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Mohammed Ahmed Ben- Bella - History

Mohammed Ahmed Ben- Bella - History



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Mohammed Ahmed Ben- Bella

1916-2012

First President of Algeria

Ben-Bella was born on December 25, 1916 in Maghnia, French Algeria He was the first Prime Minister of the newly-independent Algeria from 1962 to 1965. He came to prominence as a leader of the Algerian National Movement in 1947, was imprisoned by the French three years later and escaped in 1952. He founded the Front de Liberation Nationale in 1954 and proceeded to lead an armed uprising against the French, who recaptured and incarcerated him from 1956 to 1962. Ben-Bella was ultimately deposed by a military coup and remained under house arrest until 1979.


Ahmed Ben Bella

Ben Bella syntyi pienessä Maghnian kylässä Ranskan Algeriassa sufilaiseen perheeseen. Hänen isänsä oli marokkolaista sukua oleva kauppias. [2] Hän liittyi vapaaehtoisena Ranskan asevoimiin vuonna 1936 ja palveli toisen maailmansodan aikana Vapaan Ranskan armeijassa. Ollessaan sijoitettuna Marseilleen hän pelasi jalkapalloa Olympique Marseillen riveissä. Ben Bella oli Algerian vapautusliikkeen Kansallisen vapautusrintaman (FLN) perustajia. Ranskalaiset viranomaiset pidättivät Ben Bellan vuonna 1956, ja hän istui vankilassa Ranskassa vuoteen 1962 asti. Vankeutensa aikana Ben Bellasta tuli Algerian väliaikaishallituksen varapääministeri. [3]

Ben Bellan äidinkieli oli ranska, ei arabia. Kun Ben Bella matkusti Egyptiin, jossa hän eli maanpaossa, hän joutui opiskelemaan arabiaa. Egyptissä Ben Bella tapasi presidentti Gamal Abdel Nasserin. Kun Nasser toi Ben Bellan puhumaan egyptiläiselle yleisölle, tämä purskahti itkuun, koska ei osannut arabiaa. Sanotaan, että Ben Bella kieltäytyi opettamasta tyttärelleen ranskaa, koska halusi tyttären oppivan puhumaan arabiaa kunnolla. Ben Bella, kuten muutkin arabimilitantit, oli nasseristi ja solmi hyvät suhteet Egyptiin itsenäisyyden jälkeen.

Maaliskuussa 1963, ennen presidentinvaaleja, Ben Bella oli tehnyt perustuslain, jonka diktatoriset piirteet vieraannuttivat Ben Bellan liittolaiset. Mohammed Khider ja Ferhat Abbas erosivat tämän vuoksi viroistaan. Ben Bellan perustuslaki asetti yksipuoluejärjestelmän ja torjui poliittisen moniarvoisuuden. [4]

Ben Bella valittiin presidentiksi ainoana ehdokkaana (1963). [5] Hän solmi hyvät suhteet Kuubaan, etenkin Fidel Castroon ja Che Guevaraan. Kuuba lähetti ensin lääkeapua ja myöhemmin aseita ja sotilaita Algerian sotaan Marokkoa vastaan. [6] 30.4.1964 Ben Bellalle myönnettiin arvonimi Neuvostoliiton sankari. [7]

Ben Bella tuki Che Guevaran pyrkimyksiä vaikuttaa Afrikan poliittiseen kenttään Kongon demokraattisessa tasavallassa ja Angolassa.

Ben Bellan sosialistiset uudistukset epäonnistuivat, joten vajaan kahden vuoden jälkeen hänen puolustusministerinsä Houari Boumédiènne kaappasi vallan. [5]

Boumédiènne oli Bellan entinen taistelutoveri. [3] Ben Bella joutui kotiarestiin 14 vuodeksi [8] . Boumediennen kuoleman jälkeen 1978 [8] hänen kotiarestinsa ehtoihin tuli helpotuksia heinäkuussa 1979. Ben Bella sai 30.lokakuuta 1980 maastapoistumisluvan ja asettui väliaikaisesti asumaan Ranskaan, kunnes muutti Sveitsiin 1983. [8] .

Ben Bella oli naimisissa Zahra Sellamin kanssa vuodesta 1971. Avioliiton aikana hänen ajattelunsa lähentyi islaminuskoa: vaikka Ben Bella tuomitsi islamistien väkivallan niin silti hän korosti, että muslimiarvot ovat osa algerialaista identiteettiä. [8]

Hän asui kymmenen vuotta Lausannessa jonka aikana Ben Bella perusti vuonna 1984 Mouvement pour la Démocratie en Algérien -nimisen oppositiopuolueen joka oli idealogialtaan maltillinen islamistinen [8] . Ben Bella palasi takaisin Algeriaan syyskuussa vuonna 1990. Ben Bella tuki palestiinalaisten oikeuksia [8] .

Hän oli yksi harvoista arabimaiden poliittisista johtajista jotka antoivat tukensa Saddam Husseinille Irakin miehitettyä Kuwaitin 1990. Tämä oli aiemmin ristiriidassa hänen näkemyksestään valtioiden itsemääräämisoikeudesta [8] .

Ben Bellan puolue otti osaan Algerian ensimmäisiin demokraattisiin vaaleihin 1991 [8] mutta se kuitenkin boikotoi vuoden 1996 marraskuun kansanäänestystä perustuslaista [8] . Puolue kiellettiin vuonna 1997 [8] .

Ben Bella kuoli Algerissa vuonna 2012. [9]

Ben Bella valittiin Irakin sodan vastaisen kampanjan keulahahmoksi Kairon konferenssissa. Ben Bella kuvasi itseään useasti haastatteluissa maltilliseksi ja rauhaa rakastavaksi islamistiksi. Hän hylkäsi aiemman kantansa yhden puolueen järjestelmästä ja tuki avoimesti Algerian demokratiaa. Hänen mielestään militantti islamilaisuus perustui väärään tulkintaan islaminuskosta. Hän oli ristiriitainen hahmo, mutta laajasti arvostettu roolistaan kolonialismin vastustajana, ja hänen katsottiin olevan yksi viimeisistä todellisista arabinationalisteista.


NATIONALISM

Like many of his generation born and raised under French colonial rule (1830–1962), Ben Bella communicated in French but never felt fully French. His nationalist consciousness was aroused to action when he heard about the bloody massacres of May 1945 in Sétif that left an estimated forty-five thousand Algerian Muslims dead at the hands of French security forces retaliating for the murder of scores of French nationals in the region. He refused a commission in the French army and instead joined the Party of the Algerian People (Parti du Peuple Algérien, or PPA), led by the charismatic and militant nationalist hero, Messali Hadj (1898–1974). When the French authorities banned the PPA, Messali formed the Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties (Mouvement pour le Triomphe des Libertés Démocratiques, or MTLD), a group that attracted political activists like Ben Bella.

As French policies toward the incipient Algerian nationalist movement hardened, a clandestine, violence-prone group was created (Organisation Spéciale, or OS) within the MTLD. Ben Bella joined the OS and led a number of armed attacks against French territorial assets including the robbery of a post office in Oran in 1949. He was captured and imprisoned in 1950 but escaped two years later and reached Cairo. There he joined others of the "historic chiefs." It was in Egypt, led at the time by the young revolutionary leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970), that Ben Bella became inspired by pan-Arabist principles. It was also in Egypt that he finally learned to speak Arabic properly, thereby fusing his militant nationalism with its indigenous idiom and overcoming the sense of inferiority that French socialization had created in him. Like so many of his contemporaries in Algeria and elsewhere, Ben Bella was fascinated by and enthusiastic about pan-Arabism, Nasserism, and other forms of militant Arab nationalism, serving as an ideological template for Algeria's own struggle for national liberation. For his part, Nasser's close ties to Ben Bella and his extensive material, moral, and political support for Algeria's independence struggle was used as an excuse by France to join Britain and Israel in attacking and occupying the Suez Canal in 1956.

Dissatisfied with Messali's nationalist leadership and the slow pace of change, Ben Bella became one of the leading figures of the Revolutionary Committee for Unity and Action (ComitéRévolutionnaire pour l'Unité et l'Action, or CRUA), which organized the National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale, or FLN). The FLN launched the Algerian revolution against the French on 1 November 1954. Organizationally the CRUA split up into a group of "internals," involved in organizing Algeria into six separate military regions, and "externals," headed by Ben Bella and headquartered in Cairo, where they worked to gain foreign support for the rebellion. While in Egypt, Ben Bella was assigned the job of collecting funds and material for the newly established National Liberation Army (Armée de Libération Nationale, or ALN), the armed wing of the FLN. Ben Bella was not invited to the historic Soummam Conference of August 1956, when the primacy of the internals was declared over that of the externals. In October 1956 Ben Bella and five other "historic chiefs" (Hocine Ait Ahmed, Mohamed Boudiaf, Abdelkrim Khider, Rabih Bitat, and Mostefa Lacheraf), were skyjacked by the French while en route from Morocco to Tunisia. Ben Bella remained in a French prison until 1962, the year Algeria achieved its independence.


Ben Bella: ‘It protected us from hatred’

Ahmed Ben Bella was one of the leaders of the Algerian revolution. In October 1956, in the first act of aerial piracy in history, the French airforce hijacked a flight he was on. He was imprisoned until 1962, and became the first Algerian president from 1962 to 1965.

T o us leaders of the Algerian revolution, the Manifesto of the 121 rang out like a thunderclap, as it did for many Algerians. That stand protected us, I must admit, from some unlovely feelings, such as hatred. The struggle for liberation was terrible. We were bruised and wounded by colonialism. The manifesto reminded us that the French people could not be reduced to the war that was hitting us. Some French people had taken our side under terrible conditions. The French people was also a great people, bearing a rich history and a genius of its own. We were no longer alone. They were not traitors &mdash the opposite. They expressed the best of France. We knew it, and that was why it moved us. These men and women were rising up against something they considered abominable.

We must remember the obstacles of the era. The long walk to independence was not easy. The war did not unfold in a continuous manner. Forceps were required for the delivery. It was very difficult. There were periods that were hard, with abrupt stops and steps forward. But the collective action of autumn 1950 showed that something was happening in France. The manifesto was a step toward the end of colonialism. Those 121 intellectuals, our lawyers and the ‘suitcase-carriers’ [of the Jeanson network] became more than our friends, they became our family. They embodied that raising of consciousness, that Omega Point that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin spoke of, where human beings reach the highest degree of spirituality. We admired them, we loved them, we knew that it was difficult for them. They confirmed to us that humanity was present everywhere and we shouldn’t despair for it.

I was in prison at the time of these events. But I have known this solidarity, too. I remember being transferred to a prison near Saumur. The Organisation armée secrète (OAS) had plans to liquidate us in our cells. We knew about them. I will not say what our lawyers did to help us, which must remain a secret. But I can say that we prepared our escape to avoid this attempt. In the end, it wasn’t necessary.

I remember the suitcase-carriers and the lawyers with feeling. They were the best of the French, the best of the Algerians.


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Jugurtha

Jugurtha was the illegitimate son of the king of Numidia (roughly what is now coastal Algeria). When the king died his brother became king. This king took Jugurtha, his nephew, under his protection and eventually formally adopted him. Jugurtha was brave and smart. He cooperated with the Romans and even fought as their ally as the commander of Numidian troops in Spain. He developed relationships with important Roman politicians.

When Jugurtha's uncle, the king of Numidia, died Jugurtha as his adopted son received a share of power. He proceeded to try to eliminate his two cousins. One he had assassinated, the other he militarily challenged. Jugurtha's forces were victorious and the cousin king fled with some of his supporters to a fortress in what is now the city of Constantine. Jugurtha's forces soon captured the fortress and proceeded to slay all of the occupants. This included some prominent Roman businessmen.

This provocation was too much to ignore and the Roman Senate declared war on Jugurtha. The Roman invasion force was not successful. Jugurtha found it very easy to wage a classic guerilla war against the Romans of the cities. Finally the Roman commander chose to negotiate a peace treaty with Jugurtha. The terms of the treaty were so unusually favorable to Jugurtha that the Roman demanded that the he come to Rome and explain how he got such favorable terms. Jugurtha was given safe conduct to Rome. He went there but official in charge of the Senate ordered him not to speak. This might sound like an enemy of Jugurtha was preventing him from giving his testimony, but it was actually a supporter of Jugurtha keeping him from being grilled by his enemies. Jugurtha had strong support in the Senate and he was allowed to return to Numidia. However in Rome at that time there was another claimant to the throne of Numidia. Jugurtha saw the opportunity to rid himself of a rival so he had that rival assassinated.

This action was too much for the Senate and they declared the treaty abrogated. Rome was again at war with Jugurtha.

Under a new command the Roman force were more successful. Jugurtha finally had to seek a haven in the neighbor kingdom of Mauretania (what is now northern Morocco and western Algeria). The king of Mauretania was Blocchus, a monarch who had previously tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a treaty with Rome. Earlier Blocchus had supported Jugurtha's rebellion against Roman domination but the Mauretanians were not very successful against the Roman military and Blocchus withdrew his support for Jugurtha. Blocchus was the father of one of the wives of Jugurtha so Jugurtha felt confident of Blocchus' loyalty to him.

Jugurtha however reasoned without knowing the resourcefulness of a man Rome had sent to aid the Roman forces in Numidia. This man's name was Sulla. He was reputed to have the courage of a lion and the cunning of a fox. Sulla fearlessly journeyed to Mauretania to deal with Blocchus. Blocchus could have turned Sulla over to Jugurtha, but he did not. Sulla was able to convince Blocchus that his self interest lay in an alliance with Rome. All Blocchus had to do was lure Jugurtha into an ambush. Jugurtha was captured and turned over to the Romans.

Sulla's commander sent Jugurtha to Rome where he was imprisoned. The commander however was jealous of Sulla's brilliant coup which ended the rebellion in Numidia. Jugurtha was kept alive long enough to be used in the victory celebration, called a triumph, that Sulla's commander presented in Rome. Later Jugurtha was executed in prison. Jugurtha represented Berber resistance to foreign domination.


Ahmed Ben Bella

Ben Bella syntyi pienessä Maghnian kylässä Ranskan Algeriassa sufilaiseen perheeseen. Hänen isänsä oli marokkolaista sukua oleva kauppias. [2] Hän liittyi vapaaehtoisena Ranskan asevoimiin vuonna 1936 ja palveli toisen maailmansodan aikana Vapaan Ranskan armeijassa. Ollessaan sijoitettuna Marseilleen hän pelasi jalkapalloa Olympique Marseillen riveissä. Ben Bella oli Algerian vapautusliikkeen Kansallisen vapautusrintaman (FLN) perustajia. Ranskalaiset viranomaiset pidättivät Ben Bellan vuonna 1956, ja hän istui vankilassa Ranskassa vuoteen 1962 asti. Vankeutensa aikana Ben Bellasta tuli Algerian väliaikaishallituksen varapääministeri. [3]

Ben Bellan äidinkieli oli ranska, ei arabia. Kun Ben Bella matkusti Egyptiin, jossa hän eli maanpaossa, hän joutui opiskelemaan arabiaa. Egyptissä Ben Bella tapasi presidentti Gamal Abdel Nasserin. Kun Nasser toi Ben Bellan puhumaan egyptiläiselle yleisölle, tämä purskahti itkuun, koska ei osannut arabiaa. Sanotaan, että Ben Bella kieltäytyi opettamasta tyttärelleen ranskaa, koska halusi tyttären oppivan puhumaan arabiaa kunnolla. Ben Bella, kuten muutkin arabimilitantit, oli nasseristi ja solmi hyvät suhteet Egyptiin itsenäisyyden jälkeen.

Maaliskuussa 1963, ennen presidentinvaaleja, Ben Bella oli tehnyt perustuslain, jonka diktatoriset piirteet vieraannuttivat Ben Bellan liittolaiset. Mohammed Khider ja Ferhat Abbas erosivat tämän vuoksi viroistaan. Ben Bellan perustuslaki asetti yksipuoluejärjestelmän ja torjui poliittisen moniarvoisuuden. [4]

Ben Bella valittiin presidentiksi ainoana ehdokkaana (1963). [5] Hän solmi hyvät suhteet Kuubaan, etenkin Fidel Castroon ja Che Guevaraan. Kuuba lähetti ensin lääkeapua ja myöhemmin aseita ja sotilaita Algerian sotaan Marokkoa vastaan. [6] 30.4.1964 Ben Bellalle myönnettiin arvonimi Neuvostoliiton sankari. [7]

Ben Bella tuki Che Guevaran pyrkimyksiä vaikuttaa Afrikan poliittiseen kenttään Kongon demokraattisessa tasavallassa ja Angolassa.

Ben Bellan sosialistiset uudistukset epäonnistuivat, joten vajaan kahden vuoden jälkeen hänen puolustusministerinsä Houari Boumédiènne kaappasi vallan. [5]

Boumédiènne oli Bellan entinen taistelutoveri. [3] Ben Bella joutui kotiarestiin 14 vuodeksi [8] . Boumediennen kuoleman jälkeen 1978 [8] hänen kotiarestinsa ehtoihin tuli helpotuksia heinäkuussa 1979. Ben Bella sai 30.lokakuuta 1980 maastapoistumisluvan ja asettui väliaikaisesti asumaan Ranskaan, kunnes muutti Sveitsiin 1983. [8] .

Ben Bella oli naimisissa Zahra Sellamin kanssa vuodesta 1971. Avioliiton aikana hänen ajattelunsa lähentyi islaminuskoa: vaikka Ben Bella tuomitsi islamistien väkivallan niin silti hän korosti, että muslimiarvot ovat osa algerialaista identiteettiä. [8]

Hän asui kymmenen vuotta Lausannessa jonka aikana Ben Bella perusti vuonna 1984 Mouvement pour la Démocratie en Algérien -nimisen oppositiopuolueen joka oli idealogialtaan maltillinen islamistinen [8] . Ben Bella palasi takaisin Algeriaan syyskuussa vuonna 1990. Ben Bella tuki palestiinalaisten oikeuksia [8] .

Hän oli yksi harvoista arabimaiden poliittisista johtajista jotka antoivat tukensa Saddam Husseinille Irakin miehitettyä Kuwaitin 1990. Tämä oli aiemmin ristiriidassa hänen näkemyksestään valtioiden itsemääräämisoikeudesta [8] .

Ben Bellan puolue otti osaan Algerian ensimmäisiin demokraattisiin vaaleihin 1991 [8] mutta se kuitenkin boikotoi vuoden 1996 marraskuun kansanäänestystä perustuslaista [8] . Puolue kiellettiin vuonna 1997 [8] .

Ben Bella kuoli Algerissa vuonna 2012. [9]

Ben Bella valittiin Irakin sodan vastaisen kampanjan keulahahmoksi Kairon konferenssissa. Ben Bella kuvasi itseään useasti haastatteluissa maltilliseksi ja rauhaa rakastavaksi islamistiksi. Hän hylkäsi aiemman kantansa yhden puolueen järjestelmästä ja tuki avoimesti Algerian demokratiaa. Hänen mielestään militantti islamilaisuus perustui väärään tulkintaan islaminuskosta. Hän oli ristiriitainen hahmo, mutta laajasti arvostettu roolistaan kolonialismin vastustajana, ja hänen katsottiin olevan yksi viimeisistä todellisista arabinationalisteista.


Profile: Ahmed Ben Bella, first president of Algeria (25 December 1916 - 11 April 2012)

Ahmed Ben Bella's intelligence, ambition and love of his country marked him as a natural leader. Born on 25 December 1918 in the Algerian town of Marnia to Moroccan parents, he showed promise from a young age.

Ben Bella's father believed the same and moved his birth year to 1916 so that he could leave school early and begin work on the family's farm and later qualify prematurely for military service. Deployed to Marseille in 1936 for the Second World War he served with distinction and was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

His talents on the football pitch whilst in Marseille earned him further recognition but he declined an offer to play professionally and instead returned to Algeria where he joined a Moroccan regiment fighting with the Free French movement, which was led by Charles de Gaulle and fought in exile against the Axis powers.

As Europe celebrated the end of the war on 8 May 1945, 4,000 Algerians joined an anti-colonial demonstration in the city of Sétif against the French, who had ruled Algeria since 1830. But in the following days colonial forces massacred thousands of Algerians. For Ben Bella this was a turning point – achieving independence would become his main goal.

Returning to his home town Ben Bella was elected town councillor and later joined the Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties (MTLD) led by the father of Algeria's nationalism, Messali Hadj.

The French saw Ben Bella's vision as a threat and in 1949 he was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for robbing the main post office in Oran to raise funds for the movement's paramilitary wing. His sentence was cut short two years later when he managed to escape using tools smuggled in a loaf of bread.

Former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser waves to crowds in Mansoura from a train car on 7 May 1960 [Bibliotheca Alexandrina/Wikipedia]

From his exile in Cairo Ben Bella began to form the beginning of Algeria's war for independence. He and nine members of the Revolutionary Committee of Unity and Action established the National Liberation Front (FLN) to organise an armed insurgency against the French, which began on 1 November 1954.

Ben Bella coordinated arms to be delivered to Algeria and was appointed vice-chairman of the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA). He narrowly missed two assassination attempts on his life in Cairo and Tripoli, Libya. On 22 October 1956 the French finally managed to trap their most wanted and diverted a plane Ben Bella was flying on with other members of the FLN.

Held in France for the next five and a half years, Ben Bella was treated as a valuable asset for the French in negotiating a peace deal with the GPRA. By 1961 he was in a key position to negotiate independence with the fatigued French and in 1962, when the Evian Accords were signed, Ben Bella returned to an independent Algeria and became the first president of the Democratic People's Republic of Algeria in 1963.

Ben Bella promised to transform Algeria into a non-aligned secular socialist republic "Castro is my brother, Nasser is my teacher, Tito is my example", he would often say. But his ambitions often met obstacles. He launched an ambitious but economically disastrous land-reform programme based on peasant self-management.

Ben Bella's strong anti-imperialist and pan-Arabist stance paved the way for strong alliances in the Arab world and beyond. In an attempt to Arabise the education system he turned to the strong pan-Arab nations of Egypt and Syria and visited Cuba to hold discussions with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

However his leadership became autocratic and the FLN grew unpopular. As he undertook extreme measures the tide began to turn against Ben Bella. Opposition parties the Algerian Communist Party and the Party of Socialist Revolution were banned and the leader of an unsuccessful coup, Mohamed Chabani, was executed.

"Ben Bella always wanted his teammates to pass the ball so that he could score", a former schoolmate said of him. "He was the same in politics."

His own personality cult alienated many former comrades – army strongman Houari Boumediene was one of them. Ben Bella once jokingly introduced Boumedienne at an official lunch as "the man who is plotting to overthrow me". He later asked, "How are your intrigues going?" to which Boumedienne reportedly replied, "very well, thank you".

On 19 June 1965 Boumedienne succeeded in overthrowing Ben Bella who was placed under strict house arrest until Boumedienne's death 14 years later.

His mother saw marriage as a way for him to escape his solitude and arranged a marriage with a young female revolutionary, Zohra Sellami, in 1971. After Boumedienne's death Ben Bella and his family moved to Spain and then Switzerland where he networked with other exiled compatriots and international sympathisers and tried to maintain his political relevance.

He launched the Movement for Democracy in Algeria (MDA) in Switzerland in 1984. "My life is a life of combat", he told an interviewer in his last years. "It is a combat that started for me at the age of 16. I'm 90 years old now, and my motivation hasn't changed it's the same fervour that drives me."

Six years later he set off for Algeria expecting crowds to greet their old war time hero. Instead he was met with silence at the empty docks – the new government had succeeded in removing his name from history.

An Arab nationalist who saw the rise of radical Islam as a "misreading of the Qur'an", Ben Bella spent the last two decades of his life travelling between Switzerland and Algeria, campaigning against imperialism from the "globalisation of poverty" to the 2003 war in Iraq.

Over the years his stance mellowed, and eventually was invited to state functions by the fifth President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and given a generous pension and a residence in Algiers.

Ben Bella died on 11 April 2012 at the age of 95 and in a last farewell to a man so vital to Algeria's independence movement and its post-colonial transition was afforded a state funeral.


Ahmed Ben Bella

(1916?–2012). Revolutionary and politician Ahmed Ben Bella was the principal leader of the Algerian War of Independence against France. He became Algeria’s first prime minister in 1962 and the first elected president a year later, steering his country toward a socialist economy.

Ben Bella was born on December 25, probably in 1916, in Maghnia (Marnia), Algeria. In 1937 he was conscripted into the French army and served in World War II, where he received a couple of medals. On his return to Maghnia, Ben Bella participated in nationalist activities, and the French authorities confiscated his farm. He then joined an Algerian underground movement and soon lost all hope of achieving independence democratically. He subsequently founded a paramilitary organization whose aim was to take up arms as quickly as possible.

After robbing a post office to obtain funds for the nationalist movement, Ben Bella was sentenced to prison. He escaped two years later and then moved to Egypt. In 1954 Ben Bella and other Algerian leaders in Egypt created the National Liberation Front (FLN) and ordered an armed insurrection against the French colonists. In 1956 Ben Bella escaped two attempts on his life but was later arrested by the French military authorities. He was released in 1962, the year Algeria gained independence, and became head of the “Bureau Politique,” the Algerian socialist-oriented government. The next year he was elected president of the Algerian republic.

As president, Ben Bella reestablished order in a country disorganized both by the departure of French colonists and by the clashes of armed groups. The creation of a budget for national education and the implementation of major agrarian reforms were among his accomplishments. In 1965, however, army officer Houari Boumedienne deposed Ben Bella in a coup. Ben Bella was detained and had little contact with the outside world for 14 years. Boumedienne died in 1978, and restrictions on Ben Bella were eased the next year, though he remained under house arrest. On October 30, 1980, he was freed. He spent 10 years in exile, returning to Algeria in 1990. He reentered Algerian politics after his return. Ben Bella died on April 11, 2012, in Algiers, Algeria. (See also Algeria.)


Che Guevara, Cuba, And The Algerian Revolution

from `Che Guevara And The Cuban Revolution' series

Preface

This selection is part of a series marking the 30th anniversary of the death in combat of Ernesto Che Guevara. Argentine by birth, Guevara became one of the central leaders of the Cuban revolution that brought down the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959 and, in response to mounting pressure from Washington, opened the socialist revolution in the Americas. Che, as he is popularly known, was one of the outstanding Marxist leaders of the 20th century.

In 1966 - 67, he led a nucleus of revolutionaries from Bolivia, Cuba, and Peru who fought to overthrow the military dictatorship in Bolivia. In the process, they sought to forge a Latin America-wide movement of workers and peasants that could lead the battle for land reform and against U.S. imperialist domination of the continent and advance the struggle for socialism. Guevara was wounded and captured on Oct. 8, 1967. He was shot the next day by the Bolivian military, after consultation with Washington.

As part of the commemoration of this anniversary in Cuba, dozens of articles, speeches, and interviews by those who worked with Che were published, dealing with the Cuban revolution, its impact in world politics, and the actions of its leadership. Many of Guevara's collaborators and family members have spoken at conferences and other meetings, bringing Che to life for a new generation and explaining the importance of his rich political legacy today. These materials contain many valuable firsthand accounts and information, some of which are being written down and published for the first time. They are part of the broader discussion taking place in Cuba today on how to advance the revolution.

The Militant is reprinting a selection of these contributions, along with related material such as the article above, as a weekly feature, under the banner "Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution."

The article below appeared in the October 1997 issue of the French publication Le Monde diplomatique, under the title, "On the 30th Anniversary of the Death of Che Guevara: Che as I knew him." Its author, Ahmed Ben Bella, was the central leader of the Algerian National Liberation Front, which led the struggle for independence from France. Ben Bella was the president of the revolutionary workers and farmers government that came to power following the victory over Paris in 1962. He was overthrown in a counterrevolutionary coup led by Col. Houari Boumediene in June 1965.

We are reprinting it here as a final, twelfth part to the series of articles and speeches by those who knew and worked with Guevara that the Militant reprinted at the end of 1997 under the rubric "Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution."

The article is copyright 1997 by Le Monde diplomatique, and reprinted by permission. The translation, subheadings, and footnotes are by the Militant.

Che Guevara, Cuba, And The Algerian Revolution

On October 9, 1967, in a little schoolroom in La Higuera, Bolivia, Ernesto "Che" Guevara was assassinated. He had been taken prisoner the day before. Thus ended the life of a revolutionary whom Jean-Paul Sartre called "the most complete human being of our era." It had led him from Argentina to Guatemala, from Cuba to the Congo, and finally to Bolivia, always inspired by an ardent hope of relieving the sufferings of the poor. President Ahmed Ben Bella met him many times in Algiers from 1962 - 65 when the city was a haven for all the anti-imperialists of the world.

For thirty years Che Guevara has been challenging our consciences. From beyond space and time, we hear Che's call, which demands that we answer: yes, only the revolution can sometimes transform man into a being of light. We saw this light illuminating his naked body lying somewhere in distant N

ancahuazu',(1) in the photographs that appeared in newspapers all over the world. The message of his final gaze continues to touch the depths of our soul.

Che was a courageous fighter, but a conscious one, with a body weakened by asthma. Sometimes, when I climbed with him to the Chre'a heights overlooking the town of Blida, I saw him suffer an attack that turned him green in the face. Anyone who has read his Bolivian diary knows in what poor health he faced the terrible physical and mental ordeals with which his path was strewn.

It is impossible to speak of Che without speaking of Cuba and the special relations which united us, since his story and his life were so closely bound up with the country that became his second home before he turned to wherever the revolution called him.

I first met Ernesto "Che" Guevara in the autumn of 1962, on the eve of the international crisis around the missile affair and the United States blockade of Cuba.(2) Algeria had just achieved independence and formed its first government. As head of that government, I was due to attend the September 1962 session of the United Nations in New York at which the Algerian flag would be raised for the first time over the UN building, a ceremony marking the victory of our national liberation struggle and Algeria's entry into the concert of free nations.

Visits to Washington and Havana

The National Liberation Front's political bureau had decided that the trip to the United Nations should be followed by a visit to Cuba. More than just a visit, it was intended as an act of faith demonstrating our political commitment. Algeria wished to emphasize publicly its total solidarity with the Cuban revolution, especially at this difficult moment in its history.

I was invited to the White House on the morning of October 15, 1962, and had a frank and heated discussion about Cuba with the president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I asked him point blank: "Are you heading towards a confrontation with Cuba?" His reply left no doubt about his real intentions. "No," he said, "if there are no Soviet missiles. Yes, if there are." Kennedy tried hard to dissuade me from flying to Cuba direct from New York. He even suggested that the Cuban military aircraft that was to fly me to Havana might be attacked by Cuban opposition forces based in Miami. To these thinly veiled threats I retorted that I was a fellah who could not be intimidated by harkis, whether Algerian or Cuban.(3)

We arrived in Cuba on October 16 amid indescribable scenes of popular enthusiasm. The program provided for political discussions at party headquarters in Havana immediately after our delegation arrived. But things worked out very differently. As soon as our luggage had been dropped off at the place where we were supposed to stay, we threw protocol overboard and began a heart-to-heart talk with Fidel, Che Guevara, Rau'l Castro, and the other leaders who were accompanying us.

We stayed and talked for hours and hours. I naturally conveyed to the Cuban leaders the impression I had received from my conversation with President Kennedy. At the end of an impassioned discussion, around tables which we had pushed together end-to-end, we realized that we had practically exhausted the questions on the agenda. There was no point in a further meeting at party headquarters, and by mutual consent we moved straight on to the program of visits prepared for us across the country.

This anecdote gives an idea of the total lack of formality that, from the very beginning, was the norm for the relations uniting the Cuban and Algerian revolutions and of my personal relations with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

Cuban troops aid Algerian revolution

The solidarity between us was spectacularly confirmed in October 1963, when the Tindouf campaign presented the first serious threat to the Algerian revolution.(4) Our young army, fresh from a war of liberation, had no air cover (since we didn't have a single plane) or armored transport. It was attacked by the Moroccan armed forces on the terrain that was most unfavorable to it, where it was unable to use the only tactics it knew and had tried and tested in the liberation struggle, namely guerrilla warfare.

The vast barren expanses of desert were far from the mountains of Aures, Djurdjura, the Collo peninsula or Tlemcen, which had been its natural milieu and whose every resource and secret were familiar to it. Our enemies had decided that the momentum of Algerian revolution had to be broken before it grew too strong and carried everything in its wake.

The Egyptian president, Abdel Nasser, quickly provided us with the air cover we lacked, and Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Rau'l Castro, and the other Cuban leaders sent us a battalion of 22 tanks and several hundred troops. They were deployed at Bedeau, south of Sidi Bel Abbes, where I inspected them, and were ready to enter into combat if the desert war continued. The tanks were fitted with infrared equipment that allowed them to be used at night. They had been delivered to Cuba by the Soviet Union on the express condition that they were not to be made available to third countries, even communist countries such as Bulgaria, in any circumstances. Despite these restrictions from Moscow, the Cubans defied all the taboos and sent their tanks to the assistance of the endangered Algerian revolution without a moment's hesitation.

The United States was clearly behind the Tindouf campaign. We knew that the helicopters transporting the Moroccan troops were piloted by Americans. The same considerations of international solidarity subsequently led the Cubans to intervene on the other side of the Atlantic, in Angola, and elsewhere.

The circumstances surrounding the arrival of the tank battalion are worth recalling since they illustrate better than any commentary the nature of our special relations with Cuba.

When I visited Cuba in 1962, Fidel Castro made a point of honoring his country's pledge to give us two billion old French francs worth of aid.(5) Because of Cuba's economic situation, the aid was to be provided in sugar rather than in currency. I objected, arguing that Cuba needed her sugar at that time more than we did, he would not take no for an answer.

About a year after our discussion, a ship flying the Cuban flag docked in the port of Oran. Along with the promised cargo of sugar, we were surprised to discover two dozen tanks and hundreds of Cuban soldiers sent to help us. A brief note from Rau'l Castro, scribbled on a page torn out of an exercise book, announced this act of solidarity.

Obviously, we could not let the ship return empty. We filled it with Algerian products and, on the advice of Ambassador Jorge Serguera, added a few Berber horses. This was the start of a kind of barter between our two countries that was carried on in the name of solidarity and was entirely devoid of commercial considerations. Circumstances and constraints permitting, it was a distinctive feature of our relations.

Che's internationalist work in Africa

Che Guevara was acutely aware of the countless restrictions that hinder and weaken genuine revolutionary action -and indeed of the limits on any experiment, however revolutionary - as soon as it confronts directly or indirectly the implacable rules of the market and the huckster mentality. He denounced them publicly at the Afro-Asian Conference held in Algiers in February 1965.(6) Moreover, the painful terms on which the affair of the missiles installed in Cuba had been concluded, and the agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States, had left a bitter taste. I myself exchanged very tough words on the matter with the Soviet ambassador in Algiers. All of this, together with the situation prevailing in Africa, which seemed to have enormous revolutionary potential, led Che to the conclusion that Africa was imperialism's weak link. It was to Africa that he now decided to devote his efforts.

I tried to point out that perhaps this was not the best way to help advance the revolutionary maturity that was developing on our continent. An armed revolution can and must find foreign support, but it first has to create the internal resources on which to base its struggle. But Che Guevara insisted that his own commitment must be total and required his physical presence. He made several trips to Cabinda (Angola) and Congo- Brazzaville.

He refused my offer of a private plane to help disguise his movements, so I instructed Algerian ambassadors throughout the region to provide him with every assistance. Whenever he returned from sub-Saharan Africa, we spent long hours exchanging ideas. Each time he came back impressed by the fabulous cultural riches of the African continent but dissatisfied with his relations with the Marxist parties of the countries he had visited and irritated by their approach. His experience in Cabinda and subsequent contacts with the guerrilla struggle around Stanleyville were particularly disappointing.(7)

Meanwhile, parallel to Che's activity, we were pursuing another course of action to save the armed revolution in western Zaire. In agreement with Nyerere, Nasser, Modibo Keita, N'Krumah, Kenyata and Sekou Toure',(8) Algeria contributed by airlifting arms via Egypt, while Uganda and Mali supplied military cadres. The rescue plan had been conceived at a meeting in Cairo convened on my initiative. We were beginning to implement it when we received a desperate cry for help from the leaders of the armed struggle. Despite our efforts, we were too late and the revolution was drowned in blood by the assassins of Patrice Lumumba.

During one of his visits to Algiers, Che Guevara informed me of a request from Fidel. Since Cuba was under close surveillance, there was no real chance of organizing the supply of arms and military cadres trained in Cuba to other Latin American countries. Could Algeria take over? Distance was no great handicap. On the contrary, it could work in favor of the secrecy vital for the success of such a large-scale operation.

I agreed, of course, without hesitation. We immediately began to establish organizational structures, placed under the direct control of Che Guevara, to host Latin American revolutionary movements. Soon representatives of all these movements moved to Algiers, where I met them many times together with Che.

Their combined headquarters were set up in the hills overlooking Algiers in a large villa surrounded by gardens, which we had assigned to them because of its symbolic importance. The name of the Villa Susini has gone down in history. During the national liberation struggle it was used as a torture center where many men and women of the resistance met their death.

One day Che Guevara said to me, "Ahmed, we've just been struck a serious blow. A group of men trained at the Villa Susini have been arrested at the border between such and such countries (I can't remember the names) and I'm afraid they may talk under torture." He was very worried that the secret site of the preparations for armed action would become known and that our enemies would discover the true nature of the import- export companies we had set up in South America.

Che Guevara had left Algiers by the time of the military coup on June 19, 1965. He had warned me to be on my guard. His departure from Algeria, his death in Bolivia, and my own disappearance for 15 years need to be studied in the historical context of the ebb that followed the period of victorious liberation struggles. After the assassination of Lumumba, it spelled the end of the progressive regimes of the third world, including those of N'Krumah, Modibo, Keita, Sukarno and Nasser, etc.(9)

The date October 9, 1967, is written in fire in our memory. For me, a solitary prisoner, it was a day of immeasurable sadness. The radio announced the death of my brother, and the enemies we had fought together celebrated their sinister victory. But as time passes, and the circumstances of the guerrilla struggle that ended that day in the N

ancahuazu' fade from memory, Che, more than ever, is present in the thoughts of all those who struggle and hope. He is part of the fabric of their daily lives. Something of him remains attached to their heart and soul, buried like a treasure in the deepest, most secret, and richest part of their being, rekindling their courage and renewing their strength.

One day in May 1972, the opaque silence of my prison, jealously guarded by hundreds of soldiers, was broken by a tremendous din. I learned that Fidel was visiting a model farm only a few hundred yards away, no doubt unaware of my presence in the secluded Moorish house on the hill whose roof he could glimpse above the treetops. It is certainly for the same reasons of discretion that this very house was, not so long ago, chosen as a torture center by the colonial army. At this moment, the memories flooded back. A kaleidoscope of faces passed before my eyes like an old, faded newsreel. Never since we parted had Che Guevara been so vivid in my memory.

In reality, my wife and I have never forgotten him. A large photograph of Che was always pinned to the wall of our prison and his gaze witnessed our day-to-day life, our joys and our sorrows. But another smaller photo, cut out of a magazine, which I had stuck onto a piece of card and covered with plastic, accompanied us on all our wanderings and is the one that is closest to our hearts. It is now in my late parents' house in Maghnia, the village where I was born, where we deposited our most precious souvenirs before going into exile. It is the photograph of Ernesto "Che" Guevara stretched out on the ground, naked to the waist, blazing with light. So much light and so much hope.

Notes

1. The first guerrilla battle of Guevara's forces in Bolivia took place in the N

ancahuazu' region, where the base camp for the combatants was located.

2. On Oct. 22, 1962, Kennedy initiated the "Cuban missile crisis," or October Crisis as it is known in Cuba. The U.S. president ordered a total blockade of Cuba, threatened an invasion of the island, and placed U.S. forces around the world on nuclear alert. Washington demanded the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles, which had been installed in Cuba by mutual agreement of the two sovereign powers. Cuban workers and farmers responded by mobilizing massively in defense of the revolution. Faced with the determination of the Cuban people, and the knowledge that an assault on Cuba would result in massive U.S. casualties, Kennedy negotiated with Soviet premiere Nikita Khruschev, who decided to remove the missiles without consulting the Cuban government.

3. Fellah is the Arabic for peasant. Harkis were counterrevolutionary auxiliary troops organized by the French colonial army in North Africa.

4. In 1963 Moroccan forces, backed by Washington, invaded Algeria, which had won its independence from France the previous year after an eight-year revolutionary war. At Algeria's request, the Cuban government sent a column of troops under the command of Efigenio Ameijeiras, a veteran of the Cuban revolutionary war, to help stop the attack. The mere presence of Cuban troops forced the Moroccan government to back down and withdraw its forces.

5. Approximately $3.3 million at current exchange rates.

6. This speech appears in Che Guevara Speaks, published by Pathfinder Press.

7. Stanleyville was the former name of Kisangani, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). Between April and December 1965, Guevara led a contingent of more than 100 Cuban volunteers assisting revolutionary forces that were fighting the regime in Congo, which was backed by Belgian, South African, and other imperialist forces. In January 1961 Patrice Lumumba, the leader of the fight for independence from Belgium and first prime minister of the Congo, was murdered by proimperialist forces backed by Washington, after being disarmed by a U.S.-led United Nations "peacekeeping" intervention.

8. The presidents of Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Egypt, Mali, Ghana, Kenya, and Guinea respectively.

9. Sukarno was the president of Indonesia until 1967.

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