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The Carnival of the Bullets
MARTIN LUIS GUZMAN

mterest in Villa' and his activities often made me ask If, while I was m Ciudad Juarez, which exploits would best -c: the Division of the North: those supposed to be strictly - rical or those rated as legendary; those related exactly as had been seen, or those in which a touch of poetic fanc y out their essence more clearly. These second always-ed to me truer, more worthy of being considered his';:"or instance, where could one find a better painting of .: lfo Fierr02-and Fierro and Villa's movement were two - - §; mirrors that reflected each other endlessly-than in the :.mt of how he carried out the terrible orders of his chief - one of the battles, revealing an imagination as cruel as it :ertile in death devices? This vision of him leftin the soul of a reality so overwhelming that the memory of : forever. battle, which was successful in every way, had left not five hundred prisoners in Villa's hands. Villa ordered -0 be divided into two groups: the Orozco volunteers,
Pancho Villa ( 1878-1923) was a general an d folk hero in the Revolution who led the Division of the North. ·.i,'!fo Fierro: "the executioner," a lieutenant inthe army of Pancho .:uring the Mexican Revolution.
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whom we called "Reds;' in one, and the Federals 3 in the And as he felt himself strong enough to take extreme he decided to make an example of the first group and to ac:: generously toward the second. The "Reds" were to be e.uo before dark; the Federals were to be given their choice of . the revolutionary troops or returninghome, after promis - ; to take up arms again against the Constitutionalist4 cause.. Fierro, as might have been expected, was put in cha;-= the execution, and he displayed in it that efficiency whi- already winning him great favor with Villa, his "chief' called him. It was growing late in the afternoon. The revoluu forces, off duty, were slowly gathering in the little village had been the objective oftheir offensive. The cold, peneewind of the Chihuahuan plains began to blow up, and the • o( cavalry and infantry sought protection against the grou-:, buildings. But Fierro-whom nothing and nobody eyer back-was not to be put out by a cool breeze that at meant frost that night. He cantered along on his horse, \ . dark coat was still covered with the dust of battle. The was blowing in his face,but he neither buried his chin breast nor raised the folds of his blanket around his face. carried his head high, his chest thrown out, his feet firm i;stirrups, and his legs gracefully flexed under the cam? equipment that hung from the saddle straps. The barren ? and an occasional soldier that passed at a distance were only spectators. But he, perhaps without even thinking a_
) Federals: soldiersin (he Mexican army.
Constitutionalist: the Constitutionalists were a faction of the )\ 1 Revolution that dominated politics from the revolution until (hI." 1970s, made lip mainly of the middle-class, liberals, and intell ec dedicated to a constitution based on (he idea of "Mexico for Mex i.:4

MARTiN LUIS GUZMAN

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it. reined his horse to make him show his gaits as though he were onparade. Fierro was happy; the satisfaction of victory 5lled his being; and to him victory was complete only when it eant the utter rout of the enemy; and in this frame of mind even the buffeting of the wind. and riding after fifteen hours in the saddle. were agreeable. The rays of the pale setting sun seemed to caress him as they fell. He reached the stableyard where the condemned prisoners wereshut up like a herd of cattle. and he reined in a moment o look at them over the fence rails. They were well-built men of the type of Chihuahua. tall. compact. with strong necks and well-set-up shoulders on vigorous. flexible backs. As Fierro looked over the little captive army and sized up its military value and prowess. a strange pulsation ran through him. a twitching that went from his heart or...
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