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Interviewing Alvin Epstein, Gene Frankel and Bruce Sagan ; part 1

BROADCAST: Oct. 1, 1964 | DURATION: 00:30:13

Transcript

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Studs Terkel This is one of those situations where I feel a bit guilty, mea culpa, I, I, I sort beat my breast because I'm sitting with a distinguished novelist and observer of the human comedy, Carlos Fuentes, one of the most respected of, of American continental novelists. His books, some of which have been acclaimed by critics and by readers alike, tell us about, more than about Mexico, about the human condition, about power. One is the highly acclaimed The Death of Artemio Cruz and others, Where the Air is Clear, Terra Nostra, our land, Terra Nostra, our land, and a, a great number of his novels, all his novels have been indeed enthusiastically received and cause comment. He also was a member of the United Nations delegation, I'm not sure I got that, we'll talk about that. But mostly it's about, ambassador to France for Mexico, mostly, it's about Carlos Fuentes we'll talk about now. Some other time about his books, although no doubt that'll enter into our conversation. So it's my meeting with a, a distinguished, a gifted writer. Carlos Fuentes in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] So where do we begin our conversation, Mr. Fuentes? We begin, I ask you, how did it come about? How did it come about, you. You're of a, you're of a middle class, professional, father background.

Carlos Fuentes Yes. Mmm hmm.

Studs Terkel Where was this? This was

Carlos Fuentes My father was a professional diplomat, who was like, a lawyer and a diplomat.

Studs Terkel Your father.

Studs Terkel Yes,

Studs Terkel What were the influences in your life?

Carlos Fuentes Well, basically, my father, the fact that I grew up in a diplomatic service and wandering from one country to another, one capital to another, arriving in Mexico to live until I was 16 years old, which gave me a very fresh look in the country. I could write about it from a [disciplined?] perspective.

Studs Terkel But you also have a certain perspective, you know, you

Carlos Fuentes Yes, oh yes a unique perspective which no other writer of my generation had.

Studs Terkel Know, what?

Carlos Fuentes On the, on the whole post-revolutionary scene in Mexico.

Studs Terkel Yeah. The post-revolutionary scene. So we speak of the revolution, we speak of when?

Carlos Fuentes The revolution is 1910. The, the armed phase, the military phase of the revolution is 1910 to 1920. Between Madero and Obregon. Then there's the construction of the country, which starts in the '20s with Obregon, and public education, Vasconselos and the creation of an infrastructure, Calles and Cardenas finally, who was the culminating figure of the Mexican Revolution in power in the '30s.

Studs Terkel This, talk for a minute about this, and then we'll hear a song. Laz-- Lazaro, Lazaro Cardenas.

Carlos Fuentes Cardenas, yes.

Studs Terkel Who was the president of Mexico at a certain, about the same time

Carlos Fuentes -- Nineteen thirty-four to 1940.

Studs Terkel That Roosevelt was president

Carlos Fuentes -- Same

Studs Terkel There was a New Deal, there was Depression here.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Is there analogy here?

Carlos Fuentes Oh, there's a great, great analogy

Studs Terkel -- How?

Carlos Fuentes Mexico decided to implement its constitution, the Revolutionary Constitution, and basically to reclaim the ownership of petroleum resources and to confiscate the foreign companies, and there was a great hue and outcry in this country, invasion of Mexico demanded by William Randolph Hearst and lots of others in the Congress, et cetera. And it was Roosevelt who understood that the time had come to respect Mexico's sovereign decisions.

Studs Terkel You know, we, we forget something. How quickly we forget, or how, how often history is buried. You're talking now about the '30s, and there was talk. By the way, we speak to you now in 1979, and there may be an interesting analogy here, too. We're speaking -- aren't we talking now about, about something that is buried, that there was talk on the part of certain powers in this country, the United States, of actually doing something about Mexico, because Cardenas had in mind a land reform movement?

Carlos Fuentes Well, first, first he, he took the land reform to its highest pitch after the revolution and affected many American companies and private individuals in Mexico who, who created private armies in order to attack the people who went there to implement the land reform, to attack the teachers who went to disseminate public education, who got their noses and ears cut off by these very reactionary landholders with their guide -- white guards, as they were called, you know? But especially what Cardenas did was to say there's an article in the Constitution, Article 27, which says that the subsoil is of the domain of the nation. And when the foreign oil companies, Dutch, British and American did not abide by the resolution of the Supreme Court, he expropriated them, and this really created a barbarous, tremendous hue and cry all over the world. And there were great pressures in this country to show Cardenas a lesson, to invade Mexico. I think Cordell Hull was paramount in demanding this.

Studs Terkel Oh, Cordell Hull was!

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Who was then, we should point out, Secretary of State

Carlos Fuentes He was the Secretary of State under Roosevelt

Studs Terkel That's

Carlos Fuentes But Roosevelt had two very able statesman working for him. One was the ambassador to Mexico, Josephus Daniels, who had been Franklin Roosevelt's head as Army Secretary during the first World War

Studs Terkel Navy. Navy.

Carlos Fuentes Of Navy, when FDR was the undersecretary of the Navy, and Sumner Welles, who was a brilliant undersecretary of State and who understood that if there was going to be a good relationship with Latin America, this was the time to prove it, 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, when the United States was going to need the resources of Latin America and its militancy against the Axis and its strategic position. So thankfully, men like Daniels and Welles carried the day with Roosevelt, and the Mexican sovereign decision to expropriate the oil holdings in foreign hands was respected by the United States. Britain and Holland broke off relations with Mexico. Roosevelt maintained a very calm position. He didn't send in gun boats. He reacted in a civilized manner and for the real -- for the -- he worked for the real interests of the United States, the long-range interests of the United States. This's something we should remember today when Mexican oil again becomes

Studs Terkel I was about to ask you

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel What is the situation as far as oil and property in Mexico, days coming in. At the time, Cardenas

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Who is sort of a New Deal, I'm

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel I'm, I'm using rough brush here

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel As sort of a New Deal President of Mexico

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel The parallel to Roosevelt even more so in that the Mexican people were so much more oppressed. U.S. had its Depression, too.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel But what happened since then? Since, since Cardenas as far as land and oil is concerned?

Carlos Fuentes Well, the Mexican Revolution created a completely new set of realities, and thus of problems for a nation which had been a Spanish colony for three centuries and had not moved practically, which then fell into anarchy when it achieved independence, an anarchy that cost us half our territory in a war with the United States.

Studs Terkel This would be when?

Carlos Fuentes Eighteen forty-eight. Eighteen forty-eight, the war against the United States, in which Mexico lost all its northern provinces: Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, et cetera. And then, after this shameful defeat, which humiliated Mexico very much, a great man called Juarez, Benito Juarez, in the 1850s, decided to create a national Mexican state. A serious, liberal Mexican state. This was not seen with good eyes by European powers, especially by France and Napoleon the third, who invaded Mexico and installed a puppet Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg on the throne, there was a war against the French intervention in which the Mexicans won by inventing the tactics of modern guerrilla warfare, actually.

Studs Terkel Expand on that

Carlos Fuentes Yes, Mexico had been defeated ignominiously by the armies of Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor during the war of 1846-48, and Juarez and his men, when the French invaded Mexico in 1861, realized that we could not fight frontal battles with one of the great armies of the world, with the French army, that the only way to beat the French was to developed, a, a strategy whereby the people themselves would wage the war confused with the lands, mimetized with the land. They would be peasants by day and warriors by night. They would not dress in uniforms. They were dressed as peasants. They would not present frontal battle, they would ambush, they would surprise, they would attack from the rear. They would do highly, highly unconventional things. But the thing was to save the country.

Studs Terkel Because, you know, you know what comes to mind, immediately of course.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, what,

Studs Terkel Well, naturally,

Carlos Fuentes Vietnam. But you know what is the striking parallel is that Napoleon the third decided the invasion of Mexico and the invasion of Indochina at the same time.

Studs Terkel That's amazing.

Carlos Fuentes He was successful in Indochina because Indochina didn't have a Ho Chi Minh. He was not successful in Mexico because Mexico had its Ho Chi Minh, called Benito Juarez.

Studs Terkel This is fantastic. So guerrilla warfare in a sense, as far as we know, began, there are earlier I'm sure examples, in Mexico, in Juarez, and the revolution against France.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, exactly.

Studs Terkel You know, suppose we hear a song from the revo-- it may have been from Juarez or from, I'll ask you about Zapata in a moment.

Carlos Fuentes Yes. He has a lot to do with guerrilla warfare.

Studs Terkel OK. Now here's a song called, I'll ask you about this song. "La Llorona." It's a song. It means -- what

Carlos Fuentes The weeping woman. It is the song of the state of Oaxaca, the beautiful Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is a very plaintive song, which is most great Mexican cultural facts derives from the ancient Indian world. There's the old Indian legend of "La Llorona," "The Weeping Woman," who weeps because she has killed her children. She's a, a Medea of the Indian world. Then it was taken up by the mestizo culture in the Spanish language and became one of the most beautiful

Singer 1 songs ["La

Studs Terkel I think this song, even without knowing the words, I know vague, from what you told me I get the idea, I'm deeply moved. I'm thinking, Mr. Fuentes, Carlos Fuentes my guest, and -- songs. Songs and Mexico

Carlos Fuentes and Yes.

Studs Terkel Have always been related, haven't they?

Carlos Fuentes Oh, enormously related. The, the songs they'll tell you what the Revolution was really about. Course I think the Mexican Revolution of 1910 was much more than a political or economic fact, it was a cultural

Studs Terkel Nineteen ten.

Carlos Fuentes Yeah. Yeah. The, the big Mexican revolution, the revolution that really, finally broke the backbone of the feudal structure in Mexico and created a modern nation with its new problems, great, great problems. But it is no longer a colonial nation as it was in the past, and this was due to the revolution. But you see, basically what the revolution did was to break down the barriers between Mexicans, the great isolation of this country. You know, when, when Cortes, after the congress of Mexico went back to Spain, Charles the Fifth, the Emperor asked him, "Describe this country you've conquered for me," and Cortez took a stiff piece of parchment from the Emperor's table, crumpled it up and threw it at him, and said, "There is Mexico." The land of rugged orography, of volcanoes, mountains, chasms, canyons, deep gorges, where people, it is very difficult for people to meet. You know as recently as 1972 I made a trip with our President then, Echeverria, to the canyon

Studs Terkel The President of Mexico.

Carlos Fuentes The President of Mexico

Studs Terkel -- Luis Echeverria.

Carlos Fuentes Luis Echeverria, yes, who is my good friend, to the canyon of the River Santiago in Jalisco to meet the Huichol, a tribe of Huichol Indians, and a landing strip had been prepared for the presidential plane, we landed there, and the chiefs of the tribe greeted us in their ceremonial dress, and the president said, "What is it you, you wish? What can I do for you?" And he said, "Oh, you can do a great thing for us. You see, over the canyon on the other side of the gorge, you see those people waving at us?" He said, "Yes." "Well, they're our brothers, and we have never touched their hands. We've always waved at each other for centuries and centuries over this chasm, and never being able to touch each other and embrace each other." So the president sent them on their plane and they finally touched after probably 1000 years. This is the history of Mexico, and what the revolution did was to break down these tremendous barriers. These great marches of Villa, Pancho Villa from the north of Mexico, towards the center, of Emiliano Zapata from the south

Studs Terkel Now, Zapata was when?

Carlos Fuentes Zapata was about a contemporary of Villa, this happens in 1910, 1920.

Studs Terkel That was '10. Juarez was

Carlos Fuentes No, Juarez was

Studs Terkel Fifty years, 60 years before.

Carlos Fuentes Way back in the 19th century. Yeah, in the 19th century. And speaking, and speaking of the great peasant leaders of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, 1920, and of the fact that they broke down these barriers and marched with all the people and covered the total territory of Mexico, and what is it that they took with them? They took -- songs.

Studs Terkel Songs.

Carlos Fuentes Voices. A way of singing, a way of laughing, a way of loving, a way of living, a way of dying, a recognition of the way Mexicans laughed and sang and danced and fought and died and lived and loved. We had never met before. Octavio Paz puts it very well, he says, "The revolution is the mortal embrace of a Mexican with another Mexican." So the revolutionary songs, the corridos as

Studs Terkel

Carlos Fuentes This is one of those situations where I feel a bit guilty, mea culpa, I, I, I sort beat my breast because I'm sitting with a distinguished novelist and observer of the human comedy, Carlos Fuentes, one of the most respected of, of American continental novelists. His books, some of which have been acclaimed by critics and by readers alike, tell us about, more than about Mexico, about the human condition, about power. One is the highly acclaimed The Death of Artemio Cruz and others, Where the Air is Clear, Terra Nostra, our land, Terra Nostra, our land, and a, a great number of his novels, all his novels have been indeed enthusiastically received and cause comment. He also was a member of the United Nations delegation, I'm not sure I got that, we'll talk about that. But mostly it's about, ambassador to France for Mexico, mostly, it's about Carlos Fuentes we'll talk about now. Some other time about his books, although no doubt that'll enter into our conversation. So it's my meeting with a, a distinguished, a gifted writer. Carlos Fuentes in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] So where do we begin our conversation, Mr. Fuentes? We begin, I ask you, how did it come about? How did it come about, you. You're of a, you're of a middle class, professional, father background. Yes. Mmm hmm. Where was this? This was -- My father was a professional diplomat, who was like, a lawyer and a diplomat. Your father. Yes, What were the influences in your life? Well, basically, my father, the fact that I grew up in a diplomatic service and wandering from one country to another, one capital to another, arriving in Mexico to live until I was 16 years old, which gave me a very fresh look in the country. I could write about it from a [disciplined?] perspective. But you also have a certain perspective, you know, you -- Yes, oh yes a unique perspective which no other writer of my generation had. Know, what? On the, on the whole post-revolutionary scene in Mexico. Yeah. The post-revolutionary scene. So we speak of the revolution, we speak of when? The revolution is 1910. The, the armed phase, the military phase of the revolution is 1910 to 1920. Between Madero and Obregon. Then there's the construction of the country, which starts in the '20s with Obregon, and public education, Vasconselos and the creation of an infrastructure, Calles and Cardenas finally, who was the culminating figure of the Mexican Revolution in power in the '30s. This, talk for a minute about this, and then we'll hear a song. Laz-- Lazaro, Lazaro Cardenas. Cardenas, yes. Who was the president of Mexico at a certain, about the same time -- Nineteen thirty-four to 1940. That Roosevelt was president -- Same There was a New Deal, there was Depression here. Yes. Is there analogy here? Oh, there's a great, great analogy -- How? Mexico decided to implement its constitution, the Revolutionary Constitution, and basically to reclaim the ownership of petroleum resources and to confiscate the foreign companies, and there was a great hue and outcry in this country, invasion of Mexico demanded by William Randolph Hearst and lots of others in the Congress, et cetera. And it was Roosevelt who understood that the time had come to respect Mexico's sovereign decisions. You know, we, we forget something. How quickly we forget, or how, how often history is buried. You're talking now about the '30s, and there was talk. By the way, we speak to you now in 1979, and there may be an interesting analogy here, too. We're speaking -- aren't we talking now about, about something that is buried, that there was talk on the part of certain powers in this country, the United States, of actually doing something about Mexico, because Cardenas had in mind a land reform movement? Well, first, first he, he took the land reform to its highest pitch after the revolution and affected many American companies and private individuals in Mexico who, who created private armies in order to attack the people who went there to implement the land reform, to attack the teachers who went to disseminate public education, who got their noses and ears cut off by these very reactionary landholders with their guide -- white guards, as they were called, you know? But especially what Cardenas did was to say there's an article in the Constitution, Article 27, which says that the subsoil is of the domain of the nation. And when the foreign oil companies, Dutch, British and American did not abide by the resolution of the Supreme Court, he expropriated them, and this really created a barbarous, tremendous hue and cry all over the world. And there were great pressures in this country to show Cardenas a lesson, to invade Mexico. I think Cordell Hull was paramount in demanding this. Oh, Cordell Hull was! Yes. Who was then, we should point out, Secretary of State He was the Secretary of State under Roosevelt That's But Roosevelt had two very able statesman working for him. One was the ambassador to Mexico, Josephus Daniels, who had been Franklin Roosevelt's head as Army Secretary during the first World War -- Navy. Navy. Of Navy, when FDR was the undersecretary of the Navy, and Sumner Welles, who was a brilliant undersecretary of State and who understood that if there was going to be a good relationship with Latin America, this was the time to prove it, 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, when the United States was going to need the resources of Latin America and its militancy against the Axis and its strategic position. So thankfully, men like Daniels and Welles carried the day with Roosevelt, and the Mexican sovereign decision to expropriate the oil holdings in foreign hands was respected by the United States. Britain and Holland broke off relations with Mexico. Roosevelt maintained a very calm position. He didn't send in gun boats. He reacted in a civilized manner and for the real -- for the -- he worked for the real interests of the United States, the long-range interests of the United States. This's something we should remember today when Mexican oil again becomes a I was about to ask you -- Yes. What is the situation as far as oil and property in Mexico, days coming in. At the time, Cardenas -- Yes. Who is sort of a New Deal, I'm -- Yes. I'm, I'm using rough brush here -- Yes. As sort of a New Deal President of Mexico -- Yes. The parallel to Roosevelt even more so in that the Mexican people were so much more oppressed. U.S. had its Depression, too. Yes. But what happened since then? Since, since Cardenas as far as land and oil is concerned? Well, the Mexican Revolution created a completely new set of realities, and thus of problems for a nation which had been a Spanish colony for three centuries and had not moved practically, which then fell into anarchy when it achieved independence, an anarchy that cost us half our territory in a war with the United States. This would be when? Eighteen forty-eight. Eighteen forty-eight, the war against the United States, in which Mexico lost all its northern provinces: Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, et cetera. And then, after this shameful defeat, which humiliated Mexico very much, a great man called Juarez, Benito Juarez, in the 1850s, decided to create a national Mexican state. A serious, liberal Mexican state. This was not seen with good eyes by European powers, especially by France and Napoleon the third, who invaded Mexico and installed a puppet Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg on the throne, there was a war against the French intervention in which the Mexicans won by inventing the tactics of modern guerrilla warfare, actually. Expand on that a Yes, Mexico had been defeated ignominiously by the armies of Winfield Scott and Zachary Taylor during the war of 1846-48, and Juarez and his men, when the French invaded Mexico in 1861, realized that we could not fight frontal battles with one of the great armies of the world, with the French army, that the only way to beat the French was to developed, a, a strategy whereby the people themselves would wage the war confused with the lands, mimetized with the land. They would be peasants by day and warriors by night. They would not dress in uniforms. They were dressed as peasants. They would not present frontal battle, they would ambush, they would surprise, they would attack from the rear. They would do highly, highly unconventional things. But the thing was to save the country. Because, you know, you know what comes to mind, immediately of course. Yes, what, Vietnam. Well, naturally, Vietnam. But you know what is the striking parallel is that Napoleon the third decided the invasion of Mexico and the invasion of Indochina at the same time. That's amazing. He was successful in Indochina because Indochina didn't have a Ho Chi Minh. He was not successful in Mexico because Mexico had its Ho Chi Minh, called Benito Juarez. This is fantastic. So guerrilla warfare in a sense, as far as we know, began, there are earlier I'm sure examples, in Mexico, in Juarez, and the revolution against France. Yes, exactly. Yes. You know, suppose we hear a song from the revo-- it may have been from Juarez or from, I'll ask you about Zapata in a moment. Yes. He has a lot to do with guerrilla warfare. OK. Now here's a song called, I'll ask you about this song. "La Llorona." It's a song. It means -- what The weeping woman. It is the song of the state of Oaxaca, the beautiful Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is a very plaintive song, which is most great Mexican cultural facts derives from the ancient Indian world. There's the old Indian legend of "La Llorona," "The Weeping Woman," who weeps because she has killed her children. She's a, a Medea of the Indian world. Then it was taken up by the mestizo culture in the Spanish language and became one of the most beautiful songs ["La I think this song, even without knowing the words, I know vague, from what you told me I get the idea, I'm deeply moved. I'm thinking, Mr. Fuentes, Carlos Fuentes my guest, and -- songs. Songs and Mexico and Yes. Have always been related, haven't they? Oh, enormously related. The, the songs they'll tell you what the Revolution was really about. Course I think the Mexican Revolution of 1910 was much more than a political or economic fact, it was a cultural fact. Nineteen ten. Yeah. Yeah. The, the big Mexican revolution, the revolution that really, finally broke the backbone of the feudal structure in Mexico and created a modern nation with its new problems, great, great problems. But it is no longer a colonial nation as it was in the past, and this was due to the revolution. But you see, basically what the revolution did was to break down the barriers between Mexicans, the great isolation of this country. You know, when, when Cortes, after the congress of Mexico went back to Spain, Charles the Fifth, the Emperor asked him, "Describe this country you've conquered for me," and Cortez took a stiff piece of parchment from the Emperor's table, crumpled it up and threw it at him, and said, "There is Mexico." The land of rugged orography, of volcanoes, mountains, chasms, canyons, deep gorges, where people, it is very difficult for people to meet. You know as recently as 1972 I made a trip with our President then, Echeverria, to the canyon -- The President of Mexico. The President of Mexico -- Luis Echeverria. Luis Echeverria, yes, who is my good friend, to the canyon of the River Santiago in Jalisco to meet the Huichol, a tribe of Huichol Indians, and a landing strip had been prepared for the presidential plane, we landed there, and the chiefs of the tribe greeted us in their ceremonial dress, and the president said, "What is it you, you wish? What can I do for you?" And he said, "Oh, you can do a great thing for us. You see, over the canyon on the other side of the gorge, you see those people waving at us?" He said, "Yes." "Well, they're our brothers, and we have never touched their hands. We've always waved at each other for centuries and centuries over this chasm, and never being able to touch each other and embrace each other." So the president sent them on their plane and they finally touched after probably 1000 years. This is the history of Mexico, and what the revolution did was to break down these tremendous barriers. These great marches of Villa, Pancho Villa from the north of Mexico, towards the center, of Emiliano Zapata from the south -- Now, Zapata was when? Zapata was about a contemporary of Villa, this happens in 1910, 1920. That was '10. Juarez was -- No, Juarez was -- Fifty years, 60 years before. Way back in the 19th century. Yeah, in the 19th century. And speaking, and speaking of the great peasant leaders of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, 1920, and of the fact that they broke down these barriers and marched with all the people and covered the total territory of Mexico, and what is it that they took with them? They took -- songs. Songs. Voices. A way of singing, a way of laughing, a way of loving, a way of living, a way of dying, a recognition of the way Mexicans laughed and sang and danced and fought and died and lived and loved. We had never met before. Octavio Paz puts it very well, he says, "The revolution is the mortal embrace of a Mexican with another Mexican." So the revolutionary songs, the corridos as they Corrido. Corridos.

Studs Terkel A corrido is what, a ballad?

Carlos Fuentes It's a ballad which tells a story.

Studs Terkel A

Carlos Fuentes Which tells a story would usually starts by saying "On the 21st of July of 1910, ladies and gentlemen, such and such a thing happened." It is the singing newspaper of Mexico. In the absence of journalism, it is the corrido, the song which has told the news to the people.

Studs Terkel Is the broadside.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, "Little Rosita Alvirez was a coquette, died in a bar yesterday because she fooled her man, et cetera," or "General Zapata took the town of Cuautla yesterday in a great feat of arms," everything is told in the corrido, you see.

Studs Terkel So the news, say, to people who may not be able to read

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel Or have no paper, they hear it orally

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Through the songs

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel And so a story is told.

Carlos Fuentes It's all poetry. It's like Homer.

Studs Terkel It's, it's an event, too.

Carlos Fuentes It's an event,

Studs Terkel It's a political event, it's, but they -- songs of the revolution, though, included all kinds of -- could be love songs, too, couldn't

Carlos Fuentes Oh yes, everything, everything, everything. Lot of great songs, "La Adelita" is a beautiful love song

Studs Terkel -- "Adelita"

Carlos Fuentes "La Valentina," they're great love songs, of course, because the revolution, I insist was that. It was an act of love. It was an act of hate. It was an act of recognition finally, and what expresses this best than a beautiful song, of

Studs Terkel I'm thinking as you say this

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel Also the differences of people, there are Indians. There are Indians of various groups and tribes. And there are people of Spanish ancestry. Was there a line of demarcation?

Carlos Fuentes No,

Studs Terkel Status

Carlos Fuentes You, you take a look at the army of Pancho Villa, "The Golden Ones," "Los Dorados" they were called.

Studs Terkel Is that what they called, "The Golden Ones"?

Carlos Fuentes "Los

Studs Terkel What is it in Spanish?

Carlos Fuentes "Los Dorados. De Villa." "Los Dorados de Villa." Really there you had the grimy, barefoot soldiers from the sierra, from the pact of sierras of Chihuahua and Durango, next to a novelist like Martin Luis Guzman, one of the great Mexican novelists, next to an officer, graduated from the Academie Militaire de Saint-Cyr, Felipe Angeles was a field commander for Villa, next to Ezequiel Padilla, who was the foreign minister of Mexico and a brilliant lawyer, you had a total mixture. You see, it was a revolution of all the classes that had been postponed by the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, and this included the peasantry and the workers and the middle class and even the upcoming bourgeoisie. They were all in the same movement, much the same that happened in the French Revolution.

Studs Terkel And so, it was a gathering of all -- by the way, Diaz came in, after the betrayal and defeat of Zapata. No! Oh, before

Carlos Fuentes -- No,

Studs Terkel No, Zapata knocked off Diaz!

Carlos Fuentes The succession is Juarez, and then Diaz, the dictatorship of Diaz

Studs Terkel Then Zapata.

Carlos Fuentes Then Madero, who makes the revolution and he's murdered by the usurper, Huerta

Studs Terkel Huerta.

Carlos Fuentes And then everybody allies against him. That is, Villa, Zapata, and Obregon and Carranza, and once the revolutionary forces have ousted Huerta in 1915, then they divide and fight amongst each other. Basically, what they're fighting about is a centralist conception of government, which is that of the bourgeois revolution of Mexico, very French, very Spanish, and the centralized revolution headed by Carranza and the local revolution fighting for the autonomy of the people in the villages, in the regions according to their needs, which is the revolution of Villa and Zapata, the peasant

Studs Terkel Oh, so Zapata via revolution, or for the feeling of regional autonomy.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, yes, they were fighting very much for this, whereas the men who won, the Carrancistas, were really fighting for a centralized states,

Studs Terkel And then came, with Carranza came something else. And then eventually

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel In, when Lazaro Cardenas came

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel That was in '30s.

Carlos Fuentes That was in '30s, yes.

Studs Terkel So that, it was then in a form another kind

Carlos Fuentes Well, Cardenas, Cardenas really furnished the Mexican house so that the capitalist class could finally take over. And that it created a new problem, which is the problem of modern Mexico.

Studs Terkel You know, I'm thinking this is, this a freewheeling conversation, and we're getting a feeling about Mexico, an informal history through

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel The gifted novelist, my guest Carlos Fuen-Fuetes, and at a future date we will talk about his novels. So I'm thinking, soon as talk of music and so you mentioned Indians, the Indian, course there are various Indians, there's a singer whom I once heard. In fact, she was a guest on this program, Amalia Mendoza called La Turiaca.

Carlos Fuentes La

Studs Terkel La Tariacuri is an Indian

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Tribe.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, it's an Indian group, an Indian people, yes. From central Mexico, from the state

Studs Terkel Now, in hearing her, you realize there's a big Spanish migration to America

Carlos Fuentes I know,

Studs Terkel And the effort in Chicago, and so in some communities, the people living there and the work is very hard when they find work and difficult. But it's a great moment on a Friday, Saturday night at some of these theaters, less now, when a singer, an artist comes from the old country. And even though the money is very little, it's spent to see it, and it's like home. And when I was there one night [laughing] and Amalia Mendoza was singing, I'll ask you about this song, she was crying, you know, and everybody's crying, and she sang, and it was very moving. I was terribly moved myself, not understanding a word, yet I knew what was happening. Let's hear her voice, this is called "Mea Culpa," this song, "I Feel Guilty," well, you'll tell me about it.

Carlos Fuentes I

Studs Terkel After we hear her. This is La Tariacuri.

Amalia Mendoza ["Echame a Mi La Culpa."]

Studs Terkel I was thinking, and in hearing this, thoughts come to your mind, of what, what was she saying and singing, and your feelings in hearing this?

Carlos Fuentes No, I think this is very, a very adulterated song. She has a wonderful voice. She's a great singer, but the poetry is totally bastard poetry derived from romantic poetry. Nobody in the Mexican people would ever say, "And let a cloud of," "And let the memory of my, a cloud, the cloud of my memory sweep you away." This is just too recherche, it's too kitsch. Nobody would say this, no, no true Mexican of the people would say this. This is the bad romantic poetry of the 19th century, adapted by pop composers and sung by the great voice of La Tariacuri. [laughing]

Studs Terkel That's

Carlos Fuentes It's part of pop culture.

Studs Terkel Let's talk about, that's terribly important, what you just said here, how something can be vulgarized but it's beautiful, through a good artist!

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel You see.

Carlos Fuentes But of course, of course!

Studs Terkel Let's resume, let's resume, let's resume this conversation after this pause. My guest is Carlos Fuentes, and this is just the first of a number of programs I hope to have with him and the others after I have read his novels. This very exciting when I gather, I know there are people whom I respect very much who've read them, I also know of his feelings, too, his, and The Death of Artemio Cruz is one that has been highly acclaimed, indeed, and it tells us of, not about, more than about Mexico, about the human condition as indeed four or five of his other books as well. But in a moment we'll resume with his informal thoughts and feelings formerly expressed after this message. [pause in recording] Coming back, Mr. Fuentes, Carlos Fuentes, to the idea of Mendoza, this marvelous singer, but what happens to, to people's feelings and thoughts through a, a pop, you know, something pushed forward that is not exactly right or true. This is

Carlos Fuentes Well, it happen, it happens all over the world. You have the universal bastardization of great poetry by pop culture. It happens in lyrics of a song sung by Frank Sinatra. It happens in Mexico all the time, you know, these very romantic poets of the end of the century become the furnishers really of, of lyrics for the boleros and the rancheras

Studs Terkel I want to ask you a big question, Carlos Fuentes. You came from a, a diplomat, doctor. I, I take it you're upper-middle-class then.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel In a sense. Why didn't you become something else as far as your thoughts? How come you came to be this questioner, this socially conscious guy? You could have lived a -- so the influences in your life that played a role here. Because you could have lived a good, you could have been a big landowner,

Carlos Fuentes

Studs Terkel you No, Or you could have -- big something. But wholly not too concerned.

Carlos Fuentes No, I was destined to be a lawyer and a diplomat. In a way, I was a lawyer and a diplomat in spite of myself because this is what you were supposed to be in Mexico when you didn't have a very precise vocation, respectable vocation I mean, like being an engineer or a doctor. And I wanted to be a writer, and everybody looked at me and stared at me and said, "But you're going to die of hunger, young man. Uh? You must be something else. Be a lawyer." So I studied law in order to become a writer. That was always my purpose. And you know Stendhal once said that the best way to learn how to write a novel was to study the French Civil Code, the Code Napoleon, and he was right. Law teaches you a lot about writing, about writing novels, about structuring them well. So I'm now, I'm grateful for my studies in diplomacy and international law.

Studs Terkel So law played a role in the way as far as

Carlos Fuentes An enormous role, enormous role, that played a pretty great role. The United States played a great role, the fact that I grew up in this country, had a lot to do with my affirmation and my identity as a Mexican. We were talking of Cardenas a while ago. As a child, I went to school in Washington, D. C. for eight years. I was raised

Studs Terkel -- Your father

Carlos Fuentes My father was made a Minister Counselor of the Embassy, and the children liked me, I was very well-liked. I was very popular. I sang songs, I danced, I wrote, I did drawings, et cetera. And then one day there were these blaring headlines in the American press, "President Cardenas expropriates our oil wells. Mexican communists take over our oil." That day, I got the cold shoulder at school. People would not say "Hello" to me anymore. They would turn their back on me. I was a suspectful character, and I said, "Yes, it's good this happened because this makes me realize I am a Mexican, I have a certain identity, and this identity I want to express through writing and through a language, the Spanish language, very much." So that had a lot to do with me, and also the fact that I did not live in my country until I was 15 or 16 years old, and when I arrived there, I knew I was a Mexican, I had created a certain image of Mexico in my head, arrived and saw the reality, and saw it with a perspective that perhaps no other writer of my generation quite had. I could see it from the outside, and I could see the whole post-revolutionary reality of Mexico and then write about it at that time. The only novels being written in Mexico were novels about the revolution in its armed phase, about the peasants, about the Indians, but not about the results of the revolution, which created an industrialized modern bourgeois society and a great capital, a bustling capital full of contradictions, the city of Mexico. This I took as my province a bit and wrote a few novels about it, and I was the first one to do it, and they were very successful.

Studs Terkel Now as you're talking, as you say, I was listening to you, and I'm thinking Mexico today, the city, Mexico City, one of the largest in the world, so something is happening. You spoke of in a highly industrialized, see we still think of Mexico, that, the image, most Americans including myself, the stereotype. You know, the rural communities, the Mexico that was described by Cortez to Charles the Fifth

Carlos Fuentes But this is the fascination and the contradiction of Mexico, that you have people living in the Stone Age next to people living in the 21st century. With highly advanced technology and then people who are still howing the land with stones. With flintstones.

Studs Terkel So we're talking about a

Carlos Fuentes A multi-leveraged society, a multicultural society. That's what we're talking about, a very contradictory and complex society. And this has to be made clear also to the United States, because sometimes American policymakers tend to be very simplistic about foreign countries. And this is dangerous in the case of Mexico which after all is a, is a -- the border with United States. You were talking the last time we met, you talked about the old country, talking about La Tariacuri, coming to sing the songs of the old country which is of course the expression of immigration from across the ocean into the United States. But now you have the very peculiar situation of an immigration that doesn't come from an old country, it's a new country, and it's a border country with the United States. It's right across the border, and the culture is very powerful, the language is very powerful. Perhaps this is the great test for the famous American melting pot, cause now it has to coexist with a culture which will not be totally integrated into English, into the United States, but which exists on its own right, right across the border. Well, suddenly you have Saudi Arabia around, across the Rio Grande well.

Studs Terkel You know, you really bring up a very fascinating point. Tell you why, because the American Indian, who was put down by the, by the invaders, the whites, the pilgrims and those who followed, always want, even now I speak to Indian spokesman of people, you know, and these people do not want to be part of a melting pot, that as we know it, you see. In fact, some Indian leaders, they were enlightened people, didn't want to be part of the civil rights revolution. That is, they're saying we respect them, but we are, have our own culture. Now you have another culture, I say on the border of the United States, and right now there's a tremendous hunger for jobs. The reasons coming, isn't because a, a love of the United States or its, oh, it's so great, it's need for work. Work.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel So you have the illegals and have

Carlos Fuentes The indocu-- we call them indocumented. Not illegals.

Studs Terkel Yeah, that's good, that's, well it's a better phrase, of course. Illegals by who

Carlos Fuentes Well they, they, they sometimes you know our, our, our undocumented workers say, "We're not illegals. We're coming back to land that was ours. Probably the Americans are the illegals here, not us."

Studs Terkel Well that, well that's a good case. There's a good case there, isn't there?

Carlos Fuentes The American Indians could say the same.

Studs Terkel Oh, the American Indians have said the same, and do say it's the same. [laughing] Well, I'm coming to, to the matter of the hunger.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel And the right -- there's one, the, the, the minister of immigration named Leon Castillo.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Is very

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel And he says, you know, at this moment, you have the farm workers of Cesar Chavez, a great many of whom are Latinos, now this, and he's, "We must enforce the act for the undocumented must be taken back because they used by the growers to cut down the wages of the others." So you have

Carlos Fuentes No, no, no, that is not true, as we know very well, they do jobs nobody else will do in this country. Nobody else would do it. And if they didn't do it, you would have greater inflation, lots of problems. The Mexican workers are solving problems for the American economy. They are not creating problems for the American economy. Furthermore, they are acting an absolutely natural movement in labor relations, in working relations throughout the world, which is the movement from the south to the north. This happens, as you know, from the south of Europe to the north of Europe, and it's perfectly natural. It happens all the time, and they're treated as human beings, not as dogs. They have human rights. Furthermore, I think that migration from a poor country to a rich country never hurt either the poor country or the rich country, it helped them both. Sweden, as you know, was one of the most downcast countries in Europe in the 19th century and Ireland, the two, I'm talking now of migrants who came to this country in the 19th century from Sweden, notably, from Ireland, and solved the problem of Sweden and the problem of the United States. I think eventually the Mexican workers will also do that, they will solve the problem of Mexico, and they will solve the problem of the United States, because they do not take jobs away from anybody. They get no social services, they pay taxes. They're not gypping anybody. They are, they are decent workers who should be treated as

Studs Terkel Of course, the, the point I was making about, about Chavez

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel Is that, how the employers

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel He's implying use people who are not members of the union, who wouldn't try to organize, use them to put down because of the great need for work.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel You're saying of course a much more -- you make a much more profound point that people are doing the work that no one else ever does. I suppose these are the guest workers of Western Europe.

Carlos Fuentes But this is the problem

Studs Terkel -- Yugoslavs

Carlos Fuentes This is what should be created

Studs Terkel The Greeks in Sweden,

Carlos Fuentes This is what -- it's, it's, I don't, I don't think the old bracero, the old wet -- bracero convention of the '40s and '50s should be picked up again. I think what, it's a real program of gastarbeiter, of, of guest workers, such as exists between Germany and Italy and France and Portugal and Yugoslavia and Sweden. What we should have between the United States and Mexico in a very rational basis, in a very humane and rational basis.

Studs Terkel The only question is

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Well, the exploitation of them by employ-- that's the big question, you see, that comes up, you know, because of the tremendous need.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel And the fears by the nature of immigration laws that perhaps should be altered and changed, you see.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel That's the point, you know. The being exploited.

Carlos Fuentes Well, American laws should adapt to this new situation as it adapted to immigration from

Studs Terkel That's an interesting analogy you, you're, you're painting, that in the 19th century, and you know, late in the 19th, early, the people coming from European countries.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel And indeed, of course, this is what you're talking about, aren't you? [pause in recording] Let's have another song!

Carlos Fuentes Let's have another song!

Studs Terkel All right!

Carlos Fuentes From time to

Studs Terkel This is one, General-- another song from the Revolution, General Felipe, well you hear, you tell me about it, we'll hear it. Cynthia Gooding sings this song. Felipe Angeles.

Carlos Fuentes Oh, he is the man from Saint-Cyr.

Studs Terkel Where is Saint-Cyr?

Carlos Fuentes Saint-Cyr is the military academy in France. He was a graduate, a general, graduated from the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr, a great artilleryman, who was the field commander for Pancho

Studs Terkel Oh, for Pancho Villa. That's where Ambrose Bierce went, didn't

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Ambrose

Carlos Fuentes We'll tell, we'll talk about the death of Ambrose Bierce.

Studs Terkel Oh, you -- oh, let's hear, let's hear the song and then hear -- oh, you know about Ambrose

Carlos Fuentes Oh,

Studs Terkel Oh goo - you can enlighten us, because that's the great mystery.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Okay. So we'll hear the song about guerra General Felipe

Carlos Fuentes Felipe Angeles. Philip of the Angels. Very beautiful name.

Singer 2 [music ["General

Studs Terkel So listening to this song, you heard some of the words of the song.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Listen, this is again a, this is a corrida.

Carlos Fuentes This is a corrido

Studs Terkel This is a story told.

Carlos Fuentes This is informing of the death of, the execution of General Felipe Angeles, the field commander for Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. Yes.

Studs Terkel Since you mentioned Pancho Villa in the 1910 and Zapata, we think of a certain American writer, wrote about the Civil War, [unintelligible], the mystery writer

Carlos Fuentes Ambrose Bierce, yes.

Studs Terkel Known as "Bitter" Bierce, and he, he went, we're told he went to fight with Pancho Villa.

Carlos Fuentes You know, Bierce in 1914 I guess it was, had a streak of bad luck. His wife died. His children died, one committed suicide, another died of a serious illness, and he was full of despair, living in San Francisco at the time, writing the papers, and he was on the verge of suicide, of committing suicide. It seems that he said, "No, I can't commit suicide, it is against my Christian conscience. How can I commit suicide without committing suicide?" This was 1914, he said, "Ah! To be a gringo in Mexico right now is a form of committing suicide without committing suicide." So he went and joined the army of Pancho Villa, and according to things that Villa himself has told his chroniclers, his biographers like Martin Luis Guzman, this strange, lanky gringo who looked like an old Gary Cooper, you know, with blazing blue eyes, very tall, very leathery, handsome white hair, appeared on the scene in order to provoke Villa and his terrible lieutenants, General Fierro and his other, and the other generals of Villa, to provoke them with macho attitudes, and so finally, they responded in kind and shot Ambrose Bierce.

Studs Terkel That's the story.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, it is told also by the widow of Pancho Villa, who must be a good source of information.

Studs Terkel That's it, so that's how, he's, he actually invited his death.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, he invited

Studs Terkel I thought he, the impression, the romantic impression he came there to fight on behalf of the

Carlos Fuentes Oh, no, no, no, it seems he was looking for his death. It was a death wish that took him to join the ranks of the Dorados of Pancho Villa. Yes.

Studs Terkel So thinking of yourself, and because this is highly informal, and, and Mexico today the, what, what every, every society problem, the big problem aside from I suppose work anyway, problems, what are the challenges, the challenges, I should say?

Carlos Fuentes The basic challenge Studs is, I think, one that is important for the Third World and it is important for the industrialized world, and it is the growing collective consciousness in a country like Mexico that we have to create our own model for development. That no imported model will suffice, will do any more. That we have to know ourselves, know our history, know our psychology, know our past, know our spirit, in order to create a viable model for the development that will depend on our own experience. The models Latin America has imported from abroad have failed, whether they be capitalist or communist models. They failed quite miserably. So I think that Mexico is a, a country very much in the vanguard because it had a very authentic revolution which permitted it to know itself. This revolution created a very contradictory society. This society now houses an enormous resource in its hands which is oil, when oil is becoming a rapidly disappearing resource in the end of the 20th century. So I think we have this possibility to create perhaps a better society or more harmonious society if we are loyal to ourselves and loyal to what we are and don't go about playing monkey. Then, if we're capable of this, I think we will eventually solve the tremendous problems we have of overpopulation, of underemployment, of corruption, of injust distribution of wealth. It all depends on how the money from oil will be used, how it will be channeled, for what uses. A lot of people in Mexico say, "Oh, the state is a spendthrift, and it's a bad organizer and it should go back to the hands of private enterprise." But I recall that private enterprise had the monopoly of oil in Mexico before the expropriation. It was in the hands of foreign companies, and they deplenished the resources. They exhausted the wells in 15 years. There was nothing left, nothing but salt water, besides the humiliation they imposed on Mexicans. As you know, the foreign, the managers of the foreign oil companies would never receive a Mexican employee facing him. They would turned their backs first and then admit him and only talk to him giving him their backs. This is something we don't want to happen again, so our best chance is for the Mexican states to organize this in the best possible way. The workers of Pemex, of the oil monopoly, in contrast to what happened with the oil companies, have hospitals. They have Social Security, they have education, a business model that which I think can be extended more and more to Mexican society as our revenue from oil increases to what we consider an ideal of about eight billion dollars in 1982. No more than that, because Mexico doesn't want to be Iran, it doesn't want to be Saudi Arabia, it doesn't want, doesn't want to go through a process of, well, shall we call it "Abu

Studs Terkel Mmm hmm. Ama -- that's in -- so, because just somehow there's a feeling that

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel That in going over and beyond that -- topples.

Carlos Fuentes Yes. Then, then you, then, then you're, then you're drowning in petrodollars and you don't know what to do with them. And you start investing in foreign real estate and buying hotels in Atlanta and movie lots in Los Angeles and drowning in inflation. And this is not what we want, because finally you end by buying armaments, like the Shah of Iran.

Studs Terkel End by barm, buying

Carlos Fuentes Yes. Finally you, you establish a barter system whereby you give oil and you get obsolete armaments, which is the way the Shah of Iran gypped the Persian people, yes.

Studs Terkel But is there, is there an awareness of this?

Carlos Fuentes A very great aware -- an enormous pop--

Studs Terkel You are, but I mean

Carlos Fuentes -- Oh, no, an enormous popular

Studs Terkel awareness. Thats

Carlos Fuentes An enormous popular awareness. I think President Carter felt it very much when he was in Mexico just by reading the walls in the city. The walls that said, "Mr. Carter, we will not change oil for peanuts," for example.

Studs Terkel Since you mentioned walls, perhaps the last we haven't thought about [aptly?]. The great Mexican art form

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel The rich [unintelligible] knew it of course naturally are the muralists.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Of Siqueiros, of Rivera, and of Orozco.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Right. And this is an original, this is originally a Mexican, I know there've been

Carlos Fuentes No.

Studs Terkel Murals, isn't it?

Carlos Fuentes No, no, no.

Studs Terkel I

Carlos Fuentes No, I, I, I think there's something to be cleared up, because they, they were very chauvinistic and very nationalistic in their stance and they said, "We are origin-originally the Mexican painters. We represent Mexican art, the Mexican spirit." This is not true, because after all Rivera would not exist without the Italian Renaissance, especially Paolo Uccello and Michelangelo. And Orozco would not exist without German Expressionism, and Siqueiros would not exist without Italian futurism. There is an element in Mexican art which predates the arrival of Europeans. Just very ancient, which is non-Western, and that is not in the, in the forms of the murals. The sense of space and time of the Indian world is totally absent, it's, it's a totally Western view of things in the muralists. I think really the only artist who has this is Tamayo.

Studs Terkel Tamayo.

Carlos Fuentes Tamayo has the calendar of the, of the soul of Mexico. He's talking about another history which predates the conquest. And if you see the great show of the Guggenheim in New York these days, you see the paintings of Tamayo accompanied by popular artifacts and by old pre-Hispanic sculptures and figurines, and the bond there is really striking. It's very, very great.

Studs Terkel That's an, that's an, see again the impression that is given, so you're, you're, so the muralists, the three celebrated ones

Carlos Fuentes -- Yes.

Studs Terkel Are Western-oriented.

Carlos Fuentes Oh, they're Western artists. They're Western artists, they're great artists, but they're Western artists, they can't go around saying they're, they're [unintelligible] Mexican.

Studs Terkel There's the pre-Columbian art, yeah.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel That you're talking about.

Carlos Fuentes Yes, which is totally different. If you see the pyramids and the friezes, et cetera, they have another sense of time and another sense of form, and another sense of space. Absolutely. There's nothing to do with Michelangelo.

Studs Terkel Carlos Fuentes. This is delightful talking with you. What is another -- may -- I'll find a record, maybe "Adelita."

Carlos Fuentes "Adelita."

Studs Terkel 'Cause

Carlos Fuentes "Adelita" is the name of a girl. Yes. It's like "Katie."

Studs Terkel And so it's also, even though it's a love song, it's It's a

Carlos Fuentes also It's a love song to a "soldadera." This is important, to a "soldadera" - camp follower. These camp followers who fought along with their men in the Revolution, had their babies, cooked their food, and even carried their ammunition and sometimes fired the rifles for them.

Studs Terkel So we'll, we'll end our conversation, perhaps hearing -- I will find that, end with "Adelita," any thoughts come to your -- many -- of course, next time, of course, your novels will be -- by the, here I'll ask this, you know, I'm thinking now, I'm -- there is a recurring, I assume there's a recurring flavor, theme to your novels, are there not?

Carlos Fuentes Yes, it's a theme of identity, of individual identity and national identity and the way they crisscross and fertilize themselves, the identity of my country, of Mexico, and the identity of individual Mexicans.

Studs Terkel I notice one in, I think it's The Death of Artemio Cruz, I looked but -- I'm gonna, I'm ly -- I'm confessing to the audience, I remember in the dedication is to C. Wright Mills.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel Which is interesting, we think of C. Wright Mills, the American sociologist who challenged the, oh he, he pin-pointed the power elite, you see. C. Wright representing, C. Wright Mills, who in a sense represented a, a feeling here, a deep feeling of people for a sense of power. A sense of

Carlos Fuentes He was a great man. He was a great American. I loved him very much.

Studs Terkel Did you know him?

Carlos Fuentes We were very good friends. Yes, yes. And he understood the problems of Latin America very well. But he was hunted at that time, the McCarthy period.

Studs Terkel I

Carlos Fuentes And he suffered greatly. He had broken.

Studs Terkel Did Mexico have a McCarthy period?

Carlos Fuentes No. Fortunately, Mex-- it was a haven for refugees from the McCarthy era in this country, Dalton Trumbo went down to Mexico

Studs Terkel Oh, I know, the Hollywood Ten and other

Carlos Fuentes Albert Maltz, many of the writers went down. Many people who could not get published in the United States were published by Mexican printing houses at the time. No, it was a haven against McCarthyism.

Studs Terkel No, I meant did Mexico itself have a, an internal, a Mexican McCarthy period?

Carlos Fuentes Not exactly. There was the time of the repression of Diaz Ordaz in 1968 during the student manifestations which led to the massac-massacre at the Plaza of Tlatelolco, not even then the, the, the editorial, the publishing houses and the writers were not really touched. And that is the worst moment we've had in the last 50 years.

Studs Terkel Well, aside from that, that's it, perhaps the last, that's the last thought perhaps, that Mexico has in a sense been a haven.

Carlos Fuentes It has, it has been a haven

Studs Terkel For dissenters.

Carlos Fuentes For dissenters, from Spain, from Republican Spain, Mexico

Studs Terkel That's right.

Carlos Fuentes Two hundred thousand Spanish Republicans after the fall of Spain to fascism, to Franco, it had never recognized Franco, it never maintained relations with Franco, and these people meant the -- they, they gave life to Mexican culture, the university, the publishing houses. They were magnificent new blood in Mexico. And today Mexico doesn't have relations with Pinochet, with the

Studs Terkel Oh, it doesn't, Mexico does not recognize

Carlos Fuentes No, we don't recognize Chile, we don't recognize Somoza, and we are the haven for Nicaraguan exiles, Chilean, Argentine, Uruguayan exiles, so Mexico has this old tradition, I hope we keep it up.

Studs Terkel So there is, and thank you very much

Carlos Fuentes -- Thank

Studs Terkel And we'll hear "Adelita," we'll say goodbye.

Carlos Fuentes Thank you.

Studs Terkel And the Spanish word for -- "libertad," I suppose? For freedom.

Carlos Fuentes That's

Studs Terkel Libertad and peace?

Carlos Fuentes Paz.

Studs Terkel Paz.

Carlos Fuentes Yes.

Studs Terkel That's about the ticket, isn't

Carlos Fuentes Paz y libertad.

Studs Terkel What else do we want then?

Carlos Fuentes Paz

Studs Terkel Paz and libertad.

Carlos Fuentes Y mucho

Studs Terkel Y mucho amor

Carlos Fuentes Lots of love.

Studs Terkel Lots of love mean-- oh, mucho amor.

Carlos Fuentes Mucho amor.

Studs Terkel Oh, okay. Thank you very much.

Carlos Fuentes Thank you.

Singer 3 ["Adelita."]