By Patricia D. Fox
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Sweat equity and good faith prove no match to “legal” claim, and the conflict culminates in a violent uprooting that causes the death of Lastre’s newborn son—victim of arson—and the dementia of María de los Ángeles. Lastre exacts a bloody revenge but cannot stem the dispersion of the community, nor the slow march to his eventual death, naked in a no-man’s-land on the contested border between Ecuador and Peru. 5 The novel focuses the implosion of the outside world on the barrio: the forced conscription of its denizens to fight in the Korean war and “the attempt to dislocate them in order to construct tourist hotels” (Lewis Treading, 102).
In The Black Diaspora (1995), Ronald Segal writes that while church and Territoriality: Becoming Places / 33 state encouraged cabildos in Cuba “in the hope that these would promote among their members the spread of Christianity,” in reality “[m]ost cabildos were apparently more concerned with measures of welfare”(431), that is, “con fines de hermandad, socorro, ayuda mutua, cooperación y religiosidad” (Padilla Pérez 140) [toward the aims of brotherhood, assistance, mutual aid, cooperation and religious ends].
Chronicler Isidoro De María in 34 / Being and Blackness in Latin America Montevideo antiguo (qtd. in Rossi) explains that in “esos barrios, de notoriedad y distinción” [those notorious/well-known and distinguished neighborhoods] [s]e observaba verdadera democracia, se respectaban las expansiones del humilde aunque fuera negro. Todo ha desaparecido menos el Cubo, escondido tras el templo de los ingleses, prefiriendo el constante castigo del mar a la contemplación del estado social a que hemos llegado, en la Plata como en todas partes, a base de la indisoluble combinación de Progreso y Miseria.