The Monster - Page 3

WRITERS ISSUE: An excerpt from El Monstruo
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The wrath of the Mexicans had indeed been loosed, and Madero’s intentions to cage it up again would dictate the next phase of Mexico’s cannibal revolution.

THE GODS ARE SKEPTICAL

After a discreet pause to make sure the old man was really gone, Francisco Madero started off on the long train ride from Ciudad Juárez to Mexico City in early June. There were many treacheries up ahead and he had plenty of time to consider his options as the train lurched from state to state. As he passed through Zacatecas and Aguascalientes, jubilant mobs overran the train depots waving Mexican flags and shouting “¡Vivas!” until they were hoarse and Madero’s train long out of sight.

The presumptive president of Mexico arrived in the capital at Buenavista terminal, the great northern station, on the morning of June 9, and the tumult was overwhelming. Kandell compares it to Juárez’s return to rekindle the republic. I stare at the news photographs. People are excited, even exhilarated. They push and jostle for a view of the little Lenin look-alike. But some are more reserved. They stand back from the jubilant throng. They have come more out of curiosity than conviction. Their faces seem to ask, what next?

From Buenavista, Madero rode through the city in a Dupont motorcar, the sidewalks bursting with well-wishers and flag wavers. Many residents of the metropolis were relieved not so much because of the hope the little man brought with him as for the fact that this change of power had taken place with a minimum of damage to themselves and their city.

When Madero entered the old city for the final jog to the National Palace, he mounted a white horse. In the Palacio, he met with León de la Barra and they reaffirmed their bargain—Porfirio’s stooge would govern for the next six months while Madero campaigned for presidential elections set for November 2. The two emerged on the president’s balcony and “¡Vivas!” erupted from the joyous mob that filled the Zócalo below.

But the old Gods of Tenochtitlán were skeptical about Francisco Madero’s grasp on the presidency. At 6:00 that afternoon they rendered their verdict, upstaging his triumphal arrival in the capital with a deadly earthquake that surged out of the Pacific Ocean along the Jalisco coast and wrought havoc throughout that western state, killing 400 in Zapopan and setting off the Volcano of Colima before smashing into the north of Mexico City and leveling Santa María de la Ribera and San Cosme. There were no Richter scales in those days to measure the quake, but an uncounted number of lives were lost in the capital—perhaps hundreds, reported El Imparcial, which published three extras that day but paid scant attention to Madero’s arrival, burying the story beneath the fold.

Hear Ross read from El Monstruo and sign copies Nov. 18 at Modern Times, 888 Valencia, 7:30 p.m.