Pedro was unconscious; he started to work when he was seven years old. His father was a peon in a hacienda from the state of Michoacán, with a salary no more than twenty five cents a day, working from dawn to sunset. The family could not live with that miserable salary; the cloth to make their clothing was more expensive everyday, the first necessity articles much higher, and the bill owed to the landowner was increasing and increasing...
One day the peon took Pedro to his job. It was imperative that the child work so they could help at least with a fist full of corn, the everyday porridge, and the indispensable tortillas. From then on, Pedro must earn his food from the sweat of his brow.
Pedro came to the age of 24, like his father, earning twenty five cents, working from morning to night; however, if life was expensive, then, it was much more now; levies were more frequent, the fugitive law was applied to the maximum, the "fatigues," the free personal service to authority, were more and more frequent, and to their misfortune, as a traditional costume, the debt from the father, had fallen or accumulated to the son, increasing his own. In search of better fortune, Pedro came to the United States, finding work in a section of the railroad. One day he found a newspaper, Regeneración, maybe a passenger left it behind. Pedro read the paper and felt something so deep that it left a profound feeling in all of his being. He had learned to respect his masters, as if they were his parents; in his simplicity, he believed that, if there were not wealthy people, the poor would not have anything to eat. He respected the government, in spite of the treatment he received in Mexico; considered a priest, as a representative of God on Earth. Finally, poor Pedro was a total reactionary.
Sitting on an empty drawer serving as a chair, Pedro read Regeneración under the light of an oil lamp, and while he was reading the newspaper, he felt a knot in his throat...feeling something shattering inside his being, and a huge horizon was extending in front of his life.
Pedro felt terribly sad; and he believed that it was so natural to suffer in this world, at least the priest had assured him. Now, he realized that those lies from men of the cloth just wanted to keep the slaves quiet, and his heart was pounding violently. With clenched fists, he cried, "I will go to Mexico and I will not leave any of these rotten birds alive!" He would remember then the priest's sermon from his village, when he would preach, pretending love, and charity, in a loved voice, and cry, "Be patient, my children, and the Lord will give you a better life in your next life; respect and love your employer as if they were your second parents; conform with your poverty; do not envy the fortune of the rich, because that wealth was given by God, merciful Lord. He will give you work, and receive food on our tables. Respect your government, which is the one who is in charge and guards your belongings, people, abide the laws, as well as punish crime and reward virtue."
"Oh! If I would have read Regeneration," said Pedro, sitting on his empty shack, as his voice, sounded empty. "If I would have read Regeneration, something else would have become of me and my loved ones."
The wind would filter from the hut, crevices, crying as if carrying the slaves' laments, who are born, live, and die without knowing anything else from life, except misery and pain. Far away a dog howled; a night bird sang mournfully, as the night seemed sadder.
Pedro continued reading, and while reading, his mind had only one idea: to buy a rifle, and clenching the newspaper, crushing its lines, he kept on thinking, thinking. He was not old! He was only 24 years old; however, he thought having wasted much time in the struggle for the ideal. "I will not leave a Burgos alive as soon as I step on Mexican territory!" he yelled with fury, and his voice vibrated as a trumpet calling the slaves to combat determined the soldiers to become men.
The wind would blow through the cracks from the hut, as if it were the weeping and the sighs and complaints, the cries of men and women, old people, children proletarians who are born, live, and die without anything but sorrow and pain...Outside, the telegraph wires, shacked by the strong wind, gave saddened notes. A rooster sang far away; a pair of cats, denouncing, in the shadows their noisy loving.
Pedro kept on thinking and thinking. "I will have a bullet for each representative of the Authority, as soon as I step into Mexico!" he cried, and his voice resounded as if he were the sound of a machine gun in the enemy's trenches...
Sometime later, after this night, when the brain of a man illuminated with a new light, a troop of Carrancistas rebelled against the authority of Venustiano Carranza, disregarding Government, Capital, and Clergy.
It happened that Pedro, converted into the apostle of the Good News, marched towards the territory dominated by the Carrancismo, presented himself in a Carrancista camp, and set a soldier post. Once among these rebels, he gave full range to his generous thoughts.
"Brothers," he said, why are we carrying the weight of another government?" He proceeded, saying, "Now that we have arms in our hands, let's finish once and for all with the beginning of Authority, the Capital, and the Clergy." Then, taking out a small red book from his pocket, , he read to his comrades, not about ideals. It was the 23rd of September, 1911. The rebels listened to the apostle, and the opinion was expanding, that if the revolution was going to be wasted, it would be imperative that the country, during the armed struggle, take possession of the land, machinery, and means of transportation; that is if one expects that a Government give happiness to its people, that would never happen, because the mission of the Government is to give protection to the wealthy, with prejudices towards the poor. The Carrancista rebels thought and thought and thought. One remembers that one time the workers from his district decided to go on strike, asking for a raise of salaries, and less work hours. The government sent troops to machine gun them and make them continue or return to their work with the same old working conditions. Another brought from his memory the fate of Juan, his village, and how he was taken out of his home, in the late hours of the night, by the Acordads, and shot by a shower of bullets, like a dog, at the corner of the road, because he did not allow the owner of the hacienda to rape his wife, companion for all of his life. Another remembered well poor Santiago, that cowboy, with so many children and family, and how he was sent to fight in the army and died of malaria in Tierra Caliente, as he did not allow his boss to steal his salary. Each of those rebels had more than one memory of how the Authority protects the rich, with prejudice against the poor, and in each of those hearts, hardened by privation and suffering, burned a vengeful fire. "We do not want a government anymore!"...they cried and yelled, and their clamorous cry resounded on the Sierra's steep rocks, as thunder.
"Death for Capital; Death for the Clergy" repeated cries, and the formidable voices went down the channels until they were last in the lands.
The officials perceived the disruption, and went there to impose order. Some shot some bullets, giving an end to the officials, and the new "libertarios," with the red flag high, felt stimulated with heroic notes of the hymn "El Hijo del Pueblo," as they walked away, marching toward the conquest of Land and Liberty.