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however, has forced every planter to sell his product to the Reguladora, which then determines at what price the hemp shall be sold to the American manufacturers, who make it into binder twine. Of course the commis. sion of leading planters which ostensibly directs the Reguladora, as it is commonly called, is only a stalking-horse for the Governor. By means of this device Alvarado has acquired the money, and therefore the power, to put into effect his ideas of social reform, which constitute one of the most remarkable bodies of political measures ever tried anywhere in the history of the world. With the financial sinews derived from the sale of henequen in the United States Alvarado, who has barred Carranza's national money from the State, has been able to keep his State currency almost at its face value of two to one—that is, two pesos for one Amer ican dollar. On the other hand, Carranza's successive issues have dropped almost to worthlessness—a course his latest issue is rapidly following, it would seem, for it is at more than sixty to one as this is written.
To begin with, Alvarado turned his attention to the Church. Yucatan has never been as “religious " as the other States of Mexico. For instance, Merida, a city of eighty thousand and the capital of Yucatan, has never had more than twelve churches, whereas, for instance, Puebla, with a population of ninety-five thousand, has more than sixty churches. But in Yucatan, as in most of Mexico, the Church had become to some degree corrupt and had meddled in politics.
To say this is not to criticise the Catholic Church in general. Placed as that Church is in Mexico, with virtually no competitors and with the great bulk of the people as its adherents, any other church would have been guilty to some degree of the same abuses that have stained the history of the Catholic Church. In an article published recently in The Outlook the Archbishop of Yucatan declared that the Church in that State has not meddled in politics. But such was not the testimony of many fair-minded Yucatecans with whom I talked, themselves Catholics. When Alvarado was advancing through the country in his campaign against Arguemedo, the priests, as the Aztec priests did in ancient wars, openly exhorted the people against the man who was coming to punish the usurper. It was not strange, then, that they were among the first to feel his wrath.
Two years ago there were more than a
hundred priests and many nuns in Merida alone. To-day there are five priests and no nuns in the whole State. To-day religious services are held in only four churches in the State, and those are in Merida. Priests, nuns, and Archbishop have fled, and nunneries, convents, monasteries, and churches have been bought or confiscated by the State. As a rule, the Governor paid for these properties, but at that time depreciated Carranza money was the legal tender of the State, and the young social reformer of thirty-six told me with a chuckle how he acquired properties worth three hundred thousand dollars for a few thousand dollars gold.
'If some fair-minded observers in Yucatan to-day are shocked at some things the Governor has done to the Church, they are forced to praise what this despot has done in other directions.
In Yucatan there are four hundred henequen ranches. These ranches vary in extent from a few hundred to seven thousand acres. and employ from twenty to several hundred laborers. Each ranch is a separate community, and the haciendas are practically the subsidiary governmental divisions of Yucatan. If the peons are to get education, they must get it on the ranch, for to leave the ranch often means a walk of several miles.
Before Alvarado came into power every hacienda had its chapel, but only eleven had schools. To-day all the hacienda chapels are closed, but every ranch has a public school for the children of the laborers, and the larger ranches often have several schools. Including the town and city schools, there have been founded by Governor Alvarado in the eighteen months that he has been in power no less than eleven hundred public schools. And this by the same man who has closed the churches.
In fact, in the great need of getting buildings and equipment for the schools churches have often been utilized for this purpose. In the same way churches have been used for other practical purposes.
The Governor's favorite hobby is the improvement of the conditions of the lower classes, especially of the laboring classes. He has helped labor to get its just deserts, but he has prevented it from getting more than its fair share of the profits of industry, and for this reason he is as unpopular with some labor leaders as he is with the millionaire henequen planters who are forced to sell their henequen to the State at the State's price. But the common laborer loves Alvarado for what the
Governor has done for the common laborer. Indeed, such an effect has already been He has put an end to peonage, that form of felt, and many citizens who approve most of debt slavery little less injurious to society than Alvarado's acts condemn him for his harshness chattel slavery. He has established the toward the Church. But in general, aside eight-hour day in all industries. He has from this wanton destruction, the average established compulsory arbitration for dis- male Yucatecan with whom I talked seemed putes between capital and labor.
to feel that the Church got only " what was Even the bitter enemies of the Governor coming to it.” If a priest enters politics, he who are honest and intelligent praise him for can at best expect only to exchange the establishing prohibition, or “beer temper- respect which he may command as a spiritual ance,” in the State. On many street corners leader for the temporal power of the successin Merida are buildings labeled Salón Cerveza ful ward boss. And if his party is defeated, (beer saloon). But since Alvarado came out he has no right to expect that the fact of his of the north all drinks stronger than beer priesthood will save him from the fate meted have been taboo, and Yucatan society has to all defeated politicians in Mexico. profited thereby.
To-day the churches of Yucatan are being No doubt many people in the United States used more materially than spiritually. For associate disrespect for formal established re- instance, in the rural districts the niost common ligion with intemperance and all kinds of im- use made of them is as schools. In Merida moral traits, and think that in a character in one is used as a club-house by the Masons, which the first is shown the others must lurk. who backed the revolution of Carranza and These people would be surprised if they went are now enjoying the fruits of victory; another to Yucatan. The same Governor who has houses a students' club, another is the headclosed the churches has closed the hard-liquor quarters of the Bricklayers' Union, a fourth saloons. In fact, in his judgment of their is a storehouse for the alcoholic liquors coneffect on the character of the people he places fiscated in the enforcement of the new temthe two institutions in the same category. perance law, a fifth has been torn down to
But explanation is required here. Four make room for a park for the people, while churches, one in each of the four principal the impressive and lofty Cathedral is filled with quarters of the city, are permitted to hold canned meats and vegetables imported against services. And the Governor has promised a siege which was expected from the Americans that these churches will have his protection during the war scare which followed the fight so long as the attention of their priests is at Carrizal in June. The Bishop's palace, directed solely to “ saving souls ” and not to adjoining the Cathedral, is being renovated directing the affairs of State. A freethinker and remade into the Palace of Art, where the himself, Alvarado declares that others may boys and girls of Merida may study sculpture, think and worship as they please so long as music, and painting! And connecting the Palthey do not interfere with his government. ace and the Cathedral an arch has been built,
The most flagrant injuries which the called the Arch of the Revolution, to commemChurch has suffered have been dealt by the orate the victories of Alvarado and Carranza. people, not by the Governor directly. Still The rationalist, freethinker, or whatever he he admits that his preachings were the peo- chooses to call himself-in short, the person ple's inspiration when, more than a year ago, who accepts no established religion and who a meeting of labor unions adjourned to go hopes eventually for the abandonment of from church to church tearing idols from all churches and fixed creeds, and the substitheir niches, burning those which would burn, tution of schools and flexible philosophiesand strewing church floors with the fragments will think he has found the millennium if he of others. Now the average religious image goes to Merida to-day. in Mexico is not a work of art. But among And the surprising thing is that the people those destroyed in this debauch of prejudice are doing very little worrying about the loss were some historical treasures. To deprive of their churches. In Mexico the women civilization of such relics is as unpardonable as have always been the mainstay of the Church, the act of the first Spanish Bishop in Yucatan, and in Merida most of the complaints against who destroyed the priceless records of the old the Governor for his Church policy come from Indian civilization. And of course the ulti- women. It might be thought that the sudden mate effect of such senseless destruction is reduction of the number of churches from to hamper honest and intelligent reform. twelve to four in a city of eighty thousand
GENERAL SALVADOR ALVARADO, GOVERNOR OF YUCATAN, AT A NATIVE FIESTA The costumes worn by the women on each side of the Governor are the distinctive dress, called the hipil, of the
mestizo and Indian women. Note the elaborate embroidery
would mean the overcrowding of the four. Yucatan, and most of the men in prison are But I attended all of them, and found only one natives of other States. There are few begfilled. Certainly the Yucatecans are less gars, almost no starvation, a great deal of “religious” than other Mexicans.
prosperity, little dirt, little disease except They are less religious in the formal sense some tuberculosis and the ever-present but of the word. But in the true sense of the now limited amount of yellow fever. There word, in its spiritual sense, they are as relig- are few soldiers. The only ones in the State ious as any class of people in Mexico. They were brought from the north by Alvarado, are more serious than the natives of central and it is a fact that in Yucatan there are fewer and northern Mexico, more intelligent, and soldiers than school teachers ! have more self-respect. They are a people Such is the land where and such the people who laugh little, but who smile a great deal. among whom Salvador Alvaras has been trying
Indeed, a land of smiles and sunshine is to create a Utopia. On the whole, for a human Yucatan. Merida, one of the most beautiful being, he has done mighty well. That he is cities of Mexico, is admittedly the cleanest. just according to his lights is indicated by the Its seventy-two miles of asphalt pavement enemies he has made. His greatest enemies are well washed. The prevailing white and are the millionaire henequen planters whose light-blue color scheme of the houses reflects handsome city homes line both sides of the the dazzling sun with a brilliancy which can Paseo de Montejo, the most beautiful street be viewed serenely only through smoked in Mexico east or south of the country's glasses. The city has an Oriental look, de capital. Even under former despots they rived partly from the quasi-minarets on some enjoyed the prerogatives of privileged baroof the churches and public buildings, and nial vassals of the crown, but Alvarado has partly from the dress of the lower classes. cut into their profits to improve the lot of The women wear the hipil, a one-piece dress the common man and of the State. The hanging from shoulders to ankles without a Governor also enjoys the hatred of certain girdle, and decorated with beautiful hand labor leaders who, when they found that the embroidery even when the wearer is a cham- wings of the capitalists were being clipped, bermaid. Some of the workmen wear tried themselves to soar to unwonted heights around their heads a sort of tight bag, of power, only to find to their sorrow that called the pita, which falls in a loose fold there is only one god on Olympus in Yucadown their backs, and from the waist to the tan and his name is Alvarado. knees over the white cloth trousers of the The narration of the full list of the Govcountry they wear an apron called the delan- ernor's reforms and plans for reform would tare. Thus attired they look as Egyptian as fill an entire issue of The Outlook. He is if they had just stepped from a bas-relief. planning eventual Government ownership of
These people understand the art of living all public utilities. At present his GovernFew cities have so many happy-looking per- ment operates two steamers under charter sons to the thousand as Merida. To look at between New Orleans and Progreso, and these Indians of the lower classes in their operates all the railways in the State, allowhomes, at work, or on the streets sometimes ing the owners dividends up to fourteen per makes you wonder if our civilization is worth cent of the profits. A huge plant for the while. A beautiful, shy people they are, manufacture of sacking from sisal hemp is temperate, clean, and, by Mexican standards, under construction by the Government. With industrious. Even the traveling salesmen $6,000,000 representing the profits on the lolling about the patios of the hotels seem to sale of henequen over and above each have more soul and less paunch than the planter's share, a State bank has just been “ drummers” of St. Louis or Pittsburgh. founded which will lend money to the planters.
'That the Yucatecans are not cowards their B ut Alvarado has shown his keenness by history proves, but, although some of their centering his efforts on the removal of the Indians have been fighting the Government evils which are the principal ills of all Mexico of Mexico for several generations, most of lack of education by the masses, unfair apthem care little for soldiering. When angry, portionment of land, and abuses of temporal they think first of their fists, as we Americans power by the Church. do-not, like most Mexicans, of their knives. We have glanced at his handling of the
In fact, Yucatan is full of contrasts with Church and school problems, and found the the rest of Mexico. There is little crime in first, on the whole, good, although too harsh
PHOTOGRAPH BY GREGORY MASON
A PRIVATE MOTOR CAR USED BY PLANTERS ON THE RAILWAYS OF YUCATAN The car is used on the railway tracks instead of on the highways, which are suitable only for mules and burros at times, and the second entirely good. He What sort of man is he who dares to try has done less to remedy the faults of the land to establish his conception of Utopia in this system than to improve the system of educa- seat of ancient civilization where the marks tion; nevertheless, what he has done with the of the impermanency of man and his instituland is interesting.
tions are on every side ? A ferocious man, Up to the time when I left Yucatan (about a hangman, a wineglass-eater, and a lover of the first of October) in five towns the Gov- gun play of the common Mexican type, the ernor had distributed about three hundred newcomer to Yucatan is led to believe by and fifty lots of land of fifty acres each. some advance reports. But imagine that That is to day, three hundred and fifty land- newcomer's surprise when he finds instead a less persons, many of them just freed from solid man of medium height, neat but not peonage, were given fifty acres of land apiece dapper, with a quick smile never far from by the Government. This land was all un- his lips and a slow one always in his eyes. cultivated ; part of it belonged to the Govern- Alvarado looks no more like the common ment and part of it belonged to wealthy fire-eating type of Mexican general than he men from whom it was taken either because looks like a bishop. He looks a good deal they had not cultivated it or because they like the quiet business man that he was bewere “ enemies of the cause." Each person fore the Madero revolution. He looks more receiving such land was required to do a fixed like an inventor or some sort of experimenter amount of work on it annually. After a cer- in love with his work, for his manner is tain number of years, if he had done his ex- always animated and his eyes have a peculiar pected share of development, the land would way of resting on you softly, and at the same become his in fee.
time apparently looking beyond you at some Of course to give homesteads to three hun problem which is reflected on their owner's dred and fifty people out of the three hun- mind. dred thousand in the State is a small begin- Alvarado is an enthusiast, he is an inventor, ning, still it is a beginning, toward righting he is an experimenter, deeply interested in thegreatest wrong in Mexico-land monopoly. what he is doing. This is why even his