Manlio Argueta Quotes
“Even innocent people find themselves in trouble, Adolfina is innocent. We're all innocent. The only ones at fault for the bad things that are happening are the authorities. They with their way of being. Their behavior. Yes, the only ones who go to jail or end up wounded or dead along the roads are the poor. And that's because the authorities have a predilection--they know who to hassle. They exist to boss the poor around. To order the poor about, to beat up on the poor and to carry them off as if they were animals. Someday the good life they're living will end. Always doing it to the people, always. They've never suffered the slightest hurt. That's where they get their pride from. Once they're in uniform they think they're kings of the world, and they themselves say they're disposed to anything”
“Life gets harder and harder. They say we have a lot of people in this country. And the most abundant are the poor. Hordes of poor people everywhere. But what can we do? What are we guilty of? That is why there's so much hunger in the villages and everywhere. Well I don't think life should be that way. "What's important is to be aware that one is poor," Chepe tells me repeatedly. "And what good is that?" I ask him. And he replies that only that way will we become strong enough to claim, to demand that which we have a right to. Everything else is a farce. What we must always insist on is the rights of the poor.”
“The road to Hell is paved with evildoers, they'd tell us. And the evildoers were those who had bad thoughts. We always wanted to be good. We believed that to be good was to bow one's head, not to protest, not to demand anything, not to get angry. No one had clarified these things for us. On the contrary, we were always being offered a celestial paradise. The reward for being good. To respect one's neighbor was really to respect the landowner. And to respect the landowner was to conform to his whimsey. If there were no beans to eat after working on the plantation, it was because the landowner couldn't manage, the landowner was suffering losses. If there were no hammocks to sleep in, it was because the harvest had not left the landowner enough time to provide them. And there we were without food, waiting for the afternoon or the evening to go home to eat, a whole day without eating; or we'd go to sleep under the pepetos trees in the coffee fields.
We used to confuse goodness with resignation.”
--They're not paid to kill honest people, to shoot for no good reasons.
--Ah, my little girl, then why do you think they give them those big guns that look like tree branches and are larger than they themselves? To shoot, baby, to shoot. Because if they don't, that gives rise to talk that the authorities are useless, are nothing more than decoration.”
“The guardsmen dragged him to the Detour; the mules they had ridden were there. The corpse was buried near here or the buzzards ate it. The authorities were laughing as they left.
One could see the laughter in their eyes, the only place where they are allowed to laugh.
Because the authorities cannot laugh. It is prohibited; at least they never laugh with their mouths. They're made to denounce, interrogate and capture. Laughing is a weakness. They themselves say, 'Laughter abounds among fools.' An official must not show any weakness before a civilian, otherwise he'll thereby lose precisely his authority. The authorities are short on words; they don't want to lose their strength by speaking to civilians. They act. That's the only way they can defend property, which is sacred. That's why many of them are paid by landowners. How big a bonus they get depends on how well they behave.”
“We have to be well fed, the gringo tells us, so we can defend the country. In exchange for these pleasures, we cannot let these people down. One must be ready to defend the country against its enemies even at the expense of our own brothers. And, though it's unnecessary to say so, even at the expense of our mother. This might seem like an exaggeration, but the Western world is in danger and we know that the worst danger to the Western world is what they call 'the people.' The trainer shouts, 'Who is our worst enemy?' And we shout, 'The people!' And so on and so on, 'Who is the worst enemy of democracy?' And we all respond, 'The people!' Louder, he says. And we shout with all our might, 'The people, the people, the people." I'm telling you this in the strictest confidence, of course. They call us the Special Forces.”
“They taught us to manage money and how to et a good price for our eggs, chickens or pigs.
We used to know how to do that -- we weren't dumb; but since we never had any surplus, we had no money to manage. The only money we ever saw went right past us; no sooner had we earned a few cents than they were spent on aspirin . . . those kinds of things.”
“What makes them haughty and strong is that they've studied to be authorities so that the law will be obeyed. The law has always been hard. They say that only by being that way can they force you to obey the law; there are people who won't be good otherwise. We're only interested in being bad, they say. I don't know, I've never done anything bad to anyone, not to José or to my children . . . They defend private property--that principle--is sacred--because it is possible for our hands to be stained with blood; but to appropriate what isn't ours, that's out of the question.”
“It was nicer that way. knowing that something called rights existed. The right to health care, to good and to schooling for our children . . . For us things were good; for others they were bad. Especially for the landowners, who are the ones who suffered most when we demanded our rights. They spend more and earn less.
Besides, once we learned about the existence of rights we also learned not to bow our heads when the bosses scolds us.
We learned to look them in the face.”
- Date of birth: November 24, 1935
- Born: in San Miguel, El Salvador.
- Description: Argueta was born in San Miguel (El Salvador) on November 24, 1935. Argueta has stated that his exposure to “poetic sounds” began during his childhood and that his foundation in poetry stemmed from his childhood imagination. Argueta’s interest in literature was strongly influenced by the world literature he read as a teenager. Argueta began his writing career by the age of 13 as a poet. He cites Pablo Neruda and García Lorca as some of his early poetic influences. Although he was relatively unknown at the time, Argueta won a national prize for his poetry around 1956, which gained him some recognition among Salvadoran and Central American poets. As he became more involved with the literary community of El Salvador, Argueta became a member of the "Committed Generation". Because of his writings criticizing the government, Argueta was exiled to Costa Rica in 1972 and was not able to return to El Salvador until the 1990s. Argueta currently lives in El Salvador where he holds the position of Director of the National Public Library.
He belonged to a literary group by the name of Generación Comprometida (Committed Generation, referring to political and social commitment), also known as Círculo Literario Universitario (University Literary Circle), created by Italo López Vallecillos (1932-1986). Other members of the group included Roque Dalton (1935-1975), Alvaro Menen Desleal (1931-2000), Waldo Chávez Velasco (1932), Irma Lanzas (1933), Orlando Fresedo (1932), Mercedes Durand (1932-1998), Ricardo Bogrand (1932), and Mauricio de la Selva. Members of the group were revolutionary in both their writing and their political views, though some members claim that "Generación Comprometida" and "Círculo Literario Universitario" were two different groups, it's been said that "Generación Comprometida" would be formed three or four years after the "50's Generation", a group which would be formed by those writers whom started publishing between 1950 and 1952 and had been members of the “Cenáculo de Iniciación Literaria” such as Mercedes Durand, Irma Lanzas, Orlando Fresedo, Italo López Vallecillos, Waldo Chávez Velasco, Álvaro Menéndez Leal, Mauricio de la Selva and Ricardo Bogrand. The group sought to create social change in terms of the treatment of the lower class. But they also initiated rediscovery of cultural heritage to a certain extent. Manlio Argueta and his Committed Generation were heavily influenced by the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and his existentialist ideas. Existentialism is an outlook on life that emphasizes the existence, freedom, and actions of the individual. This perspective tends to be atheistic and stress human freedom and experience as a definition of existence as opposed to scientific definitions. Existentialists also do not believe in the existence of objective moral values.
Some of Argueta’s works include El valle de las Hamacas (Editorial Ariel, Buenos Aires, 1977), Un hombre por la patria (poetry, Editorial Universitaria, San Salvador, 1968), En el costado de la luz (poetry, EU, San Salvador, 1968), Caperucita en la zona roja / Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District (Casa de las Américas Prize 1977, various editions), Un día en la vida / One Day of Life (1980), Cuzcatlán, donde bate la mar del sur / Cuzcatlán, Where the Southern Sea Beats (1986), Milagro de la Paz / A Place Called Milagro de la Paz (San Salvador, Istmo Editores, 1995) Siglo de O(G)ro (San Salvador, DPI, 1997). A characteristic of Argueta’s writing style present in the majority of his works is the use of Salvadoran Spanish vernacular and slang. Argueta considers this a way to express and preserve some of El Salvador’s cultural identity.
Argueta is best known for his book One Day of Life, which has been translated into over 12 languages. The book takes the reader through one day of the life of Lupe, the main character. Lupe is a grandmother in a small vi