Colorado: Ludlow Massacre

Op 20 april 1914 vielen leden van de Nationale Garde van Colorado en een door de Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I) ingehuurde knokploeg een tentenkamp van stakende mijnwerkers in Ludlow, Colorado aan. Daarbij kwamen tenminste 20 mensen om het leven, waaronder een aantal vrouwen en kinderen. Bewapende mijnwerkers reageerden – begrijpelijk en terecht – furieus en vielen op hún beurt stakingsbrekers en leden van de Nationale Garde aan. Ook bij die aanvallen vielen doden.

Uiteindelijk liep het conflict zó zeer uit de klauw – het kwam tot geregelde veldslagen tussen Nationale Garde en mijnwerkers – dat de regering eind april het leger naar Colorado stuurde. Daarmee kwam een einde aan het geweld, maar niet aan de staking. Die eindigde in december 1914 met een nederlaag van de stakers.  In totaal kwamen er tijdens dit bloedigste ‘arbeidsconflict’ uit de Amerikaanse geschiedenis tussen de 100 en  200 mensen om het leven. Het precieze aantal doden is nooit duidelijk geworden.

Een goede analyse van de Colorado Coalfield War vind je hier. Woody Guthrie wijdde er één van zijn beste songs aan: “Ludlow Massacre was one of the hundred of battles fought to build trade unions. I want to sing a song to show our soldiers that Ludlow Massacres must not ever come back to us to kill 13 children and a pregnant woman, just to force you to work for cheap wages”.

It was early springtime when the strike was on,
They drove us miners out of doors,
Out from the houses that the Company owned,
We moved into tents up at old Ludlow.

I was worried bad about my children,
Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge,
Every once in a while a bullet would fly,
Kick up gravel under my feet.

We were so afraid you would kill our children,
We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep,
Carried our young ones and pregnant women
Down inside the cave to sleep.

That very night your soldiers waited,
Until all us miners were asleep,
You snuck around our little tent town,
Soaked our tents with your kerosene.

You struck a match and in the blaze that started,
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns,
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me.
Thirteen children died from your guns.

I carried my blanket to a wire fence corner,
Watched the fire till the blaze died down,
I helped some people drag their belongings,
While your bullets killed us all around.

I never will forget the look on the faces
Of the men and women that awful day,
When we stood around to preach their funerals,
And lay the corpses of the dead away.

We told the Colorado Governor to call the President,
Tell him to call off his National Guard,
But the National Guard belonged to the Governor,
So he didn’t try so very hard.

Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes,
Up to Walsenburg in a little cart,
They sold their potatoes and brought some guns back,
And they put a gun in every hand.

The state soldiers jumped us in a wire fence corners,
They did not know we had these guns,
And the Red-neck Miners mowed down these troopers,
You should have seen those poor boys run.

We took some cement and walled that cave up,
Where you killed these thirteen children inside,
I said, “God bless the Mine Workers’ Union,”
And then I hung my head and cried.

Uitgelichte afbeelding: Bewapende mijnwerkers bij het tentenkamp in Ludlow – By E. Doyle –, Public Domain,