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  • Title: Lo mejor de mi vida
    Descriptive info: A mis padres.. I.. La boca de polén.. LO MEJOR DE MI VIDA.. El 20 de octubre estalló la revolución que estaba transformando a Guatemala, y el 22 crucé la frontera.. Un avión nos dejó en Tapachula, México.. El piloto quería prevenirnos y no inquietarnos a la vez.. Se hallaba preocupado, y creo que al siguiente día leyó la prensa con el temor de encontrar en ella alguna trágica noticia relacionada con nosotros.. Al despedirnos, la sencillez de su hombría encontró, mexicanamente, las palabras justas.. Nos dijo con llanez y con calor: "Procuren que no se los lleve la tiznada.. " Pasamos a Tuxtla Chico, muy cerca de la propia línea divisoria, a sellar nuestros documentos de viaje.. En pocos segundos, en la capital de México, decidí el cambio radical.. Con un equipaje muy ligero e improvisado, corté mi vida de lustros.. Hacía pocos meses que con varios amigos recién conocidos y recién llegados a México como exiliados había hecho algunas gestiones en espera de sucesos en Guatemala.. Con ellos y un fusil en la mano, volví a mi tierra.. Las noticias sobre la situación eran confusas.. El destacamento de la frontera no puso ningún obstaculo para que entráramos.. Ibamos dispuestos a todo.. Alquilamos un automovil, nos repartimos dentro convenientemente, temerosos de alguna celada, y nos echamos a rodar hacia Malacatán.. En los caminos nos paraban grupos armados y metían sus escopetas por las ventanas para encañonarnos.. Nos identificaban y nos deseaban buen viaje.. El movimiento popular se extendía a todo el país y las pequeñas guarniciones militares, si no se entregaron, mantuviéronse a la expectativa.. Malacatán se hallaba alborozado, en armas, tenso de entusiasmo y decisión.. Nos alojaron un par de horas para darnos de cenar.. Luego continuamos la marcha hacia San Marcos y Quezaltenango.. La guarnición de Malacatán permanecía indecisa y el pueblo estaba a punto de atacarla.. Su jefe, un joven oficial, se había acuertelado con sus hombres, buen armamento y abundantes municiones.. Nuestra intervención evitó la sangre.. Con una banderita blanca en las manos, fuimos a parlamentar con el oficial.. Le explicamos cual era la situación, su deber para con el pueblo y cómo todo el país estaba en la revolución.. No fue fácil convencerlo.. Dudaba de nuestras noticias y lo persuadimos dentro del tiempo límite fijado.. De lo contrario, habrían atacado los compañeros a la cabeza del pueblo, mal armado y con muy escaso concierto.. Teníamos que ocuparnos del oficial, dentro del cuartel.. Quién sabe que hubiese sucedido.. Salimos de la comandancia con la buena noticia, y un grupo de voluntarios integró la nueva guarnición.. El oficial no fue molestado y se retiró a su casa.. Volvimos a nuestro alojamiento donde el pueblo nos había preparado la cena.. El entusiasmo era inmenso.. Nos abrazaban los campesinos, nos invitaban copas.. Una marimba comenzó a tocar sones guatemaltecos.. Cohetes, tiros al aire, gritos de júbilo, repiques de campanas de la iglesia.. Ya no pude más; mi tierra; que la tenía en los huesos, salió a mis ojos, me puse a sollozar y a llorar.. Que alegría más desgarradora, que ternura más acongojada y jubilosa.. Las muchachas y muchachos, los viejos y los niños, las mujeres pidieron.. el himno nacional.. a la marimbita.. Hacía muchos años, muchos años, que no lo había escuchado.. Me tocó cantarlo con mi pueblo en aquella ocasión inolvidable.. No creo ser patriotero ni sentimental: simplemente, se me reveló entonces, de nuevo, cuán definitivos son la niñez y el dominio de la tierra.. Dos horas más tarde, ya en plena noche, corríamos hacia las alturas de San Marcos.. La guarnición era nuestra, según nos habían informado en Malacatán.. De esta última población nos llevamos cuatro soldados.. Como no sabíamos si de verdad estaban con nosotros, les dimos los peores fusiles y nos repartimos en el coche  ...   hermanos, niños, y la mía, jugando y gritando.. Oía el repique de las llaves de mi madre, prendidas a la cintura, y veía sus manos trabajar la tierra de begonias y rosales.. Llegaría a ella, al seno materno, a mi madre y a mi pueblo, al día siguiente.. Ahora nos encaminábamos a la Capital.. Mi madre vivía con la angustia de mi regreso por la violencia política.. Sufría con mi presencia y con mi ausencia, ya muy viejecita, encorvada por los años, muy activa y toda blanca su cabeza alerta.. Por la tarde tomé un pasaje en los camiones que hacen el recorrido entre Guatemala y Antigua.. Recordaba el camino que había pasado a pie y a caballo, en bicicleta, diligencia o automovil, en cada uno de sus recodos y serranías, barrancas y poblados, arboledas y hierbecillas.. Hacia el crepusculo, el vehículo se aproximaba a la entrada de mi pueblo, al puente del Matasano, sobre el ausente río Pensativo.. Aparecieron las primeras casas de vivos colores de cal, los techos de teja manchados de hongos, la calle empedredada, la fuente de la Concepción, el convento y la iglesia en ruinas.. Al otro lado de la calle, con la puerta entreabierta que me dejó ver el jardin, la casa de mis abuelo, en donde niño hice correrías y jugue al circo acompañado de amigos inolvidables, mientras mis preciosas primas sonreían a nuestras proezas infantiles.. Cuando bajé en la esquina más proxima a casa, reconocí las piedras gastadas por mis zapatos, el silencio, las manchas de los muros de Catedral, los caños de agua, las ventanas.. Recordé con total precisión el dibujo del cemento de las aceras de mi casa.. Y frente a la puerta que no había pasado en tantos años, recordé el llavín, corto y redondo, y como darle vuelta para abrir; la manita del tocador, el buzón, la madera, la cuerda para abrir la puerta sin tocar.. Al fondo de la calle, el triángulo perfecto del Volcán de Agua, enorme, sereno y azul, como siempre, sin una cana, una nube engalanando la cima dorada por el sol de la tarde.. Tiré de la cuerda, empujé la puerta y entré con el corazón en la boca.. El perrito, muy viejo, muy viejo, anunció mi llegada y se aproximó, cansado y enérgico, a detenerme.. Silencioso, apareció mi hermano Rafael.. Nos abrazamos y nada nos dijimos.. Yo, al dar dos pasos en el umbral de mi casa, estaba agobiado por las lágrimas.. Era demasiado.. Por el corredor apareció mi madre, pausadamente, agachada, casi ciega.. Ya sabía que no podía ser sino yo.. Sollozaba de alegría, de preocupación, de quien sabe cuantas cosas, como yo sollozaba también.. Es el abrazo más dulce de mi vida, y por esos instantes valía la pena morir, valía la pena vivir.. Se sintió sofocada, y nada teníamos que decirnos.. Abrazada la llevé unos pasos más, para sentarnos juntos en la centenaria banca conventual del corredor, frente al jardín que cuidaban sus manos.. Yo fui un niño de nuevo junto a mi madre, en la vieja casa de mi niñez.. Me tendí alargado en la banca y puse mi cabeza sobre sus rodillas.. Ella me acercó a su regazo y no sé cuanto tiempo estuvimos así, mudos, con los ojos inmóviles sobre las enredaderas y los geranios, su mano apoyada en mi cabeza acariciándome, muy lentamente, alguna vez.. Siento aún su mano, como en aquel entonces, en la caricia más intensa y tranquila de ternura infinita.. Si no hubiese vivido esos instantes indecibles de Antigua, en la casa de mis padres, habría perdido lo mejor de mi vida.. Fuente:.. Guatemala : las lineas de su mano.. 3.. ed.. México : Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1976, c1955.. Página de la Literatura Guatemalteca.. Copyright 1996-2006 Juan Carlos Escobedo.. Última revisión: 26/03/06.. por..

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  • Title: Luis Cardoza y Aragon
    Descriptive info: II.. DIJE LO QUE HE VIVIDO.. No amamos nuestra tierra por grande y poderosa, por débil y pequeña, por sus nieves y noches blancas o su diluvio solar.. La amamos, simplemente, porque es la nuestra.. En su territorio hay una región que es la región de nuestra infancia.. Y en tal región, una ciudad o un pueblecillo.. En el pueblecillo, una casa.. En la casa, cuatro paredes viejas y manchadas, con muebles rústicos hechos por el carpintero de la familia, con árboles que nos dolió verlos abatir.. En medio de la casa, una fuente de la cual nunca dejaremos de escuchar el canto.. Todo se va replegando hasta llegar de la caja más grande a la más pequeña, del mundo a las cuatro paredes de la infancia, hasta la cuna y el ataúd.. La tierra que caerá sobre esas cuatro tablas, cuando estemos de vuelta a geranios y quiebracejetes y nos empinemos en los árboles, es la tierra más dulce que existe.. La niñez va corriendo como un arroyo que canta.. Remontamos la corriente hasta el manantial.. Hasta el amor de nuestros padres.. No amamos nuestra tierra por hermosa, por alegre o triste.. Por su leyenda o su primitiva felicidad sin historia.. La amamos porque es la nuestra.. Quiero, quisiera que vieras con ojos de mi niñez, con ojos de tu niñez.. Con ojos de la niñez del mundo.. Nuestro amor es bello sólo tal otro amor gemelo.. Anima la quietud de estas páginas, fuego oscuro amasado en el hondón de las entrañas.. Huracán sopla para siempre mi brasa y su tibieza de rescoldo se perpetúa.. El corazón de lava aún caliente sonríe su noche elemental, donde todavía sueña Kukulkán, desde el ídolo primigenio hasta las muñequitas multicolores de Mixco y las tinajas de Chinautla.. Estamos en Guatemala, verde colibrí reluciente.. La caja grande y dentro una más pequeña y otra.. Otra y otra, hasta llegar a mi pueblo, Antigua Guatemala.. Y otra más pequeña, y otra y otra, hasta la casa y mi cuarto de niño.. Pongo a mi tierra sobre mis rodillas, en la palma de mi mano.. Desde muy alto los ojos podrían abarcar sus límites, contemplarla, como esos pisapapeles de cristal que tienen en el centro un ramo de florecillas dormidas.. No es el caso de contemplar lo que no existe.. Ni de sólo admirar lo que está allí.. Soy vidente, ahora pisamos tierra firme y amo la realidad.. Los arqueólogos se sumergen en la prehistoria o en la historia, exploran las entrañas de la tierra para encontrar una vasija, un hueso, un vestigio milenario, y no ven nada del mundo de los mercados, de los pueblos, de los sufrimientos que padecen los indios vivos.. No sólo los arqueólogos, también los poetas, pintores, músicos, novelistas, se encandilan con el "exotismo" de donde han nacido y se ciegan para toda apreciación objetiva.. Hay guatemaltecos que nos ven como los extranjeros y crean una exportable imagen colorida, igual a una vitrina de indios, tan pintoresca que casi justifica las intervenciones.. Muchos de ellos ni siquiera adoptan una actitud como la del padre Las Casas, hace 400 años: se han evadido, desertado o detenido en deformaciones sentimentales, artísticas, de los indios remotos, a veces humanitarias, es cierto, pero sin conciencia sociopolítica.. Casi sin excepciones, entre los arqueólogos, escritores, investigadores históricos, artistas, traductores de los libros aborígenes, no hay en Guatemala sino dos o tres que a tal vocación hayan unido, en los últimos cien años, consecuente conducta política.. Hace tiempo, mucho tiempo, había deseado escribir estas páginas.. De golpe, se me vinieron mil cosas encima: mi recuerdo tartamudeó en alud amoroso.. No me proponía cumplir una misión o pagar una deuda.. Todo es más humilde en el fondo, vital e inevitable.. Lo de misión o deuda sería pura pedantería.. Deseé dar una sensación de Guatemala, de mi Guatemala.. Deseé mostrar algo de su vida interior, inocente y sombría.. Deseé que luzca, como todos los días, rebozo de colores y trenzas con tocoyales, dibujándola sin que ella lo advierta.. Un retrato, con sus grandes aristas solamente.. Abocetada con libertad, aprehendida en tres o cuatro rasgos privativos y recónditos, en los cuales está como la siento en mí, silvestre, augusta y enmarañada.. Su fervor recogido en estrofas de su crecimiento: monólogos de humo y pirámides de sueño y canto.. La veo mestiza en su pensar, con barro antiguo del Popol Vuh y musgos de Landívar en un mismo pulso urgente.. Indígena en la entraña, donde el corazón resuena entre mantos azules, igual al tun en los pueblecillos cuando celebran la fiesta.. Sencilla y segura, camina ataviada como pájaro o reina en la miseria, un niño a la espalda, en harapos sus ropas aborígenes y fatigada la greda categórica del rostro bajo el peso que carga sobre la frente, corona rural de frutos y de flores.. Va descalza, rompiéndose los pies por los caminos, la tinaja sobre el hombro, igual a la dulce Ixquic.. La belleza del cuerpo radica en lo más profundo de la materia: en la conformación y armonía del esqueleto, imagen de la muerte.. Sus rasgos resurgen para mí de la viva y mineral estructura escondida, remontando hasta la piel de obsidiana al sol.. He deseado ofrecerle un testimonio de poesía: exacto de verdad práctica.. Un libro de síntesis, de visión general, veloz e inesperado.. Placa radiográfica y fotografía aérea al mismo tiempo.. Hago una incursión en el ayer, vivo en mi recuerdo, hasta convertirlo en creación , sin celo alguno de desdoro o no sentido encumbramiento.. Recojo y subrayo lo que juzgo capital para descubrir y fortalecer la filigrana del origen de nuestro sentimiento de nacionalidad.. Amor de la realidad: he pesado a Guatemala sobre las alas de las mariposas, auxiliado siempre por experiencia, cifras y emoción.. Sin embargo, me siento ante ella como un árbol podado soñando con las flores de sus ramas.. Desterrado en mi patria, sin salir de ella, libérrimo, feliz y amante, reencontrada en la realidad y en mis sueños, me tiendo bocarriba, más allá de mi muerte y de la muerte, sumergido en su sentimiento y en su pensamiento.. Y desde el Popol Vuh tomo las ruedas dentadas que crearon la noria de la sangre.. En su impulso nutren su ímpetu, a veces aun por inercia, muchas otras ruedecillas que de alguna suerte nos sirven asimismo para marcar la hora, para saber quiénes somos y saber adónde vamos.. Y me atropello de nostalgia y descubro el cielo de todos los hombres, libre aquí en mi cárcel sin techo, y  ...   la que esbozo en algunas de estas páginas.. Sino un esquema de síntesis del sentido y del carácter del proceso histórico: converso con los hombres de los monolitos y los códices, con los dioses, los héroes y los hombres de los libros indígenas; recuerdo y voy domeñando mi entusiasmo cuando mi memoria se quiere salir de madre.. Y no evoco como historiador o como erudito, porque no lo soy, sino como un hombre simple que dice lo que ha vivido.. Y cuanto más severo y exacto es mi recuerdo; cuanto más tranquila es la palabra que traduce el gozo o la angustia de mis sentidos y la añoranza de mi sangre; cuanto más se enraiza mi voz en la realidad, tanto más se crea y sufre con lágrimas guatemaltecas que sólo mis ojos pueden llorar.. Y, entonces, mejor y más verdadero está mi pensamiento, y más limpia la emoción mía y la engendrada en quien me lea, por distante que su mundo esté del mío.. Guatemala, tierra edénica y elemental, con un pasado singular y una evolución dramática, cruenta y oscura, poco unánime por sus tremendos desniveles culturales, avanza dando tumbos, lúcida y firme.. He querido dar el ambiente, sin preocupación contemplativa , interpretando con técnica de análisis su realidad varia, móvil y remota, regido por mi conciencia poética y social.. Me cautiva no sólo la acción sino también la contemplación, cuando el matiz y la sutileza son característicos.. Escojo y muestro elementos contrarios, hechos de opulencia y rigor, de preocupaciones teológicas y su origen por condiciones económicas, el mundo fabuloso del acontecer cósmico del Popol Vuh, la realidad delirante del aborigen de Chichicastenango y la vida mínima y marginal del "cucurucho" y el albor de la voz de mañana.. Mi tierra no es una tierra exótica.. Es una tierra matinal cuyo hechizo más hondo radica en las creaciones y expresiones históricas populares, más allá de cualquier devoción pintoresca.. El color, aquí, es inevitable, y sólo cuando es inevitable por ser de tan buen tinte que no se destiñe ni con el sol y mis ácidos, ha permanecido indeleble más allá del afán descriptivo y localista.. Y aunque se juzgue paradójico, por su misma verdad de bulto, lo popular no es popular ni nacional, propiamente, y no puede serlo porque no somos una comunidad económica, política y social unificada.. Lo que tenemos por popular son obras espontáneas del genio popular de indígenas oprimidos y explotados, creándolas y repitiéndolas para sí mismos o para reducido público turista o nacional, extraño al sentimiento, condiciones, necesidades y gustos de quienes las crean.. Nuestras diferencias son tan brutales que van de sistemas de producción y consumo neolítico, de "economía cerrada", feudal y semifeudal hasta capitalista, como lo vemos en Chichicastenango y en los mercados de cualquier ciudad del país.. No exclamo: Áabajo la pandereta! porque no la tenemos, sine Áabajo la jícara! No me he demorado en reflexiones vagas, subjetivas.. Sino en lo más concreto y profundo.. En las creaciones auténticas y esenciales.. Nada más fantástico que la realidad.. Y por encima de lo que atine a urdir mi imaginación y para dar realidad a esa conciencia y conciencia a tal realidad, he ido a las fuentes seculares.. A mi infancia y a mis cicatrices.. He aquí algo de mi pueblo, de su rica tradición -lo que fue, lo que es, lo que será-, invariable en su diversidad, sufriendo aluviones, lavado por torrentadas, arrasado como para borrarlo del mapa con la tromba de la Conquista.. Hay unidad a través de sus avatares, aun cuando parece irreconocible en muchos de ellos, que son contradictorios.. Siempre las mismas hojitas brotaron del grano de maíz en el surco.. La lealtad de esta permanencia la he seguido desde hoy y mañana hasta entrar en el palacio por el arco de Labná, retroceder en el tiempo y sumergirme en las fauces de un dios zoomorfo y nadar en las aguas eléctricas del mito.. Haber vivido lejos cerca de un cuarto de siglo sin interrupción me permitió penetrar con ojos frescos en muchas de nuestras cosas, apoyado en el recuerdo, en el instinto y en la tierra guatemalteca que me llevé en la suela de los zapatos.. La intensidad del retorno, en mis condiciones, no creo que la haya tenido alguien.. Mi pueblo despertaba, rompía sus cadenas y por dondequiera creaba un clima de himno su fervor.. He sido un hombre metido en mi vocación, y mi vocación misma también me ha ligado más a mi pueblo que resuena en mí desde mi infancia, a flor de alma, sollozándome recuerdos.. Y no siempre he necesitado comprenderlo porque me ha bastado con amarlo.. Y digo mis condiciones para decir que llevaba muchos años fuera de mi tierra y que su recuerdo en mi entraña vivía, ni más ni menos, como me imagino que vive en todos, o viviría en aquellos que tuvieren la felicidad indecible de ese retorno.. Aquí está algo de mi niñez y de la transposición de mi nostalgia: rasgos de la imagen de cómo yo desearía que fuera mi tierra.. Están las nubes, los olores, las piedras, los sueños, las luchas, los pájaros, las esperanzas, los sabores, las congojas, los ruidos guatemaltecos.. Y una realidad seca y ardiente que he podido captar, porque al reencontrarla, al redescubrirla, me ha golpeado al volver a vivirla.. La esclavitud indígena ha disuelto su amargura, su resentimiento y su dolor, en todos los seres y en todas las cosas.. Se halla en el aire y en el fuego, en el agua y en la tierra.. En la palabra y en el silencio.. En la fiesta y en el funeral.. Por todas partes está pesadamente, como ubicuo fan tasma de piedra.. Mis compatriotas, sin la lente de tal experiencia, acaso juzgarán inexactas o exageradas algunas de mis impresiones.. El ambiente, para ellos ininterrumpido y consuetudinario, no les muestra los mismos tenebrosos o vibrantes relieves y matices.. Están, en cierto modo, invalidados para advertir algunos pormenores y para asirlos con la precisión virgen que sin proponérmelo, incluso por las violentas agitaciones sociales, forzosamente, me ha deparado la realidad en los diez años últimos.. No señalo virtud personal alguna sino, simple y sencillamente, una circunstancia, un hecho.. Tallé las cuentas poco a poco, desde el mito hasta la reforma agraria.. Como la araña, forjé el hilo de mí para ordenarlas en collar.. Si resultó el collar, anhelo que sea como ésos de macacos, cristales y piedrecitas de colores que adornan a las indias: un chachal para el cuello de mi amada Antigua..

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  • Title: Luis Cardoza y Aragon
    Descriptive info: Lya and Luis Cardoza y Aragón.. September, 1946.. Guatemala: The Lines of Her Palm.. Translated by Michelle Suderman.. FOR MY PARENTS.. A Mouthful of Pollen.. The Prime of My Life.. On October 20, 1944, the revolution that was transforming Guatemala reached boiling point, and I crossed the border on the twenty-second.. A plane dropped us off in Tapachula, Mexico.. The pilot wanted to warn us, but at the same time, avoid upsetting us.. He was worried, and I think he read the papers the following day fearing he would find some tragic news item about us there.. On saying our good-byes, the simplicity of his manhood found, Mexicanly, the right words.. He said to us, earnest and forthright, Be sure you don't get carried away by the tiznada.. * We traveled on to Tuxtla Chico-very near the dividing line itself-to have our travel documents stamped.. I had decided to make this radical change in the space of a few seconds, in the Mexican capital.. Carrying very light and improvised baggage, I cut ages off my life.. Just a few months earlier, along with some newfound friends who had recently arrived as exiles in Mexico City, I had taken certain steps while awaiting developments in Guatemala.. With them, and with a gun in hand, I returned to my homeland.. News on the situation was garbled.. The border detachment did not place any obstacles in our way on entering the country.. We were prepared to do anything.. We rented an automobile, distributed ourselves within it strategically, fearful of some ambush, and struck out for Malacatán.. Armed groups stopped us along the roads and stuck their guns in through the windows, pointing them at us.. We would identify ourselves and they would wish us a good trip.. The grassroots movement had spread across the country and any of the small military garrisons that had not surrendered were in a state of expectancy.. Malacatán was jubilant, armed, tense with enthusiasm and determination.. They put us up for a couple of hours to give us supper.. Then we would continue on our journey toward San Marcos and Quezaltenango.. The Malacatán garrison remained indecisive and the townspeople were on the verge of attacking.. The garrison chief, a young officer, had quartered himself with his men; they were well-armed and had abundant ammunition.. Our intervention averted bloodshed.. With a small white flag in hand, we went to parley with the officer.. We explained the situation to him, his duty toward the people and the fact that the entire country backed the revolution.. It was not easy convincing him.. He was skeptical of the news we brought him, but we were able to persuade him within the agreed time limit.. Otherwise, the town leaders would have attacked, inadequately armed and with little solidarity.. The officer had to be dealt with, within quarters.. Who knows what might have happened.. We emerged from headquarters bearing the good news, and a group of volunteers formed the new garrison.. The officer was not given any trouble, and withdrew to his home.. We returned to our lodgings where the town had prepared supper for us.. The enthusiasm was at a fever pitch.. The campesinos hugged us, bought us drinks.. A marimba started playing Guatemalan sones.. Firecrackers, gunshots into the air, shouts of joy, pealing church bells.. It was suddenly all too much for me: my land, that was in my bones, came flooding to my eyes.. I began weeping and sobbing.. What heartrending joy, what anguished and jubilant tenderness.. Boys and girls, old people and children, women asked the marimba to play.. the national anthem.. I had not heard it for many, many years.. I was deeply moved, singing it with my people on that unforgettable occasion.. I do not consider myself either patriotic or sentimental: I was simply made aware, once again, of how definitive our childhood and the power of our homeland truly are.. Two hours later, it was already the dead of the night and we were traveling toward the heights of San Marcos.. The garrison was ours, according to what they had told us in Malacatán.. We took along four uniformed soldiers from the town.. As we were not sure they were really on our side, we  ...   fountain's dark green water in the garden, jubilant with flowers and vines.. My father's ghost in the hallways, the ghosts of my brothers and sisters, as children, and my own, playing and shouting.. I heard the jingling of my mother's keys, hanging at her waist, and I saw her hands working the earth under begonias and rosebushes.. I would reach her, reach the maternal womb, my mother and my kindred, the following day.. For the moment, we were heading toward the capital city.. Due to the political violence, my mother was living in anguish over my return.. She ached with my presence and with my absence, a very old lady now, bowed down with years, very active and her alert head completely white.. In the afternoon I caught a bus on the Guatemala City-Antigua route.. I remembered the road I had traveled on foot and on horseback, by bicycle, stagecoach or automobile, in every one of its bends and mountains, ravines and villages, groves of trees and tiny plants.. Toward dusk, the vehicle was nearing the entrance to my town, the Matasano bridge that spans the absent Pensativo River.. The first houses came into sight, washed in bright quicklime colors, the clay tile roofs spotted with mold, the cobbled street, La Concepción fountain, the convent and the church in ruins.. Across the street, my grandparents' house-door ajar, allowing me a glimpse of the garden-where as a child I went on expeditions and played circus along with unforgettable friends, while my pretty girl cousins smiled at our childish feats.. When I got off at the corner closest to home, I recognized the stones worn down by my own shoes, the silence, the stains on the Cathedral walls, the gutters, the windows.. I remembered the design on the cement walks of my house with complete accuracy.. And standing before the door I had not passed through in so many years, I remembered the latchkey, short and round, and how to turn it to open the latch; the knocker's little hand, the mail-slot, the wood, the cord to open the door without knocking.. At the end of the street, the perfect triangle of the Agua Volcano, enormous, serene and blue, as always, not a single gray hair on its head, a cloud adorning the peak, golden in the afternoon sun.. I pulled on the cord, pushed the door open and entered with my heart in my mouth.. The little dog-so very, very old-announced my arrival and came up, tired and belligerent, to stop me.. Silently, my brother Rafael appeared.. We embraced and said nothing to each other.. Having taken two steps across the threshold of my home, I was overcome by tears.. It was all too much.. My mother came down the passageway, slowly, stooping, nearly blind.. She already knew it had to be me.. She was sobbing with joy, with worry, with who knows how many things, as I, too, was sobbing.. This was the sweetest embrace of my life, and at that instant, it was worthwhile dying, it was worthwhile living.. She felt overwhelmed, and we did not have to say anything to each other.. Embracing her, I guided her a few steps further, to sit together on the centenary conventual bench in the passageway, facing the garden her own hands tended.. I was a young boy again, next to my mother, in my old childhood home.. I stretched out on the bench and put my head on her lap.. She drew me close to her and I do not know how long we stayed that way, silent, our eyes motionless on the vines and geraniums, her hand resting on my head and stroking me, very slowly, from time to time.. I still feel her hand, as I did then, in the most intense and peaceful and infinitely tender caress.. If I had not experienced those indescribable moments in Antigua, in my parents' house, I would have missed the prime of my life.. * La tiznada-la chingada; the source of most misfortune in Mexican popular expression; in Mexican history, according to Octavio Paz, it is the stain of original sin, the rape of Mexico by Spain.. Esta página no hubiera sido posible sin la valiosa ayuda de Ricardo Villanueva..

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  • Title: Nacimiento del hombre
    Descriptive info: VESTIGES OF THE VOICE.. The Birth of Man.. This is our origin, the history of our race.. In the.. Popol Vuh.. , Guatemala's book of books, appear these words:.. Again there comes a humiliation, destruction, and demolition.. The manikins, woodcarvings were killed when the Heart of Sky devised a flood for them.. A great flood was made; it came down on the heads of the manikins, woodcarvings.. The man's body was carved from the wood of the coral tree by the Maker, Modeler.. And as for the woman, the Maker, Modeler needed the pith of reeds for the woman's body.. They were not competent, nor did they speak before the builder and sculptor who made them and brought them forth, and so they were killed, done in by a flood:.. There came a rain of resin from the sky.. There came the one named Gouger of Faces: he gouged out their eyeballs.. There came Sudden Bloodletter: he snapped off their heads.. There came Crunching Jaguar: he ate their flesh.. There came Tearing Jaguar: he tore them open.. They were pounded down to the bones and tendons, smashed and pulverized even to the bones.. Their faces were smashed because they were incompetent before their mother and their father, the Heart of Sky, named Hurricane.. The earth was blackened because of this; the black rainstorm began, rain all day and rain all night.. Into their houses came the animals, small and great.. Their faces were crushed by things of wood and stone.. Everything spoke: their water jars, their tortilla griddles, their plates, their cooking pots, their dogs, their grinding stones, each and every thing crushed their faces.. Their dogs and turkeys told them:.. "You caused us pain, you ate us, but now it is.. you.. whom.. we.. shall eat.. " And this is the grinding stone:.. "We were undone because of you.. Every day, every day,.. in the dark, in the dawn, forever,.. r-r-rip, r-r-rip,.. r-r-rub, r-r-rub,.. right in our faces, because of you.. This was the service we gave you at first, when you were still people, but today you will learn of our power.. We shall pound and we shall grind your flesh," their grinding stones told them.. And this is what their dogs said, when they spoke in their turn:.. "Why is it you can't seem to give us our food? We just watch and you just keep us down, and you throw us around.. You keep a stick ready when you eat, just so you can hit us.. We don't talk, so we've received nothing from you.. How could you not have known? You.. did.. know that we were wasting away there, behind you.. "So, this very day you will taste the teeth in our mouths.. We shall eat you," their dogs told them, and their faces were crushed.. And then their tortilla griddles and cooking pots spoke to them in turn:.. "Pain! That's all you've done for us.. Our mouths are sooty, our faces are sooty.. By setting us on the fire all the time, you burn us.. Since.. felt no pain,.. try it.. We shall burn you," all their cooking pots said, crushing their faces.. The stones, their hearthstones were shooting out, coming right out of the fire, going for their heads, causing them pain.. Now they run for it, helter-skelter.. They want to climb up on the houses, but they fall as the houses collapse.. They want to climb the trees; they're thrown off by the trees.. They want to get inside caves, but the caves slam shut in their faces.. Such was the scattering of the human work, the human design.. The people were ground down, overthrown.. The mouths and faces of all of them were destroyed and crushed.. And it used to be said that the monkeys in the forests today are a sign of this.. They were left as a sign because wood alone was used for their flesh by the builder and sculptor.. So this is why monkeys look like people: they are a sign of a previous human work, human design mere manikins, mere woodcarvings.. 1.. With the failure of this attempt, after the flood that annihilated them, the perfect being was made from corn.. And here is the beginning of the conception of humans, and of the search for the ingredients of the human body.. So they spoke, the Bearer, Begetter, the Makers, Modelers named Sovereign Plumed Serpent:.. "The dawn has approached, preparations have been made, and morning has come for the provider, nurturer, born  ...   made and modeled.. This is the first person: Jaguar Quitze.. And now the second: Jaguar Night.. And now the third: Mahucutah.. And the fourth: True Jaguar.. And these are the names of our first mother-fathers.. They were simply made and modeled, it is said; they had no mother and no father.. We have named the men by themselves.. No woman gave birth to them, nor were they begotten by the builder, sculptor, Bearer, Begetter.. By sacrifice alone, by genius alone they were made, they were modeled by the Maker, Modeler, Bearer, Begetter, Sovereign Plumed Serpent.. And when they came to fruition, they came out human:.. They talked and made words.. They looked and they listened.. They walked, they worked.. They were good people, handsome, with looks of the male kind.. Thoughts came into existence and they gazed; their vision came all at once.. Perfectly they saw, perfectly they knew everything under the sky, whenever they looked.. The moment they turned around and looked around in the sky, on the earth, everything was seen without any obstruction.. They didn't have to walk around before they could see what was under the sky; they just stayed where they were.. As they looked, their knowledge became intense.. Their sight passed through trees, through rocks, through lakes, through seas, through mountains, through plains.. Jaguar Quitze, Jaguar Night, Mahucutah, and True Jaguar were truly gifted people.. And then they were asked by the builder and mason:.. "What do you know about your being? Don't you look, don't you listen? Isn't your speech good, and your walk? So you must look, to see out under the sky.. Don't you see the mountain-plain clearly? So try it," they were told.. And then they saw everything under the sky perfectly.. After that, they thanked the Maker, Modeler:.. "Truly now,.. double thanks, triple thanks.. that we've been formed, we've been given.. our mouths, our faces,.. we speak, we listen,.. we wonder, we move,.. our knowledge is good, we've understood.. what is far and near,.. and we've seen what is great and small.. under the sky, on the earth.. Thanks to you we've been formed,.. we've come to be made and modeled,.. our grandmother, our grandfather,".. they said when they gave thanks for having been made and modeled.. They understood everything perfectly, they sighted the four sides, the four corners in the sky, on the earth, and this didn't sound good to the builder and sculptor:.. "What our works and designs have said is no good:.. "'We have understood everything, great and small,' they say.. " And so the Bearer, Begetter took back their knowledge:.. "What should we do with them now? Their vision should at least reach nearby, they should see at least a small part of the face of the earth, but what they're saying isn't good.. Aren't they merely 'works' and 'designs' in their very names? Yet they'll become as great as gods, unless they procreate, proliferate at the sowing, the dawning, unless they increase.. ".. "Let it be this way: now we'll take them apart just a little, that's what we need.. What we've found out isn't good.. Their deeds would become equal to ours, just because their knowledge reaches so far.. They see everything," so said.. the Heart of Sky, Hurricane,.. Newborn Thunderbolt, Raw Thunderbolt,.. Sovereign Plumed Serpent,.. Bearer, Begetter,.. Xpiyacoc, Xmucane,.. Maker, Modeler,.. as they are called.. And when they changed the nature of their works, their designs, it was enough that the eyes be marred by the Heart of Sky.. They were blinded as the face of a mirror is breathed upon.. Their eyes were weakened.. Now it was only when they looked nearby that things were clear.. And such was the loss of the means of understanding, along with the means of knowing everything, by the four humans.. The root was implanted.. And such was the making, modeling of our first grandfather, our father, by the Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth.. And then their wives and women came into being.. Again, the same gods thought of it.. It was as if they were asleep when they received them, truly beautiful women were there with Jaguar Quitze, Jaguar Night, Mahucutah, and True Jaguar.. With their women there they became wider awake.. Right away they were happy at heart again, because of their wives.. 2.. The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings.. Translated from the Quiché by Dennis Tedlock.. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.. pp.. 84ö86.. 163ö167..

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  • Title: El maíz
    Descriptive info: Corn.. Corn forms the heart of the Americas.. The first men were made of corn.. The wellspring of song originates in the indigenous world.. From the beginning of the.. , corn is life, a green tutelary god, father of the ancestral substance: "yellow corn, white corn alone for the flesh, food alone for the human legs and arms, for our first fathers, the four human works.. " From mythological times to the present day, our life has been corn: the power of a fist and the wings of a dream.. On the red land beyond Tulán, the four original human foundlings that Grandmother Xmucané molded from corn dough found their place in history, leaving the traces of their passing upon the codices and in our deepest voice.. In the Place of Abundance and in the jungles that covered the ape-men's first huts, deer, pheasants, weasels,.. raccoons.. , armadillos, rabbits, tapirs, snakes, squirrels, tortoises, coatis, parrots, coyotes and the emeraldine hummingbird all contemplated the light that was beginning to penetrate by dint of the pyramid-builders' zeal.. Yum Kax, the god of corn, is painted with snake's blood, his hooked nose placed amid the leaves of the plant he holds in both hands, venerating it.. He is fundamental among the divinities.. His kingdom is boundless; his subjects, numerous.. None have avoided the deadening effects of the sovereignty of the cross to the extent he has.. The foreign gods the Spaniards brought us seek shelter in Yum Kax's shadow.. On any given day, one may see them in Chichicastenango, in a thousand towns of the Mayan world, on altars in the woods, on tumuli in the fields, at every market stand, at the six cardinal points, just as in our grandfathers' hearts.. The.. pom.. , ears of corn,.. achiote.. , salt, small wildflowers, honey and copal incense on the altars are the same, whether placed at Christ's feet or at the feet of the gods of rain, fire and earth who are intent on inundating the cornfields with flowers and the corncobs with grain.. Agrarian gods occupy a prominent position in the Mayan pantheon, and appeared with the cultivation of corn, which has been fundamental in America for several millennia.. The divinities with the longest ancestral lines were linked to corn.. Many holidays were fixed according to the ritual calendar that was elaborated with the sacred plant as its basis.. The Aztecs called it "the herb of the gods" and worshipped Xilonen, the god of young corn; Tlazoltéotl, the god of mature corn; Xipe Tótec, the flayed god, patron of the sowing of corn; Chicomecóatl, seven serpents or seven corncobs, goddess of abundance; Centóatl, the beautiful young god of corn.. Whatever its origin, corn represents the key event in the civilization of America.. As Dr.. Alfonso Caso tells us, Mangelsdorf and Reeves.. have indicated the Guatemala-Chiapas region as a second distribution center for corn, and the site where a new variety was developed-the one that spread throughout Europe and Asia from the sixteenth century onward.. These researchers do not consider maize to have descended from.. euclaema.. or.. teosintle.. , which are exclusively wild plants of Mesoamerica, but rather, as a hybrid of primitive maize and.. Tripsacum.. Consequently, teosintle is not corn's ancestor but its descendent.. Corn made human life possible.. It was humanity itself in mythology and in reality: in the.. , only with corn could the true man be born.. The gods were unsuccessful in their creation until they discovered the divine grain.. In all the codices-the Vienna, Borbonic, Magliabeciano Codices, and the Vatican Codex which portrays Tláloc holding a maize plant-and in the murals of Teotihuacan, Chichén Itzá, Monte Albán, Tepantila; on the foliate cross of Palenque; on the Lienzo de Tlaxcala; in legends, sacred books; in the creations of modern masters, corn always represents heritage: Quetzalcóatl, Kukulkán or Gucumatz conquers maize, the key to the universe.. Like Prometheus, he wants to give it to his people.. In ".. The Legend of the Suns.. ," humanity is created with his blood and that of other gods.. Tlálocs.. steal the corn from him.. Then, following many magical incidents, Quetzalcóatl transforms himself into a black ant and is guided by another ant until he finds the grain to nourish us.. Quetzalcóatl takes the wondrous grain to Tamoanchán and finally, the gods eat it.. The legend places these words in the mouths of men: "With corn they made us strong.. " In the Quiché myth, four animals -the fox, the coyote, the parrot and the crow- brought white corn and yellow corn from Pan Paxil and Pan Cayala.. Corn established the tribes and permitted civilization to develop.. To cultivate the plant, people observed the skies, the seasons, the planets.. That was the origin of the calendar, of religion and ritual.. That was the origin of art, which is the expression of consciousness and of culture.. Humanity and corn appeared simultaneously, as the condition.. sine qua non.. for life:.. And the ingredients could not be found and in the end they were found.. Two animals knew that there was food in the place called Broken Place, where those animals named Coyote and Crow were.. And in the rubble the (food) was found when the animal Sparrowhawk killed the animal Coyote, who was then dividing his grain, who was trying to knead it into dough.. And the blood of the tapir and of the serpent came from beneath the sea by means of Sparrowhawk, and entered into the corn dough.. Man's flesh was formed with this dough by the Makers, the Modelers.. The extinction of fire, narrated in the.. Annals of the Cakchiquels.. , illustrates the importance of remembering that fire was taken captive-a Promethean incident comparable only to one other mythical wonder: the invention of corn.. The tribes placed their feet on solid ground when they established themselves agriculturally, and on that ground they built their civilization.. And when corn became scarce, they abandoned their metropolises and emigrated to other lands.. Might not the Cakchiquels be the Prometheans (hence the name of this faction)-those who gained possession of fire and were able to extend its use? "'When we reached the port of Tulán, we went to receive a red branch that was our staff, and this is why we were given the name of Cakchiquels, oh, our children!' said Gagavitz and Zactecauh.. ".. For centuries, the deified plant has represented the life and happiness of a people that has worked every last square inch of our plains and mountains, for  ...   earth and sky, turtle and star, it bites the infinite tail.. And our eyes-one a serpent's and the other a quetzal's-not only see, but imagine and divine in the dense night.. They bore into femurs when they follow the reptant flight of Kukulkán or Gucumatz, and we contemplate ourselves emerging from the land, dripping unsubmissive stars.. The Supreme Creator demonstrated his affection for us with grains of corn.. He scattered them everywhere, over frigid peaks and warm plains, like a blessing.. In the jade of the cornfield, the Mayan Olympus, gods of wind and rain, gods of fire and earth, gods of sky and sea, combine their zeal and relish their epiphany: from their celestial agrarian dream sprouts the ear of corn, and in it, the Indian finally smiles.. In the center of Guatemala, where the navel's tellurian star shines, there is an immense corn plant that sheds its pliant, murmuring shadow upon us.. They used to cut the Mayan child's umbilical cord with an obsidian blade.. They would anoint the ears of corn with the blood and then sow the seeds, until the time came that the child was able to do it himself; then he would enjoy a long and strong life.. "When they died," says Landa, "they were laid out after stuffing their mouths full of the ground maize which is their food, and the drink they call.. koyem.. , and together with that, a few of the stones they use as coin, so they would not be wanting for food in the next life.. 5.. In their stories, children drop grains of corn so the hero will not lose his way.. In the forests, it is not possible to use fireflies to light the way, nor to take one's bearings, because their constellation is variable and momentary.. And if the night is blind, like the ebony night when witches are afoot, it is the task of corn, and corn alone, to show the way home.. The grains of corn, and they alone, preserve their Milky Way, their constellation, along the narrow black trail of the child who, sleeping, sleeps.. The night sky is populated with corn.. Itzamná lavishly scatters grain to the six cardinal points.. None of the heroes have ever gotten lost and they always return home.. There is always a dog howling in the little villages bathed in cold, dim moonlight that look like they have been whitewashed.. The stubble fields set their metallic branches on fire at dusk, but they cease burning with the full moon.. Sometimes on the lunar snow, after the fields have been harvested, the stubble burns, and the deer and coyotes ignite their wide, round eyes as-terrified-they pass through the narrow streets of the town.. The granaries are chock-full.. Over eighty percent of the Indian's diet is corn.. 6.. Tobacco wrapped in a white corn husk that has been deveined by polishing on a whetstone burns cheerfully in the man of corn's hut, which he has made of corn stalks.. In the stable, the bullock chews its corn fodder.. Around the dog's neck, a collar of corncobs protects it from disease.. In folk tales, corn kernels are dropped to keep from taking the wrong path.. In the sky, Itzamná plants corn each night with his staff, burying three to six grains of corn every two paces as the men of corn did yesterday and as they will do tomorrow, on plains, in gullies and atop mountains.. Earth and sky mingle in the grain or in the star.. In the dreams of children, gods and men.. They all eat their own flesh.. They consume themselves like fire until, at last, every two paces, every two paces, they sink into the earth and go off singing in the iridescent feathers of Kukulkán.. I sometimes think I hear the roaring of my skull, as if I had taken a shell from the earth, or a vessel discovered many meters beneath the asphalt, in the grave of a remote being who, in a grotto of.. Atlantis.. , perforated the.. firewood.. I realize it is not imagination I am letting run away with me but memory.. The things I can remember are those that make sense here, things that glimmer suddenly in the night, like sudden fishes.. The rest is so recent that either I do not remember it or it is not worth talking about.. That is why I have barely touched on the nightmare of Tonatiuh's arrival.. And right now, at this very instant, I retain only what I saw as a child and what I found a quarter of a century later on my return from a thousand trails: when I contemplate Guatemala, it is with one eye that of a little boy in Antigua and the other, that of a cosmopolitan adult.. But, I see best with my eyes empty, listening to my earth shell that has already turned into silica and feldspar: in the endless obsidian, I remember and begin to narrate.. Beads of corn pass through my hands.. I mumble my prayer and stammer my song.. I say things I only partly understand.. And that is how these things must remain.. Who can translate the murmur of the cornfields for me?.. And when I feel more lost than ever I return home, guided by the kernels of corn.. Sometimes I feel like a starfish on a mirror in the crater of a volcano.. Then, homesick and dispatriated, I remember.. By turning back, I am sure of advancing: the path marked by my corn always takes me forward, even if I go the route that begins behind me.. I swim against the current to reach the sea.. Alfonso Caso, "Contribución de las culturas indígenas de México a la cultura mundial," México y la cultura (Mexico City, Secretaría de Educación Pública, 1946), pp.. 51-80.. Prologue, Francisco Monterde, Anales de los Xahil, Biblioteca del Estudiante Universitario, translated and annotated by Georges Raynaud, Miguel Ángel Asturias and J.. González de Mendoza (Mexico City: Ediciones de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1946) p.. 4, parr.. Red branch, byrsonia-cakchiquel.. Fire emerging (by friction) from wood.. Crónica de la S.. Provincia del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús de Guatemala (sixteenth century manuscript), chapter VII.. Quoted by Frans Blom in La vida de los mayas, Biblioteca de Cultura Popular, 20 de octubre (Guatemala City: Ministerio de Educación Pública, 1950) p.. 19.. Felix Webster McBride, Cultural and Historical Geography of Southwest Guatemala (Smithsonian Institute, Institute of Social Anthropology, 1945) Publication N ordm; 4..

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  • Title: Dirección de las raíces
    Descriptive info: The Direction of Our Roots.. Our past is lost to sight as we retrace the steps of the Asiatic migrants who, during the last ice age approximately 250 centuries ago, crossed what is now the Bering Strait-without getting their feet wet.. Shrouded in a nebula of mythology, they began to slowly filter in.. Then, the distant fountainhead forgotten, and having lived through the whole primitive human experience, they had become Americans and cultivated corn.. Centuries later, they would build Tikal, Quiriguá, Uaxactún, Palenque, Copán.. Without any contact with their land of origin nor with any other outside of America, the false arch of Labná was on the verge of becoming a real one.. The pre-Columbian cultures were based on a seigniorial agricultural economy where corn shone like a sun upon communal conglomerations and city-states-according to Morley-ruled by the tribes' theocratic and military class.. Warriors and priests, ranked higher than the industrious and combative commoners, incited conflicts to gain dominion over other territories, and taxes, slaves, sacrifice victims.. The wars were primarily of an economic character, in combination with sacred requirements of secondary importance.. When we were invaded by Pedro de Alvarado, one of the least ignorant of all the conquistadors and also the most rapacious, six hundred years had already gone by since the metropoli of the.. Old Empire's.. florid age.. sank into the jungle.. The Bonampak frescos were painted during the apogee.. At the turn of the sixteenth century, the Mayas were languishing in utter decline.. The Old Empire Mayas-in Morley's already outmoded terminology-scattered in the direction of the Laguna de Términos.. Traveling against the current of the Usumacinta and Chiapas Rivers, they came to the regions where Pedro de Alvarado found them in 1524 when he conquered Guatemala.. The memory of the Old Empire was wiped from their minds, almost to the point of disappearing.. Some few relatively modern myths survived, such as the Toltec myth of Quetzalcóatl-which dates to before Christ according to some sources, and to the late ninth or tenth century according to others-and customs and practices that were altered by contact with other tribes.. Title of the Lords of Totonicapán.. -a text compiled in part (or entirely, according to some scholars) by Diego Reynoso-gives some vague indications as to the route taken by the tribes following their desertion of the Old Empire.. In other Mayan books, accounts of various migratory periods thrive in a tangle of myths, history and legends.. Unraveling the different migrations is an arduous task, despite meticulous comparisons and knowledge of coetaneous civilizations.. The books refer primarily to the New Empire, though the cosmogonic and theogonic part is the product of the Old Empire and even older epochs: historical precision is yet unknown here.. There is still hope that some of the inscriptions of the so-called Old Empire will permit the recovery of several centuries or millennia.. Mayan ceramics were unique for their delicacy, perfection and decorative variety.. Frans Blom asserts that "ancient Mayans produced the most extraordinary pottery in the world.. " The cup, the wall, the codex, the stele, baked clay figurines, funerary urns, all attest to the imagination of this society of limners and colorists, unleashed in a theological world where at every turn they invoked the great gods of their universe and the lesser gods of the community, tribe, ceremony, institution or trade.. The Maya pantheon-which contains no god of love-is immense: it is perpetually flitting from the human level to the mythical, from history to portent.. Superimposed legends and transfigurations, in a perpetual epiphany of mythic invention.. A world of poetry in action that, with startling opulence, brought the feathered serpents to life and blanketed their constructions with symbols that incarnated the forces of nature, prodigies of heroes and priests, and the animal, human and divine powers of the gods.. The Quiché Maya pantheon possesses certain traits that have yet to be studied in depth.. The elaboration of their mythology, and its use in explaining the world, is one of their masterpieces.. It is quite legitimate to speak of the contributions that former settlers of the lands now constituting Guatemala made to the horizon of ancient civilizations: in this part of America, they created the most important advances found by Europe during the sixteenth century.. The religious beliefs of this divinity-saturated world structured the whole of life, as expressed through art and science.. Over and above the peculiarities of different epochs, this totality remains essentially the same.. They made a civilization blossom-manifested in writing, architecture, sculpture, painting, literature, in their numeric and chronological systems and, in all likelihood, in music-founded on a certain conception of the world and its destiny, on an integral perception of humanity.. The relics allow us to conjecture as to some of what they accomplished.. In sculpture and lapidary arts, they transcended their Neolithic techniques and achieved anything they desired, with astounding perfection.. The evolution of the different styles remains nebulous, despite attempts at classification.. Evolution was slow, as in any art form strictly governed by theocratic will.. It passed from simple forms to fugues of shapes and volumes, to expressions opening into deltas, into arabesques, volutes and movement captured in a static image, even depicting air as Chinese artists did.. It was commonplace to blend the most laden.. ,.. ornamental art with the most uncompromising austerity.. Sculpture, the art of space; poetry, the art of time.. The cloud and the clock.. Space, form, cloud, imprecision.. Time, conceptual expression, lyric precision, clock.. Stone and song.. In their own tangible imprecision, matter and form sustain their everlasting nature.. An idea grows old more readily than a shape, a color, a drawing.. Independently of the purely conceptual, lyricism becomes eternal as it expresses his terror, hope, tenderness of inner man with the precision of a sob or a scream, and is transformed into pure sensation: a prolonged interjection, a magic prayer to divinity or human communion.. A painter's work is grasped or sensed in a glance, like observing a starry sky.. We enter a room filled with El Grecos or Rubens, and the artist's dynamism, either ascetic and tortured or Dionysian and jocund, drags us along like a hurricane.. Like the night sky, one does not feel the impact of a poet like a blow.. It is a slow process, without the possibility of that immediate sensorial communication particular to the visual arts.. The presence of action abides in forms.. In ideas-or to be exact, in literature-the instability of events is frozen for an instant.. The world of forms is not as ephemeral because of its sensuality.. The world of ideas is precise, and therefore more elusive, wider and more vulnerable: it is constantly assailed from all sides.. The hexagon, the spiral of a snail shell, a breast or a profile, the quality of matter added to the prestige of color-jade, gold, flesh, obsidian or granite-all experience their empire with greater force than a concept, which is merely instability and approximation.. Visual art is linked directly to our senses, to our animal interior, to physical pleasure and the tellurian root of humanity.. The influence of the oral tradition is surely comparable to that of visual art: it exists and it possesses similar aesthetic validity.. However the influence of the indigenous word cannot survive with the same freshness and joy as art because the world of form and sensation diverges from that of concepts and reason: artistic expression is more suitable for the preservation of eminence than literary expression, where ideas take on a more fragile shape.. Art crystallizes the conception of the world, as do words.. They are the consolidation of a certain mentality or sensibility in an entity that does not demand any logical analysis of the message: the senses delight in lines and volumes, in the forms themselves, regardless of which civilization produced them, as in the presence of a woman, a star, a rose or a serpent.. The Mayan line achieved a sharpness and eloquence that few have matched in the history of ancient civilizations.. The line is the intellectual element.. par excellence.. , circumscribing the real object, delimiting something imaginary to bind it so tightly it acquires corporality.. The abstract world, eternal and human, our world without time, concerned with mystery, destiny, death: the metaphysics of a people middot;.. In one analysis after another, it was captured in drawing and volume-precise parallel equivalents of the magical thought that ruled over them.. Many years, many centuries, were needed for the diverse forms of expression to filter into masterpieces: vessels and steles, the frescos of Bonampak, mosaics and.. featherwork.. , architecture, poetry, finally springing from interwoven nebulae of myths where reason adhered to the most copious fantasy, and the two fed off each other.. Studies by Sylvanus G.. Morley claim that the artwork of the so-called Old Empire has a more solid, serene air, having been reduced to the most indispensable of aesthetic elements during its two immortal early stages, but even so, many centuries would have to go by before it reached perfection.. Line is condensed within itself, form observes itself,  ...   religious practices, especially sacrifice-outbursts of the bloody and dazzling collective theological obsession that were amassed and then symbolized by art.. A life absorbed and deranged by sacredness, a passion that also expresses eroticism, despite the austerity of Mayan art.. Painting and sculpture are in essence forms of writing: pictograms, symbols, narrations, concepts, representations of ideas and prodigies.. Each city is an epic, a saga.. A.. , constructed, painted and sculpted.. A poem in stone.. There are no pure forms-concentrated solely on artistic zeal-that do not speak, transmitting their messages in two ways: as writing and a prompt to memory, and through their intrinsic formal eloquence.. And what a beautiful hand they had!.. The Hellenic influence spread throughout Asia on Alexander's heels and the nude appeared in the ancient civilizations of present-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, India.. Its ardent sap flows back.. as through capillaries.. until getting lost in the serenity of Buddha, whose very image has Hellenic origins.. These cultures and our own indigenous antiquity developed-in complete ignorance of one another-forms and expressions of surprising similarity.. They were morphologically influenced by human physical attributes, perhaps by the path of distinct but related.. folklores.. , and by the natural surroundings of regions whose exuberance bears a certain likeness to our own.. Saturated with depictions of death and war, and influenced by the lush tropical foliage, Mayan art has a remarkable ability to capture in drawing the meaningful features of real and imaginary worlds, and combines that power with a sense of ornamentation to produce a feeling of.. rightness.. , even when verging on excess.. In the aforementioned book, Aldous Huxley states that the hieroglyphics are among the most exorbitant decorative combinations to be produced by the Maya.. Even fantastic Gothic ornamentation seems pedestrian in comparison.. But, despite the richness and strangeness of Mayan hieroglyphics, this extravagance is strictly disciplined.. Each glyph contains and fills its frame completely; its.. mise en page.. is nearly always impeccable.. These fantastic symbols, often savage or grotesque, are submitted to a severe intellectual discipline.. Jerónimo de Aguilar and Gonzalo Guerrero were the sole survivors of a shipwreck in which the other sailors were sacrificed by the aborigines.. Their story is prodigiously suggestive as the first strand in the ball of thread that is the consciousness of cultural blending-.. mestizaje.. -in the Americas.. Both were held prisoner by the Maya from 1511 until 1519, the year the conquistadors first set foot on these shores.. And here the trunk of the Spanish tree divided into two branches.. Jerónimo de Aguilar learned Maya and spoke it with Doña Marina, La Malinche, who also knew the language of Tenochtitlán.. Together, Doña Marina-who did not speak Spanish-and Jerónimo de Aguilar served as Hernán Cortés's interpreters.. Gonzalo Guerrero did not follow the Spaniards as Jerónimo de Aguilar did.. He remained with his new gods and his indigenous wife in the community he belonged to, along with his children who were the first mestizos on the continent.. Doña Marina is the other side of the coin: she left her people, turned traitor and went off with the invaders as Cortés's lover.. Gonzalo Guerrero and the Malinche began the process of intermingling blood, languages, beliefs.. A conquered Spanish man; a conquered indigenous woman.. Jerónimo de Aguilar took up arms, but together with La Malinche, as interpreters, they formed a Trojan horse that was more powerful than artillery and muskets.. Gonzalo Guerrero turned his back on the Holy Cross, refused to fight the Indians and lived their life forevermore.. Bernal Díaz del Castillo recounts the tale as follows:.. Aguilar set out for the place, five leagues distant, where his companion Gonzalo Guerrero was living, but when he read the letter to him he answered: "Brother Aguilar, I am married and have three children and the Indians look on me as a.. cacique.. and captain in wartime.. You go, and God be with you, but I have my face tattooed and my ears pierced.. What would the Spaniards say should they see me in this guise? And look how handsome these boys of mine are.. For God's sake give me those green beads you have brought, and I will give the beads to them and say that my brothers have sent them from my own country.. " And the Indian wife of Gonzalo spoke to Aguilar in her own tongue very angrily and said to him: "What is this slave coming here for, talking to my husband-go off with you, and don't trouble us with any more words.. And Aguilar turned to Gonzalo saying that he was a Christian and must not lose his soul for an Indian woman; and that if he did it for his wife and children, to take her with him if he did not want to leave them behind.. But as much as Aguilar talked to Gonzalo and admonished him, he did not want to leave.. It seems Gonzalo was a man of the sea and a native of Palos.. On his travels through Honduras (1524ö1525), Hernán Cortés became the first white man to cross the domains of the Old Empire.. He hanged Cuauhtémoc in the forest, near or within the present-day Guatemalan borders.. Copán was discovered in 1576 by one of the judges of the Royal Tribunal of Guatemala, Diego García de Palacio.. At the close of the seventeenth century, Father Avendaño became lost in the jungles of El Petén when the members of the expedition he was traveling with got split up; this same expedition would later come to his rescue.. Though faint from hunger, he survived the ordeal by eating a few chicozapotes that the monkeys had thrown down from the trees.. He set out walking aimlessly.. Suddenly, as if in a hallucination, he stumbled upon the first sizable ruins found-perhaps Tikal.. Palenque appears to have been discovered midway through the eighteenth century.. Shortly before 1840, the Payés brothers discovered Quiriguá.. John L.. Stephens, who had already visited Copán, first saw Quiriguá in 1841 and definitively called the world's attention to Mayan civilization with his valuable work.. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán.. Sylvanus G.. Morley tells us that.. the ancient Mayan priests conceived of a simple numerical system that even today, after more than two thousand years, still stands as one of the most brilliant creations of man's intellect.. And he goes on to say:.. The monoliths of Quiriguá are singular both for their large dimensions and for the mastery with which they were carved out of extremely hard stone.. They possess a perfection that is quite distinct from the exquisite, nuanced and truly culminant forms of the Mayan sculptures in Copán and of Alberto Ruz Lhuillier's 1953 findings in Palenque.. The heads in Palenque present the opulence of a quetzal-feather headdress framing a face that could not have been any more expressive, nor more austere, nor wiser, nor more beautiful.. How to travel any further along such a path? These heads deliver up all the exquisiteness and strength of Mayan art.. In them, these qualities are so closely linked with the "eternal human"-we would say in the Mediterranean idiom-that when we admire the face of Nefertiti (or the finest works of African art), we recall the delicacy of Palenque, whose splendor is at least equal.. Without realizing it, we allow the buried influence of these foreign masterpieces to cause us to say that certain works of Mayan art are so beautiful they look like X or Z, instead of affirming the exact opposite: X or Z is so beautiful it looks like such-and-such a mask or like the Palenque head.. How many Greek heads could not serve as kitchen wenches to the prodigious Maya? Pre-Columbian sculpture exists in a lofty domain that demands new, wider frames of reference of us in our judgments.. When this daily confrontation arises, it is not libido alone that decides-that vital, grassroots proof, guaranteed by a living specimen that we either know or have seen in the movies-but the watered-down ghost of what, until recently, was the "classical" notion of "primitiveness" and "barbarism" as determined by the Greek miracle and Occidental anthropomorphic demands.. Pre-Colombian sculpture developed in regions where past migrations had left traces of their genius like floods leave evidence of their force.. Its beauty, and the varied forms of that beauty, are such that we would note a marked contrast if we placed the heads of Palenque alongside Coatlicue: two worlds, two art forms that could be from different planets.. Mayan art managed to exist in both worlds simultaneously as no other American art tradition had done.. Having turned their backs on Asia, having lost all notion of origins our pre-Columbian civilizations, in the words of Roger Fry, "bequeathed us more masterpieces of pure sculpture than all the Mesopotamian civilizations put together, and more than the majority of modern European civilizations.. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico 1517ö1521, (New York: ???, 19??), pp.. ??ö??.. Morley, La civilización maya, 2nd ed.. (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1953) pp.. 306-307 and 498 ss..

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  • Title: The Popol Vuh
    Descriptive info: The Popol Vuh.. The original manuscript of the.. was discovered in the early eighteenth century by Fray Francisco Ximénez, born in Éjica, Upper Andalusia, on November 28, 1668.. Ximénez, a lay brother, was a very young man when he arrived in Guatemala's capital on February 4, 1688.. -he had not yet turned twenty-as part of the entourage accompanying the new governor, Jacinto Barrios Leal.. He continued his education at the Dominican monastery in Guatemala, completing it in Ciudad Real de Chiapa, and then moved on to serve as curate in Chimaltenango, San Pedro de las Huertas, Xenacoj and Sacapulas.. At the age of thirty-two, he took charge of the curacy of Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, where he lived from 1701 to 1703, approximately.. Among the curia's documents in this ancient indigenous population center, he came across a manuscript written some one hundred years earlier, in the Quiché language transcribed into Latin script.. I translated all its tales into our Castilian language from the Quiché language in which I found them written at the time of the Conquest for then [as they say there] they reduced their mode of writing to our own; but it was done with great stealth and it was preserved among them with so much secrecy that the elder ministers did not even retain the memory of such a thing having existed.. The translation of the.. , completed prior to 1721, was included by Fray Francisco Ximénez in his chronicle,.. Historia de la Provincia de San Vicente de Chiapa y Guatemala.. It was preserved unpublished in the same Dominican monastery, where it was discovered by Ordóñez y Aguiar who used it in another work.. did not become widely known until midway through the last century, when it was published by Dr.. C.. Scherzer, who had found the manuscript in 1854 at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City-the beneficiary of Ximénez's papers.. Scherzer copied the manuscript and published it in Vienna in 1857, "at the expense of the Imperial Academy of Sciences.. " In Paris four years later, 1861 to be precise, Abbot Charles Brasseur de Bourbourg-a scholar with close links to our own historical research who had arrived in Guatemala from El Salvador in February 1855-published his own French version, placing it alongside the original.. It was in Rabinal where he had served as curate that Abbot Brasseur de Bourbourg came across.. Warrior-Prince of Rabinal.. This ballet-drama of uncomplicated plot, its simple action well narrated, contains not a shadow of occidental tradition.. It is autochthonous, without any trace of Christianity, and free even of indirect allusions to Spanish culture.. If we place this work alongside other Guatemalan books, the most noteworthy of them being.. The Memorial of Sololá (Annals of the Xahil.. or.. Annals of the Cakchiquels).. and.. The Title of the Lords of Totonicapán.. (though the quality of the.. is certainly without peer), and alongside the ancient cities, steles, ceramics and the three known Mayan codices-the Dresden,.. Tro Cortesian.. and Paris Codices-we complete our picture of the primordial world of Guatemala.. At times, so close, and barely covered by a thin layer of dust.. At times, so remote and irrecoverably buried.. In books bequeathed us by the Quiché and Cakchiquel nations, we find information on the origin of the peoples of a vast region of North America, Mexico and Central America, and historical or legendary vicissitudes steeped in the cultural vestiges of ancient habitats.. What legends about such migrations might exist on the other side of the Bering Strait, among the Chinese, Moguls, Siberians and Koreans?.. (or.. Memorial of Tecpán-Atitlán.. Memorial de Sololá.. ) seem to penetrate obscurely into regions of a very distant world hidden behind ancient Mayan and Toltec civilizations, both of which felt its influence until the late ninth century.. Annals of the Cakchiquels.. contain legend as well as elements of more direct historical consequence than the.. , which focuses almost exclusively on cosmogonies and theogonies.. do, however, send out a few probes into the mythic world populated by miracles and zoomorphic gods-the realm of the.. Quiché accounts of the creation of humanity coincide with those of the Cakchiquels; they have the same origin.. (like the.. , and.. The.. Books of Chilam Balam.. of the Yucatán Maya) describe the birth of the migratory current from the other side of the ocean that reached Tulán in the West.. Stories of lineages, deeds, pilgrimages and battles against magical forces and tribes.. "Our hearts," say the.. Annals.. , "rested in the shade of our spears.. Tula, the capital of the Toltec nation, shrouded in mist to this day, was the early nucleus for the diaspora of peoples that migrated southward to settle in our lands.. There, they divided into seven tribes and sought new sites to establish themselves.. This is how the.. tell it, referring to later traditions "taken from the more contemporary mythology of the Nahuas," as Brinton clarifies.. It is an arduous task to identify in these texts the influences of the diverse cultures that produced them.. They are too closely interwoven.. Links between Toltec and Mayan myths abound.. Each of these two cultures has a unique and original background, detected only with difficulty because of later cultural contributions-perhaps superficial, perhaps deep-rooted-which bear great similarity to each other.. A few decades ago, Tula was identified with reasonable certainty as the beautiful ruins by that name in the state of Hidalgo, not far north of the Mexican capital.. It is the legendary city of the seven caves or gullies of Quetzalcóatl, which the Aztecs called Chicomoztoc, and the Quichés, Tulán Ziván.. Quetzalcóatl, the central myth, and history of the Toltec culture at the same time, ties these traditions together: the Maya call him Kukulkán; the Quichés, Gucumatz.. The basins of three large rivers-the Chiapas, Usumacinta and Motagua-sheltered the peoples during the so-called Old Empire, a period whose history is not told in any indigenous book.. It has yet to be extracted from hieroglyphic inscriptions that have only begun to be deciphered.. The reasons for the decline of the Old Empire are unknown: superstitions that caused them to abandon the metropolises; or the depletion of the land's fertility, making life materially impossible for the insufficient supplies of corn; or epidemics and civil wars.. Paul Valéry, sacrificing taste to.. esprit.. , hyperbolized, "a civilization annihilated by a mosquito.. " Tikal, Palenque, Piedras Negras, Copán and Quiriguá all collapsed around the close of the ninth century.. is our fundamental text, the Bible for we, the children of corn.. Other indigenous creations (.. The Books of Chilam-Balam.. Xac Chalub-Chen.. , both from Yucatán) are a far cry from its richness and complexity.. There are numerous versions of it, at times differentiated only by aspects too trivial to merit their existence.. I am not captivated by the elegant Spanish in them, but by the sense they give me of indigenous thought, the distant pulse of my blood.. Because of its visionary quality, the.. never loses its power of enchantment, even in less felicitous versions of the book.. Like the Bible, it is a collection of sacred and profane texts, a work of heroic proportions where gods, men and animals ferment in the magical ambiance that envelops the origin of the world, of man and of the gods.. Myth, legend, history are but ages of the human mind.. There are numerous parallels between this work and others pertaining to primitive mentalities (the Finnish.. Kalevala.. , the.. Ramayana.. ,.. Genesis.. , and so forth).. tells of the Flood, of the destruction of the first men and the creation of the right ones, the definitive ones, made of white corn and yellow corn by Xmucané, who had been enriched by previous experience.. It tells of the loss of wisdom, because Xmucané had created perfect beings, and the gods clouded their vision so they might not see and know things that corresponded solely to the gods: "Then the Heart of Heaven blew mist into their eyes, which clouded their sight as when a mirror is breathed upon.. " The work is prodigiously germinal and tellurian, in the battle between the men of death and shadows-the men of Xibalbá-and the first men of life.. The dualities of good and evil, heaven or hell, day and night, grapple the whole length of its infant nocturnal flow.. Dense, seething poetry, refined and brutal.. With the rhythm of magical obsession, man-gods and god-men travel through the dawn of sleep and through time, creating and destroying worlds.. Certain episodes of the battle against Xibalbá and the legend of Xquic-our own Eve and Venus-appear to be stories from when the earth began to cool; from the time when minerals, still in a semi-liquid state, and the recently formed mountain ranges, still soft, began to dream of moss and space; from when those gods or man-gods saw life emerging and the rocks stirring themselves into serpents and crocodiles with the memory of the earth alive within them, sleep-laden, their eyes atonic and listless.. And so we come to the blood, Xquic-phonetically also the incarnation of rubber: latex that almost comes to life as it rebounds in the Ball Game that served the gods as entertainment and a test of skill-as far as our blood, as far as our Now and our Tomorrow.. The extraordinary thing about Guatemala and Mexico, the indigenous heart of the Americas, is how the slash of the Spanish sword has not severed us from the ancient world, from the primordial poetry of our origins, from our magical, explosive charge.. Myth became flesh.. When the Plumed Serpent shattered the sword, the pieces acquired new and old life.. And they went into the forests and hid themselves everywhere.. Today they slither and soar in words, blood and dreams, as alive there as in the codices, legends, frescos and monoliths.. Holy water did not extinguish the central fire of our planet, of the land we made yesterday.. At once the same land as everybody's, and another one altogether.. The flames leapt up, and even the holy water fell onto the blaze like a new kind of fuel, onto the ash that has never cooled and that heated the obsidian night of the Bearers, of the Great Master Magicians.. The first cross, the first white cross, was that of the sword; it served to bring us death.. Our grandparents huddled up, withdrawing into themselves.. They wrapped themselves in the mantle of Jaguar Quitze, the Sorcerer of the Shroud, like the snail in its shell, like the tortoise or armadillo.. They still cover themselves the same way, watching the world with distrusting eyes.. Each time they have tried to poke out a limb, the bolt of lightning has struck them.. From within their sanctuary, protected by myth, through a fissure in the white feather headdress-Tiger Knights, Eagle Knights-they have observed the fatal explosion of powder, the bonfires of the Inquisition, the brazier that reddened the branding-iron which marked their flesh like animals.. The lamentation rises up from between the pages.. Sometimes only irony, that smile concentrated in the teeth, the face expressionless, an opossum's smile between the thin points of the Indian's wan, drooping mustache.. we read about Francisco Marroquín, first Bishop of Guatemala, in this story of the Quiché kingdom and its capital, Gumarcaah:.. Then they divided into nine clans; the quarrel of the sisters, the daughters having ended, the decision for twenty-four Great Houses to govern was enacted, and this is what happened.. It had been a long time since all (the men) had arrived there, to their city, when the twenty-four Houses were adjusted there in the city of Gumarcaah.. Blessed by the Holy Bishop, this city is empty, abandoned.. The dove of the Holy Spirit brought not an olive branch but sparks.. It was not the prey of eagles but the annihilator of quetzals.. And now that the cloud of gunpowder has dissipated-though we may still sense its acrid, foul smell if we breathe deeply-we can see that the pontifical church and language has joined our yesterday and today with  ...   for the anonymous author and his contemporaries.. What the author salvaged in his writing were vestiges of the indigenous world.. He found embers in his memory and in that of his contemporaries, and to keep them from dying down even more, he managed to transcribe the oral poetry of the stories, thinking them out first in his own language and then setting them down in Spanish.. The genius of language and the incantation of thought burn with a single flame, and that was the origin of the.. 's style: one of its most significant aspects at the dawn of human experience.. In that style, another note of its undying voice reverberates.. Like paintings and sculptures, which are language and poetry made line or volume, the.. is a unique and consummate testimony to the primitive sensibility, so radically aboriginal, and displays unrivaled perfection and quality.. The unity of this sensibility is evident in our expression, despite the fact that today,.. , cultural blending, is what embodies our voice.. The indigenous world wields tremendous power and will continue to do so.. The ornamental capacity, baroque form and fascinating imaginative abundance, blended with.. its.. more concrete reality, including information of every order-legend, history, religion, government, customs, concerns-give the.. one of its distinct flavors.. From the ceramics, codices and murals, these aspects were transmitted to the more elaborately ornamented pre-Columbian textiles.. So, present-day textiles contain the root of Mayan sensibility.. Colors and forms, the spots of birds and jaguars, infiltrated on all sides-not only through the eyes-and even now embellish our world.. The words bring quetzal feathers and orchids and the red clay idols.. The indigenous character has survived to such a great extent because of this: a style born from the natural environment in which we live.. We love adornment, volutes, color.. An estival lavishness that never loses its refined rigor.. An.. organistic.. , severe wisdom.. There is always either pleasure in excess-clamor or visual and poetic metaphors-or it goes to the other extreme, more out of inhibition than for some too distant memory of elemental geometric forms, resulting in periphrasis, the murmur of a subtle petition that disguises slippery affirmations with euphemisms, in a constant give-and-take, sinuous, indirect and ulterior, using the conditional or subjunctive third person or first person plural, attenuated, muffled, going beyond reticence and bluntness to reach silence itself.. Above all those crushed, submerged silences, tamed by the colonial trauma of Indians and mestizos and the terrible trauma of mestizo tyranny, rises the irate explosion or the slow, drawn out arborescence that is the baroque quality of our expression.. Some of these narratives were perhaps presented schematically (.. ) at festivities related to agricultural life, the calendar and diverse entities of the Mayan pantheon.. There are similarities in the dawning of the peoples: the episodes embrace mythology, legend and history, and are evoked in dance, music and psalmody.. Their monotony, relentless parallelism and plaintive psalms are reminiscent of Chinese theater.. Much of the poetry from other civilizations was theater and dance originally, like the.. Song of Songs.. Periodic celebrations assured the survival of legends and the feats of mythological founders of the race.. In present-day Guatemala, even in communities that are not isolated, ritual dances are performed and ritual speeches recited.. The most widely known of them almost invariably evoke the conquest.. These performances date to the sixteenth century, having been mixed with Catholicism and directed at the "infidels" by the first missionaries.. The "Santiago" masks exaggerate Spanish features and peculiarities: blue or green eyes, bushy beards and moustaches, aquiline noses, wigs of blond ringlets.. The "infidels," "Moors," or Indians are represented by grotesque dark masks covered in vermin-batrachians, spiders, snakes-incarnating their truck with the Devil.. It would not surprise me in the least to discover that the.. , which may have existed in a similar form centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards, had formed a heroic cycle, preserved through oral tradition, through elemental forms of theater which present the legend over a period of days, objectifying it through masks, dance and music.. Those who bequeathed us the indigenous books-half-forgotten and obscured by shadows-hold a unique position, solitary and magnificent, in the most Guatemalan and beautiful of Guatemala's letters, however one might judge their work.. It is to these indigenous chroniclers, these marvelous poets, that we owe the millenary testimony of blood, an inheritance as distinguished as the ceramics, codices and temples.. The link representing our peoples, forged by aboriginal chroniclers, is joined to that of the Spanish chroniclers to unite two different worlds.. Without them, what a gap would exist in our most legitimate spiritual heritage! They experienced the passion of nationalities, extracting the portentous from all that occurred and from folk traditions passed down from one generation to another.. The anonymous Quiché Indian who wrote the.. is a priest and master magician, like the heroes of his narrative.. To Diego Reynoso, we probably owe part of the.. To Bartolo Ziz, the ballet-drama.. To Francisco Hernández Arana and Francisco Díaz,.. , with the anonymous collaboration of other analysts from the community, at different times.. The names of these compilers or rhapsodes occupy a place apart in the history of pre-Columbian literature.. Nevertheless, they are unfamiliar.. survives like flotsam from a shipwreck, like coals from a fire.. Its anonymous author-midway through the sixteenth century or in its final years-composed it, reintegrated it anew, availing himself of the memories of those who had kept the traditions gathered in the primitive.. , which may have once existed in a written form, or been memorized and perpetuated by oral tradition.. The version we know today may come from lost codices.. More so than books in the strict sense, codices served to fix the memory, to stimulate the imagination.. After looking at the book, or more precisely, the painting, the reader would recount and relate the hidden legend, the symbolic images and signs of the pictograph.. Mnemonic fixation was necessary, and meter and music helped forge it, as in all literary cultures in their infancy.. That was the origin of the song, poem, story or.. relation.. -the name frequently given to the commented reading of what was written in a codex.. It is not without reason that.. pohua.. , the Nahuatl word expressing our notion of.. reading.. , corresponds to that of.. telling.. , whether enumeration or narration.. The song very quickly freed itself from its subjection to the painting.. It ran along its own course, like a living thing, and was transmitted by word of mouth.. One of the priest's tasks was to conserve, compose, compile, teach, and disseminate those songs.. The probable oral origin of this version of the.. explains gaps and obscurities in many passages.. Because we still do not know whether the traditions preserved orally were also written in native languages, the existence of an indigenous literature has been disavowed.. Instead, there have been attempts to establish an emphatic distinction: without the written word in the native tongue, one cannot speak of a determined literature.. The limitations of such a criterion have been detected and demonstrated over and over.. The literature of primitive peoples is in the word, in the oral tradition or in whatever written form it reaches us, in vernacular languages or in Spanish.. What was destroyed by people like Fray Diego de Landa and Juan de Zumárraga would have provided a much more authoritative answer: "We found a great number of books of their letters," Landa recounts, "and because there was nothing in them that was not superstition and devilish falsehood, we burned all of them, which act they perceived as a marvel and made them shameful.. The great Guatemalan books are the self-expression of a people, with its social conditions and the aspirations of a culture.. Other debris from the shipwreck confirm these testimonies: cities, sculptures, steles, jewelry, codices, ceramics.. Memorial of Sololá.. and the.. span two territories to very differing degrees: the first, in which myth dominates, the poetic fabulation of gods in their works and their days, and men as portentous as gods; the second, in which the proven true fact dominates, clearly stated-the restoration of land rights as a goal, the history of a bloodline, accusations against the conquest, the registry of names incarnating relief or pain, as well as events that struck their imaginations and their calculations.. A concern for chronology abided in these men who measured time: the.. record the arrival in Sololá, on February 2, 1584, of Gregory XII's 1582 decree ordering the rectification of the calendar.. Those who transmitted us the.. possessed the ability to delve into memory, and into blood with all its roots.. The ability and the will, as well as passion, and pride in the Mayan pantheon and bloodline.. They were luminaries that could not be extinguished with holy water.. teponaxtle.. has not been replaced by bells, nor has the.. xicolaj.. by the flute.. The new idols have not defeated the old ones.. The most brilliant flames among these books are not concerned with the particular problems or complaints of men: they are the direct expression of an entire people that conceived them by amassing them over centuries and millennia, along with their obscure common experience and an exceptional inventive capacity derived from the very virginity of their emotion and reason.. On reading the large body of posterior works based on these texts, whether stories or legends-invested with all the prestige of a metaphoric system that seeks to penetrate the primordial and even surpass it, using the most brilliant forms from the most developed letters, as certain writers have tried to do in our time-we corroborate that none ever managed to approach the essence of autochthonous texts.. Attempted adaptations for the stage, seeking the magical deflagration of indigenous tales, have also demonstrated their congenital bastardy, and their impotence to reach some part of the heaven that has been lost forever.. The books are the crystallization of the yearnings and fears of these cultures, of their gods and of their men elevated to apotheosis-at times indistinguishable-entwined in the tale like roots in the earth.. They are not history: they transfigure events that were probably real, and fantastically interpret them.. They nourish themselves with air, with minerals, with birds and planets, to bring about the flowering of a limbo, fetal and pristine, for a stammering humanity.. We arrive at the embryo, the first words of all the bones.. We touch our remoteness.. We prostrate ourselves, perpendicularly, in the time when there was no time.. They form their dreams like gods.. Men in the act of creation, in their purest and most visible presence, create like demiurges.. Entire cultures are seen amassing the sleep and wakefulness of millennia; realities with desires, fears and hopes, the original clay to which they gave the breath of life with the stolen fire, recovered.. Our destiny was made incarnate by those who left us such an astonishing inheritance: we hear the indigenous flow merging with the Spanish blood.. We are nourished in their night, in the maternal cloister of the people, irrigated for a thousand plus a thousand capillary years which, like tiny roots, are buried in the vernacular myths, with a magnetization that has shaped our life.. "The world was grafted onto our poetry," José Martí once said, "but the stock was American.. " Guatemala has the profile of the God of Corn.. Blood and poetry are the same thing here.. El libro del consejo.. 2nd ed.. Mexico City: Biblioteca del Estudiante Universitario, 1950.. Prologue by Francisco Monterde.. (On page 38 of his introduction to the Fondo de Cultura Económica's edition of the Popol Vuh (Mexico City, 1953), Adrián Recinos cites 1666 as Father Ximénez's date of birth.. ).. El libro de consejo, 2nd ed.. , translation and notes by Georges Raynaud, J.. González de Mendoza and Miguel Ángel Asturias (Mexico City: Ediciones de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1950), p.. 183.. Introduction.. Épica náhuatl.. Ángel María Garibay K.. Ediciones de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Colección del Estudiante Universitario, 1945..

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  • Title: Arcos y cúpulas
    Descriptive info: Arches and Cupolas.. The apostolate of the first predicants was noble and beautiful, a memorable moment in the history of human ethics.. This is especially true in the case of the Franciscans, among whom flourished Pedro de Gante, Toribio de Benavente and Vasco de Quiroga.. Land was held as communal property.. Evangelization was carried out with a will to sacrifice, humility and abstinence, making the reemergence of primitive Christianity plausible.. This extraordinary tale of piety, love and devotion was a brief one.. It soon suffered a change in spirit, its original one living on only individually, in a scattered handful of exceptional missionaries.. Years later, in 1606, the Jesuits settled in Guatemala and founded powerful economic organizations.. With their expulsion from all Spanish dominions in 1767, the anxiety for independence itself accelerated because the Jesuits had piqued.. criollo.. interest in business matters, thus forging stronger links between these Americans of Spanish descent and the Spanish Crown.. The theocratic society they founded in Paraguay, which banned private property so as to better exploit the indigenous population in the interests of the order, collapsed with their expulsion-the Jesuits were always careful to not permit anything to function properly without their direct intervention and participation.. In America's newest society, the church set itself up, as always, as an economic and political entity upheld by dogmas, with a totalitarian structure and subordinated to an infallible supreme leader, in order to develop national and international action defined on economic, political and social levels.. Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, who initially appeared to have ceded to demands to enslave Blacks as a way of alleviating the situation of the indigenous peoples, soon reconsidered his position.. Much has been written on the new society that was being forged in America: an event without parallel in history, affecting an extensive area and a huge population.. The very circumstances of its growth gave it an elastic configuration: laws and rules were circumvented even out of an imperative demand for employment:.. So, Spanish America's new society regressed at times to medieval forms that were already on the wane in Europe, but on the whole, it remained in a fluid condition owing to frequent reversals of fortune among individuals, and to their mobility and adaptation to new circumstances.. There was a constant ebb and flow between Spain and its colonies, a general societal movement consequent to new possibilities for travel and lucre; all this helped overturn old social conventions on both sides of the ocean.. We can still observe in any contemporary society the undeniable cruelty of conquest and colonization which, here, was such that it provoked mass suicide when the indigenous population was no longer capable of putting up armed resistance.. Remesal relates that this is what happened in El Sumidero Ravine, where the Chiapas River flows, following the battles against Luis Marín between 1523 and 1524, and, four years later, against Diego de Mazariegos in what is now the Mexican state of Chiapas.. These events and many others speak eloquently of the social apocalypse.. The breakdown produced by conquest and colonization is still evident in our nation's peoples: it caused them to lose even the elementary capacity of reading their own writing.. The great missionaries and some of their institutions disappeared from the face of America during the seventeenth century.. population was growing stronger every day, both in numbers and economically.. Interest in the indigenous and.. mestizo.. population did not vanish-it took a different tack.. Instead of seeking to educate and teach indigenous people, they were kept in a state of backwardness and in the service of their exploiters.. Indigenous educational institutions fell into decline, never to recover their force.. How many indigenous names can we cite for their involvement in.. transcendent.. activities in Guatemala? In the late seventeenth century, names such as Diego Reynoso, Francisco Hernández Arana and Francisco Díaz came to light: the dying sparks of the first missionaries' ardor.. Reynoso may have compiled the translations of the.. , and the latter two were possibly the authors of.. and fragments of the.. Memorial of Sololá (Annals of the Cakchiquels.. ).. Francisco Marroquín, the future first Bishop of Guatemala, arrived from Spain in 1530 with Pedro de Alvarado, who named him the parish priest of Guatemala City.. Marroquín was enlightened by the devout, paternal fervor of certain missionaries.. He founded the first schools for children of Spaniards, and later, a primary school for orphaned children.. He erected the first cathedral, inaugurating it in 1533.. The following year, the parish priest Francisco Marroquín, subordinate to the bishopric of Mexico, was promoted to bishop.. In Pedro de Alvarado's absence, while Alonso de Maldonado (remembered with gratitude by the.. ) governed in his place, Bishop Marroquín called on Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, who was hated everywhere.. Las Casas undertook the peaceful subjugation of Rabinal and Tecolotlán, also known as Tezulutlán.. Since that time, these regions have borne the name of Vera Paz.. In 1545, Bishop Marroquín published a work in Mexico entitled.. Christian Doctrine.. , written in Cakchiquel and used for evangelization.. He lived through the destruction of the second capital of Guatemala, the present-day Old City (1541), and Pedro de Alvarado named him executor of his will.. He was one of the founders of Antigua Guatemala, the country's third capital city, which was mapped out by Bautista Antonelli, military architect for Philip II, builder of El Morro in Havana, and the Palace of San Juan de Ulúa in Veracruz..  ...   of goods, clerks, clergymen, and so forth;" 646 666 (64.. 67 percent) were "Indians of all sexes and ages," who "to this day, are so devoted to their ancient customs and practices that their lives are truly identical to those of the first inhabitants of this land;" 313 334 (31.. 33 percent) were comprised of dark-skinned people, a few Blacks, and the.. population as well.. Aqueche and Quirós divided that 31.. 33 percent-the middle class.. ladino.. segment of the population-into three groups.. As a whole, they consider this the "least useful of the castes, for its innate laziness and moral abandon.. " Artisans, farmers and gunsmiths, "with a propensity to theft due to their wholly neglected breeding.. These two members of the white four percent tell us that.. Still and all, there is a proportion of the dark-skinned people that devotes itself to the cultivation of small country estates, self-employed, in the provinces as well as in the Capital's outlying towns; we should rightfully exclude this group from the ill reputation which only applies to the species we have just described.. And a third group, "composed of a most unsavory herd of layabouts," whom they describe as idlers, drunks, gamblers, horse thieves, robbers, louts and killers.. Within this curious colonial scheme, the office of artisan, which has survived to this day, is already present in the "painters, sculptors, silversmiths, carpenters, weavers, tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, etc.. " These two individuals of the aforementioned four percent are scornful of the profession, though they do recognize.. the particular skill of certain silversmiths, sculptors and carpenters, which is as admirable as it is apparently innate, for in view of their origins and lack of opportunity to practice their craft, they should not possess such talent, nor the formality and honorable character of some masters whose conduct does them credit.. Such was our society, according to this report, which contains fundamental information not only on the people but on its oppressors-information that can be clearly read between the lines.. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the clergy continued erecting churches across the nation.. From bends in the roads leading to both small and large towns, the colonial plaza stands out, dominated by the towers and cupola of the cathedral which shelters the downtrodden humbleness of the dwellings.. Churches stand out from the landscape like nails holding down the skin of the quarry hunted as it dries in the sun.. Guatemala la Antigua was the metropolis of Central America from 1543 to 1777, the year in which the university was moved to the current capital.. Only Mexico City and Lima outclassed it in the New World.. Its makers of religious icons-such as Quirio Cataño and Alonso de la Paz, who flourished during the seventeenth century-bequeathed us more than a few masterpieces.. Antigua's workshops produced images for Central America and much of Mexico.. In 1794, the.. reappeared.. It circulated for twenty-three years, until 1816.. Defying censorship, it became a forum for progressive.. criollos.. who wrote bold commentaries on topics of national interest.. Its critical posture and its contribution of a new way of thinking made it one of the continent's worthy publications, with Ignacio Beteta; Jacobo de Villaurrutia (Santo Domingo, 1757ö1833), founder of the Economic Society of Friends of the Nation; Simón Bergaño y Villegas and Mateo Antonio Marure, both of whom were imprisoned and deported.. Antonio Liendo y Goicoechea carried out the first university reform.. The Fine Arts Academy was founded in 1797.. It would not be correct to judge late eighteenth-century educated.. and the few lettered.. of the time as blind followers of colonial thought.. Our finest men were familiar with European thought and progressive, despite the General Captains and the Church with its Inquisition.. Such discontent can be perceived in pre-independence journalism-men like the ones mentioned, along with José Cecilio del Valle, Antonio Larrazábal, J.. Florencio del Castillo-our representative in the.. cortes.. at.. Cádiz.. -as well as Pedro Molina, Fray Matías de Córdova, J.. Francisco Córdoba, José Francisco Barrundia.. Two newspapers were published in those days:.. El Editor Constitucional.. , founded in July 1820 with Pedro Molina at the head, and.. El Amigo de la Patria.. , founded in October of the same year and edited by José Cecilio del Valle.. These newspapers launched a new era, though they diverged greatly on the opportuneness of independence.. Del Valle revealed himself as an opponent of the political ideology of Molina, a leading figure in the struggle for autonomy.. The knowledgeable del Valle, judge-advocate for the Spanish government, was always vacillating, even when he drew up the passionless and pusillanimous declaration of Guatemala's independence on September 15, 1821-which he did not sign.. Scholasticism and theology began to be swept aside by encyclopedism.. Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Las corrientes literarias en la América Hispánica, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2nd ed.. (Mexico City, 1954) Chapter II, p.. 39.. Ramón A.. Salazar, Historia del desenvolvimiento intelectual de Guatemala.. Época colonial.. Biblioteca de Cultura Popular 20 de Octubre (Guatemala City: Ministerio de Educación Pública, 1950) Vol.. III, p.. 320.. Salazar cites Fray Diego Sáenz Orecuri's book as the second one printed.. Though he does not provide the title of the first, he does mention a theological treatise of about 800 pages in length.. Salazar states that, according to the 1778 census, the General Captaincy of Guatemala had 797 214 inhabitants.. Historia del desenvolvimiento intelectual de Guatemala, Biblioteca de Cultura Popular, 20 de Octubre (Guatemala City: Ministerio de Educación Pública) Vol.. 306..

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  • Title: Bernal Díaz del Castillo
    Descriptive info: I had Bernal Díaz del Castillo buried under my bed.. Playing in front of my house as a boy, in the ruins of the cathedral of Antigua, in the subterranean passages that reached the foundations of our bedrooms, beneath the rear chapel, behind the high altar, there were tombs which mainly pertained to the Kingdom of Goathemala.. We would hide in the crypts lining the north and south walls of the basement, presided over by a crucifix that was neglected at the time, but always with a few lit candles nowadays.. Díaz del Castillo's original manuscript, held in the National Archive, is one of our relics.. The Library of Congress in Washington has ensured its safekeeping: each page was cleaned, fumigated and covered with transparent cellulose.. On one occasion when I was consulting the manuscript, the director of the National Archive, J.. Joaquín Pardo, showed me where Díaz del Castillo had crossed out the section where he writes of planting the first orange trees.. Pardo was skeptical of the chronicler's assertion, but might the deletion not simply mean that Díaz del Castillo considered the detail insignificant, absorbed as he was by battles and events that seemed of greater value? Holding Díaz del Castillo's manuscript in my hands and leafing through this New World Iliad, seeing his signature and deciphering his sentences, was truly enthralling for me.. A book I loved very much, about my world, and written in Antigua.. by the Spanish people who were slipping toward the other side without noticing it,.. very sixteenth-century,.. with the arrogance of a musketeer and the popular vigor of the language.. We are both his sword and the flesh it pierces.. There is a whole world contained in his lucid longevity and talent: he is the conquistador, chronicler, colonizer, lord of the manor, the first.. gachupín.. and, likewise, the first.. , because this is where he was reborn.. Unsatisfied with the Indians and lands he was allotted, he traveled to twice Spain to register his complaints.. At the 1550.. Junta of Valladolid.. , we see him defending the continued existence of the feudal system of the.. encomienda.. against Father Bartolomé de Las Casas.. The conquistadors and their successors swelled archives with petitions and claims regarding the Indians they had won over to Christianity, and the lands they had won for the King, describing in detail all their vigils, fasts and battles.. Time and again, Bernal Díaz del Castillo repeated the litany of his wounds, with such picturesque boasting-leaving out nothing, not even mythology-that we overlook his intrepidity to smile at his whining.. Posterior to the.. , this book is another giant of our culture: it belongs to the universal literature.. When I read it for the first time, I felt its Amazonic flow and sailed, buffeted by its incessant reverberations.. During my first years in Paris, a French friend spoke to me enthusiastically and in detail of Díaz del Castillo's work, translated into French by the poet of.. Trophées.. I had never even heard of it by name.. Ashamed, I started to look for it.. I found a Spanish version published in Paris by Louis-Michaud.. How terrible our schooling was! And how terrible it continues to be! Our "education" consists in severing us from what belongs to us.. We were taught little or nothing of aboriginal civilizations-the main trunk that could not even be felled by the bolt of lightning that was the Spanish Conquest.. No effort whatsoever to build up any kind of national sentiment.. My teachers had had an even more backward schooling, immersed in Father Ripalda's catechism.. If those of us who spent our childhood and adolescence in Guatemala are not able to see ourselves, why should we be surprised that in allied or neighboring countries, the essence of what we are is widely forgotten or unknown? In Paris, I was made aware of the significance of Mayan culture.. On discovering Díaz del Castillo, I experienced a true revelation.. I traveled even further back in time.. I examined my millenary interior.. As I reached an awareness of myself and of my country, I suffered with the knowledge that my people did not possess that same awareness.. I discovered Guatemala in Europe.. I started leafing through.. The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico.. at my student's desk, at night by lamplight.. I skimmed summaries, the odd page, then began my reading in an orderly fashion.. Tirelessly, I penetrated further and further into the enchanted forest, mesmerized by the story and by this encounter with my warrior culture, with the conquest.. I was entering a distant and fascinating world.. I witnessed and experienced the legendary campaign.. I saw and heard it.. I smelled its odor of iron, gunpowder and tired bodies.. I was awed by the descriptions of Tenochtitlan, the markets and Moctezuma's court.. The blood looked fresh on the steps of the pyramids.. As Humboldt points out, the exhilaration of a newly discovered world is better transmitted by chroniclers than by poets.. My first contact with this work was positively prodigious.. Exhaustion came after reading for many hours without being able to stop.. Captivated by descriptions and memories, I kept going, reading a little more, just a little more.. I finally left off when the light of the new day began singing in my window.. This is the most comprehensive work on the conquest of America, though it speaks only of New Spain.. It contains a wealth of information, and details of all orders, that we do not find in posterior writings on related events-not even adding them together.. It was written in Antigua Guatemala, where Díaz del Castillo took up residence in 1545 at the age of forty-nine, and where he died in 1584 after having lived there for about thirty-nine years.. He was an old man when he wrote his.. Discovery and Conquest.. , nearly half a century after the siege of Mexico Tenochtitlan and the conquest of Guatemala.. Bernal Díaz del Castillo's chronicle is the most important and engaging of all, the most truthful and comprehensive account of the conquest of America.. He wrote it not only in his quest for truth, to refute the chronicles of Cortés's chaplain, Gómara, and his followers, but out of a need to relive the conquest, out of the same hunger that engendered Don Quixote in Cervantes.. (As of this the year 1568 in which I am transcribing this relation, there are five of us [here he refers to the survivors of the Mexico campaigns who arrived with Cortés].. We are very old and suffering from illnesses, and very poor, and burdened with sons and daughters to be married off, and grandchildren, and with little income, and this is how we spend our lives, in hardship and misery.. ).. Old wounds were opened as he wrote: he himself confesses that he slept with his arms loaded, and that in his old age, he slept fully dressed, accustomed to the exhausting days he spent in Mexico.. He was twice conqueror, but the true conquest was the one he carried out seated at his desk, still wearing armor, but no longer wielding the saber.. -furthermore: I do not glorify myself as much as I could and should, and for that reason, I write so some record of me might remain; and I wish to make a comparison here, and though it may be very lofty on the one hand, and on the other a poor soldier like myself, those who recorded the statements of the Emperor and great warrior Julius Caesar affirm he was.. defeated.. in fifty-three battles; I declare that I fought many more battles than Julius Caesar middot;; so it would not be inordinate for me to expound upon the battles I fought and all that occurred, so that in years to come, people might say, this is what Bernal Díaz del Castillo did, so his children and descendants might hear praise of all his heroic deeds middot; I have fought in one hundred and nineteen battles and military encounters, and it is not overmuch for me to be praised for that, as it is the simple truth; and these are not tales told by poets, as the numerous and outstanding services I have performed firstly for God, and then for His Majesty and all Christianity, are quite clear and truthful, and I offer many thanks and much praise to Our Lord Jesus Christ for allowing me to escape danger so as to write so clearly now.. There are very close ties between this work and the author's life.. There was nothing else he could have written.. His heart was spilling over with it.. Chroniclers would write of the Peru campaigns, campaigns against Turkey, Flanders or Italy, of strangers fighting strangers.. Díaz del Castillo wrote about his life and about the land where he placed it at risk countless times.. That is what makes his work unique, superior to the writings of historians for the perfect spontaneity of his testimony.. He is the unknown soldier, the sweating troops bearing their arms and spoils, walking alongside the chief's mount; through him, they were given a voice, immorality.. Pen in hand, he became the great adventurer, with the same fury as when he wielded his sword, with the faith that made his companions envision St James slaughtering Indians in the name of the Lord.. He left us the conquest, fresh and bloody, gasping for all eternity.. Like many classic works, it is at once history, memoir, epic and novel.. It is a chronicle brimming with anecdotes, descriptions, episodes, incidents, astute and opportune observations.. He remembers everything-the one who was sheriff in his town, the one-eyed man, the one who died of buboes, the one who died in battle, or who died of his own death; the one married to a beautiful woman; the one whose horse was such-and-such a color and who played a crooked game of craps; their nicknames and moral and physical characteristics-all with such clarity that, simultaneously, he provides us with an infinity of perspectives on events retold in the orderly disorder of his memory.. The manuscript often lacks correct syntax and spelling.. He wrote words as they were pronounced, and pronounced them like a soldier from Old Castile who barely knew how to write.. His punctuation consists solely of the period, which he places wherever he feels it pertinent: profusely and incongruously, with a devil-may-care attitude.. These defects are like virtues to me.. They permitted the creation of the work just as it is: guileless, exempt from any moralizing.. New adventurers-heirs to the conquistadors, influential politicians who did nothing to acquire the new land for Spain-reaped, as always, the benefits of the victories.. And, too, the chroniclers who buried them alive, who dealt them the true deathblow by forgetting them.. Like any good Spaniard, Bernal Díaz hungered for immortality.. Sickness, relative poverty, old age, the facile and hollow victories of the newcomers were of little import.. He took Don Quixote's lance from the wall and began writing, spurred on by that hunger that was so apt, so Spanish.. He rights wrongs with simple bellicose determination.. He never questions the mission of the invaders for a moment.. He is categorical, inflexible.. His name is justly written alongside those of his captains.. He coveted military glory for himself and for his comrades, who found their own voice through him.. And he won that glory for himself and for them, for those who found their way into his memory, for those who were not confused there.. He won the definitive battle when-already an old man, but still vigorous-he committed this formidable adventure to writing.. The Indians fought with extraordinary heroism, but history has no remorse, and marches onward.. They passed from their own tribal organizations into  ...   pure, innate linguistic genius.. The conquest is represented here with all its complex currents.. The conquest: Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, the cross, gold middot;forces that Spain channeled into the mystics, poets and painters of the Golden Age, and into the navigators and conquistadors, all of whom were driven by the same impulse, but in different directions-to action, or to the essence of action: dreams.. We find ourselves in the midst of the conquest as though in a living myth.. The conquest: a dragon with the wings of an angel.. It resembles an abstract motif, out of time and space, so real it strikes one as implausible.. Díaz del Castillo left that buried world alive and fresh and within reach.. Whenever I read his book I am surprised and delighted anew.. To be impartial, one must be passionate: his transparent, deep-seated passion truly forms an almost unreal reality-at times, one would even say fantastic episodes, mythological stories, and spectacular, superhuman battles.. But then we learn the heroes' names, we fraternize with them, we see them pitted with smallpox scars, we find out they cheat at cards, we are told the color of their steeds, and that the one who was sheriff of his hometown had a good voice, or that he was blind in one eye, or married to a beautiful woman.. The story flows smoothly and simply, a mighty river neither stemmed nor diverted by any eminence.. He does not try to prove anything; rather, he makes us forget his designs.. He reports what happened, just as he remembers it; he tells it conversationally, confident in his memory which appears infallible.. If he did not take part in the battles or expeditions he describes, he forewarns us.. He figured in the chief exploits, but even when he did not, he possessed thorough knowledge of all he relates.. His book is the Conquest of America.. It is the era of Ponce de León and the fountain of eternal youth; of Vázquez de Coronado and Fray Marco de Niza; of the.. wondrous islands.. , of Cortés, the Alvarados and their armadas that would voyage to mythic lands.. The charges he lays against Cortés seem just.. Doubtless he expresses the thoughts and feelings of the troops.. He holds Cortés in great esteem, but not blindly: his vision is open and alert.. The accusations against Cortés and other leaders are not in the least suspect.. Despite their defense on the part of historians, the charges hold good.. Gold kept them splintered into groups-factions that were quick to turn on one another.. The history of conquest and colonization revolves around the dispute over the land and its government.. His allegations are sound, yet he zealously leaps to the defense of the chief, exalting him, comparing him to the greatest of commanders.. Consider certain suggestive passages where it is necessary to read between the lines.. During the siege of Mexico City, he fought in the column commanded by Pedro de Alvarado.. Díaz del Castillo wrote the most accurate account of that army's activities, and he was fully informed of everything he related regarding other columns, as well as the brigs, because of the constant contact that existed between them.. The failure of a few meant the death of the rest.. The column captained by Pedro de Alvarado carried out maneuvers very similar to those of other columns.. Prescott undertook to establish a correspondence between the versions of conquistadors and chroniclers, without much luck.. His comprehensive and simultaneous perspective of the siege of Mexico City is one of the best attempts at reconstructing the events.. The contradictions between chronicles are so huge, the discrepancies so marked, that any correspondence must necessarily be factitious.. The siege is preserved in all its intensity, with the greatest possible accuracy, in this soldier's tale.. Facts are not the same for every witness, and more so in an event of such magnitude as the conquest of a people.. The different testimonies are nearly impossible to coordinate.. Cortés wrote his.. Letters from Mexico.. with a determined aim, for his interest in the Spanish.. , his quarrels with Diego Velázquez, and out of a sense of his own responsibilities.. The facts shift and are oriented to his advantage.. Everything is seen from his position as leader: these are political letters.. Pedro de Alvarado's.. Account of the Conquest of Guatemala.. are written in an immensely laconic, military style.. They are rigid, expressionless letters, totally lacking in humanity: communiqués from one soldier to another.. Pedro de Alvarado saw everything through the slits in his helmet, from inside the armor that never permitted the beat of his heart to be sensed.. Of all the chronicles of America, perhaps only those of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega are comparable to Díaz del Castillo's.. , but they are not endowed with the same virtues.. I have taken care not to yield to my enthusiasm, fearful of surrendering a considered assessment of the work to laudatory phrases with neither wings nor roots.. Every work must be approached with a fresh memory, but never overly innocent; we must be agile and flexible.. But this is one that must be embarked on with excessive care.. Bernal Díaz del Castillo's relation can now be read without dumb passion, without interference by religious sentiment and romantic laments for the fate of the Indians.. The idealism represented by someone like Philip II was substantial.. But it is not the process of conquest and the men who carried it out that interest me: I do not wish to either exalt or belittle Cortés and the Alvarados; nor do I wish to approve or reprove the invaders and their fanaticisms, which were even blinder than the local ones.. It is only natural for our voice to sound severe at times when speaking of our own conquest and colonization: we have risen above these events partly from the imperialist point of view, but primarily from an indigenous one.. Going back to Bernal Díaz del Castillo, by way of Prescott and his contemporaries, there has been a desire to idealize the Malinche, to create a kind of heroine of her.. But in the Americas, her true significance has remained unchanged:.. un malinche.. , a traitor;.. malinchismo.. , a preference for things foreign;.. malinchista.. , one who displays this preference; and so forth.. I have tried to read.. as if the events it related were unreal, as if it dealt with lunar voyages, as a myth of origins.. A myth that is even more astounding for its sound basis on a reality very close at hand, tangible within me.. It was written by a soldier with no other desire than that of providing an accurate account of events.. He expresses himself with such perfect aplomb that his words are never shaken: they are nailed down, candidly firm.. He does not question, he does not waver an instant as to the mission of the invaders; he does not think of objecting to it; he does not recognize the possibility of it containing a large measure of iniquity.. He is clear, he is frank; he speaks from the pinnacle of his candor.. One would say impersonal, but with naive, diaphanous passion, with mineral certitude, the way a peninsula does not pass judgment on the ocean.. It is not a memoir; it is not a novel; it is neither a history book nor a chronicle.. Having spilled out of these molds, they cannot accommodate it.. It is perhaps one of the most consummate monuments of folk art.. It is the work of the people, of the troops of the conquest.. If we seek the kind of precision that cannot be demanded of it, if we attempt to measure it in standard units, we are shown up as fools.. It would be like trying to correct the drawing techniques on an ex-voto or the language of a folk song.. As insensitive as we may be, we will soon notice that we knock down invisible structures of glass at every step,.. however carefully we tread.. How I would love to own an edition of this book in its true language, with its nearly illusory punctuation, faithful to the original-what a labyrinth! We know his chronology and itineraries to be questionable.. He was neither a historian nor a chronicler.. I do not know what he was, nor do I trouble myself about it.. I will read the book again, without troubling to classify it.. In one man, I discovered an entire epoch and a sense of universality.. I am reminded of Benvenuto and his exquisite.. Memoirs.. We are drawn by this universality more than by any historical interest.. And add to this other elements such as extraordinary scenes, moments, individuals and episodes from history.. Any comparison is virtually irrelevant.. This work remains untouched, original, unique.. I read back through the.. Night of Sorrow.. , and Pedro de Alvarado makes an unexpected appearance:.. Because later we found Don Pedro de Alvarado badly wounded, with a lance through his hand, on foot because the sorrel mare had died, and he was accompanied by seven soldiers, three of ours and four of Narváez's, also badly wounded, and eight Tlascaltecs with blood flowing from their many wounds middot; They said to us, "O! O! the.. huilones.. " which means, "O! you sissies, here you are still alive, have the brave soldiers not killed you yet?".. The book's.. heaven.. is its humanity.. Díaz del Castillo's reflections were simple and passionate, with restrained vehemence.. The conquering army, the people that writes folk ballads, or hauls stone for the cathedrals-all of them sing with his voice.. One is hard put to find anyone who dislikes him, because he is always within everybody's reach, for one reason or another.. Like the clouds, he takes on any form we are able to give him.. There are so many routes through his madreporic structure that it is up to each traveler to find what he is seeking.. Whatever is sought is found-in complete disarray, but pure.. The significance of any judgment is linked to the creativity of the commentator.. Criticism is creation.. Clouds possess a thousand forms at once; they change according to the tone of our voice.. But not everyone appreciates the ubiquity of clouds; not everyone is able to sculpt them, and they appear to them as promontories.. Díaz del Castillo's target moved and he shot his silver bullets in all directions.. The stray bullets hit other targets.. His work's historical transcendence is immense, but nevertheless, it is like an add-on.. The cloud, like a mass of viscera, entrails.. Bernal, gored through the belly.. He is old, he walks bowed down; he kneels, piously licks his throbbing organs, crosses himself, and does not die.. He feared death: he was truly brave.. He wrote his impartial work drawing on all kinds of passion, because he was a passionate person.. Little by little, he dragged the stones toward the cathedral.. The cloud begins dancing and singing folk ballads.. For moments, it is the flight of doves.. A cumulous of the armor and arrows of troops, and shouts.. Books are valued for reasons that have no weight nor influence for anyone but ourselves.. sky.. Clouds middot; Events come to life within their own atmosphere.. Pages into the book, one truly finds oneself in the midst of the conquest.. Memory persists at the point where one can no longer be sure whether it is memory or a dream-sheer.. reality.. History, legend: truth that defies time.. Anything pure tends toward the mythical, toward the sky of clouds.. This book must be read with a fresh mind that takes pleasure from in the popular muses.. On Captain Díaz del Castillo's branches, during a mental springtime, those delicious fruits are never overripe..

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  • Title: 20 DE OCTUBRE DE 1944
    Descriptive info: AÑOS DE PRIMAVERA EN EL PAIS DE LA ETERNA DICTADURA.. 20 DE OCTUBRE DE 1944.. He aquí el escenario: Guatemala - el País de la Eterna Primavera -, el país más hermoso del continente, con la historia de la civilización autóctona más alta, la civilización maya.. Unos 108,889 kilómetros cuadrados (sin Belice, 60,000 habitantes en 22,286 kilómetros cuadrados, aún detentado por los ingleses) en el corazón del Nuevo Mundo; unos tres millones de habitantes.. En los primeros lustros de vida independiente, tuvimos al doctor Mariano Gálvez -Centroamérica formaba una sola nación- como jefe del Estado de Guatemala.. Fue uno de nuestros grandes gobernantes.. En 1871 triunfó la Revolución Liberal, encabezada por Justo Rufino Barrios.. Después nada registramos que valga la pena hasta 1944: se vegeta, se vive y se muere a un lado del mundo, en la sombra sangrienta de autócratas imbéciles y brutales.. Al terminar la II Guerra Mundial, cuando amanecían las mejores esperanzas, surgimos a la libertad con la Revolución de Octubre de 1944 y nos esforzamos en destruir la miseria y la explotación.. Nos asomábamos todos a una misma aurora.. Se reconfortó nuestro corazón y con fervor nos pusimos a servir.. El atraso es tan grande que aún no termina el encono por haberse dictado leyes y creado instituciones moderadas -hoy destruidas- que sirvieran de base para las relaciones entre capital y trabajo, acostumbrado aquél a manejar sus explotaciones como hace quinientos años.. Con palabras de Saint Just, la felicidad fue idea nueva en Europa; también para nosotros, la idea del pueblo, la idea de su felicidad, fue nueva y cobró arraigo.. El 20 de Octubre de 1944, el pueblo de Guatemala, encabezado por el civil Jorge Toriello y los militares Francisco Javier Arana y Jacobo Arbenz, derrocó al general Ponce Vaides, quien dominó al país durante cien días trágicos e intentó burlar la voluntad nacional.. En estas luchas, los estudiantes universitarios desempeñaron gran papel.. En tales condiciones, con votación a su favor sin precedente, asumió el poder el doctor Juan José Arévalo (1945-1951) tras cuatro siglos de la historia más sombría.. El candidato derrotado, eterno servidor de Estrada Cabrera y de José María Orellana y perpetuo embajador de Ubico en Washington, tenía la más perfecta impopularidad y, al mismo tiempo, el apoyo del pasado antinacional y el de las fuerzas internacionales enemigas de Guatemala: Adrián Recinos, que en 1954 pasó a ser presidente de la delegación del traidor Castillo Armas ante la ONU.. En marzo de 1945 se promulgó una nueva Constitución.. Con ella gobernó el presidente Arévalo.. El Poder Ejecutivo quedó sometido a muchas restricciones, dada la experiencia dolorosa de siempre.. Fue una Constitución que fijó normas de una democracia política, social y económica.. En ella figuró la Jefatura de las Fuerzas Armadas, fuente de traiciones e infortunios.. La jefatura de las Fuerzas Armadas fue impuesta al doctor Juan José Arévalo mientras era candidato a la presidencia de la República.. Si la Jefatura de las Fuerzas Armadas no se incluye en la Constitución de 1945, los militares, aún bien unificados, le impiden llegar al poder.. Por mi resistencia a la creación de la Jefatura de las Fuerzas Armadas no fui constituyente en 1945.. Mi actitud nunca fue antimilitar, sino antipretoriana.. Bastábame recordar el benemérito ejemplo del general Lázaro Chacón Cárdenas en México, para distinguir a los verdaderos militares, y el tirano Estrada Cabrera en Guatemala, para distinguir a los civiles pícaros.. El militarismo guatemalteco se fortaleció como nunca.. Se creó, más tarde, el Comisariato del Ejército en que hubo grandes abusos, también disfrutaron de fuero para toda suerte de infracciones o delitos: policía militar y tribunales militares.. Aumentaron su hegemonía, en sentido opuesto y proporcional a su antidemocratización.. El doctor Arévalo asumió la presidencia con limitado poder, no sólo por la nueva Constitución, sino por los militares.. Las molestias surgieron muy pronto.. El Ejército siempre fue intocable, algo por encima de la crítica.. De la Jefatura de las Fuerzas Armadas habrían de salir las candidaturas presidenciales y los hombres fuertes.. Con el presidente Arbenz, la candidatura del jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, el aurífero coronel Díaz, estaba ya decidida.. El grupo militar que le respaldaba, contaba con las armas y el apoyo de los partidos, esperanzados éstos en conservar  ...   De hecho, los militares tienen hoy el control de la mayor parte de nuestros países, en forma dictatorial.. Y, por medio de ellos, los Estados Unidos ya no necesitan desembarcar marinos: son su policía que cuida los monopolios y la línea política interna e internacional.. Esos militares se especializan en poner la etiqueta del señalamiento como enemigo: comunista.. Dólares, cruz y espada.. La burguesía de América vive condicionada, en gran parte por la enorme presión norteamericana y por la identificación antipatriótica de sus intereses con los extranjeros.. Ni Arévalo ni Arbenz aceptaron empréstitos extranjeros.. La ayuda técnica (punto IV de Truman) a los países subdesarrollados -para no llamarnos colonias o semicolonias- es, ante todo, una ayuda a sí de los países imperialistas.. Los países liberados han suprimido la ayuda con cañonazos y muchos muertos y sacrificios.. El apoyo popular fue constante hasta el final del período del doctor Arévalo.. Prometió no estar en la presidencia ni un minuto más ni un minuto menos del que le correspondía por la ley.. La lucha política se entabló por la misma hambre de libertad, por la misma desesperación creada por el atraso secular y por las ambiciones en la sucesión presidencial, que nacieron desde el primer momento.. La Embajada norteamericana, la Frutera, las fuerzas feudales y semifeudales guatemaltecas maniobraron constantemente, y no pocos dirigentes de los partidos políticos se inclinaron de un lado a otro, según las circunstancias, sin atender, muchas veces, los principios.. A lo largo del gobierno del presidente Arévalo leímos, en diversas ocasiones y circunstancias, la opinión de que ningún presidente de Guatemala había llegado al poder en condiciones más favorables, y que éstas pronto se habían transformado en adversas o se habían destruido.. Para hacer dicha afirmación, la prensa enemiga se basaba en lo que llamaron división de la familia guatemalteca , olvidando por completo que con el cambio de vida que significó la Revolución de Octubre de 1944, todo, sin excepción, se movió y conmovió y se plantearon problemas que antes, en la unidad de la familia guatemalteca durante las dictaduras, jamás pudieron manifestarse.. En una palabra, el cargo, bien leído, no es sino un elogio y, bien analizadas las cosas, el mejor que puede hacerse.. Cuál era la unidad anterior? Bien lo sabemos en Guatemala y fuera de Guatemala: su símbolo el estacazo, la ley fuga, el silencio absoluto en los imparciales periódicos que minaron la vida democrática.. Alfonso Orantes, en los funerales del escultor Rafael Yela Gunther -de él son los bajorrelieves en el Museo de Teotihuacán- dijo ante la tumba del artista, años del dictador Ubico, que el guatemalteco tenía tres caminos: encierro, destierro o entierro.. Orantes tuvo que escoger el primer camino para escapar de los otros dos.. En esos días, ocurre el siguiente suceso, ingenuo e inolvidable: un quetzal -símbolo de la libertad- prisionero.. El quetzal vuela y rapta el mito, Gucumatz o Quetzalcóatl.. Sus largas plumas preciosas sólo adornan los penachos de los más altos jefes.. El ave sagrada y totémica, símbolo de Guatemala, que no puede vivir cautiva, muere sobre el pecho de Tecum, abierto en el campo de batalla por la lanza de Alvarado.. Del mito vuela al escudo y anida en la bandera.. El dictador Ubico, en el zoológico del Parque de La Aurora, en una jaula de alambre, muestra a los guatemaltecos un quetzal cautivo.. Mientras el dictador se ríe, el pueblo ora a todos los dioses por la verdad del símbolo.. Por fin, un día, el quetzal amaneció muerto y viva la leyenda.. Nada turbaba la unidad , la paz, porque la vida no merecía respeto alguno.. El poder lo disfrutaban, en beneficio propio, grupos oligárquicos al servicio de la tiranía en su mayor parte, o que aprovechaban silenciosamente, con cierto pudor por la barbarie, aquellas leyes que permitían asesinar a cualquier campesino por cruzar una cerca; el poder lo disfrutaban las empresas monopolistas que, con la complicidad del tirano y sus comparsas (asambleas, tribunales, diplomáticos en Washington, autoridades departamentales, prensa independiente , etc.. ) cabalgaban sobre el país callado, aparentemente unido: el pueblo no tenía, siquiera, posibilidades de quejarse, de sollozar su miseria y, menos aún de exigir, por caminos legales, lo que le correspondía.. Esa unidad desapareció con Arévalo..

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  • Title: NUESTRA LUCHA EMPIEZA
    Descriptive info: NUESTRA LUCHA EMPIEZA.. Recapitulemos.. Objetivamente, analizando la realidad y los factores colectivos e individuales, internacionales y nacionales, he buscado las causas generales de la tragedia guatemalteca.. Y son incontrovertibles, ante todo y sobre todo, una, toral: la intervención armada norteamericana, y tres secundarias; los intereses de clase y la falta de conocimiento de la realidad interior y de la realidad exterior.. Y, asi-mismo, falta de conciencia de la grandeza de nuestra tarea histórica.. Querer explicar la desintegración sin aceptar responsabilidades, es eludir el problema burdamente.. Todos los partidos, todos los revolucionarios, las compartimos en grado distinto.. Frente a la crisis, la conducta de los partidos fue parecida.. Sobre este punto, espero hacer más tarde, nuevos desarrollos complementarios: la burguesía como clase y el proletariado como clase; luego, las excepciones individuales en ambas clases: individuos de la burguesía, revolucionarios firmes, e individuos del proletariado o del partido del proletariado, claudicantes y de mentalidad burguesa.. La teoría, los principios, son una cosa, y otra -la realidad lo demuestra irrebatiblemente - la táctica de lucha en el atrasado medio guatemalteco.. Pretender responsabilizar sólo a los comunistas es excusar al imperialismo, ignorar por completo la realidad internacional y la etapa de lucha de los pueblos semicoloniales.. Además de falso y estúpidamente superficial, es no plantearse el problema como debe plantearse, y el más vulgar aspecto de viejo oportunismo: es el punto de vista de Foster Dulles y de la reacción feudal guatemalteca y de todas partes.. La complejidad del cuadro político interno, así como la violencia de la intervención extranjera, nunca debemos perderla de vista.. He analizado las bases generales de la revolución guatemalteca, la necesidad histórica de haber luchado aun con grandes sacrificios.. Y también, primero, la caída de nuestro gobierno revolucionario, muy grave en sí; y, segundo, algo mucho más grave y doloroso: la forma en que caímos- El esfuerzo mayor, el más coherente y patriótico de nuestra historia, dirigido por Arévalo y Arbenz, repentinamente se deshizo como una pastilla efervescente.. La epopeya se transformó en melodrama.. ¿Por qué ocurrió así? He dado ya mis puntos de vista.. Durante diez años se templó el espíritu de Guatemala para que conociera sus derechos y combatiera por ellos en todos los terrenos.. La decisión del pueblo fue probada, su voluntad no desmayó nunca y sigue hoy viva.. Acaso, el pueblo de Guatemala necesitaba y necesita, para forjar mejor nuestra nacionalidad, la lucha a la que siempre ha estado dispuesto.. La independencia, el código de trabajo, la reforma agraria, se alcanzaron pacíficamente, institucionalmente.. Nos habíamos preparado para batirnos: las armas llegaron para ello y el pueblo se hallaba enardecido para todos los sacrificios.. El pueblo superó infinitamente a todos sus líderes.. Creo que pasarán varios años para que en Hispa-noamérica se vuelva a presentar una posibilidad semejante.. Nuestra tarea fue y sigue siendo gigantesca y nobilísima.. Las metas y la lucha están más vivas que antes en la conciencia y en la acción populares.. Los mejores hombres de Guatemala sostuvieron y defendieron a los gobiernos populares de Arévalo y Arbenz.. América, el mundo, estuvo con nosotros siempre y en los días trágicos nos dio su apoyo seguros de que no habría un derrumbe de castillo de naipes.. ¡Qué oportunidad histórica tan excepcional y universal,  ...   jotas Lo realizado no es perfecto ni intocable.. Quienes pretenden vedamos el derecho de discutir los errores con este o aquel pretexto, son los reaccionarios más peligrosos, los que imaginan que aceptamos una sumisión cómplice, un silencio indecente, como en las viejas dictaduras o en la actual del coloniaje yanqui.. La Revolución de Octubre es el acontecimiento histórico más importante de nuestra vida independiente.. Tan importante que el imperialismo decidió destruirlo con traidores y mercenarios.. Es -y seguirá siendo- un movimiento popular de emancipación, cuya influencia rebasó pronto las fronteras.. No defiendo ni las flaquezas ni los errores de personas o partidos.. Pero es evidente que la Revolución de Octubre encarna y simboliza la lucha del pueblo contra el extranjero que nos explota y el connacional esclavista aliado a los intereses antiguatemaltecos.. Jamás nuestro pueblo había adquirido mayor conciencia, libertad y soberanía.. Jamás se había luchado por finalidades más justas, más guatemaltecas y populares.. La Revolución de Octubre vive por encima y más allá de cualesquiera de sus hombres más significados: pertenece al pueblo y constituye su más alto patrimonio y la más noble bandera de Guatemala.. NUESTRA lucha empieza.. El pueblo de hoy, por obra de la revolución, no es el mismo de antes de 1944.. Así me lo dice en su mudez ese guatemalteco, seguro y pequeñito -disminuido por siglos de hambre y explotación- bueno y sencillo como una brizna de hierba, como una abeja, como una espiga, alto apenas como las cortas carabinas que van a matarle.. Sin saber por qué le dieron tierra para sembrar su maíz.. Y sin saber por qué le dieron tierra para descansar por fin.. Es el pueblo de Guatemala, sus pies descalzos, el sombrero de petate en la mano, impasible como si fuese de obsidiana, entero y pequeñito, erguido sin orgullo y sin modestia erguido no más, las piernas cubiertas por el calzón de manta que se estremece con la brisa de la madrugada, el torso por la corta chaqueta raída.. Enfrente, él casi ya lo había olvidado, otros muchachos, seguros y pequeños, color de tierra, vestidos de kaki, impasibles como si fuesen de obsidiana, se aprestan para sacrificar al hermano.. Se recuerda de los suyos, del riachuelo, la loma y el perrito, de la milpa joven creciendo en la tierra que le dieron sin saber por qué.. La voz del oficial le alumbra una ligerísima sonrisa y dentro siente, pero no sabe decirlo, que les perdona.. Los hermanos tampoco saben por qué le dan tierra para descansar.. Los hermanos sienten dentro de sí, pero no saben decirlo, deseo de decirle, que les perdone.. Un dolor oscuro, informe y punzante, gime y le grita en las entrañas de cada uno de ellos que van a disparar sobre el corazón de su pueblo.. Los fusiles le ven con su ojo ciego de muerte.. La última estrella de la madrugada se apaga en los ojos del asesinado.. Sobre la camisa deflagran amapolas y la sangre de mezcla con su tierra, que toma el color de su carne campesina inánime.. El sombrero de petate sigue en la mano callosa y caliente.. El sol, que ya salta sobre las montañas, pone el resplandor de una nueva aurora en el fondo de sus ojos muertos.. Amanece..

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