Friday, January 14, 2011

Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen, Page 125

I hated to get involved with the Policia Rural because justice in Rio Verde was often simply a question of who you were and had little to do with the realities of the situation. But at supper I talked over Ramon's problem with Alexandro, who told me that Mageen was tormenting Ramon to get money out of him. It was Mageen's idea that the Peace Corps gringo would not stand by and let Ramon be tormented, but would pay well for peace. We decided that if Ramon would agree, the police should be used as a weapon of terror against Mageen. Ramon agree; he was passive at the point where he welcomed someone else making decisions for him. "But I don't want to put him in jail," he said. " I just want him to move that house off my land." Three of us went across the river and found the Policia Rural; we gave him ten sucres, and he came back with us. Mageen was drinking puro in front of Alvaro's store. I don't know what the Policia Rural said to him, but it was very effective. By eight o'clock the next morning Mageen had moved out of the house and was staying with friends in town.

The word got around that Mageen was going after Ramon's chickens with rat poison, and for the next few days Ramon never came into town without his machete. He told me that a year before Mageen had gotten into a fight with a neighbor over a hog and finally he had said, "Well, since we can't decide who it belongs to it's better if no one hat it, " and had killed the animal, slashing it twice in the back with a machete and severing its spinal column. If King Solomon had had to judge that conflict, I decided, he would have come out looking pretty idiotic.

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