Voice of Freedom Will Be Heard


By SPRUILLE BRADEN, United States Ambassador to Argentina

Delivered at farewell luncheon given by Argentine and American cultural institutes, Buenos Aires, August 28, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 720-721.

AS a historian, or rather as an observer watching living history not yet in textbooks, I will tell you a story, l relatively recent, in whose apparent triviality there is a profound and useful lesson.

I will not mention any names of persons or of places, for it is not necessary. If we except one or two details of mere episodic value, it could just as possibly have happened in any of the countries placed under the yoke of arbitrariness.

Some time ago, when culminating success appeared to accompany the Nazi armies, the Foreign Minister of one of the Axis satellite Governments thought it proper to make himself deserving before his foreign chiefs and, by the way, to cut some wood from the tree that he and his henchmen believed already fallen.

So he organized a "spontaneous" demonstration—the adjective is, of course, his own—against one of the United Nations. He selected from his hosts two or three hundred "Nationalists"—again the definition is his own—and gave them express orders to demand with shouts, insults and stones the immediate return of certain famous territory to national sovereignty.

To complete the comedy, the Minister sent a few police agents to the scene of the event in advance, ostensibly with the mission of protecting the threatened Ambassador and his residence.

Needless to add, the police limited their action to the pleased observation of the excesses committed by those posing as patriotic defenders of national sovereignty.

The stoning became heavier; soon not a single pane of glass remained unbroken in the Embassy facade. The Ambassador, perfectly aware of the origin of the aggression, decided, nevertheless, to present his protest to whom it concerned.

He therefore called the Foreign Minister on the telephone, told him what was happening and requested his immediate intervention to end the unusual and vile incident, but he got nothing from the Foreign Minister except the reluctant promise to send a few more police agents.

But, knowing what the conduct of such agents had been and what it would continue to be, the Ambassador quickly responded: "It is not necessary for you to send me morepolice, Mr. Minister. What I need is that you send me fewer Nationalists."

I hope you will agree with me that what I have just told you presents, within its small frame, the typical characteristics of what we could call the ways and means of evil life under fascist regimes.

One by one, there appear in what I have told you all the elements used by fascism in its stupid stratagem since the day of the so-called march on Rome: Subversion and disorder, organized by the Government itself and using paid assassins under an honorable disguise; utilization of coercion by the state, not to suppress but to protect subversion; bragging by the coward who attacks those he believed fallen, but humbles himself before the powerful; calculated and underhanded use of violent methods; cunning maneuvering; showing false respect for established norms and launching its attack while hiding its origin; violation of the law of hospitality which forbids any treacherous attack on him who is sheltered under the same roof; practice of the so-called "tactics of confusion," which, invoking a perfectly respectable aspiration, seek an end having nothing whatever to do with the satisfaction of such justifiable desire; use of intimidation and threats against the precise persons whom that Government was under obligation to protect and respect, and finally—but why go on?

I believe what I have said is sufficient to show why I have told you about this incident, and why I offer it as a comparison. We can use it, for instance, to investigate the true nature of the groups which, a few days ago at the shout of "Down with democracy!" and other similar cries, brutally attacked with arms and with the consent of the police, unarmed groups of citizens peacefully celebrating in the capital of one of the United Nations the Allied victory over Japan.

We would not be loyal to our country nor to the principle we profess to defend if once certain activities are revealed, we failed to denounce them openly and did not do our utmost to dig them out by the roots.

The war that has just concluded has not been fought to prosecute the biggest criminal alone but also his henchmen, accomplices and concealers.

Using the words of a secret report to the Austrian Emperor during the Congress of Vienna, "Let us not forgive in the person of Murat the crimes we have punished in that of Bonaparte." Otherwise we should consider ourselves as having morally lost the war we have won with so much effort.

I want to thank Dr. Levillier again for his cordial words and to thank all those present for this extraordinary and moving demonstration of friendship. The Argentine people know they can count on my friendship. They know they already have it. I want them to know they will continue to have it at all times.

Let no one imagine that my being transferred to Washington means the abandonment of the task I have undertaken.

The voice of freedom makes itself heard in this land, and I do not believe anyone will succeed in drowning it. I shall hear it from Washington with the same clarity with which I hear it in Buenos Aires. I will know it is the voice of the Argentine people—their authentic voice. I will know it is the voice of a conscious people, who, in the use of their highest and most legitimate rights, claim for themselves a new life, based on mutual confidence and respect.

If, during my stay among you, I have faithfully reflected the feeling of the United States people, which is not different from that of their Government, I hope when I am in Washington to be able to interpret with equal fidelity the sentiment of the people of the Argentine Republic.