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Discreet Partners: Argentina and the USSR Since 1917

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
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Komsomol
Post 18 Sep 2013, 20:33
I came across this interesting book Discreet Partners: Argentina and the USSR Since 1917 while I was searching google books for the Soviet position on the Falklands War. It makes a number of surprising claims about the USSR relationship with the Right-wing Junta in Argentina

1. The USSR offered military support to Argentina in her near war with Pinochet's Chile

2. Cuba offered to send troops to help Argentina during the Falklands War and the USSR supported Argentina at the UN. Furthermore the USSR vetoed a UN attempt to investigate the crimes of the Disappeared in Argentina.

3. The Soviet newspaper New Times referred to the dictator of Argentina Videla as a moderate holding at bay the Fascist Pinochet elements in the Junta. At the Argentine embassy's request, the USSR also removed a Swedish film about Argentine crimes from the Moscow film festival.

4. Unlike other leftist groups in Argentina, the Communist Party did not have its property confiscated and was allowed to continue publishing its newspaper. Argentina also voted in favor of Puerto Rican independence at the Non-Aligned Movement.

The main meat of the book is in Chapter 3 which you can preview on Google Books.

I'm not sure how much of this is Cold War fear-mongering about Argentina falling into the Soviet orbit, but some of the claims about the Falklands I've independently vertified.

http://books.google.com/books?id=3H_LKK ... 22&f=false

I heard that Maoist China had many relationships with Rightist Juntas in the 1970s, but this is the 1st I've heard of the USSR itself.

I can't verify how much of this is true, nor assuming it is true, approve of all of Soviet realpolitik Machiavellianism. But OTOH the main Soviet justification for these kinds of moves was to counter Anglo-American Imperialism and Pinochet's murderous fascism, which was qualitatively worse.
Kamran Heiss
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Politburo
Post 18 Sep 2013, 21:11
That one is a pretty good book. I used it on my thesis on Argentina-USSR relations.
The Communist Party was also exempt from being "disappeared". Most of the members that were jailed were released afterwards, not thrown into the river at night from helicopters - as it was done to peronists. Some peronists were even saved by claiming they belonged to the Communist Party, and then running away from the country.
It was mainly realpolitik from the USSR. You have to keep in mind that by those years, the argentinian Junta broke the embargo on the USSR - due to the intervention in Afghanistan - by selling them cereals.
Pinochet's murderous fascism was no different from the Junta's.

And please, the islands are called Malvinas, not Falklands.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 18 Sep 2013, 21:32
Quote:
And please, the islands are called Malvinas, not Falklands.

Only in Spanish and some other Latin languages. They're called the Falkland Islands in any other language, which you can easily check on Wikipedia.
Szczecin is still called Stettin in English and Gdansk is called Danzig because these are the historical and customary names for these localities.
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Post 18 Sep 2013, 21:44
Complying to the name given by the Empire is approving of the imperial policy. The original name of the islands, and the name given to them by their rightful owners, is Malvinas.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 18 Sep 2013, 21:55
So by calling Danzig Danzig i approve of the Drang nach Osten and the expulsion of "its original and rightful owners" the Slavs?
What idiocy.
The Falklands will still be called Falklands even if the UK sold them to someone else or something in the future.
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Komsomol
Post 18 Sep 2013, 22:32
Che Burashka wrote:
That one is a pretty good book. I used it on my thesis on Argentina-USSR relations.
The Communist Party was also exempt from being "disappeared". Most of the members that were jailed were released afterwards, not thrown into the river at night from helicopters - as it was done to peronists. Some peronists were even saved by claiming they belonged to the Communist Party, and then running away from the country.
It was mainly realpolitik from the USSR. You have to keep in mind that by those years, the argentinian Junta broke the embargo on the USSR - due to the intervention in Afghanistan - by selling them cereals.
Pinochet's murderous fascism was no different from the Junta's.

And please, the islands are called Malvinas, not Falklands.


If that is true, it is very ironic that the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance death squads were murdering everyone except Communists.

Also while perhaps cynically self-centered, if the USSR was looking at repression from the point of view of anti-communism, then it would seem that there was a qualitative difference between how the Communist Party was treated in Argentina and Chile.

I have heard the claim that certain Trotskyist groups in Britians support Thatcher in the Malvinas War, because they thought it would be objectively progressive to defeat the military might of the Argentine fascist junta.
Last edited by heiss93 on 18 Sep 2013, 22:38, edited 3 times in total.
Kamran Heiss
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Post 18 Sep 2013, 22:36
The triple A was actually targeting left-wing peronists, which were all commies in the AAA's imagination. The PCA (Communist Party of Argentina) was pretty small by that time, being a side issue compared to Montoneros and the revolutionary left of the Peronist Movement.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 18 Sep 2013, 22:39
It was perfectly okay for the Soviet Union to sacrifice ( often pointlessly and for no benefit to Moscow at all ) foreign ( and domestic ) communists and even whole communist parties in the name of state interests of the USSR.
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Komsomol
Post 18 Sep 2013, 22:40
Loz wrote:
It was perfectly okay for the Soviet Union to sacrifice ( often pointlessly and for no benefit to Moscow at all ) foreign ( and domestic ) communists and even whole communist parties in the name of state interests of the USSR.


Well according to the book and Che Burashka, it would seem that Soviet foreign policy actually helped protect the Argentine Communist Party.
Kamran Heiss
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Post 18 Sep 2013, 22:54
Yes.
I was talking mainly about the period before the USSR became a superpower, but it's still relevant to the subject, that Moscow used communist parties as tools for its short-term state interests.
Still it was a pinnacle of cynicism to make deals and arrangements with and even defend a fascist dictatorship persecuting leftists of any sort except those carrying a party card of the party sponsored by Moscow. That could be one of the reasons why the ACP never achieved anything.
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Post 19 Sep 2013, 04:28
The ACP didn't achieve anything from way before that. They were big in the 20's and 30's - together with the socialist and anarchists. But they lost the workers support in the 40's when Peron came to power.
He even offered them positions in his cabinet (a very unknown fact I came to know last year from a very reliable source), but they refused. Even Stalin had to go over the ACP to get reliable info on Peron's government, but that was too late, around '53. Soon after, Stalin died and Peron had a coup.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Mar 2011, 14:10
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Komsomol
Post 19 Sep 2013, 04:54
It seems that Argentina's junta, shitty as it was, was closer to Burma under Ne Win and Ba'athist Iraq in that it persecuted leftists but was also willing to display bourgeois-nationalist tendencies in its domestic and foreign policies to the annoyance of the USA and UK. By contrast China allied with Chile, the Shah of Iran, and Zaire, who were totally subservient to US imperialism and who had no appealing or "independent" aspects whatsoever except that they hated the USSR, which was what Chinese foreign policy considered the most important thing in the 70's.

Not to mention that if the Argentine Communists got off relatively easy as opposed to the left-wing Peronists and other groups the Soviets could probably justify the situation as "oh well, the ACP will one day be able to gain strength and in the meantime can consolidate its position among the progressive forces," which was the position Soviet ideologists took in places like Egypt and elsewhere where leftists could find themselves being repressed by the pro-Soviet governments in question.
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Post 19 Sep 2013, 05:01
Not really. The Junta didn't have bourgeois-nationalist tendencies. They actually implemented the first version of neo-liberalism in these lands. They just found a suitable partner in the USSR, due to the USSR's situation at the time. The Junta still considered themselves "Western and Christian" and fully adopted the National Security Doctrine.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Komsomol
Post 19 Sep 2013, 05:04
I didn't mean to suggest that Argentina tried to adopt a "third way" position in foreign affairs between the USA and USSR, but that compared to Pinochet or Mobutu the junta's interests certainly conflicted more with the USA and UK, albeit primarily because it had to grandstand as a glorious national force, hence the planned conflict with Chile, the actual conflict with Britain over Malvinas, etc.

So I could see why the USSR could have wriggle room to justify collaborating with it, whereas you can't really justify China collaborating at all with the likes of Pinochet and Mobutu except through the claim the Chinese themselves made, that American imperialism was on the retreat everywhere whereas Soviet social-imperialism was ascendant.
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Post 19 Sep 2013, 05:14
The Junta's foreign interest conflicted with the USA's once Carter started to pursue a "human rights" policy. Falling out of the USA's grace, the Junta tried to use old territorial problems to gain a little favour in the people. That's why they denounced the Queen of England's ruling regarding the islands that were to be given to Chile, and later Malvinas.
They were as terrible (or worse) than Pinochet or the brazilian military government. But they also were quite bad at foreign policy.
The "Third Way" was actually what Peron was trying to achieve (it was called "Third Position")


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
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Post 19 Sep 2013, 16:08
So in your estimation Che, was there any real justification for the Soviets to have behaved the way they did? Is it something that angers you as regards Soviet policy toward your country?
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Post 19 Sep 2013, 16:40
As a politician, I understand what they did. They were facing an embargo and traded food and protection of their own only for political support of something happening half a world apart.
However, it does angers me the lack of support of those really progressive here. That was mainly due to the lack of communication between the USSR and the national-popular goverments in latin america - because they weren't in complete ideological alignment with Moscow. Of course, I blame this on the local communist party, which was supposed to be the link between the USSR and other countries - but failed to read the local political situation. It just wasn't in their manual.
By that time, Montoneros and other leftist peronists were allies with the FSLN in Nicaragua and the FLFM in El Salvador. Some of those who were exiled here, even went to fight in those revolutions.
If the USSR really cared, they could have given even more support (a few submarines or ships in Malvinas would have made a huge difference) in exchange for the end of all political repression. But I doubt the Junta would have even accepted that.


"Where Argentina goes, Latin America will go".
Leonid Brezhnev

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Komsomol
Post 19 Sep 2013, 17:13
Che Burashka wrote:
By that time, Montoneros and other leftist peronists were allies with the FSLN in Nicaragua and the FLFM in El Salvador. Some of those who were exiled here, even went to fight in those revolutions.
If the USSR really cared, they could have given even more support (a few submarines or ships in Malvinas would have made a huge difference) in exchange for the end of all political repression. But I doubt the Junta would have even accepted that.


The Sandinistas is another example of Communist Parties taking surprising positions. While the USSR and Cuba heavily backed the FSLN, the 2 Moscow-Aligned Parties actually joined hands with right-wing forces in the National Opposition Union to topple the Sandinista government. (At least according to wikipedia)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist ... _Nicaragua
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua ... list_Party
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist%E ... n_Movement
Kamran Heiss
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Mar 2011, 14:10
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Komsomol
Post 19 Sep 2013, 22:28
The Soviet position towards the FSLN was originally one of skepticism though. They didn't think it had any real chance of taking power up until it actually did, and were distrustful of Latin American "adventurist" groups to begin with. When the FSLN reached the capital the ostensible communist parties were caught by surprise, just like the PSP in Cuba. Unlike the PSP though, the Nicaraguan parties refused to integrate into the FSLN.

Also the MAP-ML were not pro-Soviet, they took the Albanian position.

From two posts by someone on the Leftist Trainspotters list:
Quote:
I know the two "communist" parties supported politically the contra-opposition. One of them, I forget which, I think it was the Socialist Party, lead a large union of construction of workers and used them against the Sandinista CST. They were, if any thing, counter-revolutionary without taking up arms. I'll leave it at that.

In the late 80s the head of the union visited his daughter in SF, who was married to my wife's uncle (who had been in the Sandinista police right after the revolution). We got drunk together and of course had a somewhat pleasant argument about this, he defending Ronald Reagan's polities as "objectively defending democracy", me, not, obviously. My wife all the time worried I get my gun and shoot him. (But I don't do that.) He was actually a lot of fun. Very rich, lived in the best part of Managua. you know the story.

I asked him about the USSR, which he *still* defended, as did the entire Central Comm.(which he was on) of the Socialists. But though they tried to convince the USSR not to support the FSNL (seriously). He was angry the USSR embassy wouldn't receive him. After all, he noted, they were the "original" revolutionaries...

I think the stuff about the MAP is BS. Their relationship with the FSLN, though tense at time, mirrored to a degree the relationship of the MIR in Chile to the Popular Unity gov't there.
Quote:
When I spent the summer of 1986 in Nicaragua, the MAP-ML, which had run candidates in the 1984 election, had put up graffiti that said "Workers and Peasants To Power," and "No to the Bourgeois Constitution." I really liked what I read of their propaganda.

In the 1990 election in which the Sandinistas lost power, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party both joined the (US-backed) right-wing anti-Sandinista electoral coalition, while the MAP-ML ran its own candidates. I think somewhere I read (maybe even here) that they drifted a bit to the right after that. Wikipedia shows them getting fewer votes than the local Trotskyists, which surprises me cause in 1986 the MAP was much more visible and organized.
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Post 20 Sep 2013, 11:10
Thanks Che. I see this is a difficult issue to sort through, given your predisposition toward geopolitical realism, a love for your country, but simultaneously a sadness toward the suffering of non-CP comrades.

...

Ismail, that is some confounding information about CP attitudes toward the FSLN. I do know that the Sandinistas complained about a drunken and highly disrespectful Soviet ambassador who was first assigned to them shortly after the revolution, but had no idea there were so many other real problems and ridiculous internal battles among leftists during the Sandinista rule, to the point where some communists supported the FSLN's downfall. In cases like these the idea that we are sometimes our own worst enemy really rings true.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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