THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK EIGHT: THE SECOND of the BOOKS of CHANGE
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
Day after day, Antonio Macias climbed into his carriage and proceeded down the Paseo de Montejo towards the offices of Governor Alvarado. Gone were the corpses of the gente decente which with the great old trees lining the Paso had been trimmed; de los Santos' minions had been relentless, but their fury had been finally curbed by Governor Alvarado himself... the survival of Carranza depended on taxes from Yucatan, and collection of such taxes required a commerce. As zeppelins appeared from the mists to drop their bombs on Paris... to the horror of dignitaries like Mrs. Vanderbilt... as the Belgian army captured a million German pigs, and bankrupted their citizens to feed them, Alvarado ordered the embargo lifted. Sisal boats, once again, began to carry off twine to bind American grain... a hundred thousand bales piled up on the Progreso docks, another hundred thousand in Merida.
A penny tax increase had been already placed upon every kilogram, two more were to be levied by the twentieth of April. The Yucatecan matter apparently settled, Secretary Bryan found a few minutes for Barzon's delegation but were told that, since President Wilson would not recognize Villa, and that Zapatistas had killed a U.S. citizen and torn down the American flag, Carranza would soon be recognized unless an acceptable and militarily successful substitute were found. "He spoke of Yturbide, a relative of the French puppet or Gamboa, the Cientifico," Andre Barzon had told Don Antonio upon his return. "General Angeles, Villa's choice, and Lascurain, that of Zapata are both Catholics, hence unacceptable to Obregon."
"Who is in charge of the Constitutionalists?" Don Antonio had asked. Barzon had only shrugged, repeating that he had told Bryan that Villa and Zapata still controlled four fifths of Mexico between them, and this, still, was of no interest to the Americans, for Wall Street had made its preference clear.
Toribio de los Santos, Carranza's vengeful ex-Governor had not been reappointed, making Alvarado's commission as Governor of those states he already held military command over permanent. His spies still roamed the city, but arrests were less numerous though... despite the alleged and self-proclaimed incorruptibility of the Obregonista General... the midnight denunciation and anonymous use of Alvarado's men to settle old scores had not yet begun to lose their favor.
Merida was, at last, being depopulated of its passionate men. Each new denunciation and arrest inspired the faction or family of the accused to flight or retaliation; four hundred seventy three had arrived in Havana on the twenty first of March alone. Only those like don Antonio, whose weariness transcended the pleasures of revenge... who banked their passions, surrendering neither their souls nor their fortunes to Alvarado... remained. The rest had gone, whether to prison, to Cuba or to Gloria.
As was his custom, the hacendado reported to a Captain of Alvarado's guard, made him a gift of money and found a place against the wall. A whole room had been set aside to hold those who waited to petition the Governor, the great majority of whom were women whose sons and husbands lingered in prison. Don Antonio waited and smoked his cigarettes. Conversation was sparse, conducted lip to ear. No petitioner could trust an amiable stranger who might report a chance remark to the Governor. Anything one said might return to be employed against him.
Only two were called in as many hours before noon and, the heat being particularly fierce, the room began to empty as the petitioners departed for a meal and perhaps a nap before returning in the hope of a resolution to their predicaments. Don Antonio put on his hat to follow the crowd but paused; what mattered sleep or hunger to one of his years?
Alvarado's soldiers seemed indifferent to the petitioners. Many were Yaquis, short walnut-colored men, like those sold by Corral to work the sisal fields. Memories of those opportunities the old patron had had to purchase Yaquis flitted before the eyes of Don Antonio like moving pictures; he always had found excuse to refuse even Olegario Molina's agents. The owners of Yaqui laborers composed the majority of those whom Alvarado hanged, for the General had brought many relatives of these slaves with him on his diagonal march from Mexico's northwest to the peninsula. No vengeance, however, had been taken on behalf of the Chinese don Antonio had brought to the estanción, instead. When one of Alvarado's Captains had taken possession of Idznacab, these were merely ordered to disperse. Most had had to walk back to Merida, searching for work where there was little to be found... except as gravediggers.
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