A fantasy of life in the near future, when Hispanics are gathered across the country in 46 walled Quarantine Zones and the U.S. government sends troops to pacify the “terrorists” living there.
Mano lives in a California quarantine zone with his wife Rosa and son Pedro. While Mano is a moderate, he has been leading an insurgency against military outposts charged with the task of peace-keeping in the zones. Much to Mano’s sorrow, the latest rebellion has led to more than 200 insurgent deaths as well as the death of a number of soldiers, and outraged American citizens are now demanding a severe crackdown on the zones—military invasion and “pacification.” Fourteen-year-old Pedro is ambivalent about his father’s role, for on the one hand Mano is a respected leader while on the other he, at least in Pedro’s eyes, seems cowardly and unwilling to engage in guerrilla actions. A radical splinter group called El Frente is also dissatisfied with Mano’s moderate approach to what they see as an intolerable situation, so they begin a campaign of bombing meant to unify the Hispanic minorities—though such a campaign also serves to enrage the Anglo majority. Eight insurgents (The El Paso Eight Hostages) have been caught and sentenced to execution, so El Frente captures eight Anglo hostages and threatens to retaliate. It strains credulity that the last one of the hostages caught just happens to be Sarah Evans, the 15-year-old daughter of the deputy director of the CIA, and she falls in love with Pedro, one of her captors. Ramos y Sanchez (America Libre, 2009) takes us into the logistical difficulties of coordinating a political movement and arranging surreptitious funding. He also makes rigid moral distinctions between those who are trying to do right, especially the saintly Mano, and those demagogues who are calling for more Hispanic blood to be spilled (including President George Whitehead Nixon, great-nephew of a famous 20th-century president).
Ramos y Sanchez’s prose style is flat and unexciting, but the incidents hold attention.