Creole Democracy – Venezuela
Rufino Blanco-Fombona (1874-1944)
Blanco-Fombona was born at Caracas, in Venezuela, in 1874. He came of an old and aristocratic family of Spanish descent. His extraordinary activities, not only as a writer, but as politician, revolutionary soldier, and government employee, together with his picturesque personal exploits, all contributed to make him one of the most interesting figures in Spanish-America. He travelled in many parts of the world. His writings include criticism, poetry, political essays, novels, and short stories, the first collection of which appeared in 1900. Of Creole Democracy, perhaps his finest short story, Dr. Goldberg has said that “not many tales that have come out of South America can match it.”
The present version, revised from an earlier version, is here printed by permission of the translator, Isaac Goldberg.
The hamlet of Camoruco stands at one of the gateways to the Plains The wagon-road cuts the little settlement squarely and neatly in two, like the parting of a dandy’s hair. Stretched out upon the savanna, the village consists of two rows of houses which stand in a file along the edge of the road, and seem to peer furtively upon the passer-by. They look like a double row of sparrows upon two parallel telegraph wires. Close by flows the Gurico, an abundant stream that irrigates the pampas; in its sands slumbers the skate-fish and on its banks, with halfopen jaws, the lazy alligators take their noonday rest.
Creole Democracy – It was election time; a governor of the Department was to be chosen. For certain political reasons the interest of an appreciable part of the Republic was centered upon the contest. El Faro (The Lighthouse), a backwoods sheet which had been established for the occasion, declared its opening number: “Perhaps for the first time in Camoruco, the elections will cease to be the work of a group of petty politicians, mere vote- manufacturers; perhaps for the first time in Camoruco the elective fabric will be woven by the unsullied hands of the people.”