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  LATIN AMERICA

My pal
                    My mate
                                          My brother

Sharecropper
                    Colleague
                                          Comrade

My buddy
                    My boy
                                          Compatriot…

Here I have my neighbours
Here I have my brothers

The same Latin-American faces
from every corner of Latin America:
Indianwhiteblacks
Whiteblackindians
and Blackindianwhites

Blondes with thick lips
Bearded Indians
and straight-haired Blacks

All of them complain
—Oh, if only in my country
there wasn’t so much “politics”…!
—Oh, if only in my country
there weren’t such paleolithic people…!
—Oh, if only in my country
there was no militarism,
or oligarchy
or chauvinism
or bureaucracy
or hypocrisy
or clergy
or anthropophagy…
—Oh, if only — in my country…!

Someone asks where I’m from
(I do not answer with the following):
I was born close to Cuzco
Puebla I admire
I’m inspired by rum from The Antilles
I sing in an Argentinian voice
I believe in Saint Rose of Lima
and in the Orishas of Bahia.
I didn’t paint my Continent
the green of Brazil
the yellow of Peru
Bolivia’s red

I drew no border-lines
separating brother from brother

I rest by the Rio Grande
I stand firm at Cape Horn
my left hand I dip down into the Pacific
and into the Atlantic I submerge my right.

By the coasts East and West
and two-thousand miles inland
from each Ocean
I immerse both hands
and in this way I hold our Continent
in a Latin-American embrace.

Nicomedes Santa Cruz (1963)
English Translation by Lidia García Garay


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