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N its ordinary sense, the term revolution is understood as indicating a popular uprising against some

form of absolutism, or some fundamental change in the form of government, usually brought about by violence. But in Latin-America, as we have seen, the word has an acquired local meaning. It is there employed to indicate almost every species and degree of public disorder, and is generally synonymous with our words riot and sedition. Every local or general tumult is dignified by the name of “ revolution,” and every dissatisfied politician is generally a “ revolutionist.”

Another distinction must be noted if we would obtain a clear conception of what is usually meant by a South American "revolution." In other parts of the world, revolutions generally originate with the masses. They begin at the bottom and work upward. But in South America they almost invariably originate with the few. They begin at the top and work downwards. In other countries, a successful revolution implies fundamental changes in the form of government; in South America they rarely imply anything more than a change of administration or a redistribution of the public offices. In other words, a South American “revolution” is rarely anything more than a disorderly and violent contention among selfish politicians. There is seldom any real issue involved. Even in exceptional instances,

there have been few resultant changes other than modifications in the fundamental or statutory law; the form of government has always remained republican, at least in name.

Nor can it be truthfully said that even these modifications and changes of the fundamental law have been along lines that were unrepublican in principle. In themselves considered, the laws are seldom essentially bad. The difficulty lies in their inadequate and unfaithful administration. Generally, there is no such thing as an independent judiciary; for, like every other department of government, the judiciary is inseparably allied with “machine politics," and therefore within the domain of the “spoils system.” A judge is seldom chosen by reason of his learning, or his supposed fitness for the position; the position is sought for the man, not the man for the position. And as he holds his place by short and uncertain tenure, and must be careful not to offend the political “bosses," his opinion is worth little more than the whereases and resolves of a town meeting.

South American “revolutions” are either local or general. They are said to be local when the state or provincial offices are in dispute, and to be general when the federal offices are involved. In both cases, the pretext is usually some real or fancied irregularity at the polls, or some alleged failure of the federal administration to redeem its party pledges. In neither case are the masses in the least interested, for, as a rule, they care little or nothing about politics. They generally vote as they are directed by the “bosses," and are quite indifferent as to who shall fill the little offices. The commercial and financial classes are almost equally derelict. They seldom attend a primary, and rarely vote at a popular election. The whole machinery of

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government is abandoned to the professional politicians. The party managers or “ bosses ” usually get together and "fix up the slate," as we would say; a packed primary ratifies the arrangement, and this, in turn, is ratified by the form of an election at which perhaps less than ten per cent of the property holders ever attend or vote. Even on extraordinary occasions, when there is something like a full vote, there is rarely a fair count. The result is that the defeated candidate seldom acquiesces in the result.

He usually begins by issuing what he calls a festo,” wherein he charges irregularities and frauds at the election, sets forth his own and his friends' particular grievances, predicts the speedy downfall of the Republic unless these wrongs are summarily righted, and winds up with an impassioned appeal to the "patriotism" of the country. If he happens to be a man of ready tongue (and whoever saw a South American politician who was not?), he is apt to have a substantial following,

a and in due course will become the leader of an organized faction. He collects a few muskets and machetes, assumes the title of “General,” and very soon finds himself at the head of a little band of guerillas ready for business.

But inasmuch as he is always a "patriot," who, like the eccentric gentleman of La Manche, seeks only to right the wrongs of others, he considerately defers active hostilities till after his demands are formally made known to the existing government. As a result, a "peace conference" is usually appointed, made up of "plenipotentiaries” chosen by each party. Nogotiations and protocols, propositions and counter-propositions, follow.

1 The machete is a large heavy knife, from eighteen inches to two feet long; in peaceful times it is used as an axe or pruning blade, in war times as both sword and bayonet.

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If these result in some satisfactory agreement, the "revolution” is declared off; the

are in some way provided for, and the peones who constitute the rank and file of the insurgent force return, unpaid, to their humble abodes. If, however, the negotiations fail, then the fighting begins without further notice. And, in either case, the national Government dare not interfere. It must observe the strictest “neutrality.” It cannot interpose even for the preservation of public order. Its only duty is to await the result of the “negotiation " or of the armed conflict, and then recognize the de facto local government as "the legitimate authority."

Such is the local “revolution." It may become general in a variety of ways. Some adjacent “sovereign state," member of the national Union, or the government of the Union itself, may fail to observe strict neutrality; or the quarrel over the state offices may have some indirect bearing upon the Presidential succession; or the balance of political power between the “sovereign states" may seem likely to be disturbed by it; or there may be some real or fancied interposition on the part of the national Government. Any one of these contingencies, not to enumerate others, may result in a "general revolution," which, if successful, is usually followed by an era of “constitutional reforms,” and, if unsuccessful, by a period of military rule.

These “revolutions” have their comic as well as tragic side, and whether comic or tragic are always unique and peculiar to the country. Take the method of recruiting, for example. In none of the SpanishAmerican Republics, with possibly one or two exceptions, and these of very recent date, is there anything corresponding either to the militia system of the United States, or to the conscript system of Europe. The volunteer bounty system is likewise unknown. The standing army consists of a few skeleton regiments of ill-paid privates and hordes of generals and other commissioned officers, who are invariably politicians. They may resign whenever they like, for others are always ready to take their places. To fill up the rank and file as emergencies arise, the government relies entirely upon impressments. Recruiting officers scour the country, lasso in hand, or lie in wait for the simpleminded aldeano at the market places, and catch peones very much in the same manner that a Texas herdsman lassos his cattle. The “revolutionary” leader adopts the same method; and between the two, the docile and simple-minded Indian rarely escapes. Once caught and put into the army, he knows only obedience. He is easily drilled, and rarely fails to make a good soldier. He is stupidly indifferent to bodily danger, and will stand up and shoot and be shot at without flinching. If taken prisoner, he is at once enlisted in the ranks of his captors, and will fight quite as well there as he did on the other side. If he is killed while on the winning side, some show of provision is usually made for his family. If he falls while fighting on the losing side, his family are expected to make no complaint. If he survives the strife, he returns unpaid and half naked, but quietly and peaceably, to his humble home, never seeming to realize that he has been badly treated. Almost any other human being, in any other country, would, under like circumstances, become an outlaw and a desperado. But the native Indian of the Andes accepts his hard lot without even an audible murmur.

Nor is he the only victim of the disorders incident to these perennial “revolutions." Take the usual contribution," for example, which is, of course, only a polite name for robbery. When horses, mules, sad


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