A headline in Friday’s New York Times owned International Herald Tribune, claimed that Peru’s President, Alan García, has come to the defense of Angela Merkel “in a verbal spat with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez,” saying “No one has a reason to use exaggerated or insulting terms with respect to another country or leader because that reduces the level of discourse.”
Machetera is sure that President Garcia also must have pointed this out to the King of Spain several months ago.
But what did Chávez say that was so shocking? Well, let’s back up a minute and see what Merkel said first, the part that you can’t find anywhere in the English language press – about Latin American countries needing to distance themselves from governments such as the one headed by Hugo Chávez. Chávez mentioned Merkel’s remarks on his television show, “Alo Presidente,” and said, in reply, “Get Out!” which Reuters, in an imaginative linguistic stretch, translated as meaning “Go to hell,” even though the word “hell” was never actually used…the Reuters correspondent, apparently also a gifted mind reader, claimed that since Chávez had followed this with “Because she’s a lady, I won’t say anything more,” he really meant to add “al infierno” to the formal “Vaya usted!” but didn’t because it was Mother’s Day. (You can see what Chávez said, exactly the way he said it – in Spanish – here.)
But that’s not what’s got all the media’s knickers in a twist now. Now the problem is that Chávez pointed out the relationship between Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, and fascism. See, this is what keeps getting Chávez in trouble with the press. He tells the truth.
(Alert readers will notice the similarities in this tale with what was done to President Aristide, in Haiti.)
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Ingo Niebel – Rebelión
Once again, the German media are angry with President Hugo Chávez. This time, the pretext is that he put the head of the German government, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her place. The interesting thing is that the German press accuse the commander of the Bolivarian Revolution of having compared the Christian Democrat [Merkel] with the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, which isn’t true.
The media accusations are based on the television program “Alo Presidente” of May 11, 2008, in which Chávez put the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on the side of the right-wing “that supported Hitler and fascism.” The head of the Bolivarian Republic reacted this way, according to the German media, when Merkel made declarations against Venezuela during a debate about relations between the European Union (EU) and Latin America, which took place in Berlin and was directed at the summit that countries from both regions will hold in Lima on May 16 & 17.
The German media came to Merkel’s defense, first, because they have already established a ritual of permanent attack on Chávez. They even went so far as to accuse him of preparing a biological war against the summit, if she is forced to attend while still suffering from the flu. Recently they’ve taken up the echo about the “documents” that surface every so often from the “magic computer” of the assassinated FARC commander, Raúl Reyes. Chávez’s remarks in respect to Merkel have served to crank up their media campaign against the Bolivarian Revolution. Furthermore, they’ve had to embellish the issue, because Chávez has said nothing more than what is already in the history books: Merkel’s CDU has put itself in the tradition of the Catholic conservative party that in its day actually supported German fascism and Hitler. But with his assertion, Chávez has fallen short, because this same right-wing not only “recycled” many Nazis after World War II, it also helped the Chilean military in its coup d’etat against Salvador Allende in 1973. But let’s take it one step at a time.
The Christian Democrats live with the legend that in Hitler’s time (1933-45), they’d been “anti-Nazi.” In fact, the Catholic conservative party of that era, the “Zentrumspartei” (the Center Party) maintained an ambiguous attitude toward the fascist movement led by Adolf Hitler. However, in the end, the Catholic conservatives joined with the Nazis in order to do away with communists and socialists. In 1933, they approved the law that gave Hitler full power, and became the legal basis for his dictatorship. Then, many thousands of “centrists” affiliated themselves with the Nazi party and made peace with the followers of the swastika. After the defeat of Nazism in 1945, the conservatives found their best witness for presenting them as Hitler’s victims, in the ex-mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer. The Catholic politician was overthrown by the Nazis in 1933 and in 1944 was even jailed by the regime’s feared secret police; the Gestapo. Nevertheless, one of his sons, an army commander, managed to get him released. How he did it remains a mystery. Adenauer was the first president of the CDU, and in 1949, the first Chancellor (Germany’s term for its head of state) of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). The supposed “victim” of Nazism had not the least hesitation in selecting Hans Globke as his adviser. This jurist, who certainly belonged to the Zentrumspartei before 1933, drafted the Nazis’ racist laws along with other attorneys. He wasn’t the only ex-Nazi to find a new political future in the CDU. Kurt Georg Kiesinger was another, who in 1933 affiliated himself with the Nazi party and later connected the propaganda units of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Propaganda Ministry of the sinister Joseph Goebbels. From 1966 to 1969, he was the Federal Republic’s Chancellor. The CDU recycled former Nazis, integrating them into its party or employing them in state offices. Many SS and Gestapo executioners found new jobs in the police and secret services, created by the Adenauer government. This ignorance of history lasted until the end of the 1960’s and it was practically impossible to speak of or discuss the past and the responsibility of the new political elite for the crimes committed between 1933 and 1945.
But the CDU also devoted itself to helping install new fascists. One of them was the Chilean general, Augusto Pinochet. It’s well known that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) prepared the coup against Chile’s elected president, the socialist Salvador Allende. Fairly less well known is the fact that behind the scenes, politicians from the Federal Republic of Germany – both Christian Democrats and Social Democrats – supported Washington’s plan for that other bloody September 11th (of 1973). Uncle Sam’s faithful German vassals acted on two fronts. The Social Democratic Chancellor Willy Brandt ordered a freeze on development aid from his government to Chile. As an excuse, he offered the argument that Allende had officially recognized the other German state; the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR). Overnight, Allende lacked several million dollars of German aid that was desperately needed to help a poor population. In parallel, Bonn’s justice department ordered the confiscation of Chilean boats carrying Chilean copper to Europe, yielding to Yankee businesses lodging complaints in German courts. That metal was the Chilean state’s largest source of revenue. German industry, together with U.S. companies, chose to cancel its purchases of Chilean copper to help cause a fall in the metal’s price. Apart from this participation in the economic war against the socialist Allende, the German state permitted CDU members, among them, Heinrich Gewandt, to carry cash to Chile to finance Allende’s opposition. Shortly before the key date, the FRG’s secret service outside Germany, the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst), told Brandt of the planned military coup. But the Chancellor refused to alert his Chilean counterpart, even though both were part of the Socialist International. When the military coup led by Pinochet began its massive slaughter, the CDU and her regional counterpart, the Christian Social Union (CSU) did everything possible to justify the fascist Chileans’ actions. Their media justified the massacre, and Gewandt urged Chancellor Brandt to lift economic sanctions against Chile. The Social Democrat complied. Bonn’s politicians submitted themselves so completely to Washington’s orders that its consuls even refused to help some German citizens who’d been mistakenly arrested by Pinochet’s executioners. In 1988, the son of one of them, Ulli Simon, published the story of how he and his brothers fought to get their father off a prison ship. The FRG consul didn’t want to help them; denying that the father had been registered as a German citizen in his consular district.
Merkel will not remember all of this because at the time, she lived in the GDR, where she was the regional secretary of the Free Socialist Youth. After the fall of European socialism in 1990, she made a 180 degree ideological turn to affiliate herself with the CDU.
A quarter century has passed since the coup against Allende, but the CDU has not changed in the least. On May 2, 2004, the neo-conservative Washington Times quoted the then Christian Democrat deputy Klaus-Jürgen Hedrich, saying, “Sooner or later, you [Yankees] cannot continue with Chavez, considering how he’s behaved. If it’s a question of doing it sooner or later, then do it sooner. Later, it will be less of a surprise.” Merkel, who was then the leader of the party, and the opposition, said nothing, lending her consent to the words of her co-religionist.
Against this background, it’s imperative to keep in mind that at that the beginning of April, 2008, the [German] Development Aid Ministry, directed by the Social Democrat Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, canceled the seven million euros it had promised to Nicaragua. Merkel supported the decision saying that corruption had increased since the Sandinista victory. This attitude shows that Berlin is following the same path as in 1973. For progressive Latin American governments, their best defensive weapon remains to unite as they have in the ALBA – and remind the German political elite of their past.
Ingo Niebel is a German historian and journalist, and author of the book “Venezuela Not for Sale” (Berlin, 2006)
Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.