Castro Opposes France’s Deporting Gypsies

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 13 — Former Cuban President Fidel Castro questioned in one of his usual Reflections published by the island’s state-run press the deportation of gypsy emigrants decreed by the French government. Castro echoed an article in Mexico’s La Jornada daily about the persecution and extermination of that people in Europe throughout history.  The leader of the Cuban Revolution questioned the good sense of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and reiterated his criticisms of the UN Security Council for the way it has dealt with the Iranian nuclear issue, reported IPS.

The following is the complete version of Fidel Castro’s latest newspaper column.


Fidel Castro

Although several articles on this subject were published before and after September  1st, 2010, on that day the Mexican daily La Jornada published one of great impact entitled El holocausto gitano: ayer y hoy (The gypsies’ holocaust: yesterday and today) which reminds us of a truly tragic history.  Without adding or deleting a single word from the information contained in the article, I will quote some lines referring to some events that are really touching. Neither the West nor -most of all- its colossal media apparatus have said a single word about them.

“1496: boom of humanist thinking.  The Rom peoples (gypsies) from Germany are declared traitors to the Christian nations, spies paid by the Turkish, carriers of the plague, witches and warlocks, bandits and children kidnappers.

“1710: century of Enlightenment and rationale.  An edict ordered that adult gypsies from Prague be hanged without any previous trial.  Young persons and women were mutilated. In Bohemia their left ear were cut off; in Moravia, their right ear.

“1899: climax of modernity and progress.  The police of Bavaria founded the Special Section for Gypsies’ Affairs.  In 1929, the section was promoted to the category of National Central section and was moved to Munich.  In 1937 it was based in Berlin.  Four years later, half a million gypsies died in the concentration camps of Central and Eastern Europe.”

“In her PhD’s thesis, Eva Justin (assistant of Dr. Robert Ritter of the Racial Research Section of the Ministry of Health of Germany), asserted that gypsies’ blood was extremely harmful to the purity of the German race. Someone called Dr. Portschy sent a memorandum to Hitler suggesting that gypsies should be submitted to forced labor and mass sterilization because they jeopardized the pure blood of the German peasantry.

“The gypsies, who were labeled as inveterate criminals, started to be arrested en masse, and as from 1938 they were put into special blocks at the Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Gusen, Dautmergen, Natzweiler and Flossenburg camps.

“In a concentration camp he owned in Ravensbruck, Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Gestapo (SS), created a space to sacrifice gypsy women who were submitted to medical experiments.  One hundred and twenty zingari girls were sterilized.  Gypsy women married to non-gypsy men were sterilized at the Dusseldorf-Lierenfeld hospital.

“Thousands of gypsies were deported from Belgium, the Netherlands and France to Nazi Germany’s concentration camp of Auschwitz, located in the occupied Polish town of Oshwiecim.  In his memoirs, Rudolf Hoess (commander of Auschwitz) wrote that among the gypsies deported there were old people almost one hundred years of age, pregnant women and a large number of children.

“At the ghetto of Lodz (Poland) […] none of the 5,000 gypsies survived.”

“In Yugoslavia, gypsies and Jews were equally killed in the forest of Jajnice.  Farmers still remember the cries of the gypsy children who were taken to the places of execution.”

“At the extermination camps, only the love of gypsies for music was at times a source of comfort.  In Auschwitz, starving and infested with lice, they gathered together to play music and encouraged children to dance.  But the courage of gypsy guerrillas who fought alongside the Polish resistance in the region of Nieswiez was also legendary.”

Music was the factor that kept them together and helped them to survive, just as much as religion was for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The successive articles published by La Jornada as from the end of August have reminded us of events that were almost forgotten about what happened to the gypsies in Europe.  After having been affected by Nazism, they were consigned to oblivion after the Nuremberg trials in the years 1945 and 1946.

The German government headed by Konrad Adenauer declared that the extermination of the gypsies before 1943 was a result of the State’s legal policies.  Those who had been affected on that same year did not receive any compensation. Robert Ritter, a Nazi expert in the extermination of gypsies, was set free.  Thirty nine years later in 1982, when most of the affected persons had already passed away, the government recognized their right to compensation.

More than 75 per cent of the gypsies, whose total number is estimated to be between 12 and 14 million, live in Central and Eastern Europe.  Only in Tito’s socialist Yugoslavia, gypsies were recognized the same rights as the Croatian, Albanian and Macedonian minorities.

The Mexican newspaper described as “particularly perverse” the mass deportation of gypsies to Romania and Bulgaria ordered by the government of Sarkozy –a Jew of Hungarian descent-; these are the exact words used by the newspaper.  Please do not take this as an act of irreverence on my part.

In Romania, the number of gypsies is estimated to be two million.

The president of that country, Traian Basescu, a US ally and an illustrious member of NATO, called a woman journalist a “filthy gypsy”.  As can be observed, this is an extremely delicate person who speaks in a polite language.

The website posted some comments about the demonstrations against the deportation of gypsies and the “xenophobia” in France.  According to AFP, around “130 demonstrations should take place in France as well as in front of the French embassies in several European Union countries, with the support of tens of human rights organizations, trade unions and left wing and ecologist parties”.  The extensive report refers to the participation of well known cultural personalities such as Jane Birkin and the film-maker Agnes Jaoui and reminded readers that Jane “together with Stephane Hessel, a former member of the resistance against the Nazi occupation of France (1940-1944), was part of the group that later on met with the advisors to the minister of Immigration Eric Besson.

“‘It was a dialogue of the deaf, but it is good that this took place, for it showed that most of the population was enraged at that nauseating policy’, said a spokesperson of the network ‘Education Without Borders…”

Other news about this thorny issue come from Europe: “Yesterday the European Parliament put France and Nicholas Sarkozy on the spot for having deported thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies during a tense debate in which the attitudes of  José Manuel Durão Barroso and the Commission were described as  scandalous and ridiculous for their apparent pusillanimity and for failing to condemn Paris decisions as illegal and contrary to community rights”, according to an article by Ricardo Martínez de Rituerto published by El Paí

La Jornada published in another article impressive social data.  Neo-natal mortality among the gypsy population is nine times as much the European average and the life expectancy rate is hardly above 50 years of age.

Before that, on August 29, it had reported that “although there have been plenty of criticisms –from the European Union institutions as well as from the Catholic church, the United Nations and the broad spectrum of pro-immigrants organizations- Sarkozy insists in expelling and deporting hundreds of citizens from Bulgaria and Romania –and therefore, European citizens- using as an excuse the alleged ‘criminal’ character of these citizens.”

“It is difficult to believe that in the year 2010 –concludes La Jornada- after the terrible past Europe had with racism and intolerance, it is still possible to criminalize an entire ethnic group by labeling it as a social problem.”

“Indifference, or even consent towards the actions carried out by the French police today and the Italian police yesterday –more European, in general terms- leave the most optimist analyst speechless.”

Suddenly, while I wrote this Reflection, I remembered that France is the third nuclear power in the planet, and that Sarkozy also had a briefcase with the keys required to launch one of the more than 300 bombs he had.  Is there any moral or ethical rational in launching an attack against Iran, a country condemned for its alleged intention of manufacturing this kind of weapon? Where are the good sense and the logic of that policy?

Let us assume that Sarkozy all of a sudden goes crazy, as it seems to be the case.  What would the UN Security Council do with Sarkozy and his briefcase?

What will happen if the French extreme right decides to force Sarkozy to maintain a racist policy, opposite to the norms that prevail within the European Community?

Could the UN Security Council respond to those two questions?

The absence of truth and the prevalence of deception is the biggest tragedy in our dangerous nuclear age.

3 thoughts on “Castro Opposes France’s Deporting Gypsies

  • Food for thought:
    How many immigrants reside in Cuba? How many potential immigrants have been refused entry or have been expelled from the country? How many Haitians after the earthquake emigrated to Cuba? How many Jamaicans emigrated to Cuba to escape violence at home? How many Haitians and Jamaicans emigrated to Cuba prior to 1959? Why has the desire to emigrate to Cuba dried up? How many Roma live in Cuba, legally or illegally? Have any ever been denied entry to Cuba or been refused a visa? Do citizens of the People’s Republic of China, the DPRK, Vietnam or Laos have an automatic right to enter Cuba and receive residency status and a work permit? Do citizens of member states of ALBA have an automatic right to residency and work permits in Cuba as EU citizens have in other EU member states? Which nationalities can enter Cuba without a visa?

  • The statement ‘ Polish concentration camp of Auschwitz.’ is incorrect and offensive. The Nazi’s established the concentration camps on German occupied Polish soil. Please correct the offending wording.

  • Fidel Castro is reduced 2 being an elder statesman in the present World situation: w/o means (even if he weren’t essentially retired) 2 much effect events, other than by well-publicized moral suasion in the cap. mass-media. & AFAIC, because of the brutal past history of imperialism’s pounding of the cuban rev. into its present sorry, battered state, Fidel Castro & others — including much of the Western liberal-Left, which still so uncritically follows this rev. — do not appear 2 countenance the possibility of ‘classic’ socialist rev. (while perhaps still fervently wishing it in their hearts & minds). Yet what is the alternative 2 the very obvious & growing fascism of the imperialist ruling-class & its World-wide network of stooge & client governments, & armies of hired assassins, mercenaries, apologists, propagandists & goons..?

    It is also a major failing of the Western liberal-Left — & even not a few marxists — 2 become regularly distracted by the surface appearance of things: & not C them in their general, objective essence. & so it is with the relentless growth of what is in fact a new form of ’21st-Century fascism’: which, simply because it does not come wearing brown or black shirts, or wearing jackboots, is mistaken for being all sorts of other, not-so-threatening things.

    Well, what the presidential Sarkopath has done in France is indeed the sort of deed committed by the former Nazi puppet Vichy régime, if only — at this stage — of a milder form. But it is foolish in the extreme 2 wait 4 such testing probes to grow into over-arching totalitarian menace 2 us all — which was indeed the path followed by the sorry, sorry Left prior to WWII.

    The present decline — & AFAIC soon effective collapse — of the capitalist World order is the signal 4 the World working-class 2 go on the revolutionary offensive. & 2 NOT do so in a timely manner will not only B the height of class-betrayal: but also tragedy, the likes the World has never witnessed B4.

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