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Post Algeria: Then and Now
Created by Ronald Hilton on 12/29/97 3:12 AM

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Algeria: Then and Now (Ronald Hilton, USA, 12/29/97 3:12 am)

Nowhere is man's inhumanity to man better illustrated today than in Algeria. In 1935, when France controlled Algeria, I travelled by bus from one end of the country to the other, from Tunisia to Spanish Morocco. Except for trouble in Constantine, all was calm, even among the Berbers of the Kabilies. There was of course quiet discontent, motivated in part by the fact that, while the three departments of Algeria were officially part of France, the Arabs generally had no vote, while the Jews did, thanks to the power of the Jews in France. Soviet plotting in Algeria began later.
     Beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, hostility to European "imperialism" was the policy of the Democratic Party. In 1958 I was on the same platform as Hubert Humphrey, who impressed me as a stupid individual hanging on to the coattails of future president John Kennedy. Although the meeting was about international relations generally, Humphrey devoted most of his speech to denouncing the French regime in Algeria, which was part of the Democratic line.
     At the time, Batista was still in power, but we knew that his regime was corrupt and would fall. In my response I noted his support for "democracy" in Algeria, and asked what he thought about Cuba. Flustered, Humphrey said "I know nothing about Cuba!" My response was "You speak with authority about Algeria, which is thousands of miles away, but you know nothing about Cuba, which is 90 miles away?" This was unscripted, so Humphrey, bewildered, repeated "I know nothing about Cuba." It was clear that he knew nothing about Algeria either. The audience was disgusted.
     The present situation in Algeria will be discussed later. See also Cuba.

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