Monday, March 02, 2020

Rise of the Puntales

March 2, 2020
   Back in 2008, Kathy and I traveled to Peru to visit our son, Thomas Charles, who was in the Peace Corp. While we were there, we got to experience a Peruvian bullfight. What a privilege it was to see those bulls fight—and, in some cases, NOT fight—each other. That's right, no bullfighter-toreador-torrero, just two bulls, fighting each other. As it should be!

Daily Whip Out: "The Rise of the Puntales

   This fond memory resonated with me this weekend, because Pancho Villa called his henchmen, Los Puntales, the fighting bulls. And, I just think that is a perfect name for them.

   I am rereading "The Life and Times of Pancho Villa" by Friedrich Katz and it's interesting to see my hand written notes in the margins. I was amazed then, as I am amazed now, at the crazy, amazing story.

   Ironically, one of the seeds of the Mexican Revolution was planted on the day Geronimo was shipped to Florida. Up until that day, in September of 1886, the central government in Mexico City cared little about El Norte. it was next to uninhabitable because of the constant raiding by the Apaches for over a century! On the day Geronimo left, the value of cattle ranches in Arizona doubled! In Mexico, with the G-Man and the Chiricahuas shipped off to Florida, Porfirio Diaz (newly back in power after not liking what his hand-picked successor was doing) encouraged investment and scientific advancement. He invited the railroads and rich Americanos, like George Hearst, and other captains of industry, to come down and invest in the future of Mexico. Then he brought in surveyors to divide the land, which up to that time had been the domain of the Free Villagers: local land around villages was not owned by any one person (Ejidos: public lands). Much of the property was communal with everyone using the same pastures or sharing land. With the surveyors (they got to keep a third of all they surveyed!) came specific property boundaries and then when locals resisted when communal pastures were closed, the central government took away their voting for mayors power, and then you get Jefe Politicos, or appointed political positions that could be counted on to tow the government line. Of course the elites got filthy rich off of these foreign investments, acting as brokers and finding places for the Americanos to buy.  Some elites in Mexico City were called the Cientificos (they believed in science, promoted technology, wanted to improve education, grant paid vacations to workers and and other "positivist reforms"). Today they would be called Libtards and Progressives. In fact, one of the main reasons for the Revolution is not rich vs. poor, but the division of the elites against each other. Sound familiar?

"Poor New Mexico. So far from God, so close to Texas."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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