Finale: Orgullosa

Part 3

Christian soldiersAlthough by 1921 the revolution had mostly ended, Mexico was still a simmering cauldron of animosities, particularly relating to the role of the church.  In 1926, during the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles, a popular uprising broke out against the government and in support of the church.  The rebels, known as Cristeros, were protesting against the various restrictions that had been placed on the church and its clergy.  The conflict, which lasted until 1929, became known as the Cristero War.

Plutarco Elías Calles (fabulous first name) ruled Mexico from 1924 to 1935 and founded the Revolutionary Institutional Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI).  After almost constant revolution since independence from Spain, Elías Calles apparently decided, without irony, that the country just needed a party to formally institutionalize the revolution.

It worked: the PRI ended up ruling Mexico for 70 years, ushering in peace and stability at long last.  Ever since the Cristero War, Mexico has basically been at peace.  Crises did occur after Elías Calles, but they primarily involved economics rather than revolution.

Transformations occurred too.  Lázaro Cárdenas, successor to Elías Calles, initiated land reform (the ejidazo) and nationalized the oil and gas industry.  But war has not broken out since Elías Calles brutally suppressed the Cristero rebellion.

Before ceding the presidency to the Partido de Accion Nacional, or PAN,  the PRI was one of the longest ruling parties in the world.  Its genius was the ability to accommodate all dissenters, bringing them into the fold and keeping them there.  Over time, the PRI zigged and zagged from left to right, depending on the forces within the country, but it did not divide or crumble until the 1990’s, when it allowed power to peacefully be passed to its rival.  Elías Calles accomplished the impossible.  In the PRI, he formed a mechanism to bring lasting peace after over a century of fighting.  He really did institutionalize the revolution.  He wasn’t alone, of course.  Cárdenas and others had significant roles in bringing stability, but Elías Calles gets lots of credit from the Cowboy.

Insitutionalized RevolutionaryElías Calles was born and raised in Guaymas, a place that the Cowboy, too, spent much of his childhood.  The Cowboy likes to think of himself as a peacemaker, someone who can bring together warring factions, so who knows, perhaps some of  the magic of Elías Calles rubbed off on him.  So far, the Cowboy hasn’t ended any long intractable civil wars, but there’s still time.

So, with all of that history as background, here’s the other story about La Bikina (as related by Castillejos):

On a stormy night, a peasant found a newborn infant, abandoned to its fate.  He took the infant to the church.  The priest decided to announce to the village that a baby had been found, but there was no response.  And so, the priest placed her in a nearby convent with the Carmelite mothers. They baptized her with the name “Carmen”.  As time passed, the girl grew up and developed into an astounding beauty.

As a result of the problems between church and state in Mexico, a religious defense league formed called the Cristeros, and in 1925 President Elías Calles moved against these rebels, making an assault throughout the country, but principally in the state of Jalisco.

All of a sudden the door burst open, destroyed by an army platoon entering in a rage, destroying everything in its path.  Carmen stopped the men in their tracks; they were paralyzed by her beauty.  One of them broke loose from her spell, grabbed her and took her out the convent.  It was Captain Humberto Ruíz.

She had been sheltered for 17 years in a convent without knowing anything about life outside the convent doors, and suddenly her world was violated.  She didn’t even know what had happened or why.  She only knew that she would rather die immediately than endure whatever martyrdom was in store.  And so, as a natural defense of a sort, she remained completely inert.  The young woman was unconscious for days.  She finally awoke, and tried to leave, to return to her home, but he would not permit it.

He brought her water and tenderly cleaned her forehead with a handkerchief.  They were like that for days: him – kind, attentive and servicing, her – silent and immutable.  There wasn’t the slightest dialogue between them.  He tried to break the silence, but she appeared completely mute.  Three seasons passed.  Finally, he kissed her hands, and, crying, he asked her forgiveness and departed, leaving her alone forever more.

Carmen forgot her name and everything about her prior life.  She walked from town to town, supporting herself by doing housework.  In her travels, someone called her “La Bikina”, and the name stuck.

No man could ever get near her.  But after a long time, destiny again placed her in front of Captain Ruíz, and on this occasion, she smiled at him.  They spent a night of incomparable love together, but as dawn arrived, she slipped into the heavens.

Her story touched all those who knew her.

Here are the lyrics:

Solitaria camina La Bikina
La gente se pone a murmurar,
Dicen que tiene una pena,
Dicen que tiene una pena que la hace llorar.

Altanera, preciosa, y orgullosa,
No permite la quieran consolar.
Pasa luciendo su real majestad,
Pasa, camina, los mira sin
verlos jamas.

La Bikina tiene pena y dolor.
La Bikina, no conoce el amor,
Altanera, preciosa y orgullosa,
No permite la quieran consolar.

Dicen que alguien ya vino y se fue.
Dicen que pasa las noches llorando por el…

La Bikina tiene pena y dolor.
La Bikina, no conoce el amor.
Altanera, preciosa y orgullosa,
No permite la quieran consolar.

Dicen que alguien ya vino y se fue.
Dicen que pasa las noches llorando por el…

La Bikina walks alone
And the people whisper,
They say she has a sorrow,
They say she has a sorrow that makes her weep.

Haughty, lovely and proud,
She does not allow anyone to console her.
She passes, displaying her royal majesty,
She passes and looks at them without ever seeing them.

La Bikina has sorrow and pain.
La Bikina does not know love,
Haughty, lovely and proud,
She does not allow anyone to console her.

They say someone already came and went.
They say she spends her nights crying over him…

La Bikina has sorrow and pain.
La Bikina does not know love.
Haughty, lovely and proud,
She does not allow anyone to console her.

They say someone already came and went.
They say she spends her nights crying over him…

(All translations by the Cowboy.)

In case you don’t know him, Luis Miguel has become the modern Mexican version of Frank Sinatra – a crooner with style and charm.   The Cowboy gave you the concert hall version of the piece in Part 1, but here’s a version that can touch your heart.

And finally, speaking of hearts, there is a spot with a view that the Cowboy, and presumably a young Elías Calles, grew up with.  It is a view implanted on the Cowboy’s soul.  A scene of such beauty that it would inspire a man to bring peace to millions.  A location so lovely that it would inspire a Cowboy to live a good life.  A sunset so perfect that there would be no other possible time and place for the Cowboy to propose to his wife…  altanera, preciosa y orgullosa.

But in the Cowboy’s version of the story they live happily ever after.

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Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 22:11  Comments Off on Finale: Orgullosa  
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