It was raining. The small plane taxied for several minutes through the airport until it parked in front of a large hangar, owned by the police. This was very uncommon, as the president had a special building were he always arrived at after national or international tours. It was well know but the media and the public, that he had personally being overlooking the destruction of several drug labs in remote areas. So maybe that was the reason why, stepping out of the plane, he only looked forward, towards the small group waiting for him.
They walked in silence inside the hangar and then went through a door that led into the building behind it. The president’s assistant was in front, going up some stairs, several corridors and finally arriving at a conference room. The president sat down in the chair in one end of the table as the others sat in the remaining seats. Only one seat was empty. Some mumbled trying to find out why its occupant was missing, others said nothing. The president drank some water and waited until his assistant told him something to the ear and then sat down in a chair in the corner, right after closing the door.
The president stood up and looked at the eyes of every single one of those men: the chief of police and other men of that entity, generals of all of the military branches and also the head of the secret police. On every single one of them rested the defense of the country, the physical power that it had in order to maintain things as they were. The president inhaled and then looked to the empty seat and sat down again.
- Do you guys know who occupies that seat?
One of the generals, visibly eager to participate in order to seem important or smart, shoot his hand up. The president looked at him.
- That’s where General Arroyo normally seats, the head of the aviation.
The president nodded, without saying a word. He looked at the seat a little more then announced that General Arroyo had been arrested during the raid against the drug cartels. Every single one of the people present, except for the president’s assistant (the only woman in the room), were baffled at the news. They started asking and demanding and saying it was an outrage and how surprised they were and also hurt. The president asked them, with a gesture of the hand, to end the noise.
Once the room was calm again, he stared directly at the director of the police. The man was a tall, white and pink skinned man. He looked scared as the president looked at him, with his piercing eyes and soft breathing. None of the military men, all experience in combat and enemies, had ever seen that look on a president or any other person. He looked vicious and hateful.
- General García.
- Yes, sir? – Answered the director of the police.
- How many years have you been head of the police?
The man thought that was a weird question to ask but also felt more fear than before. The president had stopped looking at him and that made him feel even uneasier.
- I have been in the post for almost ten years.
- Ten years. – Said the president, in a surprisingly grave voice.
- Too many?
Everyone present was surprised at this question. Some of the men tried to reply something but weren’t able to find the words. No one would ever say that unless they wanted to sack someone. But, then again, what reason did the president have? And, would he only be interested in sacking one man?
This meeting had been ordered by the president on his flight back and most men had narrowly missed his arrival, as it was imminent. Since he had been elected, almost a year ago, he had proven to be quite and unpredictable man. He had won narrowly in a country that normally hated the likes of men like him but somehow, it had happened. Of course, there had been recounts and lawsuits but nothing had moved him from remaining in power. He had powerful enemies, namely the men that had been in power before, as he was not the typical president.
Not only he was on the left side of the spectrum, a “soft” left in his words, but also he was interested in preserving culture and encourage the inner growth of the people. Some even said that was precisely why he won: the ones always outside had chosen him in the bigger cities and that had been enough. The military and all public forces had been scared of him but he had went on with the recurrent struggle against the cartels just as the others did so they had all relaxed, to this day.
- I said, have they been too many?
- I… I don’t know sir.
- I think it’s time to clean up, wouldn’t you say misters?
He said that looking at everyone in the table, and with an annoying smirk on his face. He then turned to his assistant who instantly produced a folder with several sheets of papers. They went through them and took out only six papers. The woman put away the folder and went back to her chair. The president held the sheets on his hand, looking at the men again.
- Any idea of what that is?
The same man that had raised his hand before, raised it again:
- Our resignation letters?
The president then laughed. It was an obviously fake laugh but it went for so long than people didn’t know how to respond. Some of them smiled and others just trembled in their spots.
- Not exactly. In here, I have several names, including General Arroyo’s one. All the people listed here have been tracked down by the secret police and we have enough proof to put them in jail. There are some as high profile as the general and others not so much. I need you… Well, I demand of you to clean up your mess.
He put the papers in front of him, in a way that anyone could have taken them but no one did. They were visibly bothered by what was happening but did not dare to say a word.
- Any comments, gentlemen?
The oldest one of the bunch, a general of the navy, looked straight at the president and pointed at him, his hand shaking like mad.
- You have no right to do that.
- Excuse me?
- You cannot tell us what to do, not like this! We’re not children!
The old men had stood up and raised his voice. The assistant instantly looked to the door, worried people might hear on the other side.
- We are older than you, more experienced and you should take our advice instead of telling us how to run our entities.
The president then stood up and smiled weirdly again. It was very unpleasant.
- First, I have to ask not to raise your voice. Second, what do you mean with “your entities”?
- I mean we have maintained…
- Exactly – Said the president, interrupting him. – You have kept them going but those entities belong to the State, to the people. You all took an oath to protect them and you work for me and I for them. Do you understand that?
The old man sat back down. Everyone was looking at the president as if he had gone insane but he kept his smirk on his face and didn’t sit back down.
- Gentlemen, I repeat, I demand of you to clean up your entities. They are rotten and you should be grateful you’re not the ones to be sacked first. Your entities are supposed to be the ones protecting us and making the example and that is not the case right now. You know what we found out? Do you?
Again, no one said anything, only scared faces looked at him.
- Several policemen involved in bribes and corruption, navy officers helping the cartels, aviation officers bringing whores to the compounds. Even my own personal guard has been known to film pornographic films in State property. Do you understand how bad this is?
Some nodded, some didn’t. They looked to the ground now, exactly like children after having been grounded.
- The president’s before me let it all happen, let this country rot from the inside out. I’m not going to tolerate that anymore. If you don’t put this entire people under trial, I will. I have proofs. And if you fail to do it fast, I have many candidates for every single one of your posts.
- But what general Márquez? But what?
But general Márquez, of the air force, had no idea what to say next. He was as intimidated as the other ones. As men of force, they were already thinking of a way to keep their posts and form an opposition but then the president drew attention back to him by coughing.
- I have a dinner to attend to with the ambassadors residing in the country. But before that I want to warn you: I’m decreasing the amount of money invested in the military and the police and allocating it to education and health. Tell it to your men, the announcement will be done tonight.
And then the assistant opened the door and the president left, leaving the country changed and the forces of the past in a state of induced coma.