Pablo Neruda :: The "Free Press"

While briefly chilled, I want to tell

without vengeance and what’s more with joy

how from my bed in Buenos Aires

the police took me to prison.

It was late, we had just arrived from Chile,

and without saying anything to us

they plundered my friend’s papers,

they offended the house in which I slept,

My wife vented her disdain

but there were orders to be executed

and in a moving car we roved about

the tyrannous black night. 

They it was not Peron, it was another,

a new tyrant for Argentina

and by his orders doors opened,

bolt after bolt was unlocked

in order to swallow me, the patios passed,

forty bars and the infirmary, 

but still they took me up into a cell,

the most impenetrable and hidden:

only they did they feel protected

from the exhalations of my poetry.

I discovered through that broken night

that three thousand were imprisoned that day:

jail, penitentiary, and as if not enough,

boats were set adrift

filled with men and women,

the pride of Argentinean souls.

My tale comes only to this:

the rest is collective history:

I wanted to read it in newspapers,

in La Prensa (which is so informative),

yet Mr. Gainza Paz does not know

if Argentinean prisons are being filled.

He is the champion of our “free” press

but if communist journals are closed

this grandee acts dumb without reporting it,

his feet ache and he has eye trouble,

and if the workers go to jail

everybody knows it except Gainza,

everybody resorts to newspapers,

but “large” journals do not publish 

anything about these stupid tales:

La Prensa is preoccupied

with the last divorce taking place

with motion picture asses in Hollywood

and while press syndicates cloister themselves

La Prensa and La Nacion are metaphysical.

Oh what silence from the fat press

when the people are beaten,

but if one of Batista’s jackals

is assassinated in Cuba

the presses of our poor America 

confess and print their sensational stories,

they lift their hands to their temples,

it is then that they know and publish,

the Sip, Sop, Sep meets

to save the virgins in trouble

and running to their purse in New York

they hurriedly solicit 

the constant inducement of money

for the “liberty” they patronize.

And these web-footed men

swarm over Latin America,

they kiss Chamudes in Santiago,

Judas Ravines waits for them in Lima

later enriched and enthused

by that liberty exhaled

from Washington where rock and roll plays,

they dance with Dubois and Gainza. 

(Trans: Miguel Algarin)