La Ley de Herodes
San Pedro de los Saguaros: a village of poor peasants controlled by an abusive, corrupt mayor. Eventually the peasants lynch the mayor. It's the rule of San Pedro. The Party sends a new mayor. It's the rule of the Party.
The new mayor (impeccably played by Damián Alcázar) is a nice fellow. He tries to know the villagers and to see what should be done. There is the secretary of the mayoral office, all smile and all caution. There is the village doctor, eternal nominee of the opposition for the mayoral position (the country has a decorative opposition, to give a touch of color to the Almighty Party). There is the brothel's madame, interested in controlling the village through her business. There is the priest, very business oriented. There is the American looking for a public contract. There are the peasants who seem to belong to another universe.
Pretty soon the new mayor understands the Mother of all Rules: it's the rule of Herod, la ley de Herodes. His Party boss explains it in very straight words: o te chingas o te jodes (I'll leave to you the pleasure of finding the translation). The mayor gets a gun and the Book of Constitution (with a secret place on the back for the bribes). And he starts visiting everyone, agitating his gun and taking bribes. A public contract is given to the American, to bring electricity to the village. The American takes the money and puts one utility pole in the middle of the road. Then everybody forgets about electricity. The mayor gets progressively more corrupt and more abusive. False accusations are raised against the doctor, as the opposition has to keep silence or die out. Inconvenient people are jailed or killed. Eventually the peasants lynch the mayor: the rule of San Pedro. A new mayor comes to the village. He is a nice guy.
And after the mayor is lynched, he appears alive and well with a discourse at the parliamentary tribune. Don't ask me about the logic. Elementary, my dear Dr. Watson: the Party never dies.
It's a black comedy superbly slipping into black fantasy, à la Berlanga, à la Guttiérez Alea. It's the parable of absolute power as absolute corrupter: a party came to power long time ago, decided to do the best for the nation; the party acquired more and more power, till it controlled everything; by that time, it was already a mechanism of corruption, just that; and as a party member you were but an agent in that mechanism. Mayor's evolution like party's evolution, from enthusiast beginnings to total corruption. I learned in school about ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny. I understand now the logic behind that scientific theory: the Ley de Herodes.