Juan is delighted: he just saw the newspaper coming from Washington, about Carranza being recognized as chief of the Executive Power of the Mexican Republic. He hugs Josefa, his wife, effusively kisses his little son and, almost yelling, says, "Now, peace will be had at last! Oppression will end! Hurrah for Carranza!
Josefa is left with her mouth open, speechless, just looking at her husband; without understanding why, just because a new president comes into power, misery will cease. She looks around the room, a room from a poor neighborhood from the Tepozan Alley of Mexico City, and sighs. Everything which surrounds her is miserable; the broken grass chairs, the furnace without a piece of charcoal; the sheets from the cat have stains, product of the child's urine; on the solitary table, stands a bottle with a piece of paraffin, drippings falling down like thick tears.
Without realizing his wife has not understood him, Juan yells, "One was for prosperity and liberty opens before the Mexican country. Hurrah for Carranza!
Josefa opens her eyes immeasurably. She cannot understand the relation between the exaltations of a man in power and death to expression, and submerges in profound reflections, until a lice, the hungriest of the many populating her head, gives a bite that returns her to reality. She scratches furiously, and at the same time, with a weak voice, weak from lack of food, tells her husband, "Could you tell me, Juan, what we are gaining with Carranza in power with the Presidency?"
"Come on, Josefa, you haven't yet understood about these matters? We are getting laws which benefit us workers; the ones about agricultural labor, we'll receive land form the hands of the government; in fact we will have freedom and well being.
Josefa's lips show a smile, transcending the bitterness from her heart. Even though poor, she had had the opportunity to read something about Mexico's history, and remembers that all past presidents, before reaching the highest position, swore a thousand times, and again to dedicate all their efforts for the country. That's how the proclamation of Sturbide reads, the manifests from Bustamento, the ones from Santa Ana, and the proclamations, manifests publishing from government, circulars from Bulooga and Commonfort, Gonzalez and Díaz, from all, in fact, including Madero. All promised to make the country happy, and the country was miserable under all of them.
A bedbug walks slowly on the wall, as to kill time taking a walk, while these poor people decide to go to bed, victims of the capitalist system. Josefa sees it and, with her previous practice, presses one on the wall with the tip of her finger, kills it, leaving a bloody mark on the wall. The poor woman gives a sad look to her husband, almost saying, "Poor slave! When will you open your eyes?"
Juan is radiant with joy and agitating the newspaper high, exclaims, "Constitutional order, these are respected individual guarantees; the privileges of the citizen without obstacles; justice justly administered, free suffrage, no reflection; honesty from public officials, what more do you want, woman? Why do you have a mournful face?"
Josefa replies, "Everything sounds great; but the bread--who is giving us the daily bread?"
"Ha, ha, ha! This is why I have arms," Juan says, laughing, and adds, "Only the lazy die of famish."
Josefa drops her arm in dismay. "Honestly," she thinks, "Juan is a perfect sheep."
Some lice bite her, making her scratch desperately to the point of bleeding. Later, church bells can be heard; they are the bells from the parish Santa Ana; from the area of Tezontlale one can hear yelling, fireworks, all the church bells from all the nearby churches sound in unison with the notes of a "paso doble" from the military band making Juan so excited to the point of being delirious, so he takes his hat and yells in full blast, "Hurrah Carranza!"
They are the workers, Carranzistas, who celebrate the recognition of Carranza's government, extended by the foreign governments, representing their proper burgesses.
A month has gone by. Juan works, but his situation does not change; his miserable salary barely covers him, his wife and son do not die of hunger. The same dilapidated chairs, some stained blankets on their bed, their poor table hasn't been replaced; and in their stove there is not a good soup to nourish them; charcoal is as expensive as gold; most of the bloody spots on the walls indicate that the bedbugs haven't lost the habit of taking a leisurely walk before eating; the lice burn poor Josefa's head.
"Hey, we sure have gotten a lot from Carranza's rising! Isn't it true, dear Juan?" says Josefa, with a certain sluggishness.
Juan scratches his head due to the torment of the lice and disappointment. He thought that Carranza being in power would be like abundance at home. However, he does not give up and explains, "It's impossible for a government to give happiness to his people in one month. Let's give him time so he can implement the reforms which will benefit the masses, and then we'll see."
A year has gone by. Juan's condition is about the same as before. It is true that the salaries are better; but the landlord has also raised the rent for the rooms; merchants have raised the price for articles of first necessity; clothing is also much more expensive than before. He does not work more than eight hours a day; however, the same amount of work has to be done in eight hours that he used to do in twelve, fourteen, or sixteen hours.
Juan is holding the paper "Regeneración," reading it avidly, and leaves the reading aside, only to scratch due to the parasite bites, using his nails. Juan walks up and down, very concerned, holding a small red notebook, being the only color giving some joy inside the dark miserable hole, dirty and hopeless: this is the manifest dated the 23rd September 1911.
Suddenly, Juan stops his walking and slapping his forehead, and exclaims, "How foolish I have been, and with me, the workers who helped Carranza! Here we are in poverty, the worst misery, even though we drop working just as before the old goat went into power. The distribution of land was a damn lie, as we have to pay for the piece of land given; protection laws to the workers--it was no other than the protection of the Capital, because burgess have a way to get paid for the little given or granted; the constitutional order does not do any good for the poor, as in misery being a virtue, we are the outcasts as always. Death to Carranza!"
"Death to all Government!" Josefa yells, waiving, as if it was a flag, a newspaper called "Regeneración" that she had on hand.
"Hurrah for anarchy!" Juan screams, waiving his red book, of whose pages contain memories of youth, effluvium of spring, balsam of hope and rays of sunshine for all the sufferers, for all who sigh, for all who drag their existence in darkness from slavery to tyranny.
For the first time the squalid room becomes noble, as it serves as shelter to a couple of lions and a cub.
Several days have gone by. The trenches of the Capitol offer a formidable scene. The neighborhood is La Merced. Tanners and apple pickers united here to build a trench in two hours. Men, women, children, seniors, and even handicapped have worked together here. The ugly market building from La Merced has given part of the material. Behind the trench, there is an ocean of straw hats. The huaraches and rude shoes from the defenders, energetically walk stepping the bland dirt, proud now to serve as pedestals to this large group of heroes. They wait a few minutes for the Government to attack. All is activity within the trenches: women stand in line, men cleaning their rifles; children distribute artillery to the men. A red flag, with white letters reading, "Land and Freedom," smiles at the sun at the highest point of the trench, sending from there greetings to all the outcasts of the world. The proletarians from the Capitol are against the Capitol, Authority, and Clergy.
The proletarians form the slaughterhouse and San Antonio Abod do not show less active. The butchers files their knives, testing them with their thumbs. The streets next to the slaughter houses and Textile Manufacturing buildings are without sidewalks since the materials were used to build trenches; tables, pots and pans, pianos, clothing, mattresses, all have been a mountain of objects in horrible confusion, and are used as a defense for the noble defenders.
Belin and Salto Del Agua; San Cosme and Santa María de la Ribera; San Lázaro and San Antonio Tomatlán; La Bolsa and Tepito; San Juan Menoalco, Santa María la Rhonda, la Lagunilla, all the popular neighborhoods from the populated city have emptied their homes, people, embellished by the revolutionary ardor, are getting prepared to resist the attack from the Carranzistas, the trenches expel dirt right away. The trench from San Lázaro and San Antonio Tomatlán is showing an unusual flag: it's an old pair of bloomers, old and stained. It's a miserable flag! It is the disfigured rag of the world of oppression and privilege. While the rag stays close to the proletarians, the lords are fine; but when the same old rag is tied to a stick, then the world trembles.
However, if there is excitement in the trenches, but none compares with the ones from Peralvillo, Santa Ana, Tezontlale, who, united with activity, enthusiasm, audacity, and revolutionary care, join Juan and Josefa, who do not rest. Black with dust, they look beautifully sweaty, worn out, running up and down under the trench, sharing energy and enthusiasm for their defenders. Suddenly, great confusion, followed by firing, sounds of the trumpet can be heard from the area of la Concepción Tequipehuca.
"They are the ones from La Bolsa and Tepito and they are fighting!" screams Juan, throwing his hat in the air.
A few minutes after the roar of the cannons, the rifles voice; the beating of the drums; the madness of the trumpets; the martial airs of the musical bands were confused with the city's thunder, as all the trenches were attacked at the same time by the Carranzista troops.
Juan and Josefa get up to the highest place of the trench, where they can see a heavy cloud, where the Carranzistas are approaching, on the streets of Santo Domingo.
"The enemy is approaching, comrades!" they yell at the same time. "Everyone get to the place which is best for the defense of our land!"
In an instant the trenches are surrounded with rifles. The enemy sets two cannons in the center of the street from Santa Catarina and Las Moras, while part of the column continues to advance over the trenches from the entry of the street.
An imperative voice comes out from the dusty cloud and approaches already at one hundred steps from the barricade.
"In the name of the Supreme Government," he says, "Surrender!"
"Hurrah Country and Freedom!" answer the ones from the trenches.
The shooters follow from both parts; the cannons direct their projectiles to the center of the trenches to open breach in the fort, the smoke saturates the area, making it unbearable; the attack is furious, the resistance formidable, the Carranzista soldiers add blasphemies to their firing; the proletarians, defenders of the barricade, sing:
Countrymen, the chains oppress you,
And this injustice cannot continue;
If your existence is a world of sorrows,
Before a slave, choose to die.
And the notes of this magnificent hymn, that hymn common to the oppressed in this world, that same hymn which condemns the bitter martyrdom of the outcasts, and their holy need for redemption, that hymn, being, at the same time, a complaint, protest, threat, spreading to the four winds, as an invitation made for the dignified and the honorable.
The next day, Mexico's proletarians celebrate the success of the Social Revolution. The burgess system has died.