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dismissed notion of how, in cases of political opposition, democratic rights in our country are trampled. S THE BODY? e filed a request. is my son? ? Where is my ned to him? at dawn, ten lit identify ince then I don’t itt him. I heard sound of brakes. r it more, in the that sound of without plates. his picture, yes, ng man, and always smil g for him, uestions, ltd , routine Vyer but can do; I at w where his I can go and put rm not asking on ‘t ask more than where he was left .are many Of the night, about their ut his face to lte tie bravely like Any noise in the street is suspicious, the slam of a car door, the start of a bus. What will it be like? Who will it be? What will happen? The “operatives,” as they call them in Argentina, carry eir work right in the middle street, in front of neighbors don’t intervene, who don’t muscle, for those being wh o won’t even extend th their’s, they who frozen with mouths open, as king: “Where are you ? What do you want with t are you going to do with im. do I protest when I don’t read no one listens to me? i N THE MEXICAN countryside, soldiers arrive and simply take the campesinos away. For them, not even a leaf stirs. Only These selections are excerpted from “Los desaparecidos” from Poniatowska ‘s Fuerte es el Silencio Translation by Louis Dubose. recently, families have begun to denounce the disappearances of men and women who don’t know the alphabet and who one morning or another simply do not wake up in their beds, don’t make tortillas, don’t walk out into the yard. The neighbors gather the hungry children, they try to take care of the empty shack, they look after the pig, and the chickens, if there are any. From a house once alive, the adults have vanished like smoke. The children, with those large eyes of the poor, as Rosario Castellanos would say, hopelessly watch the road; if anyone returns, it will be the soldiers to terrorize the neighbors, to remind them that if they get involved, they will go the same way. One fine morning they will no longer be. The death that catches up with all of us sooner or later will catch them somewhere away from home, in a place where there’s no one to provide a Christian burial. And the poor, among their few pretensions, want to know where they’re going to be left lying. Most of the Mexican political prisoners are youths \(in Latin America it is dangerous to be to 30 years, their economic class is very low. Los desaparecidos from among the campesinos are, for the most part, illiterate and because of this they don’t know the law and have no legal recourse. They take no legal action, although this would be, as in the rest of Latin America, systematically violated. We all know that every government, even the most democratic, persecutes its political opponents. In the case of the desaparecidos in Mexico, most are involved in guerrilla movements; they’re dissidents, and on many occasions, to explain their disappearing, it is alleged that they died in a confrontation with the army. Nonetheless, their disappearance turns them and their families into victims and confers upon the government responsible or not the role of persecuter. Their disappearances, besides being illegal, are an infamy of which few are aware. It Rosario Ibarra de Piedra hadn’t started a campaign of protest and education, to this day we would be unaware of the problem. We would have only a vague and easily Are all the desaparecidos Guerrilleros or Political Militants? THE MAJORITY of the desaparecidos in Mexico are from proletarian or rural backgrounds; the number of students is small, and of professionals, minimal. Are all of the desaparecidos in Mexico guerrilleros or political militants? Of course not. Not even in Argentina, where opponents of the Junta tried to organize and arm themselves: los Montoneros, the Party of the Poor; nor in Uruguay: the Tuparnaros; much less in Mexico where such power is held over the masses that only with difficulty can you say: This mouth is mine,” poor, poor, poor, poor, poor, people who reach the lower middle class, more concerned with consumer goods than ideals of liberty. Revolutionary outbreaks after the revolution of 1910 whatever kind they were, have been simply suffocated by the police and by the army. Ruben Jaramillo, a Morelian like Emiliano Zapata, was assassinated in 1962, together with his wife Epifania visibly pregnant and his three children, one week after he was embraced by the then-president of the Republic, Adolfo Ldpez Mateos. Genaro Vdsquez Rojas was hunted like an animal, chased on foot for months, his memory degraded in the newspapers with color photographs of women, mistresses’ houses, drunken sprees, gluttonous meals. And we all know that the largest search ever organized by the army was a campaign against the rural guerrillero Lucio Cabanas. Ruben Jaramillo was considered the Zapata of his day and, although the Emiliano Zapata of 1910 has his statue cast in bronze in many states in the Republic, the Zapatas of the forties, of the fifties, of the sixties, and of the seventies, or anyone who would wage a similar fight is pursued and hunted down like a bad dog. His only acceptable condition is death. And dead, he is declared alive, it’s said that he even rides in the mountains, that on cool, fragrant nights you can hear the hoofbeats of his white mare. Alive, all that awaits him is the flash of a machinegun. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23