Please find below:

(1) English translation of letter published under the name Rolando Francisco Bravo in the Spanish-language Miami newspaper El Nuevo Herald, translated by Mahmut Esat Ozan and published in the Turkish Times*;

(2) English translation of the American Hellenic Media Project's (AHMP) letter to the editor, published on September 30, 1998;

(3) Full Spanish text of Rolando Francisco Bravo’s article as published in El Nuevo Herald;

(4) AHMP’s published letter to the editor (submitted in Spanish).

*Note: Mahmut Ozan's translation is slightly different from the article published in El Nuevo Herald in that it includes extremist language such as "an insignificant group of Greek and Armenian ignoramuses" and other information that was apparently edited out of El Nuevo Herald's final draft.

Mahmut Esat Ozan is the past president of the Florida Turkish-American Association for Cultural Exchange (FTAA), based in Miami, Florida. In a recent commentary by Mr. Ozan in The Turkish Times, entitled "To an Armenian Critic", he writes the following regarding AHMP Director Phillip Spyropoulos:

"The answer given you here should be shared with Mr. Philip Spyropoulos . . . Since he is your brother -in- hatred, he should be able to share what I have to say to you . . . I am almost sure that there exists no remedy for either the extreme Armenians you represent nor the Greeks who have been suffering from a terminal case of inferiority complex facing the Turks. You and Mr. Spyropoulos and the unfortunate individuals of whom you two are a part, will always remain bogged down in that slime, in that venomous malice. People such as you are typical examples of the unfortunate creatures who live every moment of every day of their lives just to be able to hate Turks. You people, unabashedly and without a remorse of conscience fabricated atrocious lies of unimaginable mendacity and perfidy about a supreme human being called Kemal Ataturk"

(For "fair use" and educational purposes only)




By: Rolando Francisco Bravo of

El Nuevo Herald, Miami's Spanish Daily

MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK, considered the father of modern Turkey, is practically unknown in the West. Now a new cinematic project, however, promises to give him more exposure he richly deserves. The movie venture to help him do this is pitted against the unfair opposition of some ethnic sectors operating in the United States.

I believe that the great men and women of history only shine at certain epochs and often many years have to go by before these exceptional heroes join in with the others. Great figures of antiquity such as Julius Caesar, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Mary, Queen of Scots are recognized as the luminaries of our human legacy. Others, such as Mahatma Ghandi, George Patten, and Madame Curie have been introduced to the world through the medium of books and films. A man like Ghandi did not only bestow a great moral treasure to the human race, he also rendered an invaluable service to his native India.

Following this sequence, the name of another great man surges into our minds. He is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a man who used his legendary capabilities and vision to modernize and develop his country and people, both of which recognize him today with great pride and a sense of gratefulness. Ataturk is considered by a great majority of Turkish people as being almost a mythological figure. An admiring, even adoring cult was created to revere him and preserve his memory. Thus, a majority of the "children of Ataturk" remember him as someone with an unusual social perspective, and a tremendous spirit of patriotism. He is seen as the savior who became responsible for extricating his nation from the ruins of a dying Ottoman Empire, and bringing it to the forefront of the XXth century, furthermore making it become an entity which the Europeans secretly respect in our time. All this and much more have always been Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Unfortunately, his rich historical life story is not adequately publicized outside the boundaries of the Middle East and in most cases it is infamously twisted and slanted by his detractors.


During the initial phases of the First World War, Ataturk gained victory after victory, as a young General of the Army of the Ottoman Turkish Armed Forces. Following a series of daring successful initiatives, he became the indisputable leader of his country, Turkey. He, later on, became also responsible for the nationalization of the modern Turkish language and alphabet, abandoning for good the Arabic script and words of the Ottomans. He was the victorious General who threw the invading Greek armies out of his country but never wanted to forge a state of fear between Turkey and Greece. He displayed a legendary rapprochement and friendship for Elevtherios Venizelos, the Prime Minister of Greece, which in turn resulted with the latter's nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934. What you have up to here, serves as a preamble for the commentary which follows.

Mr. Tarquin Olivier, the son of the late great British actor Sir Lawrence Olivier, proposed to produce a feature-length serious movie on the life of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. In view of the fact that he found a remarkable resemblence between him and the Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, his approach to the latter was fruitful. Mr. Olivier thought that a movie of this kind was no more far-fetched than another successful one made earlier by another Britisher on the life of Mohandas Ghandi. Thus he thought that such a project in filming the life story of Kemal Ataturk would be the right vehicle in teaching the whole world to learn and to appreciate the exceptional merits and the greatness of this man. His reforms are universally respected.

The changes achieved by this great human figure have affected not only his nation but also the history of the world in more ways than the eye can see, and the mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, an insignificant group of Greek and Armenian ignoramusses, first from New York, later on from other parts of America flooded the offices of Antonio Banderas and of his manager with threatening letters and telegram. They even scared his wife, the US born actress Melanie Griffith.

These ethnic groups opposed the production of such a film which would favor Turkey and Turks, and elevate Kemal Ataturk's image. As the result of all this, Banderas quit the project. It is really a shame that for the undemocratic actions of a handful of radical immigrants, this actor had to reneg on his promise to accomplish such an important task. It is hoped that Banderas realizes the unfairness of his decision and returns to the terms of his previous agreement, or that Mr. Olivier can find another actor worthy of this project. It suffices to add here, that Ataturk's decisive battle of the Dardanelles and his victory against all odds merits to be recognized as being one of the most impressive events of our history. This became an omen for the inevitable humiliating defeat of Greek armies but especially for dislodging the belligerent armed forces for the creation of the new Turkish Republic.

Another Ataturk miracle was his getting rid of all that which was holding the country backward, such as his dethroning of the Caliphate, his outlawing of the wearing of the Fez by Turkish men, and of the veil by the Turkish women, recognizing their right to vote and elevating their status, equaling it to that of the Turkish men. While the first American woman was assigned to the US Supreme Court in 1979, Ataturk was proud to witness the assention of a Turkish woman to the Turkish Supreme Court as early as 1932. In summation, one can easily assert that Ataturk led his people out of antiquity to modern times, and did it only in one short generation. Even though his detractors have deragatory words for him and consider him an arrogant strongman, his people do not agree with them at all. It was they who gave him the title of Ataturk, which in Turkish means the father of the Turks. Despite the fact that he died in 1938, when he still was relatively young, he is and will always be recognized as one of the most exceptional figures of the Twentieth Century. We would like to see Tarquin Olivier complete his cinematic efforts and finish his film on Ataturk so that the entire world learns about this great man, who is the pride of our human heritage.

translated by: Mahmut Esat Ozan

Turkish Times



American Hellenic Media Project
P.O. Box 1150
New York, N.Y. 10028-0008

September 27, 1998

El Nuevo Herald
One Herald Plaza
Miami, FL 33132-1693

To the Editor:

It was shocking to have read Mr. Bravo’s shrill invective against Greek and Armenian-Americans for participating in a letter-writing campaign urging actor Antonio Banderas not to take part in a historically misleading film glorifying the person responsible for obliterating two of the world’s oldest Christian communities from Asia Minor (August 19th, "Ataturk, Gran Heroe de Turquia").

It became clear that Tarquin Olivier was not intending to produce a candid portrayal of Ataturk but a shallow exercise in hero-worship, making the absurd comparison between Turkey’s first dictator and Gandhi, and expressly denying Ataturk’s culpability for what survivors now call the Asia Minor Holocaust.

According to U.S. Consul George Horton, up to 200,000 Armenians and Greeks were massacred in 1922 by Ataturk’s troops when they occupied and burned down Smyrna. Metropolitan Chrysostomos—the spiritual leader of the city’s Orthodox Christians—was seized by Turkish troops while conducting religious services in the city’s cathedral and dismembered in the streets. Over one million more Orthodox Christians were ethnically cleansed from Turkey under Ataturk’s dictatorship. On 11/26/79, the New York Times wrote: "[a]ccording to the most recent statistics, the Christian population in Turkey has diminished from 4,500,000 at the beginning of this century to just about 150,000. Of those, the Greeks are no more than 7,000. Yet, in 1923 they were as many as 1.2 million".

Rather than applaud Mr. Banderas for withdrawing from a film after realizing, as he told Variety magazine, "how many [people] Ataturk had killed, kids he had sodomized", Mr. Bravo chastises the actor for following his conscience and doing the right thing. Mr. Bravo arrogantly dismisses the human rights activists, professors, poets, religious leaders, and historians who participated in the effort to educate Mr. Banderas about Ataturk’s dark legacy, and crosses the line into hateful intolerance when he condemns the actions "of radical immigrants". Would Mr. Bravo have heaped the same ethnic contempt upon protesters of a Hollywood blockbuster glorifying Castro? Rather than applaud the efforts of these people of conscience for speaking out, Mr. Bravo has decided to follow the basest of our nation’s McCarthyist traditions by sneering at these "ethnic groups" for daring to raise their voices in dissent; a position all the more absurd in a minority-language newspaper.


P. D. Spyropoulos,
Esq. Director





Miercoles 19 de Agosto de 1998
Section: Editorial
Page: 10A
Especial para el Nuevo Herald

Creo que los grandes hombres y mujeres de la historia solo brillan en ciertas epocas y a menudo pueden pasar muchos anos antes de que a estos heroes excepcionales se les unan otros. Grandes figuras de la antiguedad como lo fueron Julio Cesar, Socrates, Alejandro Magno y Maria, Reina de Escocia, lumbreras en nuestro legado humano ya son reconocidos universalmente. Otros como Mahatma Gandhi, George Patton y Madamme Marie Curie han sido presentados al del mundo a traves de libros filmes. Un hombre como Gandhi no solo hizo un gran bien a la humanidad con su ejemplo de vida, sino que tambien presto un gran servicio a la India, su pais natal.

Siguiendo esta secuencia, salta a la mente otro hombre grande, que utilizo su capacidad y vision para modernizar y desarrollar a su pais, el cual hoy lo recuerda con orgullo. Se trata de Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, el fundador de la Turquia moderna. Ataturk es considerado por una gran parte de los turcos una figura casi mitologica. Un culto de adoracion ha nacido para venerar su memoria. Aun asi, la mayoria de sus ``hijos'' lo recuerdan como un hombre de una gran vision social, con un gran espiritu de patriotismo. Es visto como el responsable de haber resucitado a su pais de las ruinas del imperio Otomano, haberlo puesto al dia con el siglo XX y capacitarlo para figurar activamente en la Europa del momento. Esto y mucho mas fue Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Desgraciadamente, su historial es poco conocido fuera del Cercano Oriente, y algunas veces es tergiversado.

Lider politico

Como General del Ejercito, Ataturk, obtuvo victorias militares durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Posteriormente, se convirtio en el indiscutido lider politico de Turquia, responsable de la unificacion del moderno idioma turco, abandonando para siempre el arabe de los otomanos. Terminada la guerra, Ataturk libero a Anatolia de las tropas de ocupacion griega, pero nunca quiso forjar un estado de odio entre los dos pueblos, es mas, su gran amistad con el Primer Ministro griego Elevtherios Venizelos, hizo que este lo nominara en 1934 al Premio Nobel de la Paz.

Esta narracion sirve de preambulo para un comentario sobre los esfuerzos de Tarquin Oliver, hijo del gran actor britanico Sir Lawrence Olivier, quien se propuso financiar un largo metraje cinematografico acerca de la vida de Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Oliver propuso al actor espanol Antonio Banderas como protagonista. Nos parece que un filme de esta indole seria similar a la pelicula Gandhi en esfuerzo y resultado. Esto ayudaria que el mundo entero conociese los meritos y la excepcional grandeza de esta gran figura humana que logro grandes cambios en la historia y que estos se convirtieron en el futuro de su pais.

No obstante, un grupusculo de grecoamericanos en Nueva York se opusieron a la filmacion y le mandaron 1,000 cartas de protesta a Banderas. Como resultado, Banderas se retiro del proyecto. Es realmente una lastima que por las cartas de unos radicales inmigrantes este actor se haya negado a cumplir con esta tarea tan importante. Ojala que se pueda conseguir a un actor digno de esa representacion.

Baste decir que su decisiva batalla por los Dardanelos merece ser dada a conocer, pues fue uno de esos eventos trascendentales de nuestra historia. Fue el presagio de la inevitable derrota griega y tambien del desalojo de las fuerzas occidentales del territorio que pronto seria la nueva Turquia. Tambien destrono al Sultan Islamico, le quito el fez de la cabeza de los hombres y el velo de la cara de las mujeres. En resumen, Ataturk dirigio a su pueblo y lo saco de la antiguedad en menos de una generacion.

Aunque sus detractores le consideren un arrogante, al convertirse en el primer presidente de la Republica Turca se gano el nombre de ``Ataturk'' que quiere decir ``padre de Turquia''.

Aunque Ataturk murio en el 1938, aun joven, esy sera siempre reconocido como una de las figuras excepcionales del siglo XX. Quisieramos ver a Tarquin Oliver completar este esfuerzo cinematografico para que el mundo entero tenga la oportunidad de conocer a este gran hombre, orgullo de nuestro patrimonio humano.



American Hellenic Media Project
P.O. Box 1150
New York, N.Y. 10028-0008

September 27, 1998

El Nuevo Herald
One Herald Plaza Miami, FL 33132-1693

Al Editor:

Me estremeció al leer el comentario del Sr. Bravo en contra de los griego y armenio-americanos y su participación en una campaña de cartas pidiendo que el actor Antonio Banderas no lleve a cabo un papel en una película histórica que muestra equivocadamente la vida del individuo responsable de destrozar dos de las comunidades cristianas más viejas del mundo halladas en Asia Menor (19 de agosto, "Ataturk, Gran Heroe de Turquía").

Se vio que Tarquin Oliver no intentaba dirigir una representación exacta de Ataturk, sino un cuento de cómo la gente lo veneraba. Trataba de hacer una conección entre este primer dictador de Turquia y Gandhi y a la vez negar la culpa de Ataturk por lo que los sobrevivientes ahora llaman El Holocausto de Asia Menor.

Según George Horton del consulado estadounidense, hasta 200,000 armenios y griegos fueron asesinados en 1992 por las tropas de Ataturk cuándo invadieron y quemaron la ciudad de Smyrna. Metropolitan Chrysostomos, el líder espiritual de los cristianos ortodoxos, fue tomado por tropas turcas mientras llevaba a cabo una ceremonia religiosa en la catedral de la ciudad. Luego lo desmembraron en la calle. Más de un millón de otros cristianos ortodoxos fueron étnicamente exterminados en Turquia bajo la dictadura de Ataturk. El 26 de noviembre del año 1979, el New York Times escribió: "según las estadisticas más recientes, la población cristiana en Turquia ha disminuido el 4,500,000 al principio de este siglo a aproximadamente 150,000. De esta cantidad, no hay más de 7,000 griegos. Sin embargo, en 1923 había hasta 1.2 millones de griegos en el país."

En lugar de felicitar al Sr. Banderas por haberse retirado de una película al darse cuenta, como dijo a la revista Variety, "de cuántos individuos que Ataturk había matado, de los niños que había violado," el Sr. Bravo reclama al actor por haber hecho caso a su conciencia. El Sr. Bravo completamente ignora a los defensores de derechos humanos y también a los poetas, líderes religiosos e historiadores quienes compartieron el deseo de informar al Sr. Banderas sobre el legado desfavaforable de Ataturk. Parece que este señor empieza a sugerir intolerancia absoluta cuándo reprocha las acciones "de unos radicales inmigrantes." ¿Sería posible que Bravo hubiera mostrado el mismo desprecio por unos que protestaran contra una película pagando homenaje a Castro? En vez de felicitar los esfuerzos de estos individuos por haberse atrevido a levantar sus voces en defensa de sus morales, el Sr. Bravo ha decidido seguir las tradiciones de McCarthy, despreciando a estos "grupos étnicos." Tampoco tiene sentido que este señor lo haya hecho en un periódico dirigido hacia la minoría.


P. D. Spyropoulos, Esq.