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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 14, Page 2

The People's Palace

By the time Nuco returned, talk of the Revolution had abated. "Would you like to see the People's Palace?" the Good Sister asked. She explained that one of the first things the Sandinista government had done was to open all the country's palaces to the people. Leon's palace was especially grand. Los Testigos

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agreed, paid the bill and followed her into the street. A five minute walk led them to a magnificent old building overlooking Leon's Central Park.

"Reminds me of Grand Central Station," said Nuco, as the group climbed the stairs inside the building.

"Grand Central doesn't have the artwork," said the BigGuy. The palace walls were decorated with paintings of the heroes who had fought and died to topple the Somoza dictatorship.

The top floor opened onto a wide, star-filled sky. "This was where the Somozas held their parties when they were in Leon," explained the Good Sister. "Only the rich were allowed into the Palace. Now it's the 'people's palace.' Anyone is allowed to enter."

Los Testigos found a table and ordered beers. Around and below them, "the people" were enjoying a pleasant evening. "Nice up here," said the BigGuy, admiring the view while moving closer to the Good Sister. She was a good deal different than the ones that ruled his past parochial school education.

"It must have been like Czarist Russia during Somoza's time," said Nuco, reenthused with revolutionary fervor. "The wealthy and powerful sat up here, revelling in champagne while the poor looked up and plotted the overthrow. !Viva Sandino!"

"Cerveza's warm," Capn observed.

After finishing her cerveza and receiving several assurances from los Testigos that they could find their way to the hotel, the Good Sister bid the group adios and left. She had to get up at five AM to coordinate the coffee harvest. Los Testigos wished her continued success with the Revolution.

Who are the People?

"Señor, was the spaghetti that bad that you had to leave the dinner table so abruptly?" asked the BigGuy once the Good Sister had departed.

"It was pretty bad," Nuco replied.

"She suspected you were going out to smoke a joint," Medio said.

"Who?" asked Nuco.

"The Good Sister."

"I had to get out of there," Nuco said. "All that talk about 'the people' was getting on my nerves."

"Where did you go?" the BigGuy asked.

"I wandered down the street and smoked a joint."

"Not a move intended to support the Revolution," the BigGuy observed.

"And this from the same guy who donated money to the final offensive," Medio added.

Nuco shrugged, picked up his bottle of beer and drained it. The group sat quietly for a while, enjoying the evening in the presence of past excellencies. It was doubtful that any of them would get this close to royalty anywhere else.

"What I'd like to know is exactly who are 'the people'?" the BigGuy chimed in suddenly. "Is the Good Sister talking about 'the people' who pick cotton, or 'the people' who drive buses? Do 'the people' run businesses, or are they in the military? Exactly who are 'the people'?"

"Who are 'the people'?" Medio reflected, encouraging the BigGuy to elaborate.

"When we talk about life being better for 'the people,' just who are we talking about?" continued the BigGuy, on an oral roll. "Maybe the Good Sister's talking about 'the people' such as herself. It's understandable that she views the Revolution positivelyit's treating her pretty well."

"She doesn't have to ride the buses," Capn observed.

"No, she hasn't had to ride the buses we've ridden," agreed the BigGuy. "She hasn't experienced being crushed in an overcrowded bus while it tips over. Perhaps she's just not experiencing the negative effects of the Revolution. While the campesinos walkor worse yet, use public transportationshe rides comfortably in a Volkswagen."

"With you in the passenger seat," added Medio.

"Well, yeah, I..." the BigGuy was at a loss for words.

"Or was it the driver's seat," Medio continued, probing for a weak spot.

"I supported the Revolution," interrupted Nuco. "I contributed money to the Sandinista final offensive and I'm still glad that I did."

"And which of 'the people' did you help?" asked the BigGuy.

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