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Jun 14 / Jon

Mummies and Gorillas in Barcelona

Translated by Juliana Stifelmann.

The texts chosen here are fairly straightforward, but I chose them because it is interesting to see how news reporting is done in other countries, as far as what they find pertinent to say, to explain, and their reaction to certain occurrences as contrasted to North American newspapers. Therefore, the specific purpose of the translation is to inform North American readers of events in Europe, letting them in to Spanish culture by seeing how things are reported from their point of view.

Source texts: “Dieciocho momias de Tebas muestran por primera vez sus rostros en Barcelona” and “Nace en el Zoo de Barcelona el primer gorila de España criado sin intervención humana”.

Eighteen mummies from Tebas, Egypt, are displayed for the first time in Barcelona.

Anthropological and radiological study was done on 18 mummies from the ancient city of Tebas, in Egypt.

  • They have been abandoned since the 1940s in a tomb in the city of Luxor.
  • The mummies are from the Third Intermediate Period (1069-525 BC).
  • The Catalunya Museum of Arqueology is hosting this exhibition.


The investigation of an international multidisciplinary team made up of archaeologists, doctors, anthropologists, and radiologists from Spain and Germany, has allowed us to see for the first time, the face as well as unpublished information of the 18 abandoned mummies from Luxor.

A 1940s issue of the New York Times appears with one of them. The results of the investigation are shown in the Barcelona headquarters of the Catalunya Museum of Arqueology. The exhibit will be open from this Friday until September 5th. The Project was co-produced by the Catalunya Museum, the International SEK University, and the Egyptian Eberrnhard Karls Institute of the Tubinga University, who work in the tomb of the Monthemhat governor. (7th Century BC).

The excavations began in the ancient tomb complex by indication of the Egyptian Antique Service, which had been used for storage and was also the location in which the mummies had ended up for an unknown reason. The mummies, which belonged to the funeral complex workers, probably ended up there in the 40s (along with one of them is an old issue of the New York Times), abandoned by the North American Archaeologists.

This investigation has been the first one to count on a radiological study at the tomb. One of the investigators and curators of the exhibit, the Egyptologist Montserrat Rius, has explained that each individual has undergone several studies: “macroscopic, anthropometric with a sex diagnostic, paleontological, photographic, and radiological”. In fact, “this investigation has been the first to use a radiological study done on foot, so they could install a Philips BV bracelet apparatus, which has come specifically from Holland, on the porch of the ancient Luxor American House. The apparatus is also shown at the exhibit.”

In order to complement the study, a Carbon-14 study was also performed, added Rius, to find the levels of lead and arsenic in the hair and the history of some of the mummies’ organs. All these analyses and investigations allowed us to find out the sex, illnesses throughout their lives, lesions after death, and the type of mummification done. This corroborated to the fact that they belonged to the Third Intermediate Period (1069-525 AC) and “were contemporary to Monthemhamt.”

The condition of conservation they were found in varied, as some were in excellent condition, but some were found incomplete. After the exhibit section dedicated to the process of mummification and the beliefs of ancient Egypt, some life-size photographs of the mummies are displayed, with a detailed explanation of their pathologies.

In the case of the “forgotten mummies”, it is surprising that “none of them present the expected frequency of visceral extraction, common in the mummification process of the time. This is odd since they seem to have been noble people, judging from the area of origin, their clothes, the amount of gold and the amulets found”, explained the palaeontologist Joaquim Baxarias.

Only two cases have been able to confirm the extraction of the brain via the nose, and in another, the extraction of abdominal organs thought the right side of the body. This fact, underlines Baxarias, one of the curators of the exhibit, differs from historical sources that find a high level of development in the mummification techniques of the time.

“The first Spanish gorilla raised without human intervention is born at the Barcelona Zoo”

Machinda the gorilla with her baby in the Barcelona zoo.

  • The baby, granddaughter of Snowflake the gorilla, was born on February 28th
  • There will be a voting process on Saturday to choose the baby’s name
  • Choices are: Babul (tender), Gum (March), Kikile (soon) and Nvom (hopefully).


The gorilla has no name yet, but it is an attraction at the Barcelona Zoo. Last February 28th, one of the babies was born, the grandson of the legendary Snowflake. The work of caregivers and the conservation team have made it so that this baby gorilla is the first in Spain, and one of the few in Europe, to not have human intervention to ensure their survival, either at birth or during its lactation period.

Machinda has been able to bear her young among the other gorillas, without being separated or receiving training. The new baby, which was presented to society on Friday, was born “as if it were free”, the zoo assures us. His first appearance was in the rain, in the arms of her protective mother and under the watchful eye of his father. There haven’t been many opportunities to see them, due to the small size of this new gorilla and her mother’s protective instinct. Still, the baby gorilla sits in his mother’s arms, surrounded by brothers, cousins, uncles and its father.

Until now, a birth like this would have required the intervention of caregivers and even needed training of the mother to learn to care for and nurse the baby, an instinct that is lost after many years in captivity.

The mother, baby, sibling and father’s behaviour is absolutely normal, as it would if they were free. Thanks to the work of zoo keepers, Machinda could give birth to her young among the other gorillas, without being separated or receiving training. She is now breastfeeding and raising the child with the help of family members, without requiring human help.

Lluís Colom, leader of the keepers of the Barcelona Zoo, has rated the outcome as “very positive” and recalled that the previous captive breeding conditions caused the mothers’ milk to be lost because the animals were very easily stressed” and the offspring might have had to breastfeed with bottles. Now, “the behaviour of the mother, baby, siblings and of the father is absolutely normal, as they would if they were free”, Colom explained.

This Saturday, there will be a voting process to choose the name of the baby gorilla. For now, four options have been selected, all in the original Fang language from Snowflake’s native region: Babul (meaning soft), gum (March), Kikile (soon), and Nvom (hopefully).

Jun 14 / Jon

Carlos Vives

Translated by Paula Samper.

The text chosen for translation for this project consisted of three songs from a Colombian singer/songwriter, Carlos Vives. My aim is to provide a translation for some of Carlos Vives’ sbest songs for those who do not speak Spanish to be able to understand them and appreciate the songs for their beautiful lyrics. Ideally, those who would like to listen to the songs could have the translated lyrics with them and hear the rhythm, melody and voice of Carlos Vives to get the fullest musical experience possible.

Source texts: “Jaime Molina”, “Quiero verte sonreir”, and “Dejame entrar”.

(Compare “I Want See You Smile” and “Let Me In”.)

Carlos Vives Official Site

“Jaime Molina”
By Carlos Vives

I remember Jaime Molina,
with a few too many drinks
he would always say to me
“If you pass away first I will make you a painting
But if I pass away first you will write me a song.”
Echo: “If you pass away first I will make you a painting
But if I pass away first you will write me a song.”

Now looking back, I’d much prefer
that he’d paint me a picture
and not write him this song.
Echo: Now looking back, I’d much prefer
that he’d paint me a picture
and not write him this song

Famous for going out all night, and keeping his friends from falling fast asleep
With every drink he downed would come a friendly jab
with a kind twinkle in his eye which only he could give
Echo: With every drink he downed would come a friendly jab
with a kind twinkle in his eye which only he could give

Following this he’d sit on my lap
tell me a joke and then have a laugh
Echo: Follwing me he’d sit on my lap
tell me a joke and then have a laugh

It all started as fun and games
Jaime Molina taught me to drink
Wherever he was I would not be far behind
and he would be by my side whenever I needed him
Wherever he was I would not be far behind
and he would be by my side whenever I needed him

Now it hurts to know that he’s gone
I’m left without Jaime and he’s left Rafael
Now it hurts to know that he’s gone
I’m left without Jaime and he’s left Rafael

“I Want to See Your Smile”
By Carlos Vives

I want to see your smile, I want to give you my song
And on a summer day , give you the sun
A scent of jasmine, and piece of my music
I want to give you this song and a thousand kisses just for you.

I want your dreams to meet mine halfway,
I want to be your thoughts and I want
To meet you when the sun sets behind the hills
To discover you with my kisses and give you my love

Laraira, laraira
I want to give you this song
Laraira, laraira
Many promises of love
And the last song that I write, will be written out to you
And plant in your garden things made only for you
I’ll ask Juan Luis for a candle and a match
to be able to brighten the sadness that is in you

I want our eyes to meet in time
I want to be your thoughts and I want
To meet you when the sun sets behind the hills
To free you with my kisses and give you my heart

Laraira, laraira
I want to give you a song
Laraira, laraira
And to plant in your garden
Laraira, laraira
things made only for you
Laraira, laraira
I want to see you smile

I’m looking for you, I want you back
You’ve left me here, alone in the desert
I’m looking for you, I want you back
You’ve left me here, alone in the wild

I’m looking for you, I want you back
You’ve left me here, alone in the desert
I’m looking for you, I want you back
You’ve left me here, alone in the wild

Laraira, laraira
I want to give you a song
Laraira, laraira
And to plant in your garden
Laraira, laraira
things made only for you
Laraira, laraira
I want to see you smile

“Let Me In”
By Carlos Vives

Let me into your life
I want to reach the depths of your soul
to find comfort in the warmth of your lips
to know you more

Let me stay within the silence
And remember your past…
To know if you really are the girl,
the girl of my dreams

The girl with hair like the wild grass
the girl with the earth within her fingertips
the girl with a smile you’ve never seen before
the girl who delights in making dreams
who perfumes the mornings
with her body’s sweet aroma
and says good morning to the sun
with the warmth of her kisses
oh oh

To watch you leave and see you come back
learn to live with the calmness you have
let me be your thoughts
know what you carry with you

Let me into the silence
into your past
to know if you’re the girl
the girl of my dreams.

The girl with hair like the wild grass
the girl with the earth within her fingertips
the girl with a smile you’ve never seen before
the girl who delights in making dreams
who perfumes the mornings
with her bodies’ sweet aroma
and says good morning to the sun
with the warmth of her kisses
Chorus: Let me into your life
Let me in through the window
Chorus: Let me into your life
The window of your heart
Chorus: Let me into your life
Let me see you in the mornings
Chorus: Let me into your life
Even after the sun won’t rise again

Whenever I am with you
I can’t keep my thoughts straight
my heart starts to race

I never thought I’d feel this way again,
it had been so long
to you I sing this song.

Chorus: Let me into your life
Chorus: Let me into your life
Chorus: Let me into your life
Chorus: Let me into your life…

Show me that this is it
Chorus: Let me into your life
Let me be the only one you kiss
Chorus: Let me into your life
Let me into your past
Chorus: Let me into your life
Let your silence bring me life
Chorus: Let me into your life
and let me trace every inch of your body.
Chorus: Let me into your life
let me be the last one to kiss you
Chorus: Let me into your life
Chorus: Let me into your life
Chorus: Let me in , into your life

Jun 14 / Jon

The Little Ant

Translated by Ana Robles.

This story was written by Fernán Caballero, the pseudonym adopted by Spanish novelist Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl de Faber. She was born at in Switzerland, and was the daughter of Johann Nikolaus Böhl von Faber, who lived for a long time in Spain. His daughter visited Spain in 1815, got married, and stayed. “La hormiguita” was a story written in the nineteenth century and this is transmitted in the text by the different language that is used. Hence the purpose of my translation was not only to change the languages from Spanish to English but also to modernize the language so that the story could be more easily understood. This is especially important because my target audience would be North American children.

Source text: “La hormiguita”.

The Little Ant
By Fernán Caballero

Once upon a time there was a wonderful little ant. So lovely and so hard working that everyone loved her! One day while she was raking leafs in her front yard; she found a shiny new penny. She said “what should I do with this new penny?” Maybe I should buy some nuts? No I can’t open them. Maybe I should buy a caramel apple? No is just candy. She thought about it and decided to go to the store; there she brought some blush to put on her cheeks and took it home. When she got home she, styled her hair, washed her face, and put some blush on her cheeks Then she went outside and sat on her front porch. She was so stylish and beautiful that everyone that passed by was mesmerized by her.

A bull passed by and asked her: Little ant do you want to marry me? How will you inspire my love? Answered the little ant. The bull started to Mooooo, The little ant covered her ears, and told the bull

“Go on your way bull: because you surprise me, scare me and startle me”.

The same thing happened with a dog who barked a cat who meowed, a pig who oinked, and a rooster who sang cock-a-doodle-doo.

None of them were able to win the heart of the little ant, instead they all frightened her. Until Peter the mouse came. He treated her kindly and very delicately. He was so nice that little ant married him and they both lived, very happy and very much in love, it was a love so big that it hasn’t been seen since the beginning of time.

But due to bad luck one day the little ant went to the store by herself, after putting a pot of soup in the fire; which she left in the care of peter the mouse. The little ant who was very cautions warned peter the mouse not to stir the soup with the small spoon instead she told him to use the big spoon. Unfortunately peter the mouse did not listen to what his wife had said; he used the small spoon to stir the soup. And what the little ant had tried to prevent happened, with his clumsiness peter the mouse, fell into the pot, like a rock that falls into a well and there he drowned.

When the little ant returned home, she knocked the door but no one answered. So she went to the neighbour’s house to see if she could jump from one roof to the other, but the neighbour didn’t let her. So she had to call a locksmith, to unlock the door. When the door opened the little ant ran to the kitchen, Oh NO!!!! She cried with so much pain when she saw peter the mouse floating in the soup.

The little ant was crying bitterly when a birdie flew by and asked her. Why are you crying little ant?

She answered “because my husband died”

Well then, I birdie shall keep my beak dirty

Then came a dove and she asked the birdie why is your beak so dirty?

Well because Peter the mouse drowned inside his house and the little ant is crying because of him dying.

Then I dove shall stay in the cove.

Then the pigeon loft asked the dove why do you stay in the cove?

Well because Peter the mouse drowned inside his house and the little ant is crying because of him dying, and the birdie kept his beak dirty, and I dove shall stay in the cove.

Well then I pigeon loft will break off

Then the water spring said.

Why are you going to break off pigeon loft?

Well because Peter the mouse drowned inside his house and the little ant is crying because of him dying, and the birdie kept his beak dirty, and the dove stay in the cove and, I pigeon loft will break off

Then I water fountain will cry here in this mountain

Then the princess climbed up the mountain to fill her glass with water, and asked why you are crying here in the mountain water fountain?

Well because Peter the mouse drowned inside his house and the little ant is crying because of him dying, and the birdie kept his beak dirty, and the dove stay in the cove and the pigeon loft broke off and I water fountain am crying here in the mountain

Well then I princess shall smash my glass in a flash

And I who read this story, feel very sorry because Peter the mouse drowned inside his house and the little ant is crying because of him dying.

Jun 14 / Jon

Cocina de Mercado

Translated by Kimberly Roberts.

The following translations are part of a collection of recipes, reviews and blogs written by an avid Spanish cook, Sol Filman Delano on her blog titled Cocina de Mercado. As there are several recipes and reviews on the blog, I have only chosen a handful to translate for the purpose of this project, in an attempt to give the English reader a taste of this Spanish cook’s repertoire.

Source texts: “Calçotada”, “Risotto de Alcachofas”, “Tiramisú”, and “Casa Portuguesa”.


Last Saturday we attended a calçotada in Corbera de Llobregat that a group of friends invited us to. (Calçotada is a typical gastronomical event in the Catalunya region of Spain, where sweet Spanish green onions known as calçots are consumed in large quantities). After the lamb chops, pork sausage, typical Basque chistorra sausage accompanied with red wine, we had 550 calçots for just the 30 of us. It was a huge feast!

Calçots are a variety of fresh white, sweet onions, native to the region of Catalunya. (They are originally from the province of Tarragona). They are in season at the end of the winter and the beginning of the spring (January-February-March).

The traditional way to cook them is directly over the fire (barbeque). When the tips are tender and the outside layer is completely black, you wrap them in newspaper so that they stay warm until you are ready to eat them. Traditionally, they are brought to the table on a piece of clay tile; you eat them with your hands by pulling away the burnt exterior, to reach the tender center.

Calçots are usually accompanied with a romesco sauce. Yesterday, the sauces used were both homemade and store-bought. Romesco sauce is a sauce prepared with almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, peppers, bread, olive oil, salt and vinegar. In Mai’s blog you can find an excellent recipe, click here.

¡Bon Profit!

Recipes: Artichoke Risotto

Risotto is my favourite Italian dish. The last time I prepared it was with a variety of ingredients. I always use arbario rice, which contains a fair amount of starch. You can, however use carnoroli rice, a northern Italian rice. This time I’m making an artichoke risotto…in this blog, you can also find the recipe of my version of shrimp risotto.

Ingredients (serves four)

1 cup arborio rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion
6 artichokes
200 ml white wine
750 ml vegetable stock
grated parmesan cheese
black pepper
2 tablespoons truffle oil


1. Prepare artichokes:
a. Rinse under cold water to remove dirt and pat dry. Chop top and tail off.
b. Remove outer layers and snip the top of the remaining leaves with kitchen scissors.
c. Place prepared artichokes in a large bowl of cold water and add a generous squeezing of 2 lemons.
2. Cook the artichokes. (Separate the hearts, cut and reserve. Remove the ‘meat’ of the leaves).
3. Lightly fry in butter, olive oil, and the finely chopped onions.
4. Add the rice. Cook until the rice is translucent.
5. Add the meat of the artichoke leafs.
6. Add a cup of white wine. Stir and let the alcohol evaporate.
7. Add a splash of the hot stock, stirring constantly until the rice absorbs it all. Add more stock and continue stirring. Continue this procedure, a little bit at a time, until the rice is creamy and has a sticky texture.
8. Add the chopped artichoke hearts, more stock and continue to stir.
9. Before serving, add two tablespoons of truffle oil and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipes: Tiramisu

This delicious Italian dessert always wins me over…there are many different versions to prepare Tiramisu out there, but this is my favourite.

Ingredients (four servings)

1 cup mascarpone cheese
20 lady fingers (or similar cookies)
2 egg yolks
200 ml whipping cream (chilled)
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups freshly brewed coffee
Dark chocolate powder
Dark Chocolate (70%)
4 teaspoons of Marsala wine


1. Whip the chilled whipping cream with a teaspoon of sugar until you get firm whipped cream.
2. Over a double boiler, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and the wine until you get a sabayón*; the mix should now be double its volume. Leave to chill.
3. Gently incorporate the mascarpone cheese into the sabayón. Add the whipped cream to the mix.
4. Make the coffee and leave to chill. Soak the cookies in the coffee.
5. Make a base layer of the cookies then grate the chocolate on top. Add a layer of the mascarpone cream and repeat. Finish with a layer of mascarpone cream. Wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours before serving.
6. For presentation, dust with chocolate powder.

Buon appetito!

*Sabayón, also known as Zabaglione or Zabaione, is a traditional Italian dessert. The basic ingredients are: egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine. To prepare, you beat them together over a warm water bath, until it becomes a light and creamy consistency.

Restaurant Review: Casa Portuguesa

In the heart of the neighborhood of Gracia (north of the center of Barcelona) you’ll find a café that is devoted to Portuguese gastronomy and culture.

My first few visits to this place were dedicated to the pastries known as pastéis de Belem, which are to die for! Every time I would walk by, I couldn’t resist eating a freshly baked one, sprinkled with cinnamon.

There are also queijadas (little cheese pastries), homemade cakes and cookies, almond pastries, little chicken empanadas, puffed pastry tarts with cheese, vegetarian tarts and more.

They also feature a wine cellar at the back of the café in which they sell a variety of ports, white wines, red wines and vinho verde, the fresh and light ‘green wine’ originating in the northern regions of Portugal.

This place is ideal to enjoy a bottle of wine, accompanied with a selection of fine cheeses. They play eclectic Portuguese and Latin music and no smoking is permitted inside, which is a lot harder to find than you’d think in Barcelona!

At Casa Portuguesa you can also find a large variety of artesian delicatessen products, such as marmalades, oils, preserves, sauces, patés, chutneys, honey, etc.

58 Verdi Street, Barcelona
t: 933683528

Hours of Operation:

Monday– closed
Tuesday – Wednesday: 5:00pm-11:00pm
Thursday – Friday: 5:00pm-11:30pm
Saturday and holidays: 11:00am-3:00pm, 5:00-11:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Jun 14 / Jon

The Quality of our Democracy

Translated by Tristán Niamath.

The source text is taken from an editorial in the Spanish newspaper El País. The skopos is to give brief summary of Spanish politics after Franco’s death. The article is obviously aimed at Spanish readers in general but should be translated for the rest of the world. Most people are unaware of the specifics of how Spanish government works and the political history of Spain in general.

Source text: “La calidad de nuestra democracia”.

The Quality of our Democracy
By Julián Casanova

Some of the powers that be intend to prevent political, legal and moral reparations to the victims of the civil war and the dictatorship. The pursuit and persecution of judge Baltasar Garzón proves this.

At 2:15 in the afternoon on Sunday the 23rd of November 1975, a granite tombstone weighing 3306 lbs was placed over the tomb that had been dug for Francisco Franco in the basílica de la Santa Cruz in the Valley of the Fallen near Madrid. The tombstone that sealed the grave was as heavy as the legacy that Franco left: four decades of genocide and civil unrest. Almost 35 years afterwards, we Spaniards are still debating (which is mostly just shouting with little discussion, and on very little grounds) over the virtues and defects of the democracy that we have constructed without feeling the need to demolish the framework of the dictatorship.

Political corruption, along with politicians that ignore it, along with the prosecution of judge Baltasar Garzón upon the ideological heirs of Franco’s regime, places us in the argument again. Let’s remember how it all started and where we are today.

Right after the death of Franco, many of his faithful supporters threw away their blue uniforms and put on the jacket of democracy. The scattering of the so called reformers or “progressives” in search of a new political identity was at this moment, slowly but surely, general. Many francoists as always, whether powerful or not, converted overnight into democrats for good. It must be said clearly, for this reason, against the biased opinion of a few illustrious ex-francoists that have taken to the transition to democracy, that the framework of the dictatorship that had power when Franco died did not contain the seed of democracy and neither the king, nor the new chief of state, offered the best guarantees in that moment.

The politicians and bureaucrats formed in the administration of the francoist state had in their hands the repressive machine and the consent of an important part of the educated population during the years of distrust towards political change, identified with the values of authority, security and order. Without Franco there wouldn’t have been francoism, but the francoists that led the democracy at the time, benefited from the fears of the public and their beloved dictatorship had disseminated throughout the decades: the fear of disorder and protest, the tiresome negative propaganda circulated about the “red” political parties and about the opposition, and the traumatic memory of the civil war, with the well-worn theory that it could happen again.

It’s true that from underneath there was a powerful social pressure that, exerted by associations of neighbours, students, unions, Christian communities, intellectuals and professionals, tried to break the ultra-conservative positions, of the deep rooted government, that prevented the transition towards a system of liberties. But the project of the Political Reform Law conceived by Adolfo Suárez and Torcuato Fernández Miranda passed through the francoist courts, behind offering important concessions to the group of dignitaries that, around Manuel Fraga, ended up founding the Popular Alliance (Alianza Popular), and was approved in a referendum on December 15, 1976 with an elevated participation, 77% of the registered voters, even though in the Basque Country it remained at 54%, and 94% were affirmative votes, even though the democratic opposition had requested abstention. The promise of peace, order and stability was Suárez’s great trick to set the rhythm and the rules of the game and to mobilize a great number of people. With this help to the political reform, they ruled out the “democratic rupture” and a popular inquest to decide on the continuity of the Monarchy.

In the following two years, the story started to accelerate amid agreements, pacts, fundamental decisions and democratic participation. The process of legal reform ended up in the celebration of the general elections in June 1977, 40 years after the last elections when the Second Republic was able to preside. The passing of the constitution at the end of 1978 was accompanied by the Law of Amnesty, passed on October 15, 1977. Because of this law, and amongst other reasons, they renounced both the opening of investigations and the demand for justice regarding “crimes committed by civil servants against the exercising of people’s rights.” There are those who believe that this forgotten political pact of the past, stamped by the elites coming from Franco’s regime and the forces of the opposition, was indicative of Spanish democracy. In reality, the fear of the Armed Forces, the traumatic memory of the war, and the repression conditioned the public voice and political culture (or rather lack thereof) of millions of citizens. At that moment, the stage was dominated by the economic crisis, social conflicts, the terrorism of both the Basque ETA and of the extreme right, and the threat of military involution. This democratic process was based on the deals and negotiations of the political elite with the left and right parties for rigid structures and closed lists that did not encourage the affiliation or participation of civil society. The majority of the people accepted this and the dissident voices could not advance by other means because they did not have the available resources either.

The consolidation of democracy since the socialist triumph in the elections of October 1982 brought enormous benefits to Spanish society. This lead to the development of the autonomous model, the expansion of the welfare state (with fiscal politics of the redistribution of wealth), the integration of Spain in the European institutions and the supremacy of civil power over the military. Militarism occurred throughout history and, in spite of the existence of ETA, violence became a legacy of the dictatorship that democracy has not been able to destroy. This violence is no longer a vehicle of political action between us.

But it would soon be confirmed that Spanish democratization and modernization was accompanied by high doses of corrupt practices, speculation, fraud, and private negotiations at the expense of tax payers by those who didn’t want to put a stop to the governments or the political parties. The parties, on the other hand, were surrounded by friends and loyal people who defended the leader and his own interests. They seldom came up with a plan of coherent decisions destined to last.

The political, social, economic and cultural evolution of the last three decades constitutes the major period of stability and liberty of the contemporary history of Spain. Little or nothing remains of the romantic and adventurous vision of the foreign travellers who, until not many decades ago, saw Spain as a preindustrial territory distanced from Europe. It was a country saddled between the tradition of a few distinct regions and the modernity of others, obstinate in its backwardness and incapable of overcoming its traumatic history. Around the middle of the 20th century Gerald Brenan still described it as an “enigmatic and disconcerting” territory.

Paradoxically, when democracy appeared the most absent, after leaving behind the most disastrous parts of the authoritarian legacy of Franco’s regime, new coercions and threats made us doubt our political model. Some of the powers that be prevent us from searching and freely investigating our violent past. This prevents the political, legal and moral reparations of the victims of the civil war and of the dictatorship. Many politicians, in addition to not doing anything to face this, show a cynical attitude towards the corruption that implicates them, proud of the protection that they exert on their electorate. We citizens are very distant from the places of political decision and the political parties concentrate power excessively within their leaders and closest friends. Nobody seems willing to launch the changes and reforms that better the quality of our democracy, place the democratic institutions above the corporative and biased interests, and strengthen civil society. That’s the way things are.

Jun 14 / Jon

Five myths in the US about drug trafficking in Mexico

Translated by Mohammad Movassaghi.

Ultimately after reading the translated version, the target audience should come away with an educated and objective view of the reality of the drug trade on the ground in Mexico relative to the spin US news media. This should help to diffuse negative and inflammatory stereotypes with regard to Mexican culture.

Source text: “Cinco mitos en Estados Unidos sobre el narco en México”.

“Five myths in the US about drug trafficking in Mexico”
By Carlos Chirinos

Mexico is in the US media almost everyday, but it is usually only about bad news: drug trafficking and the violence associated with the struggle between drug cartels and Mexican state officials.

The American public’s view seems to fluctuate between feelings that these tragic stories take place in a distant, lawless land with no connection, and the need for alarm that the violence is spreading at an accelerated pace.

Recently at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexican Institute, the centre of American political studies published a paper in the Washington Post about the disinformation in the US about Mexico.

The institute’s director, Andrew Seele who is one of the author’s of the paper, told BBC how this “myth” often prevents citizens, politicians and media from understanding what happens south of the border.

Myth 1: indiscriminate violence

The paper points out that there has been an increase in drug related violence due to the struggle between cartels for control of trafficking routes in the US, the primary market for their goods.

“Violence in Mexico has regional overtones, while others are still in relative peaceful. We must recognize that overall Mexico has similar crime rates, and in some cases less than some neighboring countries”, said Steele.

Although in his investigations Steele says the majority of the victims are drug dealing gang members (there are few civilians killed in the “line of fire”, while soldiers and police account for 7% of the casualties according to the article), he recognizes that in some cities there are troubling levels of violence.

Ciudad Juarez, in the state of Juarez, for instance is frequently cited, where since 2006 more than 5000 people have died because of the war on drugs.

Myth 2: A lost cause

Studies done at the Wilson Centre cited a survey by the Mexican newspaper Goals, in which 59% of respondents believed that the cartels were winning the battle against the government. This feeling is shared by most Americans.

Nonetheless, Seele believes that this is an inaccurate view and refers to the police successes against drug traffickers, for instance the capture of Arellano Felix, head of the Tijuana cartel.

“In the long term, the Mexican government has the ability to change what is today a national security issue into a public safety issue, says Steele who notes that this would require shoring up weak justice institutions.

The authors of the study assert the urgent need to modernize and professionalize Mexican courts and police. They believe the constitutional reform of 2008 is a good starting point.

Myth 3: Corruption and drug trafficking

American citizens and figures of authority have come to view Mexican security forces with suspicion, and in the recent past they have had their reasons.

Last year, the Fiscal Investigation Agency was disbanded for alleged corruption. The head of Interpol Mexico, Prosecutor officials, regional and local police chiefs, hundreds of officers and several mayors have been arrested for association with organized crime.

Sometimes it seems like an internal battle between parts of the state. There are officials who are fighting crime and there are those who collaborate with organized crime. There are positive signs however, at least fundamental ones. Above all there are brave journalists and civic leaders who seek to hold the government accountable to the citizens according to Steele.

Nonetheless Steele recognizes “that it will be a major struggle to alter the tide of corruption in any part of the state.”

Myth 4: Mexican Problem

This is perhaps the most widespread and unfounded myth, because the drug trade is a bilateral market.

“The money that finances organized crime is courtesy of US consumerism. Weapons are for the most part imported illegally from the US. We are talking about a cyclical narcotics market ranging from south to north, and money and arms from north to south”, according to Steele.

Americans spend $60 billion on illegal drugs, and it is estimated that $39 billion of this amount is transferred out of the country and into the bank accounts of drug traffickers.

Since President Barack Obama assumed power, he and his cabinet have recognized the co-responsibility the US has in controlling the problem of having the primary target market that traffickers seek. The government has announced it will focus on programs to reduce consumption.

Myth 5: The violence comes from the south

The recent executions of three Americans associated with the consulate in Juarez reactivated the concerns of those warning that cartel violence is corrupting the border region.

Even the US media warned that the problem could be reaching remote areas of the border such as Phoenix, Arizona which has been dubbed the nation wide capital for kidnappings.

Nonetheless, El Paso, Texas has one of the lowest crime rates in the US despite being at the forefront of Juarez, which is regarded as one of the most violent places on the continent.

Andrew Seele recognizes that “there is violence associated with drug trafficking in the US, but it is a matter of local violence.

“The Mexican groups operating in the US try not to draw attention because they fear the authorities have the ability to pursue, and prosecute them.” Although imperfect in the US, there is an institutional framework that complicates the life of organized crime, and it also aspires towards to Mexico, and Mexican society.

Experts from the Woodrow Wilson centre the impression held by many citizens, and above all many congressman that Mexico is heading towards failed state status, as were considered Afghanistan and Somalia. This is perhaps the myth most feared by Americans.

Jun 14 / Jon

Yes to Autonomy! No to Cliques!

Translated by Natalia Moreno.

When looking for an article to translate, I picked an opinion article that would take a stance on the polemic issue of autonomy in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. There are two points to be made: 1) I understand the issue 2) I have my own biases and opinions about the issue. Thus, I picked an article written by an opinion writer outside my network to limit the opportunities of transposing my own opinions to those of the writer.

Source text: “Autonomías sí, logias no”.

“Yes to Autonomy! No to Cliques!”
By Omar Quiroga Antelo

Translator’s Note: In Bolivia, political tension has increased over the past seven years. Ever since Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada was forced out of presidency, the political landscape has changed significantly. For the first time in history, Bolivia has an indigenous president, Evo Morales. Evo’s presidency is a source of great debate.

Santa Cruz, a province on the eastern side of the country far removed from the capital, wantsautonomy. As there are significant cultural, economic, geographic, and political differences between the two sides of the country, many of their arguments are justified.

Still, there are a lot of mixed fillings within Santa Cruz. Given the divide between rich and poor in the region, tensions arise between the leaders of the region representing the different sub-groups. In the following passage, Omar Quiroga Antelo expresses his dislike for the wealthy, upper class of the region. He disapproves of their actions and opinions and says to represent the poor.

I’m compelled to write this article given the recent developments in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. A small group of individuals that is said to “represent” Santa Cruz has proposed dividing our beloved nation. Having the muscle to control all mass media, the group makes waves in taking a stance and voicing an opinion. Despite only representing a select few, their intentions are to speak for all of us cruceños and cruceñas. Indeed, they have characteristics not inherent of the “camba de verdad.”

a) Elite Cliques: The power groups’ main objective is to add additional dollars to their accounts and distribute them amongst their close relatives. In protecting the region and promoting autonomy, they are indeed protecting their own interests. Don’t get me wrong, I support autonomy but not their pursuit for autonomy.

As a province, we’ve budgeted 100 million dollars to city hall, 140 million to the municipality, 15 million to Saguapac, 30 million to CRE amongst others. These budgets are intended for development, fundraising, savings, and others investments, but are usually misspent.

Who manages these funds? Not the poor. It is the rich families that seek control over all levels of these major institutions.

Funny enough, Marinkovic, Teodovich, Matkovic, Dadboub, etc. are foreign last names of counties destroyed by wars between these related cliques. These people did not get along with each other and now expect to break up our country and for us to fight amongst Bolivians.

b) Carnaval-like: Where were these cruceños when Johnny and Roberto made our city an open market? Where were they when these brothers practically robed us pocketing all our earnings to orchestrate their “star” projects? Where were they when Johnny would come to our neighborhoods prior to elections and hand down 20 to 50 bolivianos to visit his electoral podium while the camaras rolled? Where were they when our babies were dying at the maternity ward because the budget had been misspent by the Fernandez family?

Where were these fake cruceños? They were nowhere to be found! At this time, they were celebrating our misfortunes.

c) Subsidized by the State: These power families have controlled state-funded initiatives like the fund for agricultural development. They would take out credits and did not repay them. Thus, our tax money went to subsidize their spending.

Thus, when commercial banks would go bankrupt we would come to learn of their misdeeds. The numbers disclosed include 60 million dollars taken by the Landivar family, 25 million by the Tarabillos, and 60 million in tax evasion by the Fernandez.

d) Anti-nationalist: On October 17th 2003, these families drove us out of the central plaza. A group of cruceños had gathered to plead for justice for the death in El Alto. We were asking for the president’s resignation. We wanted the corrupt man out!

As our actions did not please these families, we were pushed out of the plaza. Indeed, they proved that they were the city “machos” after pushing out the poor. They even manipulated a group of young individuals with messages of hatred and racism to defend the province in their honour.

Given the situation, it is my duty to show the other face of Santa Cruz: the city of the honest, humble citizen.

a) Santa Cruz is multicultural: we are a large population with people from diverse origins. We have cambas, collas, chapacos, chiquitanos, ayoreos, guarayos, guaranis, yurcares, and others that love our Santa Cruz. They wish for a Santa Cruz of opportunities and not one that cultivates the interests of only the rich.

b) Santa Cruz is mostly poor: In our province, the “cambas de verdad” are those outside the cliques; the “cambas de verdad” value hospitality, justice, and honesty. They live in La Villa Primero de Mayo, El Plan 3000, La Pampa de la Isla, and La Oriental. They are employees of agricultural empires that work the land day and night. Some of us are professionals that manage hectares of land for a miserable salary. We are “cambas de verdad”!

c) Santa Cruz is nationalistic. Many of us professionals studied in other cities of Bolivia. We have shared our culture and experienced those of others. In fact, a guy from Oruro wrote our favorite song, “Viva Santa Cruz”!

Why not make the best of our diversity? The magnificent and beautiful cruceñas recently ran a fashion show in a few cities in the east to expand their brand into the Andinian markets. Why not make the best of our diversity? Isn’t it so that El Alto, La Paz, Cochabamba consume a great portion of the rice, sugar, and fruit that we produce? Why not make the best of our diversity?

In conclusion, we have to let everyone know we don’t agree with the opinions and actions of the elique cliques. Santa Cruz is more than just cliques! “Cambas de verdad” inhabit this region!

“Cambas de verdad” have been viewed as a mass of simple peasants during election time. The irony is that we do not agree with the actions of our “bad” leaders. Their campaigns don’t full us. we are aware of their obscure paths.

Viva Santa Cruz! Yes to autonomies, but with respect to others!

Jun 14 / Jon

The Sea Within Me

Translated by Liz Rogers.

This translation is a selection of poems taken from a larger collection. To my knowledge, the poetry of Eduardo Gener Cuadrado has never before been translated. It follows that the process of selecting is of supreme importance; after all, we want this selection to be representative of his whole body of work. The book of poems in question is divided thematically into three parts; the first section deals with the sea, the second with his ‘land’ experience, and the third with his Catholic faith.

Source text: Eduardo Gener Cuadrado, El mar que llevo adentro. [Jerez de la Frontera]: Jerez Industrial, 1964.

“In memoriam”
By Eduardo Gener Cuadrado

10 years now and a bitter slime
inside us, over your still remains.
God is smiling, “oh, what a shame”,
facing your soul of honey and lime.

10 years, José Alfonso de Gabriel.
You with Him and us with this pain.
Each day that passes the woe does not wane,
we with you but you with Him, meanwhile.

Winding down the cyclone of leaps and of bounds
when in your youth, svelte and profound
God claimed it to tell you: my fellow,

to give you as much as His essence contains;
the soul of all souls, the plain of all plains;
though you go with Him, we still say “hello”.

“I embody it”
By Eduardo Gener Cuadrado

Frosted sea glass
crackles over the wave:
skin of the sea, my body.

Life’s hot sweat
in this slimy ruin
of the dead, is now diluted.

The taste, it bites,
of mislaid gold in
rusting treasure chests.

The sea in me
so acutely I feel
that it seems to dissolve away.

“A fog in the Strait!”
By Eduardo Gener Cuadrado

The monstrosity, Gibraltar’s giant snout:
it laps the ocean’s salty water up.

In Algeciras, the tariff arabesque
makes its way from Ceuta; all the while,
a fog drifts down, judicious, through the Strait:

She wears a suit of fine-spun silken grey,
her décolletage left out exposed to view;
her skirt extends, the frilling ruffles flounce
(with fingertips she picks it up to keep
from swelling, the hemline against the floor azure);
below, her pretty little silk chopines
reign down, drizzled with silver lining; silent,
her cunning derides the dangers, laughing.

The glossy swordfish and steely urchins tossed
by fierce waves and surf of such a narrows;
and Tarifa to Tangier, the tariff arabesque.

And the monstrous Gibraltar’s giant snout:
still laps the ocean’s salty water up.

“The Four Elements, my lady and I”
By Eduardo Gener Cuadrado


Dirt, mud and sand:
your foot sinks
Leaves me marked


Blue deep:
mermaid dives
‘Tis you, my thirst


Heavy space:
I lie within
Your skin


Inside you:
an ardent flame
I remain

By Eduardo Gener Cuadrado

Facing the Gate of San Isidoro
the Virgin of Loreto alone,
the gilded air is full of Her essence:
that verse from the sonnet has flown.

May 13 / Jon

In Colombia, Prenatal and Childbirth Care is often Substandard or even Unavailable

Translated by Alex Moreland.

I chose this text for a number of different reasons. I liked that it was written in and about Colombia. Although I have never been to Colombia, I have a few ties to Colombia through family friends. I find it a little easier for me to translate South American Spanish than I do Spanish from Spain. Since I know more people from South America, it is easier to consult them if I get stuck on a phrase, and having a native speaker around is a great resource for translation.

The other reason I chose this text is I am very interested in childbirth. I want to become a midwife, which would mean working in the health care field that provides care to pregnant women, and then delivers the baby. This text is important to me because it details the hardships that developing countries face in their health care system and why their mortality rate can be so high.

Source text: “La atención del embarazo y del parto en Colombia falla en calidad y oportunidad de atención”

In Colombia, Prenatal and Childbirth Care is often Substandard or even Unavailable

Worldwide, more than half a million women die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing countries and 70,000 are young mothers between 15 and 19 years old.

These statistics come from a recent report by UNICEF entitled “Maternal and Newborn Health” which emphasizes that the risk of death is 300 times greater in poorer countries. Each year in Colombia, around 600 women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. According to the Minister of Social Protection, in December of 2008 the death rate for pregnant women was 44.7 per 100,000 live births.

“Most of these women die during the last stages of labor, right before the birth of the child. Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, collectively known as hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, as well as postpartum hemorrhage are the main causes of death” says Mary Luz Mejía, sexual and reproductive health advisor for the United Nations Population Fund.

Postpartum hemorrhages, she says, pose a problem for the specialists. These should be handled before they get too complicated and they should have qualified health care professionals to control them in places where normal births are attended, “and therein lies the problem” she says.

This year, for example, 18,173 fetuses and infants died due to obstetric complications and birth trauma. Of these, 8,226 were less than 22 weeks gestation and 5,141 were 38 to 42 weeks gestation.


The standards that exist for care here during pregnancy and childbirth are good and sufficient. Declines in the quality of care are determined by the ability of the professionals that attend the birth and the equipment and necessary supplies that are available.

According to Mary Luz Mejía, the healthcare system put pregnancy and childbirth exclusively in the hands of doctors, “and if we had the certainty that our recent medical school graduates had the skills to handle normal pregnancies and deliveries, then they would. The regulations of prenatal care should correspond with the excellence of general medical training, which doesn’t happen in certain cases.”

Another element related to the problem of the quality of care, is the access to services. The regulations say that the EPS (health promoting entities) and the IPS (health providing institutions) are obligated to inform users of their rights and how to access them. However, Mejía suggests, this is not always met or known, as the insurers are intent on reducing the cost of care.

“The vast majority of maternal deaths are preventable, but often times we don’t have trained personnel with basic knowledge of when and where they should start appropriate management of complications,” says Mejía.

Furthermore, a recently published study in the journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology says that in recent years maternal complications during delivery such as blood clots, breathing difficulties, shock and need for transfusions have all increased, apparently due to the increase in the rate of cesarean sections.

“In our country, cesarean sections have reached levels above the international standard, and for reasons that are rather questionable. For example, a woman will ask her doctor for this intervention, and without any medical need or reason to support it, he accepts,” says Hernando Villamizar, president of the Colombian Society of Pediatrics. “Prenatal care in Colombia, although different depending on the region, has become better. But during birth, the care is not always as good and the timely detection of a problem is limited…The quality of care that is offered through EPS and different institutions that are linked to the system is not the best,” adds Doctor Villamizar.

On occasion, he says, you can’t even find good information or medical history at the time of delivery that offers the details of the prenatal care.

Maternal Behavior

Adding to all this, pregnant women are afraid to ask for time off of work to go to doctor’s appointments, and this slows the demand of health services.

In Bogotá, for example, there are maternal health social networks—20 for each locality of the city—that seek to place maternal health as a priority, supporting pregnant women in making suggestions, informing them of their rights, and guaranteeing them health assistance.

However, there are obstacles faced in the care of pregnant women. “There are three barriers: the decision to use the health services, access to the services, and the care”, says Sandra Patricia Rodríguez, coordinator of the mother-child social network of the District Department of Health.

In the first case, says Rodríguez, there are cultural beliefs and fears that prevent women from approaching doctors, and insurers should be able to identify them so they can motivate them to use the health services.

“There are geographic barriers, such as long distances between the mother’s place of residence and the place where the services are offered, and often they don’t have the money to travel from one place to the other,” says Rodríguez.

There are also administrative barriers: photocopy requirements or insurance problems, that don’t appear in the system or medical examinations in different parts of the city.

“Another barrier is related to the quality of care: the profile of the professionals that give the care, it requires them to have not only the technical and scientific capabilities, but the warmth so that the families feel comfortable, and sometimes this fails,” adds the expert.

The Department of Health of Bogotá has made a significant effort, she says, so that pregnant women, especially those that are not affiliated with the health system, are treated by OB/GYNs and receive adequate care to reduce the risks of morbidity and mortality.

Interesting Facts

  • In Colombia, on average 720,832 babies are born alive each year. In 2006, 714,450 were born
  • 87% of births are attended by doctors
  • 20-35 is the age range which contains the most pregnancies and births
  • It is estimated that more babies are born eight or nine months after holidays and long vacations, like the end of the year
  • In Colombia, 100 girls are born for every 105 boys. However, for every 100 girls that die in the first year of life, 130 boys will die
  • For every 1,000 live births, 22.5% of boys died in the first year of life in 2006. In children under one, 12,211 died in total. The group of 1 to 5 months had the highest number of deaths (2,850: 1,607 boys and 1,243 girls) followed by infants younger than one day (2,516: 1,429 boys and 1,085 girls)
  • Neonatal mortality is about 12 per 1,000 live births, or about 8,000 to 9,000 newborns die each year, a good part due to preventable causes and improper handling
  • Pregnant women, on average, attend their first prenatal checkup in the third month of pregnancy
  • In Colombia, nearly 200,000 teenage girls become mothers each year

According to figures from Dane, in 2006, 536 pregnant women died. Main causes:

  • 70 cases of hypertension
  • 58 cases of eclampsia
  • 57 cases of postpartum hemorrhage
May 13 / Jon


Translated by Emily Lobsenz.

Leonel Archila’s “Secretamente” is one of many texts he has compiled about the Mayan experience in Guatemala, from the time of colonization to the present day. Archila, originally from Guatemala, now lives in Montreal, Canada, and hopes to have his texts translated into English and published. After I explained the parameters of this final project, Archila sent me a document of his works, and asked me to I pick the one that most interested me to translate. Not only did I appreciate having a collection to choose from, to be able to find a text that spoke to me, but being able to read through his other texts was also incredibly helpful in pinpointing the target audience. Archila’s collection includes texts depicting the injustice of colonization, human rights violations, and oppression of the Guatemalan government.

Leonel Archila

This poem was written in Guatemala, Archila’s home country, when he was in jail in 1976 for his participation in a rally demonstration against the human rights violations of the time.

The suffering has changed my face. I do not feel the whipping or the salt against my skin, and my tired eyes look indifferently upon my withered body. They torture my soul in mortal anguish; my body suffers in silence with only that cell as a witness.

Only that cell is witness to a man who bows his head against his chest; he doesn’t pray, but cries. Only that cell is witness to those mournful nights in which tears of pain pour over my face, and only that cell is witness to those days and nights in which my soul drank the bitterness of suffering.

My existence is like that of an animal in the country. The Storm approaches, leeches my soul of its strength, but I seek the narrow gate. The might, the frail might of my soul tells me that soon you and I will be together, one facing the other. Help me, my Lord, so that when the crucial moment arrives I have the strength to stand on my own, because face to face we will meet, two living bodies that in pain encase souls.

Bells ringing! How it hurts me to hear them, for they have been the announcers of the confinement of my spirit; they remind me with their ringing, as if for a fraction of a second I had forgotten, “You belong in the spiritual retreat, the occupation of that place, your cell, has caused your ego to disappear.” Oh, where are those rivers of youth, where is that sun-kissed face, where is the person I once was…and now no longer am?

My steps lead me through the streets, streets that I had journeyed down before, and now again, and neither my calloused feet nor the feel of the ground over which I step have any effect. On this day these streets come to life, and I feel as though they want to detain me, to delay the crucial moment.

The light of sunset weighs down my spirit, like the weight of my habit on my sorrow. Thus is the custom of my heavy heart. And the sunrays, so pallid, still cause my withered body pain, and I feel the diabolic forces seizing me. Upon arriving at your place, my heart cries, and my body has already collapsed. The nearby pedestrians pass by indifferently, and if anyone notices me they won’t be able to see that past my monk’s habit, years of suffering are hiding, suffering that only that cell and I have seen…even as a ghostly form. Poor me! If on this fatal day the sky was not grey but blue, could this man appreciate it? A cold wind sends a shiver up my spine and chills my body, a wind that doesn’t belong here, but is from far away…from another world! And at each instant my soul weakens, and in my melancholy, tired eyes one can discern sincere tears of pain.

Cruel Destiny. It’s not enough that she was stolen from the years of my youth when everything was an illusion and a dream. Today, she is placed in my path, aware that our lives are guided by different worlds.

Who, Cruel Destiny, if you separate and unite lovers, is permitted to love at your whim? Oh, Cruel Destiny, when I die my habit will be transformed into a fiery sword that will whip you for a thousand years…for all of eternity! Oh, Cruel Destiny, nobody sees you, but everyone feels your presence. Why can’t you see my tired eyes? Why can’t you see the restlessness of my soul, which in silent struggle dies? Why can’t you see my wounds and my withering body that peacefully entered into spiritual torture? Why must I be facing her?

A bedroom. Almost obscure. In the heart of the bedroom lies your dying body, that my eyes can distinguish through your white dress. My heart beats fiercely, and my blood races madly to my brain…the moment has arrived.

I enter your bedroom, but I am not the man you once knew. The man I have become, he is handcuffed to the church, and you are tied to another man – impassible barriers! It is only thanks to a foolish whim of destiny that we are face-to-face. So today I am your confessor.

I take your white hands, soft as silk, between my trembling ones, and in the name of the church I absolve you. And in the name of one man I forgive you for your abandonment, even though the pain in my heart is today newly opened, and the pain exacerbated. Even though these rivers of lava streaming down my face tell me that I still love you…that I never stopped loving you.

Even though today I remember when, as kids, we made our first escape from the school into the forest, where watching the first light of dusk our full, young lips united in a pure and innocent kiss. The spiritual isolation wasn’t sufficient to forget you, and you sweetly brush away these bleeding tears that I shed with a breath of life. Today you set off for eternity. And today I lose you forever.

I want to accompany you to the entrance of eternity. And when your white hands separate from my skeletal fingers to feel the eternal splendor, I will have reciprocated your kisses. I sense a break with the church and with the world. So the church exists in the world, and the world exists in the church, but our kisses are neither earthly nor celestial, they are only ours; your kisses are like crystal water that refreshes my soul for eternity.

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Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada
This work by Spanish 401, UBC, Professor Jon Beasley-Murray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada.