Introduction. What People? Whose History?
The people is a poet singing to its own prayer,
although a rosary of sorrow hangs on its chest.
We need to sharpen our aim, our target practice
and although it says ugly words, the people has the right
and it doesn’t make me angry, but it’s the pure truth:
there is no uglier word than this society.
—Alí Primera
‘‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’’
When we got to La Piedrita, they already knew we were coming. If not for
the phone call they received from a trusted comrade, then from the video
cameras lining the perimeter of this revolutionary zone that jealously guards
its autonomy from all governments, right or left. If not from the cameras,
then from the network of eyes dispersed across the community, always alert
to unknown or unrecognized individuals. And if not from all that, then
certainly from the guard at the top of the rickety stairs that climb from the
parking lot of the apartment blocks into the chaotic jumble of the barrio that
lay behind it. He greeted us down the barrel of a chrome nine-millimeter
pistol with stern questions: ‘‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’’ If we
didn’t have good answers for these questions, there might have been a prob-
lem. But indeed, we had an excellent answer: two short words, ‘‘Valentín
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