A deserter not too bright

Paul Jacko

Some military minds may not be pleased by the outcome of the October 1976 jailing of a deserter from the Spanish army. On the 15th February this year Miguel Montes Neiro was set free after not serving even full 36 years. The due date for his release was to be sometime in 2021. This relatively long period had a lot to do with his numerous escape attempts. If you do not succeed at first, try, try again. Last year he even tried a hunger strike, lasting allegedly 125 days*. (The expert on hunger strikes, Mahatma Ghandi himself, had done 21 days in 1924, 6 days in 1932 and 21 days in 1933)

Even if he got off lightly, Neiro’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures could be posted at military barracks to discourage desertions. It was his picture from the happy days of fathering daughters, disorderly conduct, escape from prison, forgery, attempted robbery and other petty crimes, which attracted my attention. His “then” picture bears striking resemblance to the “then” picture of our Acting Prime Minister Bob Brown. The same shine in the eyes, same attitude to the military service, same attitude to the law; but one took the low road, and the other took the high, socialist one.

If only Neiro had claimed to be a communist or at least socialist, he could have been out so much earlier. Unfortunately for him, his criminal record did not show any attempts to bring down the capitalist system by robbing the banks like a certain Dzugasvilli, a.k.a. Comrade Koba a.k.a Stalin. Franco died in 1975. The war in Vietnam was over and the Soviet production of nuclear weapons caught up with US. In the rest of the world that year nothing too exciting was happening. Chou En-lai died, then Mao. Cubans were winning in Angola, South Africa started easing apartheid restrictions and Ian Smith, under heavy pressure by US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, declared Rhodesia a multi-racial state. The ever polite Chinese declared Mao’s widow to be the “filthy and contemptible dog’s dung” and took her before an independent judicial commission. There was nothing to see there, no new and exciting cause to hang your victimhood on.

But I think Seńor Miguel Montes Neiro missed something. On the 13th September, 1976 a committee of the US National academy of Sciences released a report showing that fluorocarbons enter the atmosphere and release chlorine which attacks the ozone layer. The long term results could be that the temperatures in the earth’s atmosphere will gradually rise, with such consequences as vastly changed weather conditions and a rise in sea levels. He could have claimed that any anti-social act was justified by his desire to save the planet. He did not. Perhaps you need to have an especially misanthropic and deceitful nature for that.

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*/On February 23, 2010, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a dissident arrested in 2003 as part of a Castro’s crackdown on opposition groups, died in a hospital while undertaking a hunger strike that had been ongoing for 83 days, in Cuba’s “Kilo 8″ prison.

About Paul Jacko

Jacko was born in Czechoslovakia not long before the communist putsch in February 1948. He studied industrial chemistry there and left in 1969 for Australia, where he became a lawyer and established his own practice. He has now retired and beside hunting, fishing, camping, prospecting and playing golf he amuses himself by writing.
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