Miles: The Other Story of The Spanish American War of '98 (Miles: La otra historia de la Guerra de 1898)
COUNTRY: Puerto Rico
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
Miles: la otra historia del 98 (Miles: The Other Story of `98) ``In a society where writing and producing serious theatre is a heroic feat, we have to recognize the value of bringing this to our culture. But, independently of the merits of the author and the activities of the `98 Ateneo Commission, the work stands tall in its own right. I have read it and I have seen it. As literature, and for the performance as well, the results are first class. `Miles: La Otra Historia del `98' is the product of a great amount of research about the historical events that produce the Spanish American War, the personality of Gereral Miles, (the general who directs the invading American forces in Puerto Rico), and the Puerto Rican society of the era. The work begins with the bombardment of San Juan on the 12th of May in 1898, and ends with the dance/homage in which the people of Ponce honor General Miles on the 14th of August, the day before his departure. This is after having completed his mission of taking over Puerto Rico in less than three months, a short span of time which dramatically changed the destiny of Puerto Rico.'' By Marco Antonio Rigau of El Nuevo Diario
CAMO: Our secret service in Washington has received reports that those Yankee savages are intending to land at some point. We don't know where. Fajardo, Ponce, Mayagüez... but Ponce has always been a particularly dangerous city, there are a lot of people there who hate us. (A pause.) We need to know how much... they hate us... and if the Yankees are going to enter through Ponce... well... everything... Do you understand, boy? They've told us that Ponce is full of Yankee spies. (A pause.) Other compatriots are going to other towns on this damned chicken island with the same mission.
MARIO: You want me to become a spy?
CAMO: In the name of Queen María Cristina I am ordering you to do it.
MARIO: Sir, I'm going to Ponce to win back the love of a woman. It's my only purpose right now. The only reason I'm a journalist is to make my father proud of me. But I assure you I would prefer to be a poet and naked sunbather on a beach in Fajardo.
RAFAEL: Mario, how dare you?
CAMO: You are refusing an order from the Queen.
MARIO: With all respect, Sir, I'm sure that the Queen does not know me.
CAMO (strong and sure): You will go to Ponce! You will keep me informed every two days, by whatever means. If you don't do it, you will be declared a traitor. And you know that I have the authority for that. How does that suit you?
MARIO: What do you think?
CAMO: Damned kids today. They don't give a damn about the country. Get a haircut and a shave. You look like a Russian nihilist. You've got a wayward son, Don
Rafael. Get tough with him.
MARIO: And what do I get for being a spy?
CAMO: The country's gratitude. (He exits.)
RAFAEL: You were an inch away from being in front of a firing squad!
MARIO: Ha, me a spy? Ha. Not in your wildest dream! (Music. A slow blackout over them. FIDELA, a beautiful creole woman around 28 years old, runs to the center of the proscenium. She stops for a moment, she opens her hands. The wind blows against her, ruffles her hair.)
FIDELA: Can you imagine being able to fly?
WHITNEY (dressed as a fellow countryman, he carries sketching equipment on his shoulder. His Spanish is perfect, but every once in a while a slight United States accent is perceptible.) Careful Fidela, this place is pretty high.
FIDELA: Come on now, don't tell me that it isn't worthy of a work of art. Look at those waves, that cliff, and that wild mountain over there... that sun setting... This is God's garden, Henry!
WHITNEY: It's just that I don't do landscapes. I draw butterflies, insects...
FIDELA: Well, that's another kind of beauty.
WHITNEY: Sure. A beauty that doesn't compare to yours. (A pause. Looks and smiles.) And tell me, Fidela, is this whole coast part of Ponce?
FIDELA: Let me explain. Ponce goes up to there, then Guayanilla up that way, and a little further on is Guánica bay. Just Ponce has a good port.
WHITNEY: There's a good one in Guánica, too.
FIDELA: How do you know?
WHITNEY: I found a group of strange butterflies there that...
FIDELA: The butterflies in Guánica are the same as the ones in Ponce. (A pause.) Why are you traveling as an English marine if your a naturalist?
WHITNEY: Well... an entomologist from Liverpool pays me for them. Actually I make my living being a marine. But I prefer to be in this paradise surrounded with sun... with beauty... like you, dear Fidela. (He takes her hand.)
FIDELA: Com on, Henry. You're flirting and you've barely known me for one week. How long will you be staying in Ponce?
WHITNEY: I don't know. But I hope it will be long enough to win your friendship.
FIDELA: Well. You already have that. (WHITNEY takes her hand.)
PEPE (coming in): Fidela... we have to get going if the gentleman has to see the Consul before three o'clock.
FIDELA: Yes. Henry... come on. I don't want to make you late. (WHITNEY gathers his sketches.)
PEPE: Don't you smell it, Sir? The smell of gunpowder even reaches here.
WHITNEY: There's a war on, boy. Gunpowder is covering the world. Tell me, Fidela. Wouldn't you like things to be different?
FIDELA: What do you mean?
WHITNEY: Spain... this tyranny.
FIDELA: Many of us in this town do not love Spain anymore. It's going through the motions. Do you understand me? But it would be naive on my part if I were to try, for pure novelty's sake,... to exchange that love for Spain for another that might offer the same disenchantment.
WHITNEY: Then there are a lot of naive people in your country.
FIDELA: I know.
WHITNEY: A lot of the people would favor the United States taking possession of the island. At least that's what I've heard.
FIDELA: If that's how it seems to you. (A pause.) I'll tell you one thing: in any relationship that has no hope it's best if it's broken off for good, rather than being tied down and going through the motions. Honesty first and foremost.
WHITNEY: Things change, Fidela. The world is changing. Let's go... it's getting late and the Consul is expecting us.