jueves, 20 de agosto de 2009

Praga, 1968

Un 20 de agosto, pero de 1968, la Unión Soviética y otras naciones del Pacto de Varsovia invadieron Checoslovaquia para aplastar "La primavera de Praga" intento liberalizador del régimen de Alexander Dubcek.
Esta es la nota del New York Times de aquél día:

Czechoslovakia Invaded by Russians and Four Other Warsaw Pact Forces They Open Fire on Crowd in Prague
Tanks Enter City
Deaths Are Reported-- Troops Surround Offices of Party


Prague, Wednesday, Aug.21 -- Czechoslovakia was occupied early today by troops of the Soviet Union and four of its Warsaw Pact allies in a series of swift land and air movements.

Airborne Soviet troops and paratroopers surrounded the building of the Communist party Central Committee, along with five tanks. At least 25 tanks were seen in the city.

Several persons were reported killed early this morning. Unconfirmed reports said that two Czechoslovak soldiers and a woman were killed by Bulgarian tank fire in front of the Prague radio building shortly before the station was captured and went off the air.

[Soviet troops began shooting at Czechoslovak demonstrators outside the Prague radio building at 7:25 A.M., Reuters reported. C.T.K., the Czechoslovak press agency, was quoted by United Press International as having said that citizens were throwing themselves in front of the tanks in an attempt to block the seizure of the city.]

Move a Surprise

The Soviet move caught Czechoslovaks by surprise, although all day yesterday there were indications of new tensions.

Confusion was caused in the capital by leaflets dropped from unidentified aircraft asserting that Antonin Novotny, the President of Czechoslovakia who was deposed in March by the Communist liberals, had been pushed out by a "clique." The leaflets said that Mr. Novotny remained the country's legal President.

At 5 A. M. the Prague radio, still in the hands of adherents of the Communist liberals, broadcast a dramatic appeal to the population in the name of Alexander Dubcek, the party First Secretary to go to work as usual this morning.

The radio station said: "These may be the last reports you will hear because the technical facilities in our hands are insufficient."

The announcer said that Czechoslovaks must heed the orders of in a Presidium of the Central Committee, "which is in continuing session even though the building is surrounded by foreign units."

The radio said that it remained loyal to President Ludvik Svoboda and Mr. Dubcek.

While earlier this morning the radio appealed to the population not to resist invading troops from the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany, Hungary and Bulgaria, small-arms fire was heard shortly after 5 A. M. in the Maala Strana district of Prague.

At 2:45 A. M., as part of this dispatch was being filed by telex, the city appeared calm, though the roar of aircraft and the broadcast, heard by many, had awakened the population.

Starting shortly after midnight veritable airlift of Soviet and other Warsaw Pact aircraft flew troops into Prague. Ruzine Airport had been secured earlier by Czechoslovak troops though it was not known under whose command they were operating.

At 5:15 A. M. aircraft were still heard landing and taking off.

Despite the Prague radio broadcasts, the whereabouts of Mr. Dubcek, Mr. Svoboda and their associates was not known.

In any event, the invasion that began at 11 o'clock last night when the Czechoslovak border was crossed from several sides evidently put an end to the Dubcek experiment in democracy under Communism that was initiated in January.

The expectation was that the occupying forces would sponsor the establishment of a new regime that would be more amenable to orthodox Communist views of Moscow and its partners.

There are about 5,000 United States citizens in Czechoslovakia at this time, of whom about 1,500 are tourists and 400 are delegates to an international geological congress.

Shirley Temple Black, the former actress, is among the Americans at the Hotel Alcron here.

The news broadcast early today said that Soviet troops had sealed all border exits to Austria. Trains were not running and airline operations were halted.

After 3 A. M., all city lights went out.

Appeal to Public

A broadcast at 1:30 A.M. had appealed to the population not to resist the advance and for officials to remain at their jobs.

Yesterday, as the tension mounted, the Czechoslovak leadership was reported to have been seriously concerned over renewed Soviet press attacks on Mr. Dubcek's liberalization program.

Last night the party Presidium met unexpectedly under Mr. Dubcek's chairmanship, presumably to discuss the new tensions.

At a confidential meeting Saturday with five progressive members of the Presidium, Czechoslovak editors were told that a successful party congress next month was the most urgent priority in the country and that, therefore, their cooperation was needed.

Internal Battle Continues

Internally however, the political tug of war between the progressives and the conservatives continued.

Rude Pravo, the party's official organ, whose editor, Oldrich Svestka, is regarded as a leading conservative, published three articles today, critical of the progressives' policies.

Another example of mounting political sensitiveness was an announcement by the Foreign Ministry, published in Rude Pravo and later distributed by the official press agency, that Henry Kamm, a correspondent of The New York Times, "will not be allowed to return to Czechoslovakia."

Mr. Kamm, who left Prague for the United States and a vacation Saturday, was charged by Rude Pravo with "slanderous information" and "fabrications" concerning its editorial staff.

Dispatches by Mr. Kamm published in The Times on Aug. 14 and 15 described a continuing struggle between Mr. Svestka and the progressive members of the staff. One dispatch said that Mr. Svestka, who is a member of the party's Presidium, had curtailed coverage of the visit here earlier this month by President Tito of Yugoslavia, who is a backer of the Dubcek faction.

The newspaper said yesterday that "the management of Rude Pravo resolutely opposes this shameless provocation, which had become the pretext for a slanderous press campaign against Rude Pravo abroad," and that "it is indubitable that its aim is the unconcealed effort to interfere with our internal affairs."

Mr. Svestka, however, came under attack himself in the liberal weekly. Reporter, which in its current issue reported that he had played down the Tito visit. The magazine said that Mr. Svestka "has set up a sort of internal police which watches over everything that goes into print."

A Rude Pravo's counterattack yesterday included a frontpage article signed by Mr. Svestka, in effect defending the conservative position. He wrote that unless the Communist party regained its "anti bureaucratic" character and returned to the aims of the workers, the new "demagogic slogans" could turn against the party itself.

In an allusion to the progressives efforts to oust conservatives from key jobs, Mr. Svestka wrote that democracy was not served "by making life miserable for the honest officials and members who have not discredited themselves, by turning them away from political activity."

A second article took to tasks a television commentator, Jiri Kanturek, for what it said were attempts to discredit Mr. Svestka.

A third article charged that a "secret committee" had been established to attack the people's militia, a paramilitary organization widely considered to be controlled by the conservatives. The article referred critically to the signing of petitions in Prague last week for the abolition of militia.

End of Prague Spring , 1968
The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar) was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on January 5, 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček came to power, and continued until August 21, when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the country to halt the reforms. The Prague Spring reforms were an attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. Among the freedoms granted were a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. Dubček also federalized the country into two separate republics; this was the only change that survived the end of the Prague Spring. The reforms were not received well by the Soviets who, after failed negotiations, sent thousands of Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. While there were many non-violent protests in the country, including the protest-suicide of a student, there was no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until the late 1980s. Source: Wikipedia

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