|Czechs nonviolently resisted the 1968 invasion of the Warsaw Pact that ended the Prague Spring|
Czechoslovakia had its Prague Spring in 1968, a moment when reformers in the government sought socialism with a human face and it was ended 52 years ago today with the arrival of Warsaw Pact tanks and occupation that crushed the reformist initiative. Two days after the Soviet led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 23, 1968 Fidel Castro publicly supported the invasion and occupation of the central European country.
A series of slogans began to be put forward and in fact certain measures were taken such as the establishment of the bourgeois "freedom" of the press. This means that the counter-revolution and the exploiters, the very enemies of socialism, were granted the right to speak and write freely against socialism.
|Nikolai Yezhov, erased by Josef Stalin|
|Carlos Franqui erased by Fidel Castro from official photograph|
I discover my photographic death. Do I exist? I am a little black, I am a little white, I am a little shit, On Fidel's vest.
Four decades later Carlos Franqui would return to the Czech Republic which he had visited in 1960 to contrast what he characterized the slave society of 1960s and the free society of today. He offered the following description of Prague in 1960 as he lived it:
The Prague I saw in 1960 under communism was a Prague with tense, dramatic people there were many police everywhere, gross corruption on the part of the regime. I came with a delegation of journalists and went to the hotel Jalta. There was a dance and there were very pretty young Czech girls ... Most of the journalists who were with me were good dancers and they began to dance. And they were very happy because they thought they were going to have an affair with these girls. But when the dance ended at midnight the girls told them that if they wanted to go with them that it would cost them the equivalent of thirty dollars. Then, as I was the treasurer of the delegation they came to borrow the money. I said I was sorry but could not justify it and they spent all night together with these girls. These girls told them that the police gave them apartments, and that they had to deliver foreign currency to the police chief the next day, that they had to ask the foreigners questions about politics, record and then deliver them . After that we went to the shops where only Tuzex could be purchased with foreign currency and actually saw official representatives doing the currency changes.Contrasting with what he saw on his return to Prague in 2000:
I believe that slavery affects people in many ways. In countries where there is tyranny, where communism, normally people faces are tense, everybody is worried. It is difficult to find the relaxation, people simply smiling on the streets. And of course there were some great privileges among the Communist leaders, who lived as upper hierarchy, and people who had to work and obey. Now with what I have seen I have a different impression. It is clear that the heritage communism left is difficult to overcome because it is a legacy not only material but spiritual. Communism destroys the individual. And when the individual is free it is hard to recover the idea of being free. Under communism it is as if the state was the father of all the children. Then, to change that mentality is difficult but very important. A society can progress only through the efforts of all ... in all walks of life. [...] I think it was a country with a great industrial development, with a culture with certain traditions, which despite everything communism failed to destroy. I also think that having Václav Havel as a president has contributed mightily to create a balance, to solve serious problems like the thing with Slovakia in a peaceful and civil manner.