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The Stalinist Muralist

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To the editors:

Reading Huebner's article (10/29/93) on the "swashbuckling" Hector Duarte and his murals we are told of his (Huebner's) "awe" at learning that Duarte had been enrolled at the Siqueiros Mural Workshop, we learn that (of Rivera, Orozco, and) Siqueiros was "the most radical of the three, aesthetically and politically . . . " and "Siqueiros was a charismatic, polemical Communist Party firebrand . . . " more "He was repeatedly jailed . . . for his leftist activism and hounded from one country to another." Then "Though Hector never worked directly with Siqueiros, he feels he knows him. . . . a master . . . a natural born leader who risked his neck for his politics . . . " Finally, bemoaning the "tremendous disenchantment and a lack of belief in art . . . " and "How much art can you say these days is heroic?" Hector smiles and says "It's not enchiladas."

David Alfred Siqueiros will be remembered not for his art, not for his charisma, least for his heroics but as a murderous Stalinist coward who led the first armed assault on Leon Trotsky, coleader (with Lenin) of the October Russian Revolution, when Trotsky (having been exiled by Stalin) was living in Mexico. This machine-gun attack at 4:00 AM on 24 May 1940 resulted in the murder of Robert Sheldon Harte, an American internationalist and trusted friend of Trotsky's, on guard duty. While police at first obscenely tried to blame the victims of the attack, the truth emerged and led to the arrest of 27 people. Siqueiros fled Mexico (was this the hounding?), was arrested in October of that year and claimed that his aim had been merely to protest against Trotsky's presence in Mexico.

Siqueiros' objective was tragically realized in August of that year when the Stalinists succeeded in murdering Leon Trotsky. In his own way Stalin thought that this would be the death of communism (sound familiar?). Is it possible the author is merely a victim of his own ignorance? Perhaps, but with the succumbing of the Stalinists to imperialism and the destruction of the first workers state there seems to be a new coat of whitewash being applied to our history.

Marc Vesecky

Chicago

PS: I would like to recommend: Trotsky: A Documentary by Francis Wyndham and David King.

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