Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi "Mop-up" in Tibet.

By Sue Schurman

APRIL 5, 1999:  Editorials and stories running in the April Fool's Day 1959 edition of the Albuquerque Journal were no joke. One understated editorial called the Chinese oppression in Tibet a "colossal blunder," while the next day's news story (excerpted below) called the Chinese action, reportedly including 20,000 Tibetan casualties, a "mop-up." Less trivial language would have been appropriate considering the extensive loss of life. And the editorial that follows tackled the problem of determining whether Cuba's Fidel Castro would be America's friend or foe. Rather naively, editors assumed Castro could never defy his biggest sugar importer.

Red Chinese Mop-Up Drive Reported Removing Many Tibetans From Capital

"NEW DELHI, India--Red China Wednesday was reported removing large numbers of Tibetans from Lhasa, the capital, in a mop-up of the anti-Communist revolt in Tibet.

"Radio Peiping acknowledged meanwhile that rebels still are fighting in some Tibetan regions. ...

"Usually reliable sources at the Indian border town of Kalimpong said 100 truckloads of residents were being moved out of the Tibetan capital daily to unknown destinations. Tibetan officials in hamlets along roads leading south to India were being arrested.

"The whereabouts of the young Buddhist god-king, the Dalai Lama, still was a mystery. He has been variously reported with the rebels in southern Tibet and heading south for asylum in India. Communist planes were active, presumably in search of the Dalai Lama or rebels.

"An informer reaching Hong Kong from Peiping said western and neutral diplomats in the Red Chinese capital were speculating that the Dalai Lama had been killed by the Communists. ...

"The Hong Kong informant also reported that diplomats in Peiping estimated there may have been 20,000 casualties in fighting in Lhasa. The big monasteries of Sera and Drepung, housing 19,000 Lamas and Monks, were reported almost razed by shelling.

"The Communists have concealed the casualties, reporting only that the rebels numbered 20,000 and that 4,000 were captured."

Cuba Needs U.S.

"Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro's mounting antagonism toward the U.S. is causing concern not only in Washington but among South American diplomats friendly to the U.S.

"Castro claims Washington was too friendly toward Batista, the deposed dictator. Recently he went so far as to say Cuba would remain neutral in the event of war between the U.S. and Russia.

"Castro will make an unofficial visit to the U.S. to address the American Society of Newspaper Editors April 17. It is possible that while here Castro and top Washington officials will have frank discussions.

"Cuban economy is tied in closely with U.S. economy. Cuba would face economic disaster without the U.S. as a sugar customer. Castro needs to gain more experience in the economic facts of life. Young and impetuous (he's 32), Castro is not seasoned in international affairs.

"He apparently has forgotten the background of the struggle by which his country gained independence--forgotten that the U.S. freed Cuba in the Spanish American war.

"If Castro leans toward Communism, as many claim, the troubles with Castro will no doubt continue. If he doesn't sympathize with Communism as he claims, then there's no reason why the difference between the two countries cannot be amicably settled. In fact Cuba needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs Cuba."

--compiled by Susan Schuurman

Source: Albuquerque Journal;
April 1 & 2, 1959

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