Mehdi Ben Barka & the Tricontinental
In Le Monde Diplomatique
[If you find this (paraphrasing) translation poor or inappropriate, you can read the original piece in full here (fr).]
There is little doubt that the Moroccan state (up to high ranking officers and officials) bears a heavy responsibility in the abduction and subsequent murder of Mehdi Ben Barka. The year 1965 starts with violent events that will further exacerbate the sensitivity of the state and eventually trigger a brutal repression: March 22 and 23, students demonstrate against the newly introduced schools admission quotas which they consider discriminatory. They are later joined in the streets by their parents. The demonstrations are repressed in blood by the infamous Gen. Mohamed Oufkir, the then-ministry of Interior. The state of emergency is decreed. Second phase: Hassan II (seemingly) offers an overture to Ben Barka by hinting to the possibility of accepting the idea of a national unity government. Ben Barka deplores the absence of the conditions for a genuine democratic transition and reiterates the views he previously exposed in the message-report he wrote in 1962 for his party’s second congress, under the title: “Revolutionary Option in Morocco.” In June the fake offer is retreated. Secret and frenzied concertations start between the palace and the secret services under the supervision (and that’s an understatement) of United States officials (as it is now widely documented,) and the active “help” of the Mossad (Israel secret services.) In the meantime, Ben Barka dedicates himself to preparing the Tricontinental Conference, the preparatory committee over which he presides […]
Ben Barka defines his objectives: helping national liberation movements notably in Palestine; intensifying the struggle against occupation -including armed struggle- on the three continents; supporting Cuba; getting rid of foreign military bases; opposition to nuclear weapons, to the Apartheid regime and to racial segregation. The end goal being “total liberation.” In late September, Ben Barka visits Havana to finalize the arrangements and preparations for the upcoming Conference, scheduled in January 3th, 1966.
Eliminating Ben Barka was obviously becoming a major and pressing demand for those who wanted to put an end to mounting third-world insurrection. Already in June 1965, Ben Barka loses the Algerian support after Boumediène accessed power through a military coup. To make things even worse, President Sukarnu of Indonesia loses his power in September 30th, depriving the Tricontinental from one of its major bases.
To understand the motives behind the murder of Ben Barka, one needs only to examine the pattern of political assassinations and coup d’etat perpetrated during this sinister period: the Iranian Premier, Ali Mansour, is assassinated in January 21; Humberto Delguado, the leader of the Portuguese opposition, in February 13; Malcolm X, in February 21; the deputy defense minister of Guatemala, Ernesto Molina, in May 21, etc…
In October Mehdi is murdered; in 1967 Che Guevara is executed [in Bolivia under orders from Washington]; Martin Luther King is killed in April 1968; Amiclar Cabral (the major theorist of African liberation) in January 1973…
Thus, a kind of “world class warfare” was taking place in which those who wanted to reestablish a reactionary order used all means of violence, political assassinations, death commandos and imposed absolute dictators and awful regimes, fomenting conflicts and instigating wars of intervention.
Movements of liberation were pushed forward by their quest for a genuine emancipation and the Tricontinental tried to capture this progressive potential. Those who assassinated Ben Barka wanted to kill this perspective of world liberation.
Rest in Peace Mehdi.