THE INSURGENCE of CHAN SANTA CRUZ
BOOK EIGHT: THE SECOND of the BOOKS of CHANGE
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
"I have met many duplicitous men in my career, planter, and although your son, the Colonel, may not be the most infamous of these, I would place him among the worst...” pronounced Carranza’s Marxist Governor, “…for the reason that his evil is without grounding, as we understand such to be within the privilege of our European heritage. Others... Huerta, Villa, Limantour, two halfbreeds and a Frenchman… committed treachery and murder out of causes well within the realm of human understanding, however reprehensible. Greed... revenge... the vanity of power... these are such things all decent men abhor but cannot judge too severely, for they are such qualities as reside in their own hearts, has one the courage to seek them out for exposure. But Colonel José Macias owes no fealty to any of those vices. That which drives him is something I do not understand and what I, Salvador Alvarado, cannot understand must be truly fearful. So although José Macias has done no harm to me and has, in fact, been most helpful, I would kill him had I not given my word."
"Because he is poisoner." Alvarado reached beneath the desk and removed a box of papers, which he held up as if offering them to Don Antonio.
"Who do you think has given me the names of privilegiados who kill their peons, who sell infants to Havana, who have flaunted every law to conspire against the Constitution and the Republic." Alvarado leaned forward, his voice becoming a serpentine hiss. "I should be grateful, and so I am. But the Marxist in me dictates I search for the relative value of what I provide the Colonel, and I find imbalance. These people have done no injury to the Colonel... many considered him their friend. They committed crimes against the Constitution, so it was my pleasure to hang those I could find. My duty! But what your son did was not done out of duty, nor even from the expectation of a reward. Even Carranza does not know whether to have him shot or appointed to some Ministry. When contemplating your son, I feel like that Roman general, when Judas flung the silver back in his face, laughing. His friends! His own brother..."
Don Antonio grew pale and cupped his hands before his face as if to hide this. The uneasy Alvarado began to sweep letters back into their box.
"If you have a grievance against one brother, is it just to condemn the other?" the hacendado asked. "Rigoberto had every opportunity to go to Cuba. I do not either answer for nor do I condemn those who did... I merely point out that he saw his duty, as he did whether under Molina, under the Piñistas, Morenistas, any of that crowd. He fulfilled his obligations to his family and to his fatherland."
Alvarado paused to lay the box upon the floor. "We seem to disagree over the borders of that fatherland... my oath is to the survival and integrity of Mexico. If Mexico is gained for socialism but Yucatan is lost from Mexico, those responsible have no claim upon justice.
"One thing more, however," the Governor said. "My agents who went to Idznacab called the peons to give their testimony and most of them expressed satisfaction with their situation... so long as Antonio Macias was the hacendado, not Rivas or Molina nor, especially, José Macias. And on other estanciónes from the city limits to Tekas I heard more, that if a peon was to be sold, the indian preferred it was to Idznacab. That testimony must count for something, no?"
Don Antonio was silent, so the Governor continued. "By this time I had given my word already to the Colonel... it was he, in fact, who sent cables suggesting a certain line of inquiry. I did not know what I would also hear of José, but the matter is concluded. As to Rigoberto, I shall see what I can do. No more, no less. The cause of Mexico and that of the workers of the world would be set back were I to free him, for this would bring a new flurry of petitions on behalf of those whose influence, I have to say, has been even more harmful. It may be that he can find a way to escape and leave the country... such things are known to have happened. But if either of your sons ever return to Merida, they will be hanged."
"José..." said Don Antonio, "those cables you received, did they originate in Cuba?"
"Some of them," Alvarado said dismissively, "some from Mexico, from the United States, even from Canada."
The hacendado rose, holding his hat. "I would not ask for more. Life itself is sufficient, General, when one is among his family."
"I quite understand." Alvarado rose and circled the desk, rejecting the formality of Don Antonio's hand to give him an abrazo, as if they were the oldest of friends. "You see, I am not exactly the ogre they make me out to be. I have a duty, a difficult one, both to my President and to my conscience. I abhor violence for its own sake... I think this is what separates we of the old century from those of the new, men like your desperate, bitter José. But if that is our future, we have an obligation to sweeten the bitterness, to mold a vision beyond these questions of who will command the throne of Cortes. And for Yucatan, planter, a great and promising future awaits. The world needs rope… look at the turmoil developing in Muscovy, which must spread to Berlin once the Americans enter the war and the Kaiser’s men are crushed. Now that our insurrection abates, our humble state may also begin to take its place as the Egypt of the Americas. Scholars, students and tourists... these will come to Yucatan as they now flock to Cairo and what is, at present, a mere trickle shall become a flood. Believe this, planter.
"But, to begin this work, we must have order and unity... and the only men capable of restoring such qualities are Venustiano Carranza, as President of Mexico, Alvaro Obregon as his Jefe Militar and, of course, myself. The success of Villa or Zapata would hurl us back into one of those prior centuries of ignorance and barbarism - the time has come when the people should not look upon their authorities as a scourge, rather as the spirit of higher justice, so that each should have what belongs to him. It may be your good fortune that a rope of Idznacab hemp is placed round the neck of some pompous Old World priest or princeling before he is sent plummeting down to Hell… which, of course, does not exist since, as there is no God, there can be no Satan. So… if I may be communicate a small bit of advice, planter, I would urge you to attend our meetings of the Yucatecan Constitutionalist Assembly, the purpose of which is to ensure that more henequen is harvested from those properties I allow to remain in the private domain… duly licensed, taxed, and sent on to the Europeans to facilitate their tasks of justice."
"I would be most honored," came the reply. There could be no other, so long as Rigoberto was still in the Penitenceria Juarez. Alvarado's Lieutenant announced the presence of another petitioner and, after a last abrazo, Don Antonio took his leave.