The House of the Spirits
Chapter 12, The Conspiracy
To almost everyone's surprise, the socialists win the election. The majority of the people are overjoyed. The Conservatives, led by Esteban, quickly overcome their shock and mount a multi-pronged campaign to discredit and ruin the new government. They remove all of their money from the country and stop production and transportation of all basic goods. The socialists and the people of the country are perturbed but not dissuaded. Esteban prepares for a military coup. With the election of the socialists, Pedro Tercero is brought, almost against his will, into an important government position.
Blanca and Pedro Tercero continue to see each other. Although their age and increased responsibilities have removed much of their ardor, they still love each other very much. Pedro Tercero again demands that Blanca marry him or never see him again. Blanca brushes him off, not realizing that he is serious. She is very upset when she realizes that Pedro Tercero plans to follow through with his threat, but she tells no one.
The entire country is thrown into disarray by the economic meltdown caused by the conservatives. Blanca, like everyone else in the country, finds alternative ways to make ends meet, storing and carefully rationing what she is able to buy on the black market. Alba surreptitiously steals form her mother's food stocks and distributes it to the poor. She and Jaime, who has moved back into the house, also steal weapons from Esteban's arms stockpile, which they hide in the mountains.
Jaime and Amanda maintain a relationship which Jaime no longer desires. Jaime discovers a disturbing desire for Alba, on which he does not act. Amanda and Alba help Jaime out at the clinic, which is desperately understaffed.
The upheaval in the country and Esteban's prolonged absence set the stage for the peasants at Tres Marias to take over the estate. When Esteban finds out, he takes a gun and goes to Tres Marias himself. The peasants take Esteban hostage, and even the national guard is unable to free him. Blanca takes it upon herself to bring Alba with her to Pedro Tercero's office and demand that he free Esteban, in the process informing Alba that Pedro Tercero is her father. Pedro Tercero agrees. Blanca, Alba, and Pedro Tercero travel to Tres Marias together. Because the peasants recognize him as both a revolutionary and a native of Tres Marias, the peasants allow Pedro Tercero to free Esteban Trueba. Although he insults Pedro Tercero, Esteban accepts his help, humbled.
Back in the city, Esteban is visited by Luisa Mora, the last of the three Mora sisters. Luisa informs Esteban that there will soon be terrible bloodshed, that Esteban will be on the side of the victors but that he will win nothing, and that Alba will be in danger and should leave the country. Esteban Trueba is glad to see Luisa because she reminds him of Clara, but he does not heed her advice.
The surprise of both the Conservative and Socialist parties at the outcome of the elections shows that the results reflect the will of the people, legitimating the socialist government. The Conservative party won elections through bribery and intimidation and, therefore, was always assured of its victory before it was officially announced. The fact that they are again sure of wining this election shows that their tactics have not changed. However, since a critical mass of the population refused to be bribed or intimidated, this time the results are different. The extremely un-democratic nature of the Conservative party is revealed further when instead of accepting the unfavorable election results, they attempt to sabotage the socialist government. The Conservatives do not rely on their money and influence alone. They quickly call on foreign aid. This foreign aid is given with conditions attached. The subtle suggestions of the influence of foreign powers that has been seen in the British schools Jaime, Nicolas, Blanca, and Alba attend becomes quite evident. The Conservatives accept foreign presence in and partial control of their country as a means to remain in power. No specific foreign countries are named, but it is intimated that these countries are the United States and possibly some European nations. While the conservatives accuse the socialists of also accepting foreign influence, from the Russians, there is little evidence that such influence actually occurs. The Socialists, rather, receive all of their support form the people, who are willing to endure great suffering in return for the equality and freedom that the socialists offer them. The leaders of the socialist party are also described as reluctant leaders. Pedro Tercero would rather farm and play revolutionary music than hold a governmental post. This stands in opposition to the career politicians of the Conservative party, such as Esteban.
Not every love affair in the story overcomes adversity. Jaime and Amanda's affair does not end happily, although Jaime and Amanda share an unspoken love, which is kindled during Amanda's relationship with Nicolas and her subsequent abortion. This love is described as equally real and deep as that shared by Blanca and Pedro Tercero or Alba and Miguel. When they meet years later they both remember their initial attraction and form a relationship based on it, but, unlike the others, over the years Jaime has lost his passion for Amanda. There is no particular reason for this difference. It serves to destroy any notion that love can and will always surmount all obstacles, which could otherwise be assumed to be one of the messages of The House of the Spirits.
Time and necessity do begin to heal Esteban's relationships with Blanca and Pedro Tercero. Although no kind words are exchanged and no forgiveness is expressed, Esteban accepts Blanca and Pedro Tercero's help in saving his life. In his intermediary position as a peasant leader but also as Blanca's lover, Pedro Tercero is able to negotiate for Esteban's release. This is one of the first moments when the personal overcomes and begins to heal political divisions.
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