El Barzon Lyrics Translated in English and the Mexican Hacienda System

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El Barzon and the Hacienda System in Mexico

Haciendas were Mexican estates owned by Spaniards and Criollos who were referred to as “el hacendado” or “patron.”

The hacienda system as we know it started in 1529 when Hernan Cortes, the Spanish conquistador, was granted land in Mexico. Later other conquistadors acquired similar land grants in Mexico and for centuries the haciendas came to dominate the economic and political landscape of Mexico. They typically focused on a single agricultural product, which varied from one region to the next but the labor strategy remained consistent across the country—the use of indigenous slave labor.

Haciendas were mostly reserved for the Spanish born and educated, Gachupines. However, Spaniards born in Mexico would also often acquire lands or enterprises for themselves. The haciendas were self-sufficient communities; they each had tiendas, churches and a school. As many as 500-1,000 people might have lived on a single hacienda: administrators and foremen, priests and clerks and schoolteachers and the countless Indian and mestizo workers who were virtually held in bondage to the landowner.

In Mexico, the system was abolished in 1917 after the Mexican Revolution of 1911.
If you were unfortunate enough to be born into the Indigenous Mestizo class during this period, you could expect a life full of hard work, discrimination and servitude to the Spanish master. I personally can’t help but feel grateful because if I’d been born just a century earlier I would’ve been born into perpetual debt, a caste system and servitude. WTF!

Anyway, there is a song written by Luis Perez Meza, in the late 1930’s called El Barzon which talks about the harsh life of a campesino during the hacienda system. I provide it here somewhat translated into English first and original Spanish lyrics second so we can better understand the history and story of the real Mexican people. Go here for a dramatic rendition or here for original.

The Yoke Ring(El Barzon)
In the farmland of these parts
I plant seed with my hump-back oxen;
my yoke ring comes apart,
but the yoke team keeps on going.

Halfway through the field
the whole damn plow was reeling:
it was buried to the beams,
the adjusting rod was pealing,
the yoke was twisting,
and the yoke ring was squeaking,
the seed sower kept on speaking,
and I told him, please stop speaking:
don’t talk to me while we are seeding!

My yoke rings come apart,
but the yoke team keeps on going.

When I’ve harvested the corn,
the rich landlord comes along,
and he takes every grain of corn,
and I wind up with none.

Then he tells me what I owe him:
20 pesos for the pair of oxen;
5 pesos for some maguey,
just part of what I have to pay:
for one fanega, three quarts of beans.

The same amount of corn, it seems;
5 pesos worth of sacks;
also 7 pesos for tobacco;
6 pesos for who the hell knows
and on and on it goes.
Add 20 reales more
for other stuff from the general store.
Your share of what you grow
doesn’t cover the debt you owe.
But on my land you may stay,
as long as you continue to pay.

Now you get back to working
so I can continue earning.
But I just keep on thinking,
rolling a cigarette from a leaf,
This bastard’s beyond belief!
All my corn has gone
to be stored in his damned barn.

My yoke rings come apart,
but the yoke team keeps on going.

When I finally arrive at home
my beloved says, when we’re along,
where’s your share of the corn?
So I tell her, quite forlorn:
the landlord took all of it for
my debt at the company store,
but proclaimed with a gesture grand
I might keep working his land.

Now I must get back to work
to continue paying this jerk.
20 pesos plus 10 centavos more,
minus what I’ve paid before.

But my beloved says, no way!
There’ll be no more work for no pay.
Enough of his bloody cheating;
you’re going to a worker’s meeting!

You’ll go with my godfather,
and you will no longer bother
listening to the priest’s misinformation,
his threats of excommunication,
can’t you see what your loved ones need,
we have no shoes on our feet!
I don’t even have a skirt,
you have neither pants nor a shirt!
But I continue with the doubt
can I just throw the landlord out?
My beloved tells me, listen well:
let the bastard rot in hell!
We will starve without relief
if you maintain your belief
in what the priest has to tell
about the torments found in hell;
long live the revolution, ay!
May the federal government die!

My yoke rings come apart,
but the yoke team keeps on going.
El Barzon en Espanol
Esas tierras del rincón
Las sembré con un buey pando,
Se me reventó el barzón
Y sigue la yunta andando

Cuando llegué a media tierra
El arado iba enterrado
Se enterró hasta la telera
El timón se deshojó
El yugo se iba pandeando
El barzón iba rozando
El sembrador me iba hablando
Yo le dije al sembrador
No me hable cuando ande arando

Se me reventó el barzón
Y sigue la yunta andando

Cuando acabé de piscar
Vino el rico y lo partió
Todo mi maíz se llevó
Ni pa’comer me dejó
Me presentó aquí la cuenta
Aquí debes veinte pesos
De la renta de unos bueyes
Cinco pesos de magueyes
Una nega tres cuartillos
De frijol que te prestamos
Una nega tres cuartillos
De maíz que te habilitamos
Cinco pesos de unas fundas
Siete pesos de cigarros
Seis pesos no se de que
Pero todo está en la cuenta
Además de los veinte reales
Que sacaste de la tienda
Con todo el maíz que te toca
No le pagas a la tienda
Pero cuentas con mi tierra
Para seguirla sembrando

Ahora vete a trabajar
Pa’ que sigas abonando

No’más me quedé pensando
Sacudiendo mi cobija
Haciendo un cigarro de hoja
Que patrón tan sinvergüenza
Todo mi maíz se llevó
Para su maldita troje.

Se me reventó el barzón
Y sigue la yunta andando

Cuando llegué a mi casita
Me decía mi prenda amada

¿’ontá el maíz que te toca?

Le respondí yo muy triste:
El patrón se lo llevó
Por lo que debía en la hacienda
Pero me dijo el patrón
Que contara con la tierra
Para seguirla sembrando

Ahora voy a trabajar
Para seguirle abonado
Veinte pesos diez centavos
Unos que salgo restando

Me decía mi prenda amada:
Ya no trabes con ese hombre
No’más nos ‘ta robando
Anda al salón de sesiones
Que te lleve mi compadre
Y no le hagas caso al padre
El y sus excomuniones
¿que no ves a tu familia
Que ya no tiene calzones?
Ni yo tengo ya faldilla
Ni tu tienes pantalones

No’más me quedé pensando
¿por qué dejé a mi patrón?
Me decía mi prenda amada
Que vaya el patrón al cuerno
Como estuviéramos de hambre
Si te has seguido creyendo
De lo que te decía el cura
De las penas del infierno
¡viva la revolución!
¡muera el supremo gobierno!

Se me reventó el barzón
Y siempre seguí sembrando.

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Fidel is obsessed with Mexico, the enrichment of life through travel and living with no regrets.

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