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Now on BBC News, it's time for Witness.
Hello and welcome the Witness, hear from the British library in London.
We have another five witnesses who have given us an extraordinary
glimpse of history through the eyes of people who were there. This month
we will hear from the owner of one of the first privately run
restaurants in communist Cuba. And a journalist who witnessed a mass
march into the Sahara desert. And we retrace the steps taken by millions
of migrants, seeking the American dream. First, it's 40 years since
the death of general Francisco Franco, the fascist leader of Spain
who ruled the country for decades. Witness had spoken to a journalist.
He was the fewer in Spain. He was a friend of Hitler and Mussolini. In
75 he fell really sick. I remember I went to the hospital. We were asking
how it was going. We thought it was impossible to be free of this guide.
-- guy. I grew up in the civil war. Persecution was a problem. My father
was in the army, so I grew up in an atmosphere of fear, not telling
anyone what we spoke about in our house. It was like living in a jail
for 40 years, my God! He was an extra ordinary man, the last of the
Western European dictators and the only one whose power was
undiminished until the moment he stopped breathing. He had been half
dead for weeks, but nobody dared to move to replace him for fear that he
might recover and exact retribution. Everybody thought that the civil war
ended. April one, 1939. No. The dictator was killing people without
trial and he was torturing, fighting against the other side. There was no
peace agreement, never. Finally, when a got the phone call very early
in the morning, it was dark. He died, they told me, he died! I
couldn't believe my eyes, my ears. I woke up my wife, he died! He died! I
gave it big increase to her and she was so excited, like me, and we
almost cried. So much relief. We finished and we went to the newsroom
and we thought the Prime Minister would say something, some official
communication. He was crying. In the newsroom, we
opened champagne. The beast is dead! I went to the printing press quickly
to fix the front page cover story. We distributed that magazine with
Franco on the cover story, saying he died. Only, he died. Franco has a
lot of support. The Catholic Church was with him for the 40 years. The
army and all of the conservative people. One by one Spaniard filed
past the open Coughlan on a catafalque which was flanked by
members of his guard. -- open coffin. The only sounds were those
who were weeping as they filed past. Half were happy, the other half were
grieving and sad. It was a great moment. The civil war finished when
Franco died, that very day. It was the first day of peace on the 20th
of November. The Spanish journalist.
Now, that same year as Franco lay dying a quarter of a million
Moroccans marched into the Sahara Desert to try to claim the colony
which the Spanish had there. Our next witness went with them.
The king of Morocco has brilliantly exploited this idea of a peaceful
invasion. Both to achieve the bloodless takeover of the Spanish
Sahara and as a sly device to muzzle his own internal political
opposition by obliging them to rally patriotically behind the march.
One of the highlights of his career.
Next, we're off to New York to retrace the journey taken by
millions of migrants. More than 8 million passed through a processing
centre on their way to a new life in America. Our witness was one of
them. My father was a singer. His voice was very beautiful. Very,
very beautiful. My father had a lot of charm. He could charm anybody.
Not only women, who adored him, but men too. I was ten years old, ten,
11. He sang in the Opera in Russian. We lived in one room. It
was difficult. Some Americans visited our town and they heard him
sing and they invited him to come to America, which was also very unusual
for a Jew. Everybody wanted to come to America. A relative was able to
get us on a beautiful boat. That was some journey. It was cold, we had
nothing to wear and everybody was freezing. Finally, we came through.
This is where American sifted its new citizens. Expected, classified
them and if necessary investigated them. Some, this was the end of the
journey. It was interesting, but a little frightening too. Because we
couldn't speak English. The masses who travel are brought to the great
hall on the island and then they wait. Sometimes the long months at a
time, waited to know their fate. They gave us ten minutes every so
often to go outside, and when we went out they countered us and we
came back, we were counted again and when we ate they also counted.
That's the only thing we really brought of so-called value. That's
how we drank our tea. For me, it was very exciting as a
youngster. And, finally, they got us the papers to leave the island. It
was a beautiful sight. Beautiful. That was the greatest day of all our
lives. My father became famous. He sang in all the opera companies. He
sang in English and Hebrew. So many things changed in my life. I had a
very happy life, with my three husbands!
Isabel has since dedicated herself to preserving memory of her father
and his music. Remember, you can watch Witness every month of the BBC
News Channel, or you can catch up on over 1000 radio programmes in our
online archive. Just go to the BBC website.
In the 1970s, Jim Jones, the leader of the Christian cult called peoples
Temple instructed his followers to kill themselves. In all, 918 people
died. Laura Johnston call was one of the few survivors. I want to warn
you, some viewers might find parts of this film upsetting. I think that
Jim Jones figured out what he needed to do to manipulate it one of us
into a position of being a believer. And I was a sell out. I
bought it. -- zealot. I joined in 1970 after I had been pursuing
social justice and making the world better. It just felt like home. It
was all ages and all races and all of the people we just kind, kind
people. -- were just. When I first met Jim, he was so casual. There was
no presumption of I am so important you will be happy to meet me. He was
very intuitive. If you were sitting with a group of people, somehow he
would figure out what it was that you needed to hear. By 1975, we were
looking for a refuge, a place where people could have a good life, so we
started making a big investment in Jonestown. We were going to be a
role model of a community that actually had total integration and
good healthcare, all the things that we wanted. It did look like paradise
to me. The thing that I realised on reflection was that Jim was
corrupted by power and when he was in Guyana, he was in absolute
control. There was no radio, no BBC, no anyway to bring in any kind of
information, and if so he used our love of Jonestown as a way to make
us paranoid ourselves about what was going on outside. At the end of
October, Jim asked me if I would move back into the capital to start
buying supplies. He got contacted by Congressmen Leo Ryan who said he
wanted to come and visit. We have had some complaints and I want to
verify what is going on. And so what Jim would do to tighten the screws
is indoctrinate us to think that we have all of these things going and
now people are threatening to take it all away. He started talking in
this fatalistic way, saying that we wanted our way or nothing. What I
found out is that as Jim was calling everybody into the pavilion on the
afternoon of the 18th at the same time he was having a truck full of
armed guards gave to the airstrip to kill congressmen Ryan. It is too
late. The congressmen is dead. And then he said I will be taking care
of you by having you die. And has he is talking to them, the
secretary said nurses moved over to the children. He took over and said,
OK, you came here for your children. They are already dead. Is not like
you can leave and you will ever be the same. And they passed up the
poison to everyone and people drank it. -- passed out. It was not a mass
suicide that people said, OK, let us do it. It was mass murder. He
completely demolished people 's will to live by telling lies. I'm perfect
proof. If I had been in Jonestown, there is no question about it. I
would have had that poison. But I have survived. And our final Witness
this month is Juan Carlos Montez. When the Soviet Union fell, Cuba
fell into a deep economic crisis. Many decided to make them and we.
Juan Carlos Montez decided to open Djourou's first private restaurant.
-- Cuba's first private restaurant. The Cuban restaurant owner Juan
Carlos Montez with some rather tasty looking food surrounding him. And
that is all from this edition of Witness. We will be back at the
British library next month with another round-up of history. Thank
you for watching and goodbye from me and the rest of the team.
Hello, welcome to the weekend but what a wild and windy start.