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henequen requires is to be cut. The plant by train-load and boat-load to the slavery of never grows so well as when the annual in- the henequen ranches of Yucatan. crement of new leaves is clipped like divi- The aristocrats who owned these haciendas dend coupons.

were not always directly to blame for this The henequen of Yucatan is grown on slavery. Often the system was adopted by nearly four hundred plantations or haciendas, their overseers, more or less without their ranging in size of cultivated area from a few knowledge. Still the haciendados were responhundred acres to seven thousand, and employ- sible, in the ultimate analysis, just as the ing from a score of men and women to several stockholders in an American railway are ultihundred. - About two hundred of these ha mately responsible for the policy of the railciendas are large ones, and they are owned way. by about seventy-five old Yucatecan families. These planters thought that it paid them These seventy-five families and their con: best to sell their product in the raw state to nections, who derive their great wealth American manufacturers rather than to make from the dividends on the green gold which it into twine in Yucatan. The greatest single are cut for them by the great mass of the buyer of the sisal hemp for years has been working classes of Yucatan, have intermar- the International Harvester Company. Two ried and have invested their money in other years ago this corporation and the Plymouth resources of the State until they form a vir- Cordage Company were buying about eighty tual oligarchy, subject nominally to the des- per cent of the miilion bales constituting about potic governors whom Yucatan has had, but the recent average annual output of the in reality usually appointing these governors “green gold mines ” of Yucatan. A bale is and within limits controlling Yucatan as firmly from 380 to 400 pounds in weight. as any oligarchy ever controlled any state in Believing that the individual planter was at history. Thanks to the geographical isola- a disadvantage in selling his product to buyers tion of Yucatan from the rest of Mexico and who were well organized, four years ago sevthanks to its independent wealth, this oli- eral of the henequenerus (henequen planters) garchy virtually ruled the State as an inde- decided to band together for co-operative sellpendent nation up to some time after the ing.

ing. The organization which they formed, downfall of Huerta. The members of this with the help of the State Legislature, was aristocracy of wealth were wont to leave called the Comision Reguladora del Mercado their plantations in charge of superintendents de Henequen, and in theory its members were to supervise the coupon-cutting from the about all the planters in Yucatan. Also in investment in the green gold while the own- theory the Reguladora acted as the repreers devoted most of their time to the limou- sentative of all the planters in determining sine life in Paris, London, and New York. the selling price of the heinp with the AmerOccasionally they would return for a few ican buyers. But in practice it never worked months to their handsome homes along the out so. The agents and brokers of the InPaseo de Montejo, that beautiful boulevard ternational Harvester Company and of the in Yucatan's beautiful capital, Merida, a city Plymouth Cordage Company and the other of seventy-five families of the best people buyers could always find enough planters —that is, the large landowners—and of willing to sell at the figure of the American seventy-five thousand other citizens.

corporations to frustrate the attempts of the Below this class is a small middle class, Reguladora to fulfill the function which its but seventy per cent or more of the people name implies, for the planters had insufficient of Yucatan belong to the lowest class, the capital to enable them to withhold selling the class of labor, and are entirely or largely henequen long enough to force the foreign Indian in blood. On the henequen ranches buyers to come up to the Reguladora's asking of the State are employed about twenty

price. thousand laborers. These men live with their Such was the condition of affairs when wives and children on the haciendas, which are Salvador Alvarado came to l'ucatan early virtually the subdivisions of the State, just as in 1915. Alvarado, with several thousand counties are the subdivisions of our States. soldiers, was sent by Carranza to oust GovOften the women and children help harvest ernor Arguemedo, who had installed himself the sisal. In the old days of the Diaz régime in the executive office by a shrewd coup d'état. there was a profitable trade in rounding up As a reward for the successful accomplishIndians in northern Mexico and shipping them ment of his mission Alvarado was himself

1916

THE GREEN GOLD OF YUCATAN

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It re

a

made Governor by Carranza. Now Alvarado 1038 cents, of which the planter now receives is an unusual Mexican, as most men who know 7 cents. That still leaves 338 cents between him admit, whether they agree with him or not. the selling price in this country and the plantHe is a natural social radical, heart, soul, and er's share. Of this 338 cents 1/4 cents goes bones. Finding himself more or less isolated out for freight between Progreso and New from the man who had appointed him, and York. There remain to be deducted charges in control of the only soldiers in Yucatan, he for marine insurance, warehouse insurance, proceeded to put into effect many reforms and dock labor as well as a commission for which had been advocated by Carranza and the bankers who financed the Reguladora. some others, which were part of Alvarado's It is difficult to estimate the exact total own private conception of the social millen- of these items, but there is left a small nium. But in order to do these things sum, perhaps more than a cent, perhaps money was necessary, and in Yucatan money less, on each pound of sisal still unaccounted is henequen. The obvious thing to do was for. This profit goes to the State of Yucato put himself in control of the henequen tan. The enemies of Governor Alvarado crop, and Alvarado did it.

say that this is his personal “rake-off.” As a machine to accomplish his ends he The Governor says that, in accordance found the Comision Reguladora del Mercado with the rules of the Reguladora, this profit de Henequen ready to hand. The Reguladora will be divided among the members of the had not been regulating, but when Alvarado Reguladora, which includes all the planters took hold of it it began to regulate very and himself. He said that this division quickly. The machinery had been failing would take place at the end of the first year because the planters had not been putting of the Reguladora's operations. This year their combined power behind it. Alvarado expired about the end of November. forced them to get behind it, and he bor- mains to be seen on December 6, as this rowed $10,000,000 from American bankers article goes to press, whether Alvarado will as working capital, whereupon the Reguladora keep his promise to divide. Most of the became as powerful and all-inclusive a piece planters have treated this promise as of trade-controlling machinery as the world joke. perhaps has ever seen.

Inasmuch as the Governor has raised the Every planter was forced to contract to price of henequen received by the planter from sell his henequen to the Reguladora for five 45/8 cents a pound to 7 cents, it may not at years by the simple expedient of forcibly pre- first be apparent why the Governor is very venting the shipment of all, sisal from Yuca- unpopular with the planters. One reason is tan which had not passed through the Com- that, while he has increased the amount which mission. The planters were forced to lend the planter gets, he has also greatly increased money to the State Government—which was the taxes which the planter must pay to the Alvarado—and were given bonds in the Regu- State ; and another reason is that he has exladora in return.

tracted forced loans from many of the plantSince Governor Alvarado established the ers, and otherwise dealt with them in an Government sisal monopoly the price of hemp arbitrary manner. In short, what he has to the American manufacturer has risen given to the planters with one hand he has greatly. In late November, 1915, when the taken away with the other. At the same monopoly was established securely, it was time he has established a minimum wage 658 cents a pound. By the end of 1915 it which they must pay their laborers, has had reached 73/8 cents, and now it is 1038 established an eight-hour day for all labor, cents. These figures are for New York. and has forced each planter to establish on The figures for other American ports vary his hacienda a school large enough to provide slightly. But do not fall into the error of for the education of all the children of that believing that the Yucatecan planter got this planter's employees. price for his green gold. By no means. I visited several henequen ranches in YuWhen the price was 658 cents in the United catan. Some belonged to planters who supStates, the planter in Yucatan was getting ported the Governor, but most were the 45/8 cents, and about half of the residue was property of his private and political enemies. taken up by freight charges. Later the A henequen plantation is a picturesque planter was given 5 cents as his share ; and affair. If it is far from Merida, you run out still later the price in New York rose to to the railway station nearest the plantation

can.

in a motor car which travels on the railway charge of selling the finished hemp to Ameritrack. This vehicle is very much like an can buyers. ordinary automobile except that it is equipped The plantation mills which strip the hemp with railway wheels. You leave this at the from the leaves are a revelation to an Ameristation and take a sort of small street car With some exceptions, in the United which is pulled on a track narrower than a States it still seems to be an accepted tradistreet railway by a small and obstinate but tion that a factory should appear ugly, apparently tireless mule. In this car, which dirty, and forlorn. The hacienda mills of holds a dozen people, the mule hauls you half Yucatan prove that there is no necessity for a mile or three or four miles, as the case may this, for they are clean and beautifully built be, to the hacienda buildings. This ranch structures of a kind of plaster or cement, railway is equipped with switches and is con- covered with vines and surrounded with trees. stantly crossing similar lines, penetrating in Near by, across a well-trimmed lawn, is all directions into the vast plain of gray-green usually the spacious home of the henequenero, henequen which is all about you.

where, after your inspection of the ranch is The henequen is usually grown from cut- completed, you slake your thirst with a drink tings or sprouts called hijos (children). In from a cocoanut just torn from the tree by the sixth year a few leaves are cut, just to an agile native. Then you sit down to a help the plant grow. The first real cut of never-to-be-forgotten meal consisting of the leaves is in the seventh year, and thereafter excellent fish of the Yucatan coast, aguacate the plant is cut annually for from thirteen to salad, tortillas, and beans served as a kind eighteen years. By the time it is from of mush, which is indescribably better than twenty to twenty-five years old the plant anything that is ever done with beans in our has developed a hard, woody bar or pole country. which projects upwards from the center. The mere fact that some American jobbers The advent of this pole, called a varejón, and middlemen have been eliminated from means the end of the useful life of the plant. the henequen trade by the formation of the

On a well-kept plantation each plant is cut monopoly and that American manufacturers twice a year,

ring” of leaves being cut have been forced to pay a higher price for each time. In all, from twenty to thirty sisal is not a sufficient argument for the leaves are taken from each plant annually, condemnation of the Reguladora. Nor is it a and every thousand leaves will yield seventy sufficient argument that the farmers of the or eighty pounds of hemp.

United States had to pay $4,000,000 more A few years ago the henequen laborer for their twine in 1916 than in 1915, and rarely was paid more than fifty centavos may have to pay a further increase of several (twenty-five cents gold) for each thousand millions in 1917. We must look deeper than leaves. But Governor Alvarado has fixed this. sixty centavos for each thousand leaves as After all, henequen is a product of Yucathe minimum wage of the State, and many tan, and the first thing to be considered in ranches pay per thousand as much as a peso, judging the merits of the sisal controversy is or almost fifty cents gold, for the peso is the welfare of the State of Yucatan. practically at par in Yucatan, although greatly For the average Yucatecan Governor Alvadepreciated everywhere else in Mexico, rado's tight control of the henequen trade is a good laborer can cut three thousand leaves a good thing. This is so because for the a day, he can earn from ninety cents to a average Yucatecan Alvarado's administration dollar and a half gold a day.

is a good one, and the henequen monopoly is Each plantation in Yucatan has its own the very foundation of Alvarado's adminismill for stripping the hemp from the hene- tration. quen.

This is done by a machine which The establishment of the Alvarado régime rips the pulp in each leaf away from the has simply meant the substitution of a strong fibers which run the whole length of the leaf despotism for a nominal despotism controlled and which are the valuable part. The fibers by the strings of an oligarchy. Before Alvaare then dried, bleached, and pressed into rado came to Yucatan the real power in the bales, when they are shipped off to Merida State was the commercial and social oligarchy or Progreso. Here the officials of the of the seventy-five richest families of henequen Reguladora weigh the bales, credit the planter planters, that is, the“ best people " of whom with his seven cents a pound, and take Americans hear much from aggrieved mem

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bers of this aristocracy who have fled to the Before Alvarado reorganized the RegulaUnited States for protection from the dora the buyers of henequen were well organ“rabble.”

ized, backed with much capital, and able to Before Alvarado came to Yucatan the fight; the sellers of henequen were badly trend of the henequen market was largely organized, without much capital, and unable determined by the International Harvester to fight. Inevitably, therefore, the buyers Company and the Plymouth Cordage Com- had the better of the sellers in fixing the pany, which bought about eighty per cent of price of the green gold. the sisal output between them. Their agents To a layman the present price of henequen and brokers in Yucatan seemed to have a seems justified by business conditions and working understanding; they quite naturally the laws of trade. In February and March, bought in accordance with the ordinary laws of 1902, when the henequen buyers were not supply and demand, and as these agents and so well organized as they later became, brokers bought so went the market. In those the price of sisal in New York was ten days the price paid to the planters for their cents a pound, or only three eighths of sisal was two and a half to six cents a pound a cent less than it is to-day. Moreover, —that is, from four and a half to one cent a in determining the justice of the price of a pound less than they are getting now. But product, usually a fair criterion is the price many of these planters were able to make a of the articles in competition with that prodgreater profit then than now, because then uct. The competitors of sisal hemp are New they were not forced to pay their labor so Zealand hemp and Manila hemp. In the much as at present, then they were not forced opinion of experts, a fair price for sisal is a to support schools for their employees, then figure slightly less than the price of Manila, they had less taxes than at present. In fact, and about the same as the price for New in general, then there were fewer obligations Zealand. From early in 1908, part way demanded by the State of the henequenero. into 1912; the price of sisal hemp in New It is just as plain why the average work

York was

never more than a cent below ingman supports Alvarado as it is why the the price of "current" Manila, and in the average planter prays or plans for his down- early months of 1910 it was actually higher fall.

than "current" Manila, although in these But whether he belongs to the larger class years the sisal producers were unorganized. which has benefited by the Governor's ad- To-day, with sisal hemp bringing 1038 cents ministration, or to the smaller class which has a pound in New York, “ current" Manila is suffered by it, every Yucatecan will tell you bringing from 1058 to 11/4 cents a pound, that the principle of the Reguladora is right. while a pound of New Zealand fiber sells at

The principle on which the Reguladora from 11 to 1214 cents. stands is simply the principle of organized Government ownership and Government production. It is the principle beneath the regulation are terms that frighten few intellifarmers' granges of our West, it is the prin- gent people to-day. Such people recognize ciple back of the butter artels of Siberia, it that this is an age of organization, and that a is the principle on which, recently, in many monopoly is not condemned by calling it a large American cities markets have been monopoly, but only by further describing it organized where the farmers sell their prod- as a bad monopoly. ucts directly to the consumers to the advan- It is not a sufficient condemnation of Cartage of both producers and consumers, and ranza and Alvarado to assert that they have to the discomfort only of middlemen.

established a henequen monopoly in Yucatan. Every school-boy who has finished ele- It is no condemnation at all. The fact is mentary economics knows that when the that in putting the henequen output under buyers organize the sellers must organize too. State control Carranza and Alvarado have

The founders of the Reguladora had two done only what England and Germany have things in mind: first to eliminate some mid- done with their resources in the crisis of war. dlemen and to sell their hemp as directly as And Mexico, it must be remembered, is still possible to the twine manufacturers; and, under military government. It is palpably second (and this they considered much more illogical to criticise Carranza in one breath important), to organize the sellers of hene- for not restoring order in Mexico, and to quen so that they might get a good price from iticise him in the next breath for raising the organized buyers.

henequen to a price which even some American experts have called reasonably fair in order any despotism, however benevolent. So the to get money with which to restore order. controversy over the merits of Alvarado's

The question is not whether Government administration is, after all, a side issue. The ownership and regulation is right or wrong, main issue, one in which all Americans ought but whether the Government that is doing to be interested, is the struggle so to raise the owning and regulating is a good Govern- the standard of intelligence and public integment, and whether it is a Government which rity in Mexico that real representative govlends itself to the expression of the will of ernment, as we understand the term in its the people behind it.

essentials, may come to be established with a The controversy over the merits of the minimum of delay. Yucatan henequen monopoly really simmers In the meantime, so long as there is not down to the old question of good or bad such a further increase in the price of henegovernment for Mexico.

quen as seriously to interfere with our harAlvarado may or may not be a good Gov- vests—that is, so long as a fair price is charged ernor. It is the opinion of the writer, as for the sisal, and so long as our legal mastated in a former article, that, as Mexican chinery is well oiled to prevent an infringerulers go, Alvarado is a good one, and that ment of our anti-trust laws by the selling he is giving Yucatan the only form of gov- activities of the Reguladora in this countryernment which can come to Mexicans from there seems no reason why the American within while the country is in its present con- public should become alarmed by the course dition, namely, a benevolent despotism. But of the henequen controversy. For, after all, of course, from the point of view of Ameri- it is not our henequen. It is the green gold cans, an effective democracy is preferable to of Yucatan.

GERMANY IN WAR TIME

BY MRS. H. H. GALLISON

G

This is the third and last of the series of articles by Mrs. Gallison describing her experiences in Germany during the summer of this year. The preceding articles will be found in the issues of The Outlook for November 29 and December 6.—The Editors.

ERMANY, through the insurance But what of the cripples, the mai med, and legislation inaugurated by Bismarck, the blind? This misery affects Germany, as

early laid the foundation for an it does the other belligerents, and taxes Empire of organized prosperity that should statesmanship anew. never know the dire want of the London How does Germany prevent the crippled slums or the poverty-stricken East Sides of soldier, who in ages gone has been an almsAmerican cities.

Previous to the war, sta- gatherer, from becoming a burden to the tisticians from Continental Europe, England, state and himself ? How can the Fatherland and America frequently visited the Father- open up life to him again? How can it land to study the German insurance sys- give limbs to the cripple, ears to the deaf, eyes tem-to-day a proved boon-and to gain to the blind, so that they can again rejoice in a comprehension of Germany's life-value, their manhood and take up successfully the old age, accident, health, Mutterschutz (moth- fight for an existence? What the scientific erhood insurance), workman's compensation, world here and in Europe has produced the and general welfare legislation. These for- German Government utilizes, and again its eign observers have often expressed the con- genius for system makes smooth the way. viction that Germany might rightfully feel Broken of body and spirit, the badly that absolute want had been organized out damaged soldier is a double problem. The of existence within her boundaries.

Government sets out to reclaim him, first, by The war, however, has created new prob- restoring through care and nursing his genlems. The established systems contribute eral well-being, and then by instilling new greatly toward the internal economic strength hope. Definite steps are recognized in the of the Fatherland and mitigate its burdens. reclamation programme : recuperation of

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