The Baker of Bricks and Mexican Will
The abduction and murder of 43 students in Iguala, Mexico remains an exposed wound in Mexico’s collective psyche. A majority of Mexicans go beyond blaming the local government in Iguala, believing that the corruption at the root of the massacre can be traced further back, all the way to the Federal government.
Mexicans seem far more disgusted with their federal government than with the cartel directly responsible, who strictly speaking did what they were ordered to do by elected officials, resulting in events even worse than asking Hells Angels to police your rock concert, and bringing to mind Hannibal Lecter's famous exam question to Clarice Starling, "What is it's nature, this man you seek?" The nature of cartels is grisly violence, as the mayor or Iguala knew better than anyone.
‘The Baker of Bricks," written by a friend of mine and newspaper columnist Cuauhtemoc Guerra., uses literary device to reflect what he perceives as resignation, national ennui and lack of will on the part of the Mexican people toward a federal government that ignores the welfare of those who elected them, preferring instead to live on misplaced hope.
As an expat, if you ever want to really experience another culture, you must also share your host's pain. I hope by reading this, you might better understand the pain and disillusionment our southern neighbors continue to experience so deeply more than a year after the event.
The Baker of Bricks (El horneador de ladrillos)
by Cuauhtemoc Guerra O.
No One Writes To The Colonel,” a story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez takes us back to the story of Colombian war veteran who waits for the arrival of a dispatch which will finally acknowledge the pension he had been promised.
Faith placed on the longed-for letter makes the Coronel go Friday after Friday to wait for the the arrival of the packet ship that carries the mail. The result is always the same but he never flags in his belief that the next time he will receive the response he hoped for.
He lives precariously in a house, together with his wife, the two accompanied only by a chicken to feed them when resources are scarce. The animal is the only memento remaining of their son, Agustin, whose life was taken while he distributed subversive anti-government propaganda.
The story was published in 1961 but was written from Paris in 1957. From that context, we know Gabriel Garcia had found himself exiled after suffering censorship in his country, which explains the allusion to political prosecution prevailing in Mexico.
The disillusion produced in the central character who waits week after week to receive news from those responsible for the mail doesn’t undermine his spirit, and draws from him a faint smile that breathes hope that the next time he will receive the anxiously awaited letter.
The hope, in this story, is carried to pathological levels which renounce any other action or alternative for survival. He is tethered to the promise of a pension for over a decade without doing anything other than waiting for news that doesn’t arrive, a wait which finally capitulates his human dignity.
This work of literary fiction thinly masks criticism of the Mexican society that touched the life of Gabriel Garcia, a society held captive by government regulation of commercial interests, inertia and the abandonment of creative will.
In Mexico, are we living like the Colonel? Living solely on promises made by politicians, presidential term after presidential term, while we settle for hope?
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Kerry Baker is a partner with Ventanas Mexico which provides insight and resources to those considering expat life in Mexico.
She is also author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best Spanish language tools on the web. The best tools on the web linked and organized by level and skill being practiced, you can learn Spanish on your own, free.