Miguel de Salabert: When they gave me a rifle to carry, I knew my life was over
Stop NATO…Opposition to global militarism
Miguel de Salabert
From Interior Exile (1961)
Translated by Renaud Bruce and Herma Briffault
“They don’t even let us die in peace these days.”
“Listen to that clown! If you had as many bullet holes in you as I’ve got, you wouldn’t feel like cracking jokes.”
“But I’m going to die. Anyone can see I’m going to die,” the other man protested.
“Like me,” commented one of the wounded men lying on the floor. “When they gave me a rifle to carry, I knew my life was over. All the bullets were meant for me. Every time a bullet whistled, I was there to get it. And here I am, with more holes than meat on my body.”
The guards’ faces, sullen and threatening like the hungry muzzles of their guns, reflect the satisfaction of a job well done. These dogs of the System watch over the perfect functioning of money – or of what those who possess it call “society.” They are baring their teeth to that multitude whose poverty makes them suspect, subversive.
The children are heirs to the misery and hatred of the men locked up inside like wild animals. Their hands, now held by their mothers, will tomorrow be closed in fists of hatred. And when anger makes them cry out, they will find themselves facing the same guns their fathers faced, the same dogs trained to herd them into prison or into their graves. And for those who don’t like it, no pity. The guns are there as a warning. The pack is just waiting for an order to jump on that humiliated crowd trembling with fear like sheep before a wolf. They are the future targets for the bullets, now crouched inside guns, which will leap as always to the call of the System.
Politics were the concern of men…Until that terrible morning. A morning so full of sunlight, so brilliant and pure, an absolutely carefree morning. And within a few seconds, three hundred men machine-gunned in the plaza. Three hundred bodies, and the women rummaging among them to find their dead…The blood sparkled on the ground and steeped the air with a dense, hot, sticky, fetid odor.
The women howled their grief, shattering the silence that had followed the crackling of the machine guns. Bent over, they embraced the bodies of their men, forever lost to them. They had known those bodies in the act of love, proud of their strength, now empty, void, useless.