The following passages are excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s book Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, just out in paperback (Nation Books).
In 1919 Rosa Luxemburg, the revolutionary, was murdered in Berlin.
Her killers bludgeoned her with rifle blows and tossed her into the waters of a canal.
Along the way, she lost a shoe.
Some hand picked it up, that shoe dropped in the mud.
Rosa longed for a world where justice would not be sacrificed in the name of freedom, nor freedom sacrificed in the name of justice.
Every day, some hand picks up that banner.
Dropped in the mud, like the shoe.
The Celebration That Was Not
The peons on the farms of Argentina’s Patagonia went out on strike against stunted wages and overgrown workdays, and the army took charge of restoring order.
Executions are grueling. On this night in 1922, soldiers exhausted from so much killing went to the bordello at the port of San Julián for their well-deserved reward.
But the five women who worked there closed the door in their faces and chased them away, screaming, “You murderers! Murderers, get out of here!”
Osvaldo Bayer recorded their names. They were Consuelo García, Ángela Fortunato, Amalia Rodríguez, María Juliache, and Maud Foster.
The whores. The virtuous.
In the year 1901, Elisa Sánchez and Marcela Gracia got married in the church of Saint George in the Galician city of A Coruña.
Elisa and Marcela had loved in secret. To make things proper, complete with ceremony, priest, license and photograph, they had to invent a husband. Elisa became Mario: she cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothing, and faked a deep voice.
When the story came out, newspapers all over Spain screamed to high heaven—“this disgusting scandal, this shameless immorality”—and made use of the lamentable occasion to sell papers hand over fist, while the Church, its trust deceived, denounced the sacrilege to the police.
And the chase began.
Elisa and Marcela fled to Portugal.
In Oporto they were caught and imprisoned.
But they escaped. They changed their names and took to the sea.