Below – below – below.
Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Tyrant’s dead!
General Wojciech Jaruzelski had been battling cancer for some time. He was 90 years old.
The former Communist leader of Poland helped the Kremlin suppress dissent for many years in Poland before giving in to the democratic tsunami launched by the trade union Solidarity, led by Lech Walensa.
Some praise Jaruzelski for ensuring a smooth transition to democracy in Poland. Others focus on his many years as a Soviet puppet.
His death makes Fidel and Raul Castro the only surviving Communist heads of state from the Cold War period, if one doesn’t include former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, who oversaw the collapse of the old Soviet Union.
Cuban exiles won’t be dancing on Calle Ocho, but this death should give them a glimmer of hope that the monsters who ruined their country won’t be able to stave off the Grim Reaper much longer.
Reuters had this to say:
May 26 (Reuters) – Poland was split on Monday over where to bury General Wojciech Jaruzelski, the Communist leader who for years helped the Kremlin suppress dissent behind the Iron Curtain before finally allowing democratic rule.
Supporters of Jaruzelski, who died on Sunday aged 90, said he should be buried with full military honours befitting a former president who outsmarted his masters in the Soviet Union to deliver Poland to freedom without major bloodshed.
His opponents say he was a stooge of the Kremlin, that under his rule dozens of Poles were killed, and that he does not deserve a plot in the elite military ceremony in Warsaw where his family have asked that he be buried.
The debate shows how Polish society, 25 years on from the collapse of the Berlin Wall, is still wrestling with the questions of how to fend off an assertive Russia – an issue sharpened this year by the Kremlin’s annexation of parts of neighbouring Ukraine.
Jaruzelski imposed martial law in 1981 to suppress the Solidarity trade union movement, led by the shipyard electrician Lech Walesa who would later become president. Hundreds of people were jailed, and dozens were killed.
Jaruzelski argued his actions had prevented the Kremlin from sending in tanks to Poland, as it had earlier in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. By 1989, he convened talks that led to the first partially free elections in Poland, and stepped down.
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