My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WESTBROOK, Conn.—It is difficult for many Americans to understand how we happen so often to be in the position of supporting the dictatorships of the world and not the efforts to give people democratic participation in their government. Perhaps it is impossible to take sides in certain cases when we are striving for obvious reasons to work with an existing government. Yet it would seem possible at least to intimate to a government with which we have fairly close dealings, that in the modern world one must allow for opposition politically and even make some concessions if that opposition grows strong enough to be truly representative of a great number of the people.

In this connection I read with great interest a recent article about Carlos Zayas, the young leader of the Popular Liberation Front in Spain. Zayas has been thrown into prison along with about 100 other members of his party. Usually the accusation made is that opposition to the government is inspired by the Communists; but in this case the opposition, while militant, is a non-Communist force. Zayas himself was invited to come to Russia and China and toured through both countries. Having seen with his own eyes, he returned more convinced in his anti-Communism than ever.

It seems to me that any government which jails its opposition must feel extremely weak. For a time of course, it was said that if one supported any opposition to Franco, whose government was supposed to be largely controlled by the Roman Catholic Church, one would alienate the Catholics in a country where this is the predominant religion. But this seems to be no longer true, since a number of prominent Catholics, including priests, have been supporting and assuming key roles in the anti-Franco movement.

One of the things we Americans should remember is that Franco Spain supports Portugal's war in Angola. Spanish guns are being sent there. Are we again going to be found by the African states in the position of supporting those who are against the aspirations for freedom which exist in Africa? Such stands seem to be wrong and make it impossible to translate our valid principles into a coherent policy in the world.

I think our people should think over this situation and protests should go to Franco in support of the young leader, Carlos Zayas. Otherwise we may find another Cuban situation on our hands in a country where we have rather substantial investments in military bases. These bases, according to some experts, are no longer as important to us from the military point of view as they once were. Nevertheless, there is no point in bringing on a more difficult situation than now exists.

I cannot pass by without mentioning the passage in the House of the amendment introduced by Representative H.R. Gross barring loans to the U.N. until other members paid up their assessments. How does the gentleman expect that one could support the U.N. at all if one had to wait for every Communist state to pay up in full? One can only hope that it will be possible in the Senate to iron out this outrageous amendment which would completely prevent us from reserving the only machinery we have for working together with other nations for peace in the world. Are we willing at the present time to cripple this machinery? Without it we would be in great danger simply because we could not talk with the peoples of the world and explain to them our point of view and our hopes for the future. How shortsighted can we be, when it costs so little to support our efforts for peace? It is in war preparation that we spend the major part of our tax money.

This is a dangerous path to follow and I hope Representative Gross will hear from his constituents and from many responsible citizens of the U.S.

I want to pay a tribute to Stanley Isaacs, who was a councilman in New York City 20 years and for a time the only Republican member. If you worked with Stanley Isaacs, as I have done, you thought of him as neither a Republican nor a Democrat but primarily as a tremendously interested citizen of the city. He really cared what happened to the city and its people; he worked hard for good government, and was a good fighter for the things he believed in. His loss will be tremendous to many of the board of voluntary organizations on which he served, and he will be missed even by those who fought against him in the council for they knew he acted not merely for political reasons but because he believed he was right. One can only feel that he has left a tremendous heritage to his family and hope that his influence will go forward because of the many people who admired and loved him.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL