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Land and Liberty

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Bent over the plough and irrigating with his sweat the furrow that he turns, the peon toils and entones one of those inexpressibly sad folk-songs that seem to condense and sum up all the bitterness that social injustice has been accumulating for centuries in the poor man's heart. The peon toils and sings, thinking at the same time of the hut wherein his family is awaiting him to share its humble meal. His heart is flooded with tenderness as he muses on his wife and little ones, and looking up to note the position of the sun and tell the hour of the day, he perceives a light cloud of dust which gradually grows larger as it nears him. Those who are approaching are soldiers of the cavalry, and they ask him:-"Are you Juan?" One receiving an affirmative reply they say:-"Come with us. The government needs you," And away foes Juan, bound like a criminal, on the road to the city, where the barracks await him; while in his hut is left his family, to die of hunger or to turn thieves and prostitutes to save itself from perishing. Will Juan tell you that Authority is a good thing for the poor?


For three days past Pedro has been tramping the city streets eagerly in search of work. He is a good workman; his muscles are of steel; on his face, which stamps him a child of the people, honestly is reflected. Vainly he tramps the city, begging the employers to "take the trouble" to exploit his sturdy arms. On every side the doors are shut against him, but Pedro is energetic and does not allow himself to become discouraged. So, streaming with sweat and with hunger's sharp tenth gnawing at his entrails, he offers and offers and offers his firsts of iron in the hope of meeting a master who will "kindly" consent to exploit them. Crossing the city for the twentieth time he thinks of his wife and children in their poor pig-sty, who, like him, are suffering from hunger and are about to be put out by the landlord who is not willing to wait any longer for the tent. He thinks of his little ones and, his heart taut with grief, hastens his footsteps in his efforts to find a master, a master, a master. A policeman noticed Pedro passing and repassing, turning to pass again and turning to pass yet again the street whereon he himself is posted to "keep public order." He takes Pedro by the collar and conducts him to the nearest police station, to charge him with vagrancy. While Pedro suffers in the prison his family perishes of hunger, or prostitutes itself to escape starvation. Will Pedro tell you that Authority is a food thing for the poor?


Santiago, full of content, bids his wife farewell. He is going to ask the hacienda owner for the share coming to him as co-partner in the abundant harvest they have raised. The hacienda owner pulls out books, memoranda, notes, bills, and after adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, says to his co-partner, "I owe you nothing. One the contrary you owe me for provisions, clothing, wood," etc., etc. The co-partner protests and runs to a judge, asking for justice. The judge goes over the books, memoranda, notes and bills; adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides, and condemns the co-partner to pay the hacienda owner what is owning and the costs of the suit. The wife, all smiles, comes to meet Santiago, their youngest child in her arms, believing that he will bring plenty of money, since the harvest has been a splendid one; but she turns pale when she sees the tears flowing down his sun-burned cheeks as he comes with empty hands and a broken hear. The hacienda owner has falsified the accounts, and the judge, as always, sided with the strong. Will Santiago tell you that Authority is a good thing for the poor?


In the little shack, saturated with the smoke of coal oil and tobacco, Martin, the intelligent agitator, talks to his comrades. "It is not possible to tolerate any longer the iniquitous exploitation to which we are subjected," says Martin, tossing back his fine, leonine mane. "We work twelve, fourteen, and even sixteen hours for a few cents; they fine us on every pretext to lessen still further our starvation wages; they humiliate us by forbidding us to shelter in your miserable lodging our friends, relatives, or whom we please; they forbid us to read papers that tend to awaken and educate us. Let us not put up with any more humiliations, comrades. Let us declare a strike and ask for an increase of wages and a shortening of the hours of labor, that they may learn to respect the guarantees the Constitution grants us." A salvo of applause greets the orator's words, and it is voted to strike; but next day the workers learn that Martin was arrested on returning to his house, and that warrants are out against


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