In the Middle Ages and during the European Renaissance, the title hidalgo may have meant “son of something” or “faithful to his master.” Although its etymology is disputed, what is clear is that an hidalgo was an aspiring nobleman, a second-rate aristocrat. A nobleman did noble things by inheritance, while the vulgo were vulgar and those living in villages were villains by nature. They were nobody’s children. They were the faceless pawns of chess, without a crown, without a cap, without horses, and without towers to take refuge. They were the first to go to die in the wars of the nobles, the first to defend the king and queen, although they never went up to the castle and even less entered the palace. In groups of a miles (thousands), they formed the militias. They were numbers. As in modern wars, they were going to kill and die, with fanaticism, defending a noble cause, in the double sense of the word. God, country, freedom. Noble causes that hid the interests of the nobles.
Little or nothing has changed since then. American soldiers returning from the wars of their nobles, arrive at the Atlanta airport and are applauded by the vassals who will then abandon them to the madness of their memories. Memories and even forgetfulness will chase them like the devil. Many will end up in begging, drugs, or suicide. When they no longer matter, they will be honored at unmarked graves or they will bring flowers to a fallen pawn, as abstract as in chess, called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Especially if there are television cameras nearby.
Not to mention the thousand times higher number of civilians killed on the other side, which are not even clear numbers but estimates. Approaches that never reach the indignation of the big media or the comfortable conscience of the citizens of the First World, because the suppressed belong to inferior races, they are subhuman categories that want to attack us or threaten to take away our way of life by ceasing to be slaves. The attacks of the powerful nobles are so pre-emptive that they usually take out fifty children in a single bombardment without provoking speeches or outraged marches with world leaders at the forefront. Not even a timid January 6 in favor of peace and the justice of others.
Medieval pawns and vassals did not have faces or surnames because they had nothing to leave their children as an inheritance. They barely had a name and a reference to where they were born or what they did, when working was a sign of shame and, like now, a sign of need. To say that someone cannot afford a long break is said to be a worker. Being the son of a family of workers is a euphemism for being poor. It is not so serious, because, like the inferior races, the poor have no feelings.
“The poor also feel their sorrows,” says an employee at La casa de Bernarda Alba, and Bernarda, the poor aristocratic, replies: “But they forget them in front of a plate of chickpeas.”
The pain of those who are not close to power does not matter, just as fifty children killed by a bomb in a distant country do not matter. As fifty children caged in an immigration compound do not matter. As the poor and dark-skinned undocumented immigrants do not matter, because they are also criminals who have violated Our laws by working for us as slaves and stealing a salary that no slave deserves.
In ancient times, debt slaves were known as adictos (“addicts”). They were those who said, who spoke on behalf of their masters. They were tied to bondage. When centuries later the invention of hereditary slavery based on skin color was outlawed in the 19th century, slavery once again became a matter of addicts. Now they are poors tied to servitude by the necessity of their poverty, almost always hereditary, like the poor Europeans who used to sell themselves for five or ten years as slaves in North America.
But today’s indentured laborers are not just immigrants who must sell themselves at the cheap price of necessity; they are also those who, without hunger and without a sick mother on the other side of the border, decide to sell their word in exchange for physical and moral comfort. Like the slaves in ancient Rome, they are “addicted” not to a substance but to the values, morals, and ideas of their masters, the wealthy to whom we must thank for peace, order, and progress, as in in the 19th century black slaves had to thank the slavers for the shade of the trees, for the rain, and for the cornmeal, they ate twice a day. As in the 19th century, the slavers expanded with a rifle in one hand, with the discourse of the struggle for freedom in the other, and with their lackey and addicts behind.
As the Peruvian González Prada and the American Malcolm X denounced at the time, these addicts (“the good Indian”, “the good black”) are the worst enemies of justice and the liberation of their own brothers. The language, which preserves an infinite hidden memory, also knows that the word lackey was the name of the pimped squires of their masters, greedy mercenaries who walked behind their masters as remora fish travel glued to sharks.
But there are also those who have not sold their freedom at the price of necessity and are reluctant to inoculate themselves with the myth of “The country of freedom” where they “arrived voluntarily” and can leave, also “voluntarily”, cleaning the way to remoras and addicts. They are those illegal immigrants who occupy the lower echelons of the richest societies. Those who must sell their bodies, but do not sell their souls.
Many times, I have been asked if I am not afraid to write against the imperial mafias from the bowels of the beast, as José Martí used to say. True, it is not easy and I would gain much more by flattering power and accommodating my ideas to my personal interests. But there are things that are not bought by all the billions of modern nobles. Now, if we talk about courage, the first prize goes to undocumented immigrants. Above all, immigrants like Ilka Oliva-Corado. Domestic worker, talented painter, and writer, brave as a paper boat in a storm, woman, Guatemalan, proud black woman with no ties to her tongue. A worthy representative of the most long-suffering immigrants in the United States, expelled from their countries of origin, despised, exploited, and dehumanized by the societies that use them and by the societies that expel them to later receive their remittances.
JM, January 2022