Vaclav Havel dead at 75

The anti-Communist playwright and former president of the Czech Republic was a gigantic historical figure who guided his little nation to democracy.


Havel became a guarantee of peaceful transition to democracy and allowed the small country of 10 million to punch well above its weight in international politics.

"Truth and love will overcome lies and hatred," was Havel's slogan that Czechs remember from the Velvet Revolution days.

But at home, Havel lost some of his allure in the later years of his presidency.

Much of his presidential term was cast as a struggle for the soul of democratic reforms against right-wing economist Vaclav Klaus, who replaced Havel as president in 2003.

"In the Czech Republic, he was not only a prophet recognized worldwide, but also a concrete politician who made concrete political mistakes," Havel's ex-adviser, Jiri Pehe, said.

Havel returned to writing, and published a new play, "Leaving," which won rave reviews and premiered in 2008.

When asked in a magazine interview that year if he wanted to be remembered as a politician or playwright, he said:

"I would like it to say that I was a playwright who acted as a citizen, and thanks to that he later spent a part of his life in a political position," he said.

Havel was also an original member of the human rights group Charter 77 that first threw down the gauntlet to the Communist state in the late 1970's. He spent years in jail for his political activism, emerging to lead the final push that collapsed the Czechoslovak Communists.

Later, after the break up of Czechoslovakia, Haval was elected president again, this time of the newly birthed Czech Republic. He has to be considered - along with Lech Walesa and a few others - as the architects of the Eastern European revolutions that destroyed Communism and realized the dream of independence.


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