"I do not kill myself so others can live," Pedro, the miner, said with a clear voice, when Juan, his co-worker, extended a newspaper in front of him called "Regeneración," full of details about the revolutionary movement of the Mexican proletarianism. "I have a family," he continued. "I would be an animal if I showed my belly to the bullets of the federals."
Juan received without surprise Pedro's observation: that is the way the others talk. Some would even try to hit him when he would say there were places where the peons had not recognized their masters and had taken ownership of the haciendas. Some days passed; Juan, after buying a good carbine with abundant bullets, went to the interior of the sierra, where he knew there were rebels. He didn't care to know what kind of flag they belonged to, or what ideals the revolutionists defended. If they were their own, that is, the ones with the red flag, they forced themselves to establish a new society, in which everyone would be his own owner, and never the hangman of the others, very good: he will unite with them, he will add with his own self to the number of fighters, as the number of brains to the magnificent work of redemption, as many guns as of capable brains to guide other brains, and fiery hearts, capable of inciting with the same fire of other hearts. However, if they were not from the same group, the ones who would move around the near area, it did not matter; anyway, he will unite, as if considered the duty of a liberator to mix among his brothers, unconscious, by way of clever conversations, about the rights of the proletariat.
One day the miners' wives were crowding at the door of the mine. a landslide gave away one of the mines' galleries, leaving more than fifty workers inside without communication. Pedro was among them, and, like all the others, without hope of escaping death. Surrounded by utter darkness, the poor peon thought about his family; for him a horrible agony was waiting, without water and food; however, finally, after a few days he will be resting; but, how about his family? What will happen to his wife and his children, so very young? Then he had thoughts of anger, thinking about how sterile his sacrifice would be, and understanding, however late, that Juan, the anarchist, was right, when, showing him the newspaper "Regeneración," he would talk to him enthusiastically about the social revolutions of the necessary struggle of classes, indispensable, so men would stop being the slaves of masters, so everybody would eat a piece of bread, crime would stop, prostitution, and poverty, alike. The poor miner would remember, then, that cruel phrase thrown, like a spit to the face to his friend: "I do not kill myself so others live."
While the miner was thinking, buried alive from working so hard, so the burguese owner of the business, the women, crying, twisted their arms pleading with screams, asking them to bring out and retrun their husbands, their brothers, their sons and their fathers.
Crews of volunteers will plead the manager of the business, asking to let them do something to rescue those unfortunate human beings who were waiting inside that mine for a slow death, horrible because of the hunger and thirst. The rescue finally started; but how slowly they worked! Besides, were they sure these miners were alive? Didn't they remember that the burgess did not give enough boards for lining the mine, so they could get better profits, and that precisely this one, where this catastrophe occurred, was the worst lined? Anyhow, good willing men were working, taking turns day and night. The families of the victims, in poverty, did not receive from the burgesses--owners of the mine, not even a fist full of corn so they could make some tortillas or some pudding, despite that their husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers had earned their salary from several weeks already worked.
Forty eight hours had passed since the catastrophe occurred. The sun, outside, was shining over the desolation of the miners' families, while, in the depths of the earth, in the darkness, the last act of this terrible tragedy arrives.
Crazed with thirst, possessed with savage desperation, the miners with the weakest minds furiously hit with their picks the hard rock, for a few minutes, later some would fall down exhausted, some not getting up again. Pedro thought, "How happy would Juan be in these moments, free as a man would be, with a gun in his hands, satisfied as a man with a great idea, and fighting for it, and so it is. He, Juan, would be fighting against the soldiers from the Authority, the Capital and Clergy, precisely against the cruel men that, because they did not want to diminish their gains, they were the ones to be blamed for him being buried alive. Then he felt a fit of fury against the Capitalists, who suck the blood of the poor; then he would remember the conversations he had with Juan, so boring all the time, but now he was giving them the justice they deserved. He remembered one day, Juan rolling a cigarette, mentioned about the astonishing number of victims that industry fires every year from all countries, forcing in demonstration how many human beings die in car disrailment, drowning, fire, or fallouts in the mines, the number of labor accidents, much more than in the most bloody revolution, without counting the millions and millions dying of anemia, excess work, malnutrition, sick persons contained because of bad hygiene conditions, poor home conditions of the poor, factories, shops, foundries, mines and other exploitative establishments. And so he remembered also, Pedro, with what disdain he had heard Juan, at that time, and with what brutality he had refused him when the propagandist had advised him to send his donation, any amount he could send, to the Revolutionary Chapter, who worked for the economic, political, and social freedom of the entire working class. He remembered him saying to Juan, "I am not such a sucker to give my money; I would rather get drunk with it." And something close to regret was torturing hi heart; and at the anguish of the moment, with the clarity which comes in critical moments, he thought it would have been better to die defending his class, than to suffer that dark death, hateful, to allow the better life of the cruel burgess. He imagines Juan face down, refusing the weight and disgrace of tyranny; he imagines him happy and delirious with enthusiasm, carrying on his fists the blessed emblem of the oppressed, the red flag, oh, good and magnificent, beautiful, with your floating hair in the air in the middle of combat, throwing dynamite bombs into the enemy trenches, as I could see him at front with some brave ones getting to or arriving at an hacienda, telling the peons: "Take everything and work for yourselves, as human beings and not as beasts of burden." And the poor Pedro wished to have Juan's life, knowing comprehending was fruitful, but it was too late now. Even with the rest of his life, he was death to the world.
Fifteen days have passed since the mine catastrophe. Discouraged were the rescuers abandoning the recovery of mines. The families of the dead miners had to leave from the village as they could not pay rent of their homes. Some of the daughters and widows would sell kisses at the taverns to get a piece of bread...Pedro's oldest son was in jail because he took some lumber from the factory to mend his shack. His mother, sick as a result of the moral shock suffered. All the relatives had gone to the office to ask for the last salaries of their loved ones; they did not receive one cent. The Great Captain recounted debts and the result was that the dead ones became debtors and because the poor families did not have money to pay the rents of their homes, a very beautiful day, since nature is indifferent to human suffering, when the sun burned with its rays on a nearby pond and the birds, free from their owners, worked trying to catch insects for them and their babies, "a beautiful day, a representative of the Authority, dressed in black, as a vulture and accompanied by some armed policemen, went from house to house, putting in the name of the Law, to the advantage of the Capital, throwing all those poor people to the street."
This is the way the Capital pays the ones who sacrifice to him.