Notorious Mercenary Erik Prince Is Advising Trump From the Shadows January 27, 2017Posted by rogerhollander in Trump, Uncategorized.
Tags: betsy devos, Blackwater, blackwater scandals, breitbart news, CIA torture, erik prince, fascism, jeremy scahill, mercenary, mike pence, roger hollander, steve bannon, torture, trump administration, trump presidency
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Roger’s note: when the state and the corporate world are virtually inseparable, then fascism has been achieved, according to one of its definitions. The United States has been moving in this direction for many years. With the advent of the Trump presidency, even in its first days, as seen by the choice of White House insiders and cabinet appointments, we are witnessing the arrival of genuine state/corporate/police fascism. The bolstering of the police apparatus of repression, backed by the criminalization of dissent, in the face of state attacks on women, minorities, immigrants and refugees, Muslims, the poor, etc., is a recipe for all out tyranny. Resistance is only beginning to coalesce, as demonstrated by the millions marching on January 21. This will be met by our heavily militarized police and National Guard. We are in for some perilous times.
By Jeremy Scahill
Erik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the Defense and State departments. The official asked not to be identified because of a transition policy prohibiting discussion of confidential deliberations.
On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald Trump and Mike Pence watched the returns come in, including a close shot of Pence and Trump with their families. “We know some people who worked closely with [Trump] on his campaign,” DeLuke wrote. “Waiting for the numbers to come in last night. It was well worth the wait!!!! #PresidentTrump2016.” Prince’s sister, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and Prince (and his mother) gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.
In July, Prince told Trump’s senior adviser and white supremacist Steve Bannon, at the time head of Breitbart News, that the Trump administration should recreate a version of the Phoenix Program, the CIA assassination ring that operated during the Vietnam War, to fight ISIS. Such a program, Prince said, could kill or capture “the funders of Islamic terror and that would even be the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities they’re in.”
Prince also said that Trump would be the best force to confront “Islamic fascism.” “As for the world looking to the United States for leadership, unfortunately, I think they’re going to have to wait till January and hope Mr. Trump is elected because, clearly, our generals don’t have a stomach for a fight,” Prince said. “Our president doesn’t have a stomach for a fight and the terrorists, the fascists, are winning.”
Prince founded the notorious private security firm Blackwater, which rose to infamy in September 2007 after its operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians, including a 9-year-old boy in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. Whistleblowers also alleged that Prince encouraged an environment in which Iraqis were killed for sport. At the height of the Blackwater scandals in 2007, another prominent Trump backer, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, praised Prince, who once worked in his congressional office. “Prince,’’ Rohrabacher said, “is on his way to being an American hero just like Ollie North was.’’
Ultimately, Prince sold Blackwater and now heads up a Hong Kong-based company known as Frontier Services Group. The Intercept has previously reported on Prince’s efforts to build a private air force for hire and his close ties to Chinese intelligence. One of his latest schemes is a proposal to deploy private contractors to work with Libyan security forces to stop the flow of refugees to Europe.
Prince has long fantasized that he is the rightful heir to the legacy of “Wild Bill” Donovan and his Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. After 9/11, Prince worked with the CIA on a secret assassination program, in addition to offering former SEALs and other retired special operators to the State Department and other agencies for personal security.
Blaming leftists and some congressional Democrats for destroying his Blackwater empire, Prince clearly views Trump’s vow to bring back torture, CIA-sponsored kidnapping, and enhanced interrogations, as well as his commitment to fill Guantánamo with prisoners, as a golden opportunity to ascend to his rightful place as a covert private warrior for the U.S. national security state. As we reported last year, “Prince — who portrays himself as a mix between Indiana Jones, Rambo, Captain America, and Pope Benedict — is now working with the Chinese government through his latest ‘private security’ firm.” The Trump presidency could result in Prince working for both Beijing and the White House.
The Blackwater founder has also endorsed some of Trump’s overtures to Russia, saying: “Think about it: If FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, can deal with Stalin to defeat German fascism in World War II, certainly the United States of America could work with Putin to defeat Islamic fascism. We don’t have to agree with the Russians on everything, or even on a lot, but we can at least agree that crushing ISIS in the Middle East is a very good idea.” Prince described Democrats as “anti-Catholic, anti-Evangelical,” saying the DNC hacks and leaks revealed “the disregard, the disdain they have for the average American voter and citizen.”
Prince has a close relationship with Breitbart News and Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior counselor and chief strategist. Prince has appeared frequently — and almost exclusively — on Breitbart Radio. In August, Prince offered praise for Trump’s candidacy, telling Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos: “I even like some of his projects that have gone bankrupt, because people that do things, and build things, and try things, sometimes fail at doing it, and that’s the strength of the American capitalist system.” Prince added: “We have kind of turned our back on the fact that hard work, sacrifice, risk-taking, innovation, is what made America great. Washington did not make America great.”
In September, Prince backed Trump’s proposal to commandeer Iraq’s 2 million barrels of daily oil output. “For Mr. Trump to say, ‘We’re going to take their oil — certainly we’re not going to lift it out of there and take it somewhere else, but putting it into production, and putting a tolling arrangement into place, to repay the American taxpayers for their efforts to remove Saddam and to stabilize the area, is doable, and very plausible,” Prince said on Breitbart Radio.
Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, is Trump’s nominee for education secretary and she has all but vowed to embark on a crusade to push a privatization and religious agenda in education that mirrors her brother’s in military and CIA affairs. Prince has long been a contributor to the campaign of fellow Christian warrior Mike Pence, and he contributed $100,000 to the pro-Trump Super PAC Make America Number 1. Prince’s mother, Elsa, pitched in another $50,000. That organization, run by Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge funder Robert Mercer, was one of the strongest bankrollers of Trump’s campaign.
According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, in December Prince attended the annual “Villains and Heroes” costume ball hosted by Mercer. Dowd wrote that Palantir founder Peter Thiel showed her “a picture on his phone of him posing with Erik Prince, who founded the private military company Blackwater, and Mr. Trump — who had no costume — but joke[d] that it was ‘N.S.F.I.’ (Not Safe for the Internet).”
Not even Trump is brazen enough to give Prince a public post in his administration. But Prince is operating in the shadows, where he has always been most at home.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.
Jeremy Scahill on Trump Team: A Cabal of Religious Extremists, Privatization Advocates & Racists
The Forgotten Fight Against Fascism June 15, 2014Posted by rogerhollander in History, Imperialism, Nazi / Fascist, War.
Tags: anti-fascist, ethiopia, fascism, Franco, haile selassie, history, hitler, lincoln brigade, mussolini, nazi, oliver law, roger hollander, Spanish Civil War, william loren katz, world war II
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Roger’s note: When we think of fascism we think of Mussolini, Hitler and Franco. But fascism, as defined functionally, is when the state is indistinguishable from corporate capital. Such was the case in both Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy. Under these conditions, individual rights and civil liberties and imperial war mongering inevitably follow, with their accompanying brutality and bloodshed. When we look at the United States today we see corporate capital more and more every day in control of the three branches of government, and what else to we see? We see torture, police state violence against peaceful protest, the loss of habeas corpus, uncontrollable government spying, and gross violations of both the constitution and the Geneva Conventions (drone missiles, torture, targeting of civilian populations [US supported Israel vs. the Palestinians], presidential assassination lists, indefinite detention, indiscriminate bombing, undeclared wars, etc.).
I happen to be reading at the moment, William Shirer’s classic “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” What we see in the 1930s are the capitalist democracies, principally England and France, not simply appeasing Hitler, but in fact by their cowardice and narrow self interest, actually enabling Hitler. By the time the Allies got their act together to confront Hitler, he had already armed Germany and moved into the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The Soviets early on had been pushing England and France to form an alliance to stop Hitler, but they declined and were more afraid of being infected with Bolshevism.
I believe that the struggle today is not narrowly against terrorism or Islamic extremism, but rather the same fight against fascism. This article gives us some historical perspective on that fight.
In late 1944 as a high school senior I rushed off to a U.S. Navy recruiting station ready to take on world fascism. Cooler heads insisted I wait until my graduation in June. After boot camp I served in “The Pacific Theater”—Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Hawaii, Saipan, Japan, and the China Sea.
Anyone who has gone through school in the United States knows that history textbooks devote a lot of attention to the so-called “Good War”: World War II. A typical textbook, Holt McDougal’s The Americans, includes 61 pages covering the buildup to World War II and the war itself. Today’s texts acknowledge “blemishes” like the internment of Japanese Americans, but the texts either ignore or gloss over the fact that for almost a decade, during the earliest fascist invasions of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the Western democracies encouraged rather than fought Hitler and Mussolini, and sometimes gave them material aid.
From Hitler’s rise to power, the governments of England and France, with the United States following their lead, never tried to prevent, slow, or even warn of the fascist danger. They started by greeting Japan’s attack on Manchuria with disapproving noises, and continued to trade with Japan. It was a prelude to Japan’s 1937 invasion of China.
Mussolini, seeking an “Italian Empire” in Africa, threw his army and air force against Ethiopia in October 1935. Fascist planes bombed and dropped poison gas on villages. Emperor Haile Selassie turned to the League of Nations and speaking in his native Amharic described fascist air and chemical attacks on a people “without arms, without resources.” “Collective security,” he insisted, “is the very existence of the League of Nations,” and warned “international morality” is “at stake.” When Selassie said, “God and history will remember your judgment,” governments shrugged.
However, in the midst of a worldwide “Great Depression,” citizens in the distant United States were aroused to help Ethiopia. Black men trained for military action—an estimated 8,000 in Chicago, 5,000 in Detroit, 2,000 in Kansas City. In New York City, where a thousand men drilled, nurse Salaria Kea of Harlem Hospital collected funds that sent a 75-bed hospital and two tons of medical supplies to Ethiopia. W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson addressed a “Harlem League Against War and Fascism” rally and A. Philip Randolph linked Mussolini’s invasion to “the terrible repression of black people in the United States.” A people’s march for Ethiopia in Harlem drew 25,000 African Americans and anti-fascist Italian Americans.
In Chicago on Aug. 31, 1935, as the fascist noose on Ethiopia tightened, Oliver Law, a black Communist from Texas, organized a protest rally in defiance of a ban by Mayor Edward J. Kelly. Ten thousand people gathered and so did 2,000 police. Law began to speak from a rooftop, and was arrested. Then one speaker after another appeared on different rooftops, to shout their anti-fascist messages, and all six were arrested.
By May 1936 before many volunteers or help could reach Ethiopia, Mussolini triumphed and Haile Selassie fled into exile. The Americans devotes a puny two paragraphs of its 61 pages of war coverage to this pre-Pearl Harbor conflict. And the drama of democracy versus fascism in Spain merits another whispered two paragraphs in The Americans.
In July 1936 pro-fascist Francisco Franco and other Spanish generals in Morocco launched a military coup against Spain’s new Republican “Popular Front” government. By early August, Hitler and Mussolini provided vital assistance. In the world’s first airlift, Nazi Germany dispatched 40 Luftwaffe Junker and transport planes to ferry Franco’s army from Morocco to Seville, Spain. Italy’s fleet in the Mediterranean sank ships carrying aid or volunteers to Republican Spain, and 50,000 to 100,000 Italian fascist troops began to arrive in Spain. Hitler and Mussolini had internationalized a civil war—and revealed fascism’s global intentions.
But one of the first lessons learned from Spain was fascist aggressors had nothing to fear from the Western democracies. The Luftwaffe destroyed cities such as Gernika in the Basque region of Spain, and Nazi gestapo agents interrogated Republican prisoners. But English and French officials, and their wealthy corporations with financial ties to Nazi Germany, greeted the fascist march with a shrug, quiet appreciation, or offers of cooperation. In England, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin prodded Germany and Italy to march east toward the Soviet Union. The British ambassador to Spain told the U.S. ambassador, “I hope they send in enough Germans to finish the war.”
The Nazi Luftwaffe overhead, Franco’s legions rolled toward Madrid and Franco expected a fast victory. But at the gates of Madrid everything changed. Under the slogan “They shall not pass,” members of unions and political and citizen groups formed military units and headed toward the front carrying lunch and a rifle. Madrid’s women, wearing pants and carrying rifles, took part in early skirmishes. Other women ran the first quartermaster corps.
A scattering of foreign volunteers began to arrive: Jewish and other refugees fleeing Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, some British machine gunners, and athletes fresh from an anti-Nazi Olympics in Barcelona.
By November the volunteer rush became a torrent: An estimated 40,000 men and women from 53 nations left home to defend the Republic. For the only time in history, a volunteer force of men and women from all over the world came together to fight for an ideal: democracy. The volunteers brought a message that ordinary people could resist fascist militarism.
Though most volunteers had little military experience, they hoped their commitment, courage, and sacrifice would persuade the democratic governments to unite against the fascist march, and head off a new world war.
But the Western governments ignored Spain’s plea for “collective security.” And some countries outlawed travel to Spain. France closed its border to Spain so volunteers faced arrest and had to scale the Pyrenees at night. England formed a Non-Intervention Committee of 26 nations that blocked aid to the Republican government, but not to Franco’s rebels.
U.S. policy followed England and France. The United States stamped passports “Not Valid for Spain.” The State Department tried to prevent medical supplies and doctors from reaching Spain. The Texas Oil Company sent almost 2 million tons of oil, most of Franco’s oil needs. Four-fifths of rebel trucks came from Ford, General Motors, and Studebaker. U.S. media outlets, isolationist and wealthy groups, and the Catholic Church cheered Franco’s fight against “Godless Communism.”
In the United States some 2,800 young men and women of different races and backgrounds formed the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Seamen and students, farmers and professors, they hoped that their bravery could turn the tide, or at last alert the world to the fascist drive for world domination. Most made their way to Spain illegally as “tourists” visiting France.
In a time of massive unemployment, lynching, segregation, and discrimination, 90 of the volunteers were African American. “Ethiopia and Spain are our fight,” said James Yates, who fled Mississippi. The United States had only five licensed African American pilots, and two came to join the Republic’s tiny air force (one brought down two German and three Italian planes).
Most of the African American volunteers had marched with white radicals to protest lynching, segregation, and racism, and to demand relief and jobs during the Great Depression. These men and women of color—one was nurse Salaria Kea—formed the first integrated U.S. army. Oliver Law became an early commander of the Lincoln Brigade.
The brave young men and women of the Lincoln and other International Brigades slowed but did not stop fascism. In 1938, fascism’s overwhelming land, sea, and air power defeated the Republic. Many volunteers had died, including half of the Americans, and others suffered serious wounds.
What is remembered as World War II began the next year in 1939, when Germany attacked Poland. It would take a massive, multinational effort to defeat Hitler, Mussolini, and Imperial Japan, and cost tens of millions of lives.
In 1945, world fascism was finally defeated. But for a crucial decade the democracies did not oppose and often emboldened the fascist advance into Manchuria and China, Ethiopia and Spain. But students today don’t learn this. Instead, texts present World War II as an inevitability and the Allies as anti-fascists and saviors of democracy. A fuller history of the failure of the United States to fight fascism at its outset—and even its multifaceted support of fascism—would help students rethink this supposed inevitability. Today’s students deserve more than a few textbook paragraphs describing the fight against fascism before 1939 while the governments of the United States, England, and France encouraged its aggressions.
Anne Frank Is Palestine’s Child, Too July 15, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Palestine.
Tags: anne frank, anti-semitism, fascism, gaza, gaza children, gaza massacre, israel military, Palestine, palestinian children, Palestinians, racism, roger hollander, vacy vlazna
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The Suffering of Palestinian Children Is Not Unlike Anne Frank’s
In the context here of youthful suffering, let us consider the similarities between the Nazi victimising, traumatising and slaughtering of Anne Frank to the victimising, traumatising, mutilating and slaughtering of the teenagers and children of Gaza. The children of Gaza have also been trapped, or, as Anne may have put it, “chained in one spot, without any rights” for seven years in the largest concentration camp in the world.
“Who has inflicted this upon us? Who had made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now?”
“In the Shifa hospital I saw a sight I will never forget. Hundreds of corpses, one on top of the other. Their flesh…their blood, and their bones all melting on each other. You wouldn’t know the woman from the man or even the child. Piles of flesh on the beds, and lots of people screaming and crying, not knowing where their kids are, their men or their women.
“Mr Dussel has told us much about the outside world we’ve missed for so long. He had sad news. Countless friends and acquaintances have been taken off to a dreadful fate. Night after night, green and grey military vehicles cruise the streets.”
Today, the roundups dreaded by Anne Frank find new forms in the West Bank of Palestine. There, Israel systematically ramps up the state of anxiety and fear with night-time raids and violent home invasions. Arrests of children and adults occur mainly at night, when the whole family is suddenly awakened and their home invaded by armed soldiers shouting and ransacking the family’s possessions. This leads to the kidnapping of the family member, or members, targeted, leaving the family distraught and their lives devastated. Reuters reported that, according to UNICEF, “approximately 700 Palestinian children, between the ages of 12 and 17, are kidnapped, detained and interrogated by the Israeli army, the Police and security agents in the West Bank every year, and are subject to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in direct violation of the Convention on the Right of the Child, and the Convention against Torture.”
In both the West Bank and Gaza, the effect of unending oppression has become tragic for Palestinian children. The respected Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer points out in “For Gaza’s Children the Trauma Never Ends”:
“The Nazi persecution and World War II in Europe, which lasted from 1933 to 1945, affected an entire generation of children. By contrast, Israel’s dispossession and occupation of Palestine has lasted some six decades–and counting. Generations of Palestinian children have been affected physically, psychologically and materially.”
For Anne Frank, the experience of Nazi oppression had the effect of making her former life seem surrealistic. She wrote:
Anne then lists the humiliations Jews were subject to under the Nazi’s apartheid regime. Interestingly, her experience can easily be reworded, as follows, to reflect the Palestinian experience:
“Freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Palestinian apartheid decrees that violate international law:
–Palestinians live under military law, while Israelis live under civil law.
–Identity cards only for Palestinians.
–Segregation between Jewish and Palestinian communities.
–Jews-only roads and transport.
–Movement restrictions for Palestinians.
–Unequal access to land and property.
–Forcible eviction and home demolitions for Palestinians.
–Palestinians forbidden the right of return, while Jews anywhere in the
world have the right to live in Israel.
–Deportation of Palestinian prisoners.
–Palestinians are forbidden from living with Israeli Arab spouses.
–Separate and unequal education systems.
–Forced resettlement of Bedouins.”
In addition, Adalah reports that “In the four short months since the current Knesset came to power, MKs have proposed as many as 29 new discriminatory bills that attack the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the OPT.”
Even though for Anne “t he approaching danger [was] being pulled tighter and tighter,” and she felt “like a songbird whose wings have been ripped off and who keeps hurling itself against the bars of its dark cage,” we Palestinian young people share with her that confounding universal metamorphosis of the human teenager into a young adult overflowing with the same heartfelt reflections, confessions, emotional struggles, lamentations, loves, fears, hates, and hopes.
Only Ron Paul Warns Of Emerging Fascist State February 27, 2012Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, Right Wing, War.
Tags: fascism, foreign policy, indifinite detention, militarism, military detentiion, ndaa, patriot act, presidential power, republicans, right wing, roger hollander, ron paul, sherwood ross, tea party, war on drugs
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Roger’s note: Please don’t get me wrong, I am no fan or supporter of Ron Paul with his Social Darwinian Ayn Rand Libertarian philosophy that makes a fetish of the sacred concept of individual liberty (as if it were possible to separate the individual from the community). Nevertheless, Paul’s positions on war and empire coincide with that of the left in general and the Occupy Movement in specific. It is also easy to see why his persona, which reeks of sincerity and honest indignation, appeals to youthful idealism. His association with the extreme right and some alleged policy statements that sound like white supremacism, are disturbing. But his position of militarism and fascism, as outlined in the article below, begs the question of why he is a part of the Republican Party in the first place; and why, if he sees the connection between authoritarian government and mega corporations, his domestic policy coincides with the interests of those same corporations.
Republican Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate of either party to tell the truth that America is “slipping into a fascist system.”
That is unquestionably the critical issue of the hour for the United States of America and one that Paul’s Republican fellow candidates and their Democratic opponent President Obama choose to ignore.
Hand in hand with this existential crisis is that a nation that goes fascist at home invariably becomes a tyrant abroad. Thus, the Congressman from Galveston is right on the mark when he calls for the predatory U.S. to pull its troops out of the Middle East and Africa and close down its foreign bases. The U.S., indisputably, with its 1,000 military bases at home and a thousand more abroad, is now the most awesome military power ever.
“We’ve slipped away from a true Republic,” Paul told a cheering crowd of followers at a Feb. 18th rally in Kansas City, Mo. “Now we’re slipping into a fascist system where it’s a combination of government and big business and authoritarian rule and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen.”
According to the Associated Press reporter who covered his speech, “Paul repeatedly denounced President Barack Obama’s recent enactment of a law requiring military custody of anyone suspected to be associated with al-Qaida and involved in planning an attack on the U.S.” (Note: Paul is a consistent defender of individual rights. He also opposed that previous horrific piece of totalitarian legislation mislabeled as the Patriot Act.)
Ralph Munyan, a Republican committeeman who attended the Paul rally, told AP he agreed with Paul’s warnings of a “fascist system” and Paul’s pledges to end the War on Drugs as well as U.S. involvement in wars overseas. By contrast, candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are all hawks spoiling for a fight with Iran and who leave peace-minded Republican voters no one to turn to save Paul.
An article on Paul published in the Feb. 27th issue of “The New Yorker” quotes him as saying, “We thought Obama might help us and get us out of some of these messes. But now we’re in more countries than ever—we can’t even keep track of how many places our troops are!”
In the evaluation of “New Yorker” reporter Kelefa Sanneh, “So far, the Paul campaign is neither a groundswell nor a failure. He is slowly collecting delegates…” which could impact the final selection of the nominee even if they do not have the strength to nominate Paul.
Overall, Paul’s message appears to be “doing better, state by state, than he did in 2008,” Sanneh writes, but “he has conspicuously failed to establish himself as this year’s Tea Party candidate.”
“People don’t think of Paul as a top-tier Republican candidate partly because they think of him as a libertarian: anti-tax and anti-bailout, but also antiwar, anti-empire, and, sometimes, anti-Republican,” Sanneh continues.
To date, Paul’s shining contribution to the 2012 campaign is educational—even if the major networks and cable powerhouse Fox News downplay his candidacy in their primary night election coverage. Some of what he says gets through to the public, particularly youthful voters. On the grave issues of totalitarianism at home and tyranny abroad, Paul is the last truth-teller. As such, Paul is a dove fighting for survival among a flock of hawks, and his chances are not bright.
(Sherwood Ross heads a public relations firm for political candidates who favor peace and prosperity.)
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Franco Repression Ruled as a Crime Against Humanity October 17, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Political Commentary.
Tags: crimes against humanity, dictatorship, fascism, Franco, Garzon, human rights, roger hollander, Spanish Civil War
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A Spanish judge yesterday ordered the grave of poet and playwright Federico García Lorca dug up as, for the first time, the repression unleashed by the dictator General Francisco Franco was formally declared a crime against humanity.
In a controversial reversal of Spain’s traditional refusal to seek out those responsible for the killings of Lorca and more than 100,000 other people, Judge Baltasar Garzón also asked investigators to provide him with information on Franco’s chief henchmen and generals. Franco and his chief collaborators, Garzón said, had been responsible for “mass killings, torture and the systematic, general and illegal detentions of political opponents”.
Death squads, military courts and other tribunals sent 114,000 people to their deaths during and after a three-year civil war in the 1930s that traumatised Spain for generations, according to the judge.
Several thousand lie in unmarked mass graves, despite the attempts of volunteers over the past eight years to disinter corpses and hand them over to relatives for reburial. The judge ordered the digging up of 19 such graves, including one on a hillside overlooking the southern city of Granada where Lorca is thought to have been shot in 1936. Lorca’s family do not want the poet exhumed, but recently promised not to oppose a petition from relatives of two men shot and buried alongside him for the grave to be dug up.
“I’m very pleased. I’ve been waiting 10 years for this,” said the granddaughter of one of them, Nieves Galindo.
Garzón requested formal proof that 35 generals and Francoist ministers are no longer alive. He also ordered the interior ministry to provide a list of those in charge of the pro-Francoist Falange movement up until 1951. It is doubtful, however, that any are still alive.
The judge explicitly said that his investigations included repression carried out until 1952, 17 years after Franco had won the civil war and established his dictatorship. Many Spaniards still find the period hard to talk about and some fear Garzón’s investigation will reopen old wounds.
The right has been critical of the judge and of a recent “historical memory” law to help Franco’s victims passed by the Socialist government of the prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
An unwritten “pact of forgetting” underpinned Spain’s rapid transition to democracy after Franco’s death in 1975.
Garzón’s critics claim that all civil war and Francoist repression is covered by a 1977 amnesty law and by rules which mean that most crimes lapse after 20 years. Garzón declared yesterday, however, that where a victim’s body had not been found a crime of kidnapping was still being committed and had not lapsed.
The attorney general’s office, which has opposed the judge’s investigation, is expected to appeal against the decision. It argues that international human rights laws do not apply to the civil war as Spain was not signed up to them at the time.
Garzón has previously investigated repression by military regimes in Latin America in the 1970s. In 1998 he ordered the arrest of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile while he was in London but failed to get him extradited to face trial in Spain.
Spanish courts have been criticised for investigating crimes committed by other dictatorships without ever looking at those carried out under Franco.