Wretched Events

Pablo Neruda

If New York glitters like gold
and buildings there have five hundred bars,
let me state here and now they were made
off the sweat in the canefields.
The banana plantation is a green inferno
so people may drink and dance in New York.
Chileans spit up blood
at an altitude of five thousand metres
so copper may be exported to New York,
Bolivians collapse from hunger
gouging out tin mines,
breaking through Andean walls,
and the Orinoco scatters its diamonds
from the depths of its muddy bottom.
Through stolen Panamanian land,
through stolen waters, ships pass
on their way to New York with our oil
with our seized minerals
that our decorated leaders
reverently handed over to them.
Sugar raises the walls,
Chileís nitrate the cities,
Brazilís coffee buys beds,
Paraguay grants them universities,
from Colombia they receive emeralds,
and from Puerto Rico,
that Free Associated State,
soldiers leave for their wars
(for battles fought like none other:
North Americans supply the weapons
Puerto Ricans supply the blood).

Translated from the Spanish by Richard Schaaf.

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