GUERNICA

PABLOParis, spring of 1937: Pablo Picasso wakes up and reads. He reads the newspaper while having breakfast in his studio. His coffee grows cold in the cup.

German planes have razed the city of Guernica. For three hours the Nazi air force chased and machine-gunned people fleeing the burning city. General Franco insists that Guernica has been set aflame by Asturian dynamiters and Basque pyromaniacs from the ranks of the Communists.

Two years later in Madrid, Wolfram von Richthofen, commander of the German forces in Spain, sits beside Franco at the victory parade: killing Spaniards was Hitler’s rehearsal for his impending world war.

Many years later in New York, Colin Powell makes a speech at the United Nations to announce the imminent annihilation of Iraq. While he speaks, the back of the room is hidden from view, Guernica is hidden from view. The reproduction of Picasso’s painting, which hangs there, is concealed behind an enormous blue cloth.

UN officials decided it was not the most appropriate backdrop for the proclamation of a new round of butchery.

* From Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Eduardo Galeano