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24 May 2009

On this day in history: U.S. consulate in Quebec City bombed, 1968

In 1963 a radical group of French-speaking Canadians broke away from Rassemblement pour l'Indépendance Nationale, an organisation that sought independence for the Canadian province of Quebec by democratic means. These radical separatists, called the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), decided to take more extreme measures. Drawing inspiration from Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries they hoped to bring about a revolution in Quebec, to this end they produced propaganda and engaged in a bombing campaign.

Before the year was out, the original active members of the FLQ were all under arrest. But, as is often the case with such groups, whilst many see them as terrorists, some will see them as freedom fighters, and a few of these will be compelled to continue the revolution. Over the following years a series of FLQ inspired groups (called Felquistes) formed. By the mid-1960s many of these had joined together and stepped up the bombing campaign. The Canadian authorities responded, making many arrests and forcing the Felquiste leaders into exile.

In 1968, the worldwide wave of revolutionary sentiment and riots also broke across Canada. This resulted in another Felquiste group forming. Again, they employed the dual tactic of propaganda and bombing campaign. They exploded fifty-devices before the end of the year, including one on 24th May 1968, which they planted at the U.S. Consulate in Quebec City, which damaged the building but did not result in any fatalities. Within twelve months, the authorities had enough members of FLQ under arrest to end their campaign.

In spite of the frequent arrests, the ideal of an independent Quebec continued to inspire groups to engage in violence to further their aims. During 1969 a new group of Felquistes formed, as before their main weapon was the bomb; however, they also tried a new tactic: kidnapping. In October 1970, they abducted James Richard Cross, the British Trade Commissioner, and Pierre Laporte, Vice-Premier of Quebec and Minister of Labour. The kidnappers killed Laporte when the Canadian government rejected their demands, but the FLQ released Cross after two months in return for safe passage to Cuba for the kidnappers. From this point on the FLQ's influence declined, possibly due to diminishing public support. Nevertheless, individual Felquistes and small groups occasionally engage in revolutionary violence.

The Marxist Internet Archive includes a number of FLQ propaganda texts as well as other articles about the Felquistes.

Related posts
Wall Street Bombing, 16th September 1920
West German embassy siege in Stockholm, 24th April 1975

3 comments:

kasandria said...

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Kas

mannoy said...

nice post. keep it up

Stepterix said...

Thanks for the comments.