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Equality and Progress (“Igualdad y Progreso”)

c. April 16, 1909 — 24th anniversary celebration, Society of Workers (Sociedad de Obreros), Laredo TX


I beseech the honorable president, the respected Society of Workers, and this most distinguished audience to forgive my lack of ability. Invited to take part in this celebration, pleasant for more than one reason, and wishing to cooperate with this united effort, though my part may be insignificant, I come as a fervent admirer of the mutual benefit movements, to call on all workers, my brothers, and say: Combatants, forward!

For such a simple expression I need no elegance of language, rhetoric, nor any wisdom. To call a worker my brothers, I need only my heart, and to tell him: Forward!” I need only, like him, a soul swollen with the desire to struggle.

We celebrate the twenty-fourth anniversary of the well known as it is respected Society of Workers.

The twenty-fourth anniversary! How much that date tells us!

Twenty-four years of noble struggle against so many morbid germs that would annihilate the collective effort, that terribly and vilely devote themselves to devouring mutualism; twenty-four years of having to kill egotisms and ambitions, of holding down rebelliousness and joining hands over those fallen rebellions; twenty-four years of joining souls through the principle of humanity, through the sentiment of innate altruism in the heart, and altruism that permits us to fulfill our obligation to our beloved comrade, to visit him in sickness, to console him in sorrows and to give him our hand in every bitter hour and in every test, even to bid him farewell when his turn comes to be called to eternity.

That is mutualism, a noble mission of truth, sublime and holy mission mission of charity that nations ignore or have forgotten; nations, whose workers are dispersed, segregated, strangers to each other, and . . . how many times, sad to say, more than strangers, subject to ruinous enmities, that workers’ element divides instead of seeking [union], becomes offended instead of giving aid and, no, rejects with hatred its own [members] , rather than embracing [all workers] with love; [workers] reject each other without seeing that their blood and their anguish kneaded together become the bitter bread that they devour together; without seeing that their arms are what sustain the industry of nations, their richness and their greatness.

How many times also through apathy do the workers’ guilds remain isolated, through the lack of that invigorating spirit that gives energy and patience to confront setbacks and survive difficulties?

Mutualism needs the vigor of struggle and the firmness of conviction to advance in its unionizing effort; it needs to shake away the apathy of the masses, and enchain with links of abnegation the passions that rip apart its innermost being; it needs hearts that say: I am for you, as I want you to be for me; mutualism has need of us workers, the humble, the small gladiators of the idea, it needs for us to salvage from our egotisms something immense, something divine, that can make us a society ,that can make us nobly human. And the worker should not think of his humbleness, nr of his insignificance, he should not reason that he is unimportant and so remove himself discouraged from the social concert. What does it matter that he is but an atom, what does it matter?

The atoms invisible for their smallness are the only elements of the universe.

That is how he is. The worker is the arm, the heart of the world.

And it is to him, untiring and tenacious struggler, that the future of humanity belongs. May you, beloved workers, integral part of human progress, yet celebrate, uncounted anniversaries, and with your example may you show societies how to love each other so that they may be mutualists and to unite so that they may be strong.



Source: El Demócrata, April 17, 1909.


Also: Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States, ed. Nicholás Kanellos, (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 2001, pp. 444-445.