On Sunday morning, at breakfast with brothers and cousins and their kids in Cahuacán, talk of Fox's blocked annual address circulated around the kitchen. Having the PRD party as the subject of conversation inevitably meant opining about López Obrador and his plantón--the organized protest occupying the city center and along Reforma avenue. Blanca said, "¡Hay que ir!" We've got to go!, even though she confessed her suspicions that he's crazy. "He's paying almost twenty bucks a person! And with kiddie rides, shade, and entertainment, it'd be like getting paid to let the kids get babysat. Hay que ir, I tell you," she laughed.
As I work on forming my own opinions, I've done a lot of listening, reading and borrowing other people's words. It's impossible not to; it's the talk of the nation. And like Don Quixote's fat and faithful Sancho Panza, or Sheriff Montoya's wife in The Milagro Beanfield War, I've started using refranes--Spanish proverbs or aphorisms--for lack of my own words to say. Blanca may have been joking about the opportunistic opportunity to join the ranks of plantones, but hundreds of others sure aren't. I couldn't help but think to myself, "Un peso vale más que cien consejos," One peso is worth more than a hundred words of advice. Money talks, so to speak, and quite clearly.
Refranes, or dichos, are far from falling out of everyday speech--the spirit of Sancho Panza lives on. Hardly a day goes by in my Spanish-speaking world that one or maybe two don't come up. These commonly held truths and beliefs are everyone's heritage and a frequent verbal support. In my bedtime novel by lamplight last night, "A grandes males, grandes remedios" came up. "For big evils, big antidotes" it said. It began to think of misguided leaders, apart from the ones inhabiting the book.
One of those big evils happens to be Andres Manuel López Obrador's calling cause. It's the one that, when he's confronted by it, will also cause my father-in-law to say "Al perro más flaco se le cargan las pulgas," It's to the skinniest of dogs that all the fleas begin to flock. It's poverty, and by subsidizing through government programs like a beneficent father, AMLO claims claims to have the "big antidote" we'd all love to see.
But as I know all too well, it's so much easier said than done. "Del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho," indeed--there lies a great distance between what's said and what's done.
By touting a government in that "beneficent father" vein, AMLO sounds uncannily close to taking a PRI-ist point of view. And though his rants have been lately directed at the PAN, that old PRI party takes its share of his critique. Like the old refrán goes, "El comal le dijo a la olla, mira qué tiznado estás." In many respects, he seems no better than who he's deemed his foes; the griddle said to the pot, look how sullied with soot you are.