Rufino Blanco Fombona
The hamlet of Camoruco stands at one of the gateways to the plains. The wagon road cuts the little settlement squarely and neatly in two, like the parting of a dandy’s hair. Stretched out upon the savanna, the village consists of two rows of houses which stand in a file along the edge of the road and seem to peer furtively upon the passerby. They look like a double row of sparrows upon two parallel telegraph wires. Close by flows the Guarico, an abundant stream that irrigates the pampas; in its sand slumbers the skatefish and on its banks, with half open jaws the lazy alligators take their noonday rest.
It was election time; a governor of the Department was to be chosen. For certain political reasons, the interest of an appreciable part of the Republic was centered upon the contest. El faro (the lighthouse), a backwoods sheet which had been established for the occasion, declared in its opening number: “Perhaps for the first time in Camoruco, the elections will cease to be work of a group of petty politicians; perhaps for the first time in Camoruco the elective fabric will be woven by the unsullied hands of the people.”
The number of candidates had dwindled to two. On the eve of the election the local bosses, wealthy cattle breeders of the district, brought into the neighboring town, which served as a business center for the shacks of the outlying settlement, herd of peons, submissive farm hands, good, simple plainsmen ignorant of everything, even on what they were to do in the next day’s election; for these peons, rounded up like cattle, were the citizens; that is to say, the voters. The apparel of most of them consisted of drill trousers, striped shirts; on their feet, hempen sandals; on their heads the high crowned, wide-brimmed sombrero or the saffron-colored pelo de guma around their waist, slung diagonally like a baldric, the red and blue sash; in their right hands, like a cane, they carried the peasant weapon-...