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Praxedis Guerrero: early revolutionary; revolution is beautiful.


No more beautiful definition of revolution was ever penned than that of Praxedis Guerrero, whose youthful death, seventy-five years ago this month, in the dawn of the Mexican Revolution, was a major loss to Mexico and the world.

He lived revolution and he died it in his brief span of years; and, given the chance to relive his life, he'd probably have opted for the same. To him revolution was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It is the price one pays--and gladly--to attain that highest of all ideals, human freedom. If one chances to lose one's own little personal life in the noble struggle of cleansing renewal, it is not too tall a price to pay.

He went joyfully to the fight, telling his closest friends and the woman in his life that he had a strong feeling that he'd not be back. He was right--dying in late 1910 at age 28, leading a speahead of daredevils aimed at Dictator Diaz's decadent heart, dying by the hand of one of his own men who had joined the Revolution not for what he could give it but for what he could get out of it--the kind of person who won that revolution, one regretfully reflects. Yet so lofty was Guerrero's ideal of freedom, and so firm was his faith that it is humanly possible to attain it, that he could not have shirked his duties to the race and the future.

Guerrero, born into a patrician family, wondered early why he had so much while workers' children had so little. He spurned his hacienda inheritance, and spent his scant allotment of years struggling to uplift the lean and hungry lives of the humble and the hapless. National hero Ricardo Flores Magon, publisher of the Spanish-language, California-based weekly for which "Prax" worked, lovingly called him his aristocratic peon.

Praxedis was a complex, many-faceted gem--a charismatic man of action, deep thinker, visionary, wrangler, sawyer, mechanic, railwayman, organizer of miners, as open as children (who instinctively loved him) but with an otherworldly mystical side, classically educated but able to pass as a humble trader when on dangerous spy missions in Dictator Diaz's Mexico, a writer of blood-'n-guts agitprop or scintillating prose poems like "Escuchad!" (Listen), which originally appeared in ricardo Flores Magon's Regeneracion.

This moving paean to freedom was written a few months before his heavy date with destiny. Tough revolutionist Fernando Palomarez shamelessly admitted that he wept when he read this beautiful prose-poem:

Do you hear it? It is the wind that stirs the leaves of the forest primeval, the breath of the future that wakes the still and slumberous bushes. It is the first sigh of the virgin forest as it receives an impulsive kiss on its demure brow from Aeolus.

Do you hear it? It is the wind that claws an invisible mantle in the twistings and turnings of the sleeping mountain, the thrust of the idea that activates the limbs of the masses, a wilderness of souls. It is the awakening gust that sets the oaks to trembling, the opening blast of the hurricane that sweeps from hill and dale the confounding fog of sterile resignation.

The warm and fruitful breeze permeates the forest; each leaf it touches becomes a new voice; each branch that moves is an arm that takes up a weapon--a voice that joins the heroic chorus hailing the morrow of liberation, an arm that stretches forth to seek out the tyrant's heart.

It is the breath of Revolution!

Do you feel it? It is the vibration of divine hammers pounding in the depths of the earth. It is Life bursting forth from the dark vortex to shiver Death's lair where grim ghouls rule.

It is the thrust of the Revolution.
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Title Annotation:Mexico
Author:Devis, Rey
Publication:Monthly Review
Article Type:Biography
Date:Dec 1, 1985
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