El baile de los que sobran: Visions of the Struggle for Latin America

Tengo tiempo
para saber
si lo que sueño concluye en algo.1

In the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco – the last indigenous town in the Valley of Mexico to fall during the conquest of Mexico – a monumental memorial plaque reads:

On August 13, 1521, heroically defended by Cuauhtémoc, Tlatelolco fell into the power of Hernán Cortés.
It was neither triumph nor defeat. It was the painful birth of the mestizo people that is the Mexico of today.

Mexico was born and with it Latin America came to life; a territory that is the product of a rape and that is, by nature, bastard. 447 years later, on October 2, 1968, then President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz ordered the massacre of hundreds of students in that same plaza, the center of modern Tlatelolco.
That massacre was the beginning of a violent period that continues to this day: the governments of our “banana republics”2 were pushed to repress any power, big or small, that dared to raise its voice against the economic and political hegemony of the United States. When our leaders refused to murder their own people, North America financed coup d’etats and established violent military dictatorships. El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, among others fell victims to that system. In a paranoid quest to put an end to “systematic communism in Latin America”, The Empire sponsored thousands of massacres and enforced disappearances; those wounds became a permanent reminder that we, once again, were conquered. Terror and generalized dispossession are the legacy of the “civilized” world to Latin America.

Today, our countries continue to resist, for part of their essence is to rebuild themselves over and over again, healing the lacerations and turning blood into roses for the dead. Over time, our region of the continent became an incarnation of hope: collectively we have walked the last 500 years hoping, at some point, to be free; but freedom recedes further and further with each step that is taken; even though, this mongrel land does not stop its pace: in the face of distance, it hurries; in the face of inclement terrain, thick skin grows on the soles of the feet; in the face of thirst, persists the hope of one day satisfying that craving that has eaten us for hundreds of years; in the face of death… in the face of death we put on the happiest face, for we know that the struggle still has a long night ahead; eventually, a red dawn will use our blood and flesh as the fertilizer that will grow more legs to keep walking and challenge the rocks and distances that keep us from living in a continent in which men love their brothers.

With death we dance as one dances with an old friend, for we know that being the leftovers of the world, she is the only one who will dance with us if we get rejected by everyone else; we dance to the rhythm of the cries for justice for what we had to live, for what we had to resist, for those who have fallen in martyrdom.

Seeing Latin America at peace might to be just a dream, meeting again with those who were taken away by violence just fantasy, but even so, this wounded land refuses to accept defeat before an unfathomable enemy. Against all odds, hope lives. Charly García sang:

Neighborhood friends may disappear,
but the dinosaurs are going to disappear.3

Yes, we will be free.

1 Pescado Rabioso, 1973. Bajan. On Artaud. Talent-Microfón. 
2 A term coined by the American author O. Henry to describe Honduras and neighboring countries under economic exploitation by U.S. corporations, such as the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands International).
3 Charly García, 1983. Los dinosaurios. On Clics modernos. Interdisc/SG Discos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s