Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More History from 'Democracy Land'

Memory of Fire
Century of the Wind

By Eduardo Galeano

1952: On the High Seas
Wanted: Charlie the Tramp

Charles Chaplin sails for London. On the second day at sea, news reaches the ship that he won't be able to return to the US. The attorney general applies to his case a law aimed at foreigners suspected of communism, depravity, or insanity.

Some years earlier Chaplin had been interrogated by officials of the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service:
Are you of Jewish origin?
Are you a Communist?
Have you ever committed adultery?

Senator Richard Nixon and the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper agree: Chaplin is a menace to our institutions.  Outside theaters showing his films, the Legion of Decency and the American Legion picket with signs demanding: Chaplin, go to Russia.

The FBI has for nearly thirty years been seeking proof that Chaplin is really a Jew named Israel Thonstein and that he works as a spy for Moscow.  Their suspicions were aroused in 1923 when Pravda printed the comment: Chaplin is an actor of undoubted talent.

1954: Washington
The Deciding Machine, Piece by Piece

Dwight Eisenhower  President of the US. Overthrew the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran because it nationalized oil. Has now given orders to overthrow the government of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.
Sam Zemurray  Principal stockholder in United Fruit.  All his concerns automatically turn into US government declarations, and ultimately into rifles, mortars, machineguns, and CIA airplanes.
John Foster Dulles  US Secretary of State.  Former lawyer for United Fruit.
Allen Dulles  Director of the CIA.  Brother of John Foster Dulles.  Like him, has done legal work for United Fruit. Together they organize "Operation Guatemala."
John Moors Cabot  Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.  Brother of Thomas Cabot, the president of United Fruit.
Walter Bedell Smith  Under Secretary of State.  Serves as liaison in Operation Guatemala.  Future member of the board of United Fruit.
Henry Cabot Lodge  Senator, US representative to the United Nations.  United Fruit shareholder.  Has on various occasions received money from this company for speeches in the Senate.
Anne Whitman  Personal secretary ot President Eisenhower.  Married to United Fruit public relations chief.
Spruille Braden  Former US ambassador to several Latin American countries.  Has received a salary from United Fruit since 1948.  Is widely reported in the press to have exhorted Eisenhower to suppress communism by force in Guatemala.
Robert Hill  US ambassador to Costa Rica.  Collaborates on "Operation Guatemala". Future board member of United Fruit.
John Peurifoy  US ambassador to Guatemala.  Known as the butcher of Greece for his past diplomatic service in Athens. Speaks no Spanish.  Political background: the US Senate, Washington DC, where he once worked as an elevator operator.

1955: Guatemala City
One Year after the Reconquest of Guatemala
Richard Nixon visits this occupied land.  The union of United Fruit workers and five hundred and thirty-two other unions have been banned by the new government.  The new penal code punishes with death anyone who calls a strike.  Political parties are outlawed.  The books of Dostoyevsky and other Soviet writers have been thrown onto the bonfire.

The banana kingdom has been saved from agrarian reform.  The vice-president of the US congratulates President Castillo Armas.  For the first time in history, says Nixon, a Communist government has been replaced by a free one.


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