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The keeper of the flame

9 July 2012

86 year old Coyoacán resident Don Esteban Volkov reads the newspapers and surfs the Internet, and has nothing but praise for today’s “indignant” youngsters who — in his words — want to “shake up the archaic system.” Don Esteban, is heir to a pretty hefty shaker upper of an earlier archaic system … being the grandson and heir of Leon Trotky.

Esteban, with his grandparents Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova

Volkov claims he didn’t intend to live so long, it’s just that somebody had to level out the normal mortality rate for his immediate family: his father and grandfather having been murdered by Stalin, his uncle dying young under mysterious circumstances, and his mother committing suicide rather than face deportation back to the Soviet Union).

Don Esteban was interviewed by Bernado Marín of El País (Madrid) on Trotsky and the relevance — if any — of “class struggle” in our time, as well as his own witness to history, and art history: the night Siqueiros created that mixed media work, “Machine gun bullets in plaster” (1940) on the Trotsky’s walls, 14 year old Esteban hid beneath his bed, as six of the estimated 200 bullets fired on the Trotsky’s were pumped into his mattress.

Loyal to his grandfather, he says that revolutionary violence, and authoritarian measures were necessary, but that Stalin was staging a counterrevolution and perpetuated a civil war.

Loyal to Mexico, which he calls his “true homeland, generous and colorful”, he is, of course, a supporter of the student-led democratization movements sweeping the country.

“Trotsky left us the arsenal we need to carve out a path to true socialism.  But who knows when that will happen.”

 … spoken like a real Mexican.

(Sombrero tip to

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