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Chiapas, South Mexico – around 1910 (3)

The verdict of Modesta


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(Photo: Darij and Ana)

Chiapas, South Mexico.

“Don't kill this man,” sounds the shrill voice of Modesta. The labourers from the monteria, the jungle camp, are surprised. Is this that shy girl who almost never speaks a word? Her eyes look so strange, as if they see nothing. “Don't kill this man,” shouts the Indian girl again.
“You, you,” with a piercing finger she points to Don Felix, one of the bosses of the monteria, who sits huddled up in a corner of the office. He has bent his arm over his head, and in this way warded off the first blow of the muchachos, the Indian labourers. Finally they are rebelling after years of cruel treatment and exploitation. They make short work of killing the bosses and guards.

“You, you brute! I can forgive you that you wanted to rape me and that I could barely escape. Because women are for you only a toy, that you can use and throw away.”
Suddenly all muchachos are quiet, while Modesta speaks as if in a trance. “I can forgive you that you have beaten up my brother time and time again, because he didn't work hard enough. Because Indian labourers are only tools for you, who you can use just as you please.” Here and there a muchacho whispers angrily: “Why forgive, let him die.” But the other labourers tell him to be quiet. Something historic is happening here. A young, modest Indian woman gives her devastating verdict on the system of the jungle camps.
“I can forgive you that you gave us only the most miserable food, because all expenses for us Indians are too much for you. That you tampered time and time again with our accounts, to keep us as long as possible in slavery, because Indians are no more than slaves for you.”


for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Darij and Ana)

Chiapas, South Mexico.

For a moment Modesta breathes heavily, turns her eyes upward, and seems almost to faint, but then she gets herself under control again, and goes on with her sharp voice. “But, I will never forgive you that you whipped Pedrito, my little nephew, my little angel, just eight years old, before the eyes of his father, till his back became red with blood, to punish his father because he wanted to run away. A child, innocence itself! For this, you will burn in hell forever. For this, the Indians will curse you from generation to generation.”
Modesta reels around and says hoarsely: “Muchachos, do your job.” With great difficulty she walks a few steps backwards, sits down at the floor and starts sobbing. The jungle workers kill Don Felix with a few hard blows.

_______________________

Source
The book The Rebellion of the Hanged (part 5 of the so-called Jungle Novels, 1936) from the German writer Ben Traven portrays the difficult life of the Indian jungle laborers, their hardships, their solidarity and their resistance.



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