Cat Has Had the Time of His Life.
1521 -- Cuauhtemoc, last monarch of the Aztec, "fights rooftop to rooftop" before surrendering his starved & besieged city of Tenochtitlan; Cortes receives him with honors, then later has him hanged. The Spanish army has completed its "March of Death" (see 22 March), meaning the destruction & massacre of Tenochtitlan. Looting, rape & debauchery, befitting Good Christians, follows, as does branding natives & enforced slave labor. Christianity wins out over heathenism & paganism.
Suddenly, all at once, the cries & the drums cease. Gods & men have been defeated. With the gods' death, time has died. With the men's death, the city has died....

 A stunning silence reigns. & the rain begins to fall. Thunder & lightning fill the sky, & it rains all through the night...

 Fire burns the soles of Emperor Cuauhtemoc's feet, anointed with oil, while the world is silent, & it rains.

Memory of Fire: Genesis, Eduardo Galeano

1533 -- Atahualpa, 13th & last emperor of the Inca empire in present-day Peru, is put to death by Spanish conquistador Pizarro.

For a long time Alvarado contemplated his beaten enemy, his body slashed open, the quetzal feathers sprouting from his arms & legs, the wings broken, the triple crown of pearls, diamonds & emeralds...

 The children seated in a circle around the poet will ask: "& all this you saw? You heard?"


 "You were here?" the children will ask.

 "No. None of our people who were here survived."

 The poet will point to the moving clouds & the sway of the treetops.

 "See the lances?" he will ask. "See the horses' hooves? The rain of arrows? The smoke? Listen," he will say, & put his ear against the ground, filled with explosions.

 & he will teach them to smell history in the wind, to touch it in stones polished by the river, & to recognize its taste by chewing certain herbs, without hurry, as one chews on sadness.

---Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire


1694 -- Brazil: Destruction of the Mocambo de Macacos in the last expedition of the Quilombo de Palmares.

We poets hate hate & make war on war.

        — Pablo Neruda

They fight man to man on the edge of the abyss. There are so many dead there is no place left to fall down, & the slaughter continues in the scrub. Many blacks try to flee, & slip down the precipe & throw themselves off it.

 Flames devour the capital of Palmares. From the distant city of Porto Calvo, the huge bonfire can be seen burning throughout the night. 

Burn even the memory of it...

— Eduadro Galeano, Memory of Fire: Genesis, p274

1847 -- Mexico: The cadets of the Military School face the American invaders at the castle of Chapultepec.

"México centellea ante nuestros ojos"
[Mexico sparkles before our eyes]

With these words Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader President Adams had dazzled himself at the turn of the century.

At first bite, Mexico lost Texass.

 Now the US has all Mexico on its plate.

 In Chapultepec Castle, Mexican cadets, practically children, do not surrender. They resist the bombardment with an obstinacy not born of hope. Stones collapse over their bodies. Among the stones, the winners plant the stars & stripes, which rises from the smoke over the huge valley.

The conquerors enter the capital. The city of Mexico: eight engineers, 2,000 monks, 2,500 lawyers, 20,000 beggars.

The people, huddled together, growl. From the roofs, it rains stones.

---Eduardo Galeano, Faces & Masks

1848 -- Albert Parsons lives.  American anarchist, Haymarket Martyr, husband of Lucy Parsons, wrongly executed by the government. ?

Albert Parsons was targeted for death by city leaders. A bomb was thrown at police during the Haymarket Bombing. Although Albert Parsons was not even present (the bomb was thrown at 10pm, after he & Lucy & his two children had left), he was indicted & convicted for his alleged participation. Police Captain John Bonfield, a brutal thug, had led the charge on the gathering of workers & evidence suggests he may have been involved in the bomb-throwing.
Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has commented on “A Terrible Drama” (in his Memories of Fire, Vol. II):

“The scaffold awaited them. They were five, but Lingg got up early for death, exploding a dynamite cap between his teeth. Fischer was seen unhurriedly humming the ‘Marseillaise.’ Parsons, the agitator who used the word like a whip or a knife, grasps the hands of his comrades before the guards tie his own behind his back. Engel, famous for his sharp wit, asks for port wine & then makes them all laugh with a joke. Spies, who so often wrote about anarchism as the entrance into life, prepares himself in silence to enter into death.

“The spectators in the orchestra of the theater fix their view on the scaffold — a sign, a noise, the trap door gives way, now they die, in a horrible dance, twisting in the air. [Here he quotes Martí.] “José Martí wrote the story of the execution of the anarchists in Chicago. The working class of the world will bring them back to life every first of May. That was still unknown, but Martí always writes as if he is listening for the cry of a newborn where it is least expected.”

1848 -- Mexico: The Irish of the Battalion of San Patricio that fought next to the Mexicans against the US invaders are executed.

Even to this day, an Irish person in Mexico will be told a countless number of times about the famous ‘Irish Martyrs’ who defected from the US Army & gave their lives trying to save Mexico from US aggression from 1846-1848.

In the main plaza of Mexico City, the conquerors punish. They whip the Mexican rebels. They brand with hot irons the faces of the Irish deserters & then hang them from the gallows.

 The Saint Patrick Irish Battalion (San Patricio Battalion) arrived with the invaders, but fought alongside the invaded. The Irish made theirs the fate, ill fate, of the Mexicans. Many died defending the Churubusco monestary without ammunition.

The prisoners, their faces burned, swing to & fro on the gallows.

 ---Eduardo Galeano, Faces & Masks

1913 -- No Return Address?: Author Ambrose "Bitter" Bierce, travelling with Pancho Villa's army, writes his last letter & is never heard from again.
One of these mornings I murdered myself on some dusty Mexican road, & the event left a deep impression on me...until my recent death I have played havoc with my parents & various relatives, friends & colleagues. These touching episodes have splashed blood over my days -- or my stories, which is all the same to me...

 To put an end to my days, I joined the troops of Pancho Villa & chose one of those many stray bullets zooming through the Mexican skies these days. This method proved more practical than hanging, cheaper than poison, more conventional than firing with my own finger, & more dignified than waiting for disease or old age.

--- Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind,

"We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over. "

       — Ambrose Bierce

"I went to the consulate & requested a visa. The form asked, among other things: Are you planning to assassinate the president of the United States of America? I responded modestly, certain the question was a joke, inspired by my teachers Ambrose Bierce & Mark Twain, that I was not even planning to assassinate the President of Uruguay.

 My answer was a bad answer & the visa denied....

 Perhaps I am confusing this convention of North American booksellers for a confessional...But where better for a writer to confess than before a bookseller? & for many sins, where better than before so many booksellers?" 

--- Eduardo Galeano, speaking at the annual convention of the American Booksellers Association, 1992

"Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him."

       — Ambrose Bierce, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"

See Carlos Fuentes, The Old Gringo. (El Gringo Viejo, Fondo deCultura Económica, 1985; Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985). Fuentes bases this novel on the mysterious disappearance of Ambrose Bierce. Bierce is looking for death & redemption as he travels into war-torn Mexico in search of Pancho Villa. The novel eventually comes to discourse on the tangled & tragic history shared by Mexico & the US.
 A blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they ought to be.
       — Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary


1939 -- Lee Harvey Oswald, JFK patsy, lives: "Don't believe all the so-called evidence."

The weapon does not coincide with the bullet, nor the bullet with the holes. The accused does not coincide with the accusation: Oswald is an exceptionally bad shot of mediocre physique, but according to the official version, his acts were those of a champion marksman & Olympic sprinter. He has fired an old rifle with impossible speed & his magic bullet, turning & twisting acrobatically to penetrate Kennedy & John Connally, the governor of Texas, remains miraculously intact.

--- Eduardo Galeano, Memory of Fire: III Century of the Wind.


1966 -- Colombia: Father Camilo Torres killed by government troops.

"We know that hunger is mortal"

said the priest Camilo Torres.

"& if we know that, does it make sense to waste time arguing whether the soul is immortal?"

 Camilo believed in Christianity as the practice of loving ones neighbor, & wanted that love to be effective. He had an obsession about effective love. That obsession made him take up arms, & because of it, he has died, in an unknown corner of Colombia, fighting with the guerillas.

 — Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind, p192


1967 -- US: 69 armed men, plus three CBS cameramen, arrested in Florida Keys as they complete preparations for an invasion of Haiti. It is later revealed that CBS had paid the prospective invaders for exclusive rights to film the landing.

In Haiti, Alejo Carpentier learns that there is no magic more prodigious & delightful than the voyage that leads through experience, through the body, to the depths of America. In Europe, magicians have become bureaucrats, & wonder, exhausted, has dwindled to a conjuring trick. But in America, surrealism is as natural as rain or madness.

— Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind


1973 -- CIA overthrows democratically elected government of Chile, ending nearly 150 years of democratic rule. Murders Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader President Salvador Allende, folk singer Victor Jara, & many others. 16 years of repressive military terror follows under Pinochet.

Should you ask me where I come from, I must talk
with broken things,
with fairly painful utensils,
with great beasts turned to dust as often as not
& my afflicted heart.

— Pablo Neruda

Guards singled out Jara as he continued to sing protest songs in the stadium, beat him viciously & machine-gunned his mutilated body in front of the other prisoners. 

The US-backed military dictatorship banned Jara's music, image & name &, for a time, even outlawed the public performance of the evocative folk-guitar. 

The elected government of Salvador Allende falls to a bloody U.S.-supported military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet [au-GOOS-toh PEE-no-shay]. He immediately killed or "disappeared" hundreds &, in coming years, thousands more. September 19th, 1974, U.S. intelligence sources reveal that striking Chilean labor unions, instrumental in destabilizing the Allende government, were secretly bankrolled by the CIA. 

In these difficult times, workers are discovering the secrets of the economy. They're learning it isn't impossible to produce without bosses or supply themselves without merchants. But the workers march without arms, empty-handed, down this freedom road.

Over the horizon sail the U.S. warships, preparing to show themselves off the Chilean coast....

--- Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind

...The man in the river

wears a white shirt, dark pants & sprawls
as if sleeping while water riffles his hair.
This is a photograph from the coup or golpe,

 meaning also hit or shock -- just one death
from thirty thousand.

---Stephen Dobyns, "Paco"

1986 -- Haiti: After huge popular protests, Beloved & Respected Comrade Leader Playboy dictator "Baby Doc" Duvalier flees the country, ending 35 years of U.S.-sponsored dictatorship. He was whisked to France on a US jet.

Daily Bleed Anarchist Pages

1969: Port-au-Prince
A Law Condemns to Death Anyone Who Says or Writes Red Words in Haiti . . .

Article One: Communist activities are declared to be crimes against the security of the state, in whatsoever form: any profession of Communist faith, verbal or written, public or private, any propagation of Communist or anarchist doctrines through lectures, speeches, conversations, readings, public or private meetings, by way of pamphlets, posters, newspapers, magazines, books, & pictures; any oral or written correspondence with local or foreign associations, or with persons dedicated to the diffusion of Communist or anarchist ideas; & furthermore, the act of receiving, collecting, or giving funds directly or indirectly destined for the propagation of said ideas.

 Article Two: The authors & accomplices of these crimes shall be sentenced to death. Their movable & immovable property shall be confiscated & sold for the benefit of the state. 

Dr. Francois Duvalier
of the Republic of Haiti

— Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind, p207-08

Daily Bleed's Anarchist Pages

Cited, Daily Bleed, Feb 7, 1986


 Pedro Algorta,
a lawyer, showed me the fat dossier about the murder of two women. The double crime had been committed with a knife at the end of 1982, in a Montevideo suburb.

 The accused, Alma Di Agosto, had confessed. She had been in jail more than a year, & she was apparently condemned to rot there for the rest of her life.

 As is the custom, the police had raped & tortured her. After a month of continuous beatings they had extracted several confessions.

Alma Di Agosto's confessions did not much resemble each other, as is she had committed the same murder in many different ways. Different people appeared in each confession, picturesque phantoms without names or addresses, because the electric cattle prod turns anyone into a prolific storyteller. Furthermore, the author demonstrated the agility of an Olympic athlete, the strength of a fairground Amazon, & the dexterity of a professional matador. But most surprising was the wealth of detail: in each confession, the accused described with millimetric precision clothing, gestures, surroundings, positions, objects....

 Alma Di Agosto was blind.

 Her neighbors, who know her & loved her, were convinced she was guilty:

 "Why?" asked the lawyer.
"Because the papers say so."
""But the papers lie," said the lawyer.
"But the radio says so too," explained the neighbors. "& the TV!"

 --- Eduardo Galeano, "The Culture of Terror: 6," in The Book of Embraces, 1991


Galeano, Eduardo. The Book of Embraces. Translated by Cedric Belfrage with Mark Schafer. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991.
An eclectic collection of fiction and non-fiction pieces, this text advocates the “communal values” said to have been practiced by many of the New World’s indigenous peoples before the European conquest extirpated them. Arguing that “the communal mode of production and life . . . is the oldest of American traditions,” Galeano, looking to a better and less exploitive future, asserts that this tradition, never completely stamped out, “anticipates a new New World,” one that may yet save us all.

 Galeano, Eduardo. Memory of Fire. Translated (Memoria del fuego, 3 vols., Madrid: Siglo Veintiuno de España Editores, 1982-1986) by Cedric Belfrage. New York: Pantheon, 1988).
This fascinating three-volume work, which takes the reader from Pre-Columbian America up to the end of the twentieth century, merges history and fiction and, in so doing, presents an integrated, year-by- year account of political, economic, cultural, and (to a lesser degree) literary relations between the Americas. The primary focus of the series is on relations between the United States and Latin America (including Brazil), though some references to Canada are made.

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