“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
The Life of Reason, George Santayana
As part of my upbringing, I was taught that the men and women who fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War were giants. As a child eating in Ratner’s restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side, I remember being told in reverential tones that a person I just met had fought in Spain with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. My parents, who were members of the Communist Party during the civil war, could not enlist in the Brigade because they had dependents. The Communist Party, as gatekeeper for volunteers, prohibited anyone with dependents from going to fight in Spain. I like to think they would have gone if allowed. When I got older I was also taught about the “bastards,” mostly capitalists, who supported Franco during the fascist revolution against the democratically elected leftist republicans.
Currently, as the giants die off the importance of the Lincoln Brigade is being recognized in the U.S. The Tamiment Library of New York University has become the repository of all things relating to the Brigade. Last year the Museum of the City of New York mounted an important exhibit, “Facing Fascism: New York and The Spanish Civil War.” Also in 2007, The International Center of Photography in New York City held an exhibit of Spanish Civil War photographs by Robert Capa and his wife Gerda Taro, who at 26 was killed while photographing in Spain. Yet while recognizing the heroic efforts of the Brigade, these institutions are minimizing the role of the Communists and other leftists who were the majority of the fighters and organizers of the Brigade. These institutions are also ignoring the capitalist forces at work in the U.S. that nurtured and financed fascism from its infancy in Italy and Germany and supported Franco’s seizure of power and abduction of Spain. Without the corporate support for German and Italian fascism, Spanish fascism would have been stillborn or handily defeated. Instead, the U.S. had to contend with three fascist countries and a world war that killed at least 50 million people.
The Lincoln Brigade was supported by the Soviet Union and whatever small donations the global working class could contribute during the Depression. It took three years and the money and support of fascists from all over the “free world” to defeat democratic Spain. The U.S. was officially neutral, but the purpose of that so-called neutrality was actually to support the Spanish fascists. U.S. corporations easily subverted the two U.S. neutrality acts of 1937 by using their global network of subsidiaries, affiliates, boards of directors, banks and direct control over U.S. extraterritorial production as conduits to send money and war materiel to the Spanish fascists. GM, Ford, Standard Oil, IBM and others had manufacturing plants in Nazi Germany. It isn’t possible that the supporters of the neutrality acts didn’t know this. Enough of them were sympathetic to fascism to allow the laws–irrelevant to Franco’s supply lines but not to the desperate Republicans–to pass. When war materiel was sent directly from the U.S to the Spanish fascists, U.S. corporations had the help of Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State under President FDR, the “Saint,” to cover for them (see this excellent piece by Vincent Navarro).
The principle myth for explaining U.S. support of fascism was fear of the Soviet Union and the spread of “repressive” communism. In fact, the only criterion the U.S. has ever had for supporting or rejecting any regime or policy is whether it would welcome, if not foster capitalist profit needs.
In Britain’s American colonies and later in the newly founded U.S., racism and genocide were tolerated and encouraged as long as profits poured in. Slavery enriched plantation owners in the south and merchants, shippers and corporations in the north. For 246 years the death, pain and suffering of African American slaves was legal and institutionalized. The U.S. Constitution legalized black inferiority (Article 1, sec. 2, P 3). “Scientific” racism flourished. The journal Eugenical News: Current Record of Human Genetics and Race Hygiene, published many “scientific” articles verifying hierarchical racism. Thousands were lynched, and thousands were sterilized when the technology became available. Native Americans were slaughtered and their cultures vilified by Christian missionaries funded by capitalists like John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan. Driven off their land, the Native Americans were put onto concentration camps called “reservations” or, deprived of their main source of food and clothing, allowed to starve to death. After Chinese workers finished the western half of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, they were rewarded with the Chinese Exclusion Act. Passed on May 6, 1882, it blocked Chinese immigration to the U.S. until 1943, when China was our World War 11 ally against Japan, whose immigrants and descendents in the U.S. were also put en masse into concentration camps.
At the time of the Spanish Civil War, the U.S. military was segregated and only whites were promoted to higher ranks. When the European fascists began legalizing their own brand of oppressive racism, they used the U.S. model to fashion their laws. Only the human target changed. The laboratory of horror of the demented Nazi doctor Josef Mengele had its precedent in the horrors perpetrated on young African American slave women by Dr. J. Marion Sims. In Harriet Washington’s book Medical Apartheid, she wrote that Sims performed vaginal operations without anesthetic on these women. Sims was attempting to perfect a procedure to correct a gynecological problem, but only rich white women enjoyed the benefits.
In the October 1937 edition of Story magazine, playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote that fascism would drag down Western civilization if it remained “only the latest mask of capitalism.” Writer George Orwell was perfectly right when he said the Spanish Civil War was a class war. Democratic Spain offered the promise of a better life for its citizens. The Republican government instituted land reform, breaking up the feudal like giant estates into smaller sections and turning them over to the impoverished farmers. The Republicans initiated free secular education. Social Security became a national priority. Fascist Spain, on the other hand, offered profit for the landowners and the urban capitalists, promising a return to the pre Republican status quo ante, the “good old days” when working people were kept in their place. Under capitalism, profits must come before people’s needs. Even before the need to support fascist Spain arose, American capital was busy helping develop other fascist countries like Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. They, in turn, helped the fascist rebels to defeat democratic Spain with rerouted American money and resources.
Italy was the first modern fascist state. When Mussolini started “organizing” Italy, the world was watching. He made the trains run on time, got the problematic trade unionists under control, murdered the political opposition and pledged allegiance to U.S. financial concerns. His violence against the opposition was accepted as necessary to remove the elements that interfered with the further development of corporate totalitarianism. For Americans like Henry Luce, founder and publisher of Time, Life and Fortune magazines, this outlook was as natural as plowing before planting. For Luce, the only purpose of government–or any other institution–was to promote business. Any social organization concerned with the welfare of working people was an enemy. In 1928, Luce proclaimed, “The outstanding leader in the world today is Mussolini.”
Earlier, in 1925, J. P. Morgan had loaned fascist Italy $50,000,000 to stabilize its currency. The New York Times reported the event on June 2, 1925, stating that Italian Finance Minister de Stefani “announced in the Chamber of Deputies this evening that a consortium of Italian banks of issue, headed by the Bank of Italy, had been granted a credit of $50,000,000 by J. P. Morgan & Co. of New York. Part or the whole of this sum, he added, will be used as occasion arises to check fluctuations in Italian exchange.” Soon afterward, rumors were circulating of another large loan, this time as much as $200,000,000. The New York Times reported on August 15, 1925: “Rumors that J. P. Morgan & Co. would float a loan for the Italian Government some time in the autumn have been in circulation in the financial district for several months. So far as could be learned last night there have been no new developments in the situation.” The “new developments” came in November 1925 “and carried the approval of the American Government,” less than one week after the “funding of Italy’s debt to the United States.” A $100,000,000 loan, “which was offered to the public yesterday by a nationwide syndicate headed by J. P. Morgan & Co., went with a rush. It was quickly announced that books were closed and unofficial estimates placed the subscriptions for the $100,000,000 issue as high as $400,000,000.” Italian Finance Minister Volpi lost no time in assuring the American financial world that austerity measures would continue in Italy and were “bringing contentment to its people and stable economic and political conditions.”
Henry Ford, another early promoter of fascism, was an admirer and supporter of Adolf Hitler. The December 20, 1922 edition of The New York Times states, “Berlin hears Ford is backing Hitler. Bavarian anti-Semitic chief has American’s portrait and book in his office. Spends Money Lavishly.” The article continues: “A rumor is current here that Henry Ford, the American automobile manufacturer, is financing Adolph Hitler’s nationalistic and anti-Semitic movement in Munich. Indeed the Berlin Tageblatt has made an appeal to the American Ambassador in Berlin to investigate and interfere.” From Detroit, Ford’s general secretary E. G. Liebold said Ford knew nothing about the reports circulating about him in Berlin.
On April 21, 1924, after a failed coup attempt, Hitler was sent to Landsberg prison, where he wrote Mein Kampf. He included special praise for Henry Ford: “It is Jews who govern the stock exchange forces of the American Union. Every year makes them more and more the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions; only a single great man, Ford, to their fury, still maintains full independence.”
U.S. bankers, industrialists and their politicians provided a blueprint for fascism on how to deal with working people who had the nerve to stand between them and the profits they wanted. Racism was often a key element in their planning.
On November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynzpan, a teenaged German Jewish refugee, walked into the German Embassy in Paris and killed the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath. The killing was in protest against the persecution of the German Jews, including the youth’s father. The Nazis used Grynzpan’s actions to stage a “spontaneous” race riot against the German Jews on the night of November 9. The results of the riot were horrible: Hundreds of Jews were murdered and hundreds more were injured; 7,500 shops were looted and another 815 destroyed; 171 homes and 119 synagogues were set on fire and 76 more synagogues were burned to the ground.
This reprehensible event is often presented as uniquely Nazi because of its viciousness. However, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 17 years earlier (and in at least 25 other American cities at other times), similar “spontaneous'” race riots broke out against equally peaceful and successful African American communities. The Tulsa attack occurred on May 31, 1921, in retaliation for an event the day before. Dick Rowland, a teenaged African American, tripped and fell into a white woman while on his way to a segregated men’s room. The woman was not injured and ultimately refused to press charges. The local police, the National Guard and a mob of at least 10,000 “fascist minded” whites launched a chain reaction of rapes, murders, arsons and aerial bombings in the prosperous African American section of Tulsa known as “Negro Wall Street.” Thirty-five square blocks were leveled. At least 301 African Americans were murdered, many more were injured, and 10 white people were killed. In addition, 1500 homes were destroyed as well as 600 businesses, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and libraries, and schools, stores, a bank, a hospital and a U.S. post office. Martial law was declared and a house-to-house search for African Americans ensued. More than six thousand people were interred for their own “safety” in three separate concentration camps. For two months they were allowed to leave only to go to work. After martial law was revoked, African Americans were forced to wear green cards signed by their employers on their outerwear. If they were caught on the street without their cards, they were arrested. When the physical and economic destruction was completed, “Negro Wall Street” had been decimated.
In Spain on Monday, April 26, 1937, over two-dozen Nazi Condor Legion warplanes bombed the Basque “capital” city of Guernica. It was the world’s introduction to blitzkrieg. There were military targets nearby, but unbelievably none were targeted–the bridge, railways, and arms factory remained unscathed. Civilian targets, however, were easy prey because Monday was market day and the market place was crowded with shoppers and merchants. While Santa Maria Church and other buildings were being reduced to rubble, two dozen or so fighter planes strafed the unarmed civilians with machine gun fire. The German flyers made many passes over the hysterical crush of people trying to escape certain death. When the attack ended, the killed and wounded numbered over 1500. Guernica burned for three days, destroying almost three quarters of the town. Luftwaffe pilots flew the war planes, but U.S. capitalists helped them get off the ground, commit their acts of terrorism and return home. Henry Ashby Turner, Jr, in his book General Motors and the Nazis, wrote that Du Pont-controlled General Motors (GM), Rockefeller-controlled Standard Oil of New Jersey, and the German company IG Farben, produced tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) at German plants under the new company name Ethyl G.m.b.H. Tetra-ethyl lead was used to boost low-grade German gasoline made from coal into high-grade aviation fuel.
GM produced airplane engine parts for the German company Daimler-Benz and airplane parts for the German Junker war planes, including the JU-88, the Luftwaffe’s most widely used fighter-bomber. The Nazi planes that decimated Guernica were JU-52/3m, originally powered by U.S. Pratt & Whitney engines. The fuel used to power the planes that destroyed Guernica may have been produced by U.S. corporations in Germany burning in engines probably made by Pratt & Whitney of Connecticut.
On July 30, 1938, a little over a year after the barbarism committed at Guernica, Henry Ford was awarded the Nazi’s highest civilian medal in appreciation of his long-term support of fascism and Hitler. Also in 1938, James D. Mooney, president of GM’s Overseas Division, who personally approved GM’s war materiel production, was awarded the Nazi “Order of Merit of the Eagle.” He was a reserve officer in the U.S. military at the time. Even after accepting this award, Mooney remained a close confidant of FDR.
The man who flew across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time, Charles Lindbergh, was given a tour of German aircraft plants on October 19, 1938. He was very impressed with how advanced they were. Because of Lindbergh’s pro-Nazi, anti-British, anti-Semitic, white supremacist views, he was awarded the “Order of the German Eagle with Star” by his tour guide, Commander and Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering. When Lindbergh returned home, he spent much of his time touring the U.S. and preaching his views that white racial dominance was equal to a nation’s success, and survival of the white race was more important than survival of democracy in Europe.
Despite the much-touted U.S. “neutrality,” FDR’s liberal administration allowed GM, Ford, Texaco (Texas Oil Company) and others to send war materiel to the Spanish fascists. I remember listening to Brigade veterans at a reunion in New York City “joking” about running away from a column of Ford trucks carrying a detachment of Franco’s troops. Corporate America may have provided more vehicles to the fascists than any other group in the world.
The desire of the great democracies, including the U.S., to stop fascism was a myth. Too many big capitalists in those countries supported fascism. Nothing was done when the Germans marched into the Rhineland on March 7, 1936, thereby tearing up the Versailles treaty. We know now that the German generals were fearful of a military response because they would not have been able to repel it at that time and their push toward remilitarizing Germany would have been severely curtailed. When the Italians attacked Ethiopia, the fiction that some sort of negotiated settlement could be brokered by the League of Nations was laid to rest by Gaetano Salvamini’s January 1936 article in Foreign Affairs, “Can Italy Live at Home?” He wrote that when the French ambassador offered Mussolini a way of “solving” the Italian-Ethiopian crisis peacefully, Mussolini’s response was: “If you brought me Abyssinia on a silver tray, I would not accept it, for I am resolved to take it by force.”
Fortunately, French journalist “Pertinox” overheard and published the exchange. The League of Nations imposed an embargo, including oil, against Italy. You don’t have to be a Von Clausewitz to know that a modern army runs on oil. Without lubricants and fuel, planes, tanks and trucks stay in the parking lot. In support of Mussolini, one of the commodities the U.S. let slide through the League of Nations embargo was oil.
Italy occupied the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on May 2, 1936. The League of Nations ended its embargo against fascist Italy on July 4, 1936, despite Pertinox’s revelation. In its July 20, 1936 edition, Henry Luce’s Time magazine hammered away at Ethiopia and lionized fascist Italy. Time wrote: “the attitude of Italians toward conquered Ethiopia is Christian in its readiness to collaborate with and convert the heathen and Roman in its drastic finality The Pax Romana over Ethiopia has always been envisioned by the Dictator as something to be attained and consolidated in a matter of some 25 years, if indeed Ethiopian savages can be brought to civilized citizenship so soon.” Even after its brutal assault on Ethiopia, Italian fascism continued to have complete support from this representative of the so-called U.S. free press. Italy’s next move was to extend its military tentacles into Spain. On July 16, 1936, the fascist revolt started against democratic Spain. Spanish fascist troops left Morocco by boat for the trip across the Mediterranean to Spain. The Italian fascist air force, Regia Aeronautica, provided cover.
Ethiopia was a training ground for the Italian alliance with fascist Spain against the Spanish democratic forces. In Ethiopia, Italy’s Lieutenant General Luigi Frusci led two small units of Italian American volunteers in April, 1936 at Ethiopia’s southern front. The volunteers were stopped in their tracks at Sassa Baneh by Ethiopian freedom fighters. At the same time, a heroic African American soldier was training and leading Ethiopians. Col. Hubert F. Julian, nicknamed “The Black Eagle,” would have been relegated to washing pots in the segregated U.S. military of that time. In the Spanish Civil War, another African American, Oliver Law, was a commander in the Lincoln Brigade. He was killed in action while leading the first integrated unit of American troops.
By 1937, on another front, General Frusci was second in command of Italian “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War, This time Frusci’s force numbered between 60,000 and 70,000 troops with war planes, tanks, trucks and everything else needed to maintain a force of that size, including of course, lots of oil. One financial contributor to this effort was IG Farben. IG ledgers seized after World War 11, showed huge sums of money transferred to the Spanish fascists. Josiah E. Dubois, Jr. in his book The Devil’s Chemists lists Americans among members of the board of directors of Farben’s U.S. subsidiary during the 1930s. Walter Teagle, president of Standard Oil of New Jersey; Charles Mitchell, president of the National City Bank of New York; and Edsel Ford. Other support came from Rockefeller managers. Charles Higham wrote in his book Trading with the Enemy, that Joseph J. Larkin, vice-president for European affairs of Rockefeller’s Chase National Bank, was another enthusiastic supporter of the Spanish fascist rebels. When the Spanish Republican ambassador, Fernando de los Rios, tried to open a Chase account in October 1936 “to be used to raise local assistance for the Spanish government, including the Lincoln Brigade,” Larkin refused. Larkin also closed an existing account for Republican Spain at the Chase National branch in Paris. To emphasize his pro-fascist position, “Larkin took on the Franco account and the Reichsbank account, though the Reichsbank was under the personal control of Hitler.” The Nazis wound up spending about 500 million marks to support the Spanish fascist rebels and supplied a huge quantity of war materiel. How much of this putrid contribution began with Ford, GM or Rockefeller money is unknown to me.
Continuing to support fascism was Luce’s meat and potatoes. After Italy’s violation of Ethiopia, Luce’s Time turned its approving eye toward the Spanish fascist rebels and their leaders. At first, Time correctly referred to the fascists as rebels and the democratic forces as loyalists. In later reports, it changed the labels to “whites” for the fascists and “reds” for the democratic forces. The last incarnation I found called the fascists “right” and the democratic forces “left.” (Ernest K. Bramsted wrote in his book Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925-1945 that the Nazi press was directed to use the terms “Spanish Reds” for the Republican Government and “Nationalists” for the fascist rebels.) In addition to this name game, the positive stereotyping of the fascist rebel leadership as brave, calm, determined, even tempered and patient, and the negative stereotyping of the democratic government leadership as cowardly, fat, frog faced and impulsive’, made it difficult at times to understand who was the elected government and who were the rebels. Not satisfied just with its support of the fascists, Luce’s Time sallied into gender bias that to this modern day reader seems loony. On August 10, 1936 Time ran a photomontage of female government troops called “War Women of Spain.” Using the insane reactionary notion that women are ruled by their hormones and are therefore irrational and that everyone “knows” that both males and females with Spanish blood have more than their share of hormones, Luce the “endocrinologist” ran the following copy: “In this year’s revolution correspondents have stressed the savage cruelty of fighting Spanish females. Even Spanish males bullfight lovers all, are appalled by the bloodthirstiness of their sisters-in-arms.” The photos, however, show only groups of happily armed and determined women soldiers. In the center of the montage is a photo of a fallen fighter, presumably a fascist. Finally, and perhaps most important, is the fact that the “War Women of Spain” were not proponents of “this year’s revolution” but defenders of Spain’s democratically elected government.
At its peak, the International Brigades numbered perhaps 32,000 troops from all over the world. The Lincoln Brigade boasted 2,800 American soldiers and 250 Irish fighters. By the summer of 1938, there were only about 450 Americans left among the 3,000 international volunteers still fighting. During a surprise offensive by the democratic forces that captured Fatarella, the locals told the Brigade’s troops how the Spanish fascists were killing captured Brigade fighters. The fascists were largely inefficient as murderers, however. It took IBM president Thomas Watson to arrange to have his minions teach them how to use IBM technology to round up and murder large numbers of unarmed anti-fascists efficiently. Before the civil war ended in 1939, Watson sold the Spanish fascists 700,000 keypunch cards and Hollerith machines necessary for locating our comrades. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black explains that throughout Europe IBM held an absolute monopoly on keypunch cards, thoroughly enforced by Watson. If the fascists couldn’t buy the cards from IBM, the machines were useless, and roundups became more difficult and inefficient. Between 1939 and 1945. the Spanish fascist rebels murdered at least 200,000 people located with the help of Watson’s IBM cards.
Earlier on, Watson had praised Mussolini enthusiastically. Watson also received a special Nazi medal in June 1937. “The Merit Cross of the German Eagle with Star was created for Thomas Watson,” Black wrote, “to honor foreign nationals who made themselves deserving of the German Reich” It was the Nazis’ second highest civilian honor. What made Watson so “deserving” was his support for Nazism, including the sale of countless IBM punch cards to help the Nazis roundup opponents, and his access to FDR with pro-Nazi information.
On April 3, 1939, before the gun barrels cooled that had killed so many anti-fascists, FDR recognized Franco’s fascist regime. European fascism now had another country, Spain, with its resources on its side. The Franco government immediately started working with the Axis powers. In the fall of 1939, the new Spanish ambassador to France sent information to the Germans regarding the French lack of concern about the recent blitzkrieg against their Polish allies. Undoubtedly this information encouraged the Nazi war machine to make its next move. In the summer of 1942, the Spanish fascists sent a division of troops to the eastern front to fight our then ally, the Soviet Union. That act helped prolong the war. Spain itself became a haven from which Axis spies could monitor Allied movements in strategically important British Gibraltar. They could also monitor the movement of all ships in and out of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. In the fall of 1942, while General Eisenhower was assembling an Anglo-American force to land in North Africa, German intelligence dutifully kept Berlin informed about the size and scope of the armada and the departure day. How many allied troops died as a result of that intelligence transmission? Probably the greatest loss to the democratic struggle was the murder between 1939 and 1945 of 200,000 anti-fascist Spaniards, by Franco’s fascists, with the help of Thomas Watson and IBM. The effort they could have made fighting for the Allied cause is immeasurable.
Unfortunately, many popular, progressive governments and movements have been overthrown or undermined by the U.S. since the defeat of the Spanish democracy. “Between 1945 and 2005 the United States has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes,” William Blum wrote in the third edition of Rogue State, A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower: “In the process, the U.S. has caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.” These actions were supported by the same “great democracy” that supported Italy, Germany and Spain and the same corporations that supported Mussolini, Hitler and Franco. The reason is also the same: to America’s corporate elite, “democracy” means having a market economy, and little else. Colin Powell said this more than once when he was Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005.
We are constantly being told by the “polite left” that it’s all W’s fault, that we need our country back. “Back to what?” is a reasonable response. Five hundred thousand dead children in Iraq during the Clinton administration? Countless U.S. veterans after the Vietnam war suffering from war related illnesses and not getting treatment, or the blitzkrieg in Guernica rather than shock and awe in Baghdad?’ Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Tulsa? Make your own list.
On another, earlier 9/11, September 11, 1973, a smiling Henry Kissinger appeared on TV with General Augusto Pinochet, the new leader of the junta that had just overthrown the democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende. Despite President Allende’s murder, recognition of the junta by the U.S. came with the speed of light. As soon as Pinochet took office a reign of terror spread like a miasmic fog across Chile and South America. It was financed by the U.S. and carried out by the Chilean junta with a gang of fascists they formed named the Directorate of National Intelligence, (DINA). Thousands of leftists of all ideologies were rounded up, tortured, raped, disappeared and murdered. Kissinger was smiling because the dawn of a reinstated market economy was being nursed with the blood of those progressive activists. The big change was in style rather than content. Fascism was no longer praised in public, but its techniques were still used. Fascism was renamed authoritarianism. It has a strict but paternal feeling.
Barbarism was nothing new to Pinochet. He was a great admirer of Franco and his tactics and went to Spain for Franco’s funeral in November, 1975. Unlike Franco, he would not live out his life without being held responsible for his inhuman acts. By the time of his death on December 10, 2006, there were at least 300 legal actions brought against him by progressive Chileans and others. In the spirit of the Lincoln Brigade and the other International Brigades, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon reached across national boundaries and indicted Pinochet for his murder of Spanish citizens in Chile in the 1970s. On October 16 1998, while in an English hospital recovering from an operation, he was arrested by the British police. Unfortunately, he did not die in jail.
On December 12, 2006, Alvaro Vargas Llosa wrote an obituary entitled “Pinochet” in The Wall Street Journal. Although Pinochet was disgraced in Chile and around the world, Vargas Llosa’s first five paragraphs condemned the left in general and Fidel Castro in particular for the bloodbath in Chile, without any evidence. He didn’t blame Pinochet’s right wing revolution against the democratically elected government of the Republic of Chile. USA TODAY outdid the WSJ inaccuracies in its “Death of a Tyrant” on December 11, 2006 by failing to mention Pinochet’s revolution against Chile at all. Again on December 11, Pascale Bonnefoy’s piece “Joy and Violence at Death of Pinochet” in The New York Times, reported in its first paragraph police efforts to control the “violent” demonstrators celebrating Pinochet’s death. Bonnefoy didn’t write a word about Pinochet’s violence in that lead paragraph.
To its credit, the Los Angeles Times in its December 11 edition published an article by Marc Cooper and another by staff writers Sebastian Rotella and Patrick J. McDonnell that outlined much of the U.S. role in Pinochet’s overthrow of the democratically elected Chilean government. On another December 11–December 11, 1941– the U.S. declared war on fascists in Germany and Italy.
When we found out why Henry Kissinger was leering at us in 1973, what price did we demand for the war crimes committed by the U.S. government and the multinational corporations? It was the same price we demanded from our government after the defeat of democratic Spain in 1939, at the end of World War 11 in 1945, when Franco died in 1975, when Pinochet died in 2006. Nothing.
We must emulate the courage of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon and the giants of the Lincoln Brigade by naming the war criminals in our midst. We must try to give them the punishment they so richly deserve for their crimes. Unless we raise that demand, we can expect nothing from the institutions that supposedly honor the Lincoln Brigade except more of the same silence. Our silence will also encourage the next U.S. administration to plan and carry out with impunity next year’s “regime change” in the name of a supposed free market democracy, whose market and democracy is dominated by corporate monopolists.
EDWIN KRALES can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org