Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Revolt of Guadalajara, Chapter 1 installment 4

The whites could do as they pleased, take their women and cast them off again, teach their sons to be soldiers and to fight against them... If just once the old gods did decide to come after them, their gods wouldn’t even be able—despite their strength—to protect them. Really, they were sacrifices themselves! It was inconceivable, but if you really thought about it, you had to admit it! Jesus hung pale, bleeding and defenseless on the cross. Sebastian, the patron saint of a large parish, was shot through with arrows and lances and bathed in blood. John, so strong and bearded and muscled like no white person really was, had later allowed himself to be beheaded without a fight. Who were the strong ones?

The one half bled, the other was soft and sad, Mary, always with the child, Ursula, Agnes...

How did it happen that they turned out to be the powerful ones and ruled the world? They had other nameless gods they never spoke of, but that they carried with them everywhere; these kept their silence for a long time, but when they spoke it was with thunder, crashing and flame from the mouths of blunderbusses and muskets. Then they brought down destruction on their adversaries.

And besides these were gods in temples that no one ever got to see, that didn’t even make themselves known in noise and destruction, and these were the mightiest of all. They were fed with bars of gold that always were kept ready in vaults. And on small, colored papers were written the mighty prayers that crushed the entire world. The almighty white men themselves wrote a short prayer on a sheet of paper and with it got some of the gold that was really meant as food for the gods.

In Guadalajara there stood seven temples for the weak and sorrowful Christian gods: the Sé, two cathedrals and four parish churches, and three for the mightiest invisible gods: the Banco del Estado, Banco Hispano-Americano and Banco de Jalisco. In the Sé there was an old white high priest, named the bishop, in the cathedrals the nearly-white mestizos, in the parish churches the Indians... In the temples of the invisible gods a whole host of low priests served, the high ones never were seen, they sat in sanctuaries called private offices. The lower and poor believers had no access to these temples either, they were even chased off of the steps if, tired from a long trip to the city with humble wares, they sat down.


Life in the past quarter century was certainly better in Guadalajara and the environs. Barring getting sick or having accidents or too many children, one could live without going hungry all that often. For the most part there was some work to be had in the salt flats and the tin mines. And besides these and the soap-works (that didn’t go as well as they let on) a new industry had come thanks to the initiative of a philanthropic Veracruzian, who—no one knows why, because aside from the fevers Veracruz is a far more attractive city—had settled in Guadalajara. He was rich enough. After some time he’d established a couple of hat factories that operated free of any state or local subsidies and still paid a good wage. They didn’t make the majestic wide sombreros there that true Mexicans wore with such aristocratic grace. The Indians and mestizos from the region would have looked ridiculous wearing them, their narrow bony high yellow or dirty brown faces with the deepset eyes would have disappeared beneath them. Narrow, floppy hats were made there for cheap; everyone wore them.

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