had been defeated. So the first task was to meet those defenders. The second task was to fight them, to defeat them, to completely crush them and to exterminate them. The next task was then to put down everyone who was and could become a hindrance to winning Tierra y Libertad.
Of everything that was closest, nothing was closer or more urgent than getting weapons.
And the only way the rebels could get these weapons was by taking the weapons from those who currently possessed them. And that was the soldiers and the rurales.
Beginning with this settlement, the individual Companias no longer moved one after the other with an interval of a full day. From now on the Companias marched more openly, so that each of them was only about two hours away from the following march. It might be that the first battles would soon have to be fought. Under these circumstances it would have been a tactical mistake to let the Companias march too far apart.
On the second day of the march from that settlement, the army reached Rancho Santa Margarita.
It was in the afternoon when the first Compania arrived here.
Santa Margarita consisted of a mansion built from adobe. This included two bodegas, also from Adobe. The harvested maize, beans and henequen fiber for making ropes and mats were kept here. This was also where the riding saddles and pack saddles were to be found, and the few farm implements the ranchero owned.
Four poor huts were close to the bodegas. All of these buildings formed a patio because they were built in a square. One side, however, was open. Here a rough fence separated the patio from the corral where the horses and cows stood at night. On one side, next to the manor house, there was a vacant area, which was also closed off from the outside by a thorn fence. There a door led out of the patio onto the path on which all travelers and all caravans passed this rancho.
The rancho was on a hill. The hill was just big enough to accommodate the buildings, the patio, and the corral with all the fencing on them.
Scattered around the hill were the primitive palm huts of the peons that belonged to the rancho.
There were fourteen such huts. The mayordomo, the rope maker and the responsible vaquero, the man who is responsible for the cattle, lived in the three very poor huts, which were located on the patio like the manor house. These three families were half Ladinos, while the peons and their families who lived in the huts around the hill were Indians.
The mansion was, of course, a mansion only here, where all the other residential buildings were wretched chozas and palm huts of the most primitive kind. It had no window openings, just heavy, raw doors made of solid mahogany. The floor was made of badly burned clay cakes, the roof of raw, weathered wooden shingles. The house only had two rooms. The only thing in the mansion that reminded people that the residents weren't in the fourth century, and the only thing that could be called furniture, was an American sewing machine that had started to rust.
Mahogany table and chairs, rough worked with a machete. The beds were simple frames made of ebony, over which raw cowhide straps were stretched crosswise, on which lay thick bast mats, woven from the bast of palm trunks. Dirty pillows stuffed with Louisiana moss, which was abundant in the nearby bush.
This mansion was considered noble and the gentleman wealthy. From this it was possible to guess without seeing how the peons then lived and lived.
Everything the family needed, except silk, cottons, and hardware, was made at the rancho. Here brandy was distilled, woolen blankets were woven, saddles and sandals were made, ropes and strong henequen threads were twisted from which nets, bags and hammocks were knotted.
The mistress was the prayer leader and precentor in the rancho's chapel. This chapel was a small hall with no walls and a palm roof. At one end of the hall was a rough table with an image of the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe on it. There were always fresh flowers in front of that picture. They were looked for in the bush by the wives and daughters of the peons and placed there every morning. Every Sunday morning the floor of the chapel was thickly sprinkled with green branches so that those praying could kneel on it as if on a carpet. The mistress was also a doctor and midwife for the people who belonged to the rancho.
There was seldom a hundred pesos in cash, often only five pesos, in the whole rancho, including the gentry and peons. Everything was borrowed. One borrowed from the other. And all borrowed from the rulership. The rulers felt as much a moral as a sober economic obligation to keep the peons alive and well.
What a revolution here and under the conditions that existed when the rebels arrived and had existed for four hundred years would have confused even the most radical European theorist if he had been asked to free the peons from their bondage and give them something more through the revolution than what they now had.
There was nothing there. And freedom they owed a revolution would have left these peons half poorer and more helpless than they were now.
There was enough land. The rancho was considered a great asset. But four fifths of the land was bush and jungle, rocky and mountainous. Part of the remaining fifth was prairie land suitable for pasture for cows, horses, and mules. Only a tenth of the land was cultivated arable land, hard as cement in the dry season and muddy and lumpy in the rainy season. If the dry season lasted too long, all of the rancho's residents, including the mighty ranchero and his family, were as near to starvation as all of his peons. His real wealth lay in the cows, horses and mules he raised. In order to be able to breed these animals, he had needed capital, because he had to buy breeding animals and then wait years until the animals were big enough to be sold. If the dry season lasted too long, the animals would also die. What could the rebellion, which had made sense in the monteria, have changed in favor of the peons? Even if it brought them freedom from the patron, Heaven soon took that freedom away from them; for their freedom was worthless if they had nothing to eat because nothing grew and because the peons, once freed, used this freedom to work less than before. No one had taught them to command themselves, to work without command and without supervision. Nobody gave them seeds because others who were closer to the distribution points, if any, needed the seeds more urgently. Nobody had taught them how to organize their work, how to form cooperative cooperatives.
So little was their sense of community developed, or so much had it been destroyed, if it ever existed, that a cooperative would have done them little good; because jealousy, envy and eternal struggle for supremacy would gradually destroy the cooperative again. People who have lived in bondage for four hundred years, probably forty thousand years, and during all this time were forced to think, be responsible, everything
Organizing, leaving all talking and advising, all commanding to their masters and the authorities, cannot be turned into free peasants within a year through a rebellion, who can think, act and run independently and who need no one to command them, at four To be on my feet in the morning to cultivate the field.
The rebels who now came to this rancho, of course, did not see it as their job to think that a revolution alone does not change a system, but that it only exchanges property, that only the names of the owners change and that the nation or the state, in its capacity as a capitalist, may be more brutal, ruthless, and tyrannical than the previous masters ever were. What did the rebel systems care, new or old.
They had been whipped and hanged for so long, so long had they been humiliated and deprived of free speech that their sense of community, which linked them to all other nationalities for purely natural reasons, had been killed. All they knew was revenge and retribution. Destruction was the only thing they understood. the more they destroyed, the more they slain of those whom they saw as their enemies, the freer they felt themselves to be. For everything that existed and lived that did not belong to them was the cause of their slavery. If they wanted to be released from slavery, they had to destroy. They no longer cared about tomorrow, they only cared about yesterday when they were tormented.
Not that there are and can be dictators is tragic, no, but that every dictatorship, even the most flourishing and apparently most beneficial dictatorship, ends in destruction, devastation and chaos and inevitably has to end in following the iron laws of nature that no one can change or able to influence, that is what is truly tragic, because it is the
Throws mankind back hundreds of years in its irrepressible drive for finite liberation from the animal and the unorganized.
When the vanguard reached the rancho, the muchachos found all the huts deserted. The patron had gone deep into the bush with his family. All the families of the peons were his
"There we have proof that someone betrayed our arrival and our march," said General.
"They got word here, and fear drove them all away."
"It's worth a lot to know," said Professor. "Now we can be sure that we will meet the Rurales on one of the next two fincas."
Two of them dropped their packs and listened to the general and professor talking to each other. One said, “General, we can easily find the patron in the bush. All you have to do is say it and we'll go and bring him along with all his brood. "
"What's the point?" Replied General. “Slaughter whatever cattle you find and have a good meal. What is left is taken with you on the march. And the last Compania lights up. Then there will be no fortress behind us. The peons could have stayed here. But if they sit together with their patron, then he can also build them new huts. You, Nicasio, bring the order to every advancing company that we camp here for the night. It will rain again and we can use the huts for the night. I go to the patron's house with Professor and Celso and as many others as there is room. We march off at four in the morning. "
In the morning when the party packed up, there was lighting; all the houses and huts were blazing. There was hardly a smoldering residue when the last Compania left the rancho.
All pigs and cows were slaughtered, and all horses and donkeys were brought along as spoils of war.
Around noon the party came to Rancho Santa Isabel. As in Santa Margarita, here too the huts were deserted. Cows and pigs had apparently been driven into the bush by the people. Only half a dozen cats lolled sleepily by the individual huts. Two or three dogs, who had probably been hanging around and arriving too late to allow the residents to escape, yelped at the troop, but hid behind the huts as the troop's dogs hunted the rancho dogs. The troop was not half over when all the huts, the manor house, the bodega and the gate and fence were already on fire. Before the rancho was set on fire, the muchachos had searched for saddles and machetes but found none. It certainly gave the impression that the residents had left the buildings yesterday, if not the day before. All the fires were cold and wet. Only a few heavier earthen water pots were all that was left in the huts.
As they marched on, the muchachos discovered that even the small settlements of independent Indian peasants were deserted. Lazy dogs and cats were lying around or, when the troop arrived, stealthily and suspiciously sneaked out of the way.
“The reputation that precedes us,” said Professor to the general, when he noticed the loneliness and the ghostly appearance of the abandoned huts, “is an evil one. I want to know who has denounced us as murderers, arsonists and bandits. "
"What do you say, muchachos?" General turned to the crowd of lads who had marched up and who had meanwhile arrived on the hard-trodden square of the little village, dropped their packs and crouched down to get fresh breath and fresh strength for the march on. There were still two or three hours to go to the point on the road where the next camp was to be set up.
This little pueblo consisted of only ten huts, each of which had only one room. Here, too, the revolution could bring nothing to the small Indian peasants. The revolution should have brought more fertile soil, cattle, and grass for the cattle, a few sacks of rags, so that these poor peasants and their wives and children could have the most basic clothes. Of the inhabitants of this little pueblo, only three families each owned a machete, each man a rusty and half-broken knife, and each family a single bent spoon.
No bedstead, no chair, no table could be found in the whole village. There was no plow in sight, no ax, no nail. You would have brought about twenty meters of wire together if you had searched all the huts. It was wire that the men had found and picked up piece by piece on their long marches across the country, or cut off from hanging telegraph lines, or torn off the wire fences they passed.
All they had to work the meager stony ground was a thick, pointed stake that they drove into the ground when they were sowing corn.
These men and their families had also left their miserable dwellings and had fled deep into the bush for fear of being slain by the rebels who came marching in with the war cry "Tierra y Libertad!" They could have listened to Professor for a full day, what he had to say about the dictatorship, tyranny and bondage of the proletarians, and they would not have understood him. Here they possessed earth and freedom, and nothing else they demanded of life and of the tyrants than that they should not be murdered, that they should not be stolen from and that they should be left to perish in peace when the arid ground failed to materialize
Rain or the washing away of the thin layer of earth as a result of heavy rain, became even more arid and the poor harvest of corn and beans was eaten up to a third by the rats and a further third by the corn worm and the bean maggot.
They would have been grateful for a revolution had that revolution protected them from the eagles, hawks, martens, and coyotes that stole their chickens, and from the pumas and alligators that fetched their pigs and calves. Their problems were so simple that even the most beautiful revolution and the most glorious rebellion, which liberated the country from dictatorship and was partly glorified, partly condemned and cursed in thick history books, passed them and their lives by without being noticed by them . The only way they would have noticed the revolution was that in the market in the next town, Don Damaso no longer collected market taxes from them, but now Don Dionisio and that, while before the revolution they had to pay two centavos market taxes if they paid twenty-five Thought to sell centavos of sheep's wool, they now had to pay five centavos of market tax, of which one centavo was charged as an extra tax for a country school that was never built.
The rebels could easily have been satisfied with land that was plentiful and could have been allocated to them out of the hundreds of thousands of hectares of land that may have belonged to the fincas but was never built on and that the owners would never build on. It would have been cheaper for the finqueros, for the owners of large domains, to voluntarily give up these undeveloped lands. It would have been cheaper to get rid of debt slavery. And it would have been a thousand times better for the whole people and for the dictator's glory if he had to answer before a parliament, even if that
Parliament was made up of men who talked for hours without saying anything and deliberated for days without making a decision.
It would have been better and cheaper and more useful to the people if the dictator had given all comrades, friends or enemies, an unlimited right to talk to one another until their mouths watered. But like all dictators whose names history has received, he did not allow any contradiction. What he commanded was the law, without giving the man who was supposed to obey and obey the law the right to have a say in making the law. He had only one answer to the wishes and demands of the citizens, and that was the answer with the clubs and revolvers of his uniformed servants.
It would have been so easy if the Jefe Politico of the district had sent some sensible and calm men to meet the troop when he got word of the march. These men would certainly have achieved more and more valuable to the state than the rurales that the Jefe Politico sent with the order not to get involved in any negotiations, but simply to punch off as soon as the bandits and murderers came in sight.
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