Previous, Next, Numerical Index, Chronological Index.
For All Nails, pt. 37:  The Candidate

19 September 1971

Guadalajara City, Guadalajara

The Candidate was a happy man, until he saw the vasty grey space that
was Liberación Plaza.  [1]  It reminded him the old joke about the way
to Chapultepec Castle. [1a]

The rally was supposed to kick off the campaign in Guadalajara State,
right downtown in Liberación Plaza.    Now, he’d been to the
state plenty of times.  But mostly to the southern sections,
Valladolid and the towns around it, the more Mexicano part of the
state.  [2]  Now he was gonna hit the big city, and go from there out
into the smaller cities of the Bajío, where everyone was Anglo or
Hispano or pretended to be.  [2a]  The candidate didn’t like
Guadalajara State much --- pinche hypocrites on the race issue, better
Yucatán or Jefferson where the blancos didn't _pretend_ so much that
they didn't care what shade your skin was --- but the Plan meant
kissing babies all over the country, including little Hispano ones in
the Bajío.  [2b]  Anyway, the Candidate liked kissing babies, and if
bringing change meant kissing up to their parents, well, he could do

The Guadalajara jaunt was going to be a pain, since he was going to
have to fly back to Mexico City several times for meetings with
Important Personages, but that’s why God created airmobiles.  It
was less than an hour from anywhere in Guadalajara to Mexico City
anyway, and the state was literally riddled with airfields.  [2c]

The start of the Guadalajara whistlestop would be downtown in the
capital city, near the Mexicano slums.   Getting a crowd should be
easy.  The media was supposed to be there:  vita, radio, print, the
whole googly. The Guadalajara City press was, of course, utterly
incorruptible.  They would show up in their own personal luxury lokes,
bought on their own salaries, of course, and equipped with stickers to
allow them to park anywhere, which were, obviously, entirely unrelated
to any relationship with Governor Rickover, Secretary Merca-tor, or
the Progressive Party.

The Candidate arrived in a carreta from the airport with only a driver
and one his most trusted aides. [3]  And what happened?  Nothing. 
That was the problem.  Nothing and nobody.

Liberación Plaza was entirely deserted, as if somebody had _worked_ at
making sure the Plaza stayed empty.  [4]  There was a band in the
plaza, playing that godawful mariachi music, some guy yodelling
something in Spanish.  (It later turned out that the bandleader was
the governor's brother, and the campaign had paid 135,000 dólares for
the privilege.)  Maybe forty spectators milled around --- at a cost of
three thousand dólares per head, just to get them there --- most of
them holding posters and bumper stickers and wearing the silly straw
hats that had marked Mexican political campaigns since time
immemorial. Liberación Plaza was big.  If you blindfolded a few dozen
people and set them to wander, it would be years before any of them
bumped into each other.  There were also a couple of vita camera
crews, and the reporters leaning against their lokes.  Add to that the
fact that the area around Liberación Plaza looks depressing at any
time, [5] and the slow, phlegmatic campesino public image gave way to
the way the Candidate was before he became a candidate, back to his
old identity as the Lieutenant of the 105th Airmobile Infantry

"What the fuck is this?" hollered the Lieutenant-cum-Candidate as the
bus pulled into the plaza.  "Chewy, I am _not_ getting out of this
vehicle until somebody finds out what's going on."  [6]

Chewy, looking all of twelve-years-old, got on the inalámbrico.  The
campaign used military-issue inalámbricos to co-ordinate.  [7]  "Where
are you, Miguel?"  Miguel was the point man sent over to get the event

"Over here, by the Cathedral.  I can see you guys.  I'm coming over." 
The Candidate watched Miguel Ibarra jog across the plaza, dodging
windswept debris.  Most of which seemed to be discarded campaign

"Chewy, you talk to him," said the Candidate.  Ninety percent of
maturity was knowing when you were going to be immature, and avoiding
the situation.  Since the Candidate was angry, better have Chewy do
the talking.

Chewy leaned out the door of the carreta and asked Ibarra,  "What
happened?  Where is the crowd?"

Ibarra managed to jog and shrug simultaneously.  "Ni idea.  Somebody
screwed us.  We thought the Guadalajara people were on top of it, but
they kicked it over to the party or-ganization in Zapopan and Minerva.
 There's a big rivalry between the western burbs and the central city,
sabes, and they want us to look bad.  No mamo, this is deliberate. 
Some-body wants the Governor to look bad."  Ibarra was a tall man,
lanky, with a nose that had been smashed in by a cricket bat.  But
honestly smashed in, during a cricket game.

Unfortunately for his future in politics, Miguel Ibarra was also an
upstanding and honest young man.  He looked incredibly embarrassed.

Chewy pulled himself back into the carreta and looked back at the
Candidate.  "Not good,"  said the Candidate.

"Somebody kicked the duck," said Chewy.  [7a]

The Candidate's chest heaved, but even if it was hard, he hadn't
gotten this far in the viper's nest that was politics in Mercator's
Mexico by letting his temper control him.  "Uhh-hhhuuuuh.  Ask him
what he suggests."

Chewy leaned back out the door.  "What do you suggest?"

Miguel shrugged again.  "No sé."

Chewy pulled himself back in.  "He doesn't know."

"Haaah-baaaaaaah."  The country spirit coming through.  "Ask him what
Rickover thinks.  And don't let him tell you that he hasn't told

Leaning back out.  "What does Rickover want?"

Another shrug.  Ibarra was far too embarrassed by the situation to try
pretending that the Governor didn't know what was happening.  "Uh,
well, to go ahead with the speech, of course."

Chewy turned down one side of his mouth.  "Por favor."  The accent
gave him away immediately as a Mexicano from Chiapas.  [8]

Another shrug.  "Pues, the Governor himself will be here shortly, and
the press is here, the vita cameras are here, and we've issued the
releases.  It would be, uh, bad form to cancel now, right?"

Chewy leaned back in.  "He say the Governor wants the show to go on."

"Fuuuuuh-guuuuuuuuh!  Screw that."  The Candidate thought for second. 
"You know what this is about.  The mapmaker is laying a course."  It
was code, but Chewy knew what it meant.

"You think?"

"That's right."  The Candidate was radiating that weird body language
he sometimes did, when you weren't sure if he was going to bust a gut
laughing or a window punching.  Not for the first time, Chewy wondered
if there was some-thing about politics that drove people crazy, or if
it was that crazy people were drawn to politics.  [9]  Moctezuma's
nose certainly looked like the Candidate had used it enough to try to
hurt other people's fists.  [9a]  Or maybe it was cricket games.

"And we all must follow that course."  The Candidate pointed out the
window.  "Nyuuuh-zhuuuuuh.  See that abandoned storefront?  Where
those two guarruas are standing next to the reporters?"

Two uniformed guards stood out front, as immobile as the planters with
the dead trees scat-tered around Liberación Plaza.  An abandoned
"Moctezuma for Mexico" flyer blew up against the legs of one guard. 
He looked down a fraction of a second too late, like a
badly-constructed animato.  His expression looked painted on.  [10] 
The reporters just looked bored.

"That's where the Governor is.  He doesn't want me to go ahead with
the speech.  He _wants_ me to storm out of here.  Then the press will
report his speech, in the most glow-ing terms, of course, filled with
all the things he wants from Mercator and thinks he can get from me." 
The Candidate paused for a moment.

"Of course, if I do give the speech, that's fine for him too.  It
isn't what the Mapmaker wants, but it will do.  I'll look silly, and
the whistlestop will be an abortion."  [11]  He paused again.

"Haaaaaba-dabba.  I wish Osterman were here.  But he's not.  What time
is it, Chewy?"

"Ten para two, Governor."  [12]

The Candidate rubbed his face, then yelped.  "Yow!  I wish I could
grow a damned beard in this job."  [13]

Chewy looked at him quizzically.  "Never mind," said the Candidate. 
"There's a risk here, you know.  If the campaign is too much of a
fiasco, we could run a repeat of 1965."

"So what should we do, Governor?"

"Ten minutes para two, you say?  People will be getting out of lunch
about now.  Secretaries, people at the government offices, hangers on.
 The plaza may be pretty dead, but I'd bet that if I walked off _that_
way," he pointed down Hospicio Street, towards the office towers, "I
couldn't help but run into a chunk of the good people of this town. 
And then if someone should just accidently wander off that way," he
pointed towards the Cathedral, but meant the state government
buildings around Jackson Plaza and Constitution Street on the other
side, "the same would happen."  [14]

"Riiiiight.  Right!"  Chewy was a bright boy.  A college kid, a
Mexicano from the Costa Dorada who could sometimes act more Anglo than
any Anglo had acted in a century, but he was a bright boy. "I got you,
Governor."  [15]

"We won't get vitatime, but that's fine.  The other parties are going
to get even less.  I'm no good on the vita anyway.  And the story will
get around, just like it has everywhere else.  It's been too long
since this country's seen an election that wasn't run on the vita." 
Something crossed his face for a second, and Moctezuma muttered,
almost inaudibly, "It's been too long since this country's seen a real
election."  Then he looked up, cracked his knuckles, rubbed his
razor-short grey hair, and smiled.  "Time to meet the people."  [16]

"Right.  Uh, you do realize that we need to be back in Mexico City by
eight o'clock to meet with that Contreras fellow?"

"That's why God invented airmobiles.  Vaminous, son."  [17]

(Part 38 will be coming along shortly.)

[1]  The Candidate is Immanuel Moctezuma.

[1a]  The name of the city of Chapultapec was misspelled by the mostly
Anglo inhabitants who incorporated the Mexico City suburb in the
1870s.  It has since been accepted as the correct name for the city. 
The names of the formerly eponymous park and castle have retained the
older Spanish spelling.

[2]  OTL Morelia.

[2a]  An ironic outcome for the place the Mexican Civil War began,
considering the war's strong racial undertones.  The region is now
very prosperous despite the wholesale departure of the textile
industry to Chiapas and now, increasingly, to Guatemala and the more
isolated parts of New Granada.

[2b]  The term "blanco" remains seldom heard outside Mexicano or Negro
neighborhoods, but with the near-disappearance of the distinction
between Anglos and Hispanos it is be-coming ever more common.   Racial
tensions between "Mexicanos" and "blancos" are rarely acknowledged in
Mercator's USM.  People prefer to pretend that the problem does not
exist.  The fact that the line is blurry and vague makes this much
easier.  Pretending there is no race problem does not, however, change
the fact that income and social status remains correlated with skin
color in Mexico.

[2c]  Per capita air traffic in the USM is running at half the level
of the OTL United States as of 1971.  The airlines are mostly owned by
the federal government and fares are high.  The campaign airmobile
does not yet have to worry about runway congestion.

[3]  Known as a "van" in OTL.  Known by some other word in the CNA,
although "loke" spans the border.

[4]   Where the Plaza Tapatía extends in OTL, there are several
skyscrapers built during the first two decades of the twentieth
century, before the suburbs started to suck the life out of
alt-Guadalajara's central city.

[5]  Guadalajara City's downtown is not gentrified as of 1971.  Cheap
gas, a freeway craze, and unspoken racial tensions have caused Mexican
cities to resemble OTL American cities of the same epoch far more than
CNA cities do.

[6]   Otherwise known as Guillermo.  The nickname is spelled C-H-E-W-Y
in the USM, _not_ C-H-U-I.

[7]  Walkie-talkies.  The FANTL is quite a ways away from the
equivalent of the cellphone.

[7a]  This is an English mistranslation of a Spanish phrase meaning
"to screw up."  Emphasis on _mis_translation.

[8]  Mexicanos from Chiapas learn Spanish at school, from kindergarten
onwards, but the state's culture means many do so only grudgingly.  By
1971, refusing to use any Spanish terms is becoming the style among
young urban lower-class Mexicanos in Chiapas and Yu-catán.  Guillermo
"Chewy" Enciso is young and Mexicano.  His parents were
upwardly-mobile Chiapans of an older generation, as his Spanish first
name indicates.   Chewy him-self is _not_ lower-class, which is why he
said "por favor" instead of "puh-leeze."
        Moctezuma's accent in Spanish is far worse than Chewy's, and
makes him appear slow and stolid to most voters when he speaks the
language.  (He does, of course, speak it fluently.)  It adds to his
image as a solid, unimaginative, and hard-working character. 
Moctezuma's Mexicano but-not-too-Mexicano facial features add to this
image.  (While there are similarities, do not extrapolate OTL's racial
attitudes directly the USM.  USM attitudes are much more akin to OTL
Mexico in 2001 than the OTL USA in 1971.)
      The reason why English is associated with lower-class Mexicanos
in (and ONLY in) Chiapas and Yucatán is that public education began in
those states under the aegis of the federal government.  It proved far
easier to recruit qualified Anglo teachers than qualified Hispanos ---
and anyway, at the time the government was still surreptitiously
trying to promote English.  The federal government's policies
dovetailed with the desires of the Hispano upper class to retain their
distinction from the "lower orders" in the face of rapidly increasing
social mobility.  Public education eventually became fully bilingual,
as it did throughout the USM, but the tendency of Spanish to be
associated with upper-class status grew in an ironic inverse of the
situation a century earlier in Jefferson and California.  The
difference is starkest in Yucatán, where racial distinctions are the
most marked.  (Not that anyone ever puts the word "race" between the
word "Progresstown" and the words "riots of '69," at least not in
     Nationally, English is the predominant language of business and
the professions.  It is also the military's operating language, and is
(as a result) used more than Spanish in politics.  Spanish remains
more common in daily life, but only slightly so, in Guadalajara,
México del Norte, coastal Durango, and México Central, where there is
no association between language and either race or social class. 
English remains more common in daily life, but only slightly so, in
California, inland Durango, Santander, and Jefferson, where there is
very little association between language and either race or social
class.  Spanish is rare in Alaska and Hawaii, but is, of course,
understood by almost everybody.
     FYI, 40 percent of the population of the area of OTL Mexico that
comprises the ATL states of Chiapas and Yucatán were classified as
"indígena" in the 1995 census.  That came to a total population of 4.9
million people.  (The absolute population of indígenas/Mexicanos will
be much larger in the FANTL, with better santitation and tropical
medicine arriving a half-century early.  The relative population,
however, may be smaller.)  Approximately a quarter of the indígena
population over the age of 5 old speaks _only_ an indigenous language
in OTL.
     In the FANTL, indigenous languages are doing at least as well as
in OTL in both Chiapas and Yucatán.  That said, ny 1971 the percentage
of people over the age of 5 and under the age of 30 who _only_ speak
an indigenous language is negligible.

[9]  Adolph Markstein and Immanuel Moctezuma would hit it off
immediately, I like to think, although Markstein would soon realize
that Moctezuma really does have an idealistic streak beneath the
cynical strategist.  At which point Markstein would become very very

[9a]  Slightly larger hint.  Not necessarily what you think, but
there's a real chance that you're right for the wrong reason.

[10]  Robot, for all you Bob Kolkers out there.  Not that the FANTL
actually has any more animatos than OTL had robots circa 1971.  (I
suspect that science fiction is much more popular in the USM than in
the CNA.  Thoughts?)

[11]  Sorry, but I can't explain this one.  It should be obvious to
most dedicated fans.

[12]  Immanuel Moctezuma is the governor of the great state of
Chiapas.  Patrick Rickover is the governor of the great state of
Guadalajara.  Moctezuma has served as governor since 1965, having
beaten the appointed incumbent.  (Only Progressive Party candidates
could run, but for non-critical races a choice of candidates was
permitted.  Moctezuma's candi-dacy was approved by Mercator, although
he did not no which of his approved candidates would win.)  Rickover
is an old buddy of Mercator, having served with him in the Army, and
won uncontested, of course.

[13]  Big hint.  But please don't tell.  He doesn't talk much about
it, for obvious reasons.

[14]  The Plaza de Armas in OTL.   

[15]  The Costa Dorada runs along OTL Oaxaca's Pacific coast, centered
around Huatulco.  Sadly, it's much more developed in the FANTL. 
Acapulco not considered part of the Costa Dorada. Acapulco is a large
tourist center, but in the same sense that San Diego is a tourist
center in OTL: there is a lot more to the city's economy.  Acapulco is
the second-largest city in Chiapas and a very active port and
manufacturing center.
        See also FN [8].  

[16]  Very tamed opposition parties are being allowed to contest the
1971 federal elections.  Emphasis on _parties_.  Note that Mexico uses
first-past-the-post.  Mercator is trying to avoid a repeat of the 1965
fiasco, and earn propaganda points, by allowing second and third
parties to compete but doing his best to insure that they won't win. 
Once Mercator made the decision to sacrifice Domínguez, the selection
of the popular-but-boring Governor Moctezuma as candidate was obvious.
 He wanted somebody who could win without the need to resort to
outright fraud.  Mercator also, however, occasionally reminds
Moctezuma that this is an "election," not an election.  Thus, the
"botched" rally in Guadalajara City.

[17]  A lame attempt to capture what "vamónos" sounds like with
Moctezuma's accent.  Remember, though, he speaks fluently --- he just
has a rural hick accent from Chiapas.