The fifteenth of April this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Comrade Kim Il Sung, the President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), who passed away on 8 July 1994.
Kim Il Sung’s whole life was that of a committed, dedicated and talented revolutionary leader. It is for this reason that he continues to enjoy the love and respect not only of the Korean people, who have accorded him the title of Eternal President of their country, but also of communists and anti-imperialists throughout the world, including our party.
It is impossible to summarise the breadth and depth of his contributions to revolutionary theory and practice in a short article.
Suffice to say that he was born into a patriotic and revolutionary family at a time when the Korean nation finally succumbed to the ravages of Japanese colonialism. Like many Koreans of his generation, he emigrated to northeast China in his early teens. Immediately immersing himself in the communist movement, he forged a lifelong bond of solidarity with the Chinese revolution.
Kim Il Sung organised the young Korean communists into revolutionary organisations and founded the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (KPRA), which initiated the armed struggle in the homeland against Japanese imperialist occupation. As the regional threat of Japanese militarism grew, he helped form an allied army, which united Korean communists with Chinese communists and patriots and with the Soviet Red Army.
In 1945, with the collapse of the axis powers and the worldwide anti-fascist victory, the north of Korea was liberated by the Red Army along with the KPRA. However, in what was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, the south of the country was occupied by the United States. Tragically, Korea remains partitioned to this day.
In the period immediately after liberation, Kim Il Sung founded the WPK and led the democratic revolution in the north, which gave land to the tiller, nationalised major industries, legislated for equality between men and women, and so on, whilst seeking to build a patriotic united front for national reunification. At the same time, the young DPRK sent many thousands of fighters to China, thereby making a huge contribution to the Chinese people’s war of liberation and to the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
In 1950, the US imperialists unleashed a brutal war aimed at reconquering the whole of Korea. Supported by China, the Soviet Union and all the socialist forces in the world, Kim Il Sung led the Korean people in a heroic fight-back, which forced the US into signing an armistice agreement in 1953.
However, millions had died and the country lay in ruins. In the capital, Pyongyang, only two buildings in the whole city were undamaged by enemy bombing. Once again, Kim Il Sung came to the fore, leading the socialist revolution and the reconstruction of the country, and creating, in the process, a true economic miracle that saw the emergence of the very first socialist industrial state in Asia.
When revisionism split the international communist movement, Kim Il Sung fought for the unity of the socialist camp, in defence of Marxism Leninism, and for active support to anti-imperialist liberation movements throughout the world. And, in the last period of his life, he fought to revive and strengthen the communist forces throughout the world following the collapse of the once glorious USSR.
Kim Il Sung was an accomplished theoretician and outstanding Marxist Leninist, whose collected works in English run to more than 40 volumes.
To mark the centenary of the birth of this legendary comrade, Proletarian is reproducing one of Comrade Kim’s excellent articles, ‘The great anti-imperialist revolutionary cause of the Asian, African and Latin-American peoples is invincible’.
Although written in 1968, this short work has proved prescient and remains timely. Written as a tribute to another great internationalist revolutionary, Che Guevara, it represents a fighting programme for the liberation of the oppressed.
It is worth pointing out here that, following his extensive tour of socialist countries in Europe and Asia, Che said that Kim Il Sung was the living revolutionary he most admired and that the DPRK represented the country and society he most wanted Cuba to resemble in the future.
We republish this article not merely as a tribute but above all in the hope that all comrades will study and learn from it.
The great anti-imperialist revolutionary cause of the Asian, African and Latin-American peoples is invincible
– Kim Il Sung
Originally published on the occasion of the first anniversary of the death of Che Guevara in battle, in Tricontinental, journal of the Organisation of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAL), 8 October 1968.
It is nearly a year now since Comrade Ernesto Che Guevara, an indomitable revolutionary soldier and a true internationalist fighter coming from the Latin-American people, died a heroic death on the Bolivian battlefield. In deep grief, and with burning hatred for the enemy, the Korean people join the revolutionary people throughout the world in commemorating the first anniversary of Comrade Che Guevara’s death.
Che Guevara followed the path of sacred battle to bring freedom and liberation to the people, holding aloft the banner of the anti-imperialist, anti-US struggle from early youth, and devoted his whole life to the revolutionary cause of the oppressed.
Ever since the curtain rose on the bloody history of the modern bourgeoisie, replacing the medieval exploitation camouflaged by religious and political illusions by a naked, shameless, direct and cruel one and turning the dignity of man into a mere commodity, many communists and revolutionary fighters all over the world have shed their blood and laid down their lives in the long course of the revolutionary tempest which is sweeping away everything obsolete and corrupt and reorganising the whole structure of society in a revolutionary way, crushing the ruling circles of that former, cursed society and laying the bases of a free and happy new society.
Che Guevara dedicated his precious life to this sacred struggle and thus became an honourable member of the ranks of world revolutionary martyrs.
Che Guevara was an indefatigable revolutionary in battle and a true internationalist champion, completely free of narrow nationalist sentiments. His whole life was a fine example of the steadfast revolutionary fighter and true internationalist.
With other Cuban revolutionaries led by Comrade Fidel Castro, Che Guevara carried on a heroic armed struggle, which contributed greatly to crushing US imperialism and the dictatorial regime of its lackey Batista, and which led to the triumph of the Cuban revolution. Fired with revolutionary enthusiasm, Che Guevara left triumphant Cuba in 1965 and moved the sphere of his operations, setting up a new outpost where innumerable difficulties and harsh trials awaited him.
Everywhere he went in Latin America, he organised and mobilised the masses in armed struggle against US imperialism and its sycophants and fought bravely in the vanguard to the end of his life.
Che Guevara’s revolutionary activities made a tremendous contribution to further consolidating the triumph of the Cuban revolution and stepping up the advancement of the Latin-American revolution as a whole.
The Cuban revolution is the first socialist revolutionary victory in Latin America, and it is a continuation, in Latin America, of the Great October Revolution. With the triumph of the Cuban revolution, the red banner of socialism now flies high over Latin America, which was regarded until quite recently as the hereditary estate of US imperialism; thus the socialist camp has been extended to the western hemisphere and has grown much stronger.
Today, the Republic of Cuba, marching firmly at the forefront of the Latin-American revolution, is the beacon of hope for the fighting people of Latin America and it casts its victorious beam along the road of struggle.
The triumph of the Cuban revolution shook the US imperialist colonial system to its very foundations in the western hemisphere and has thrown the whole of Latin America into revolutionary turbulence, dramatically arousing the people to join in the dedicated struggle for independence and freedom. Indeed, the triumph of the Cuban revolution marked the beginning of the disintegration of the system of US imperialist colonial rule in Latin America; it sternly judged and sentenced to destruction that imperialism which had exploited and oppressed the people in this area for so long.
Consolidation of the triumph of the Cuban revolution is not only an important question on which the life or death, the rise or fall, of the Cuban people depends. It is also a key factor in influencing the general development of the Latin-American revolution.
Revolution begins with brilliant successes in one country but undergoes a lengthy period filled with pain. Countries whose proletariat seized power within the encirclement of international capitalism are threatened with the danger of imperialist aggression and the restoration of capitalism during the entire period of revolutionary transition from capitalism to socialism. The exploiting classes that have been overthrown always attempt to recover their lost positions, and foreign imperialists continue to engage in invasion and subversive political and ideological intrigue and manoeuvres.
The US imperialists and the reactionaries of Latin America deeply hate and fear the very existence of the Republic of Cuba and are stubbornly and maliciously scheming to crush it. They are working hard to destroy the Cuban revolution so that they may drive out the ‘spectre’ of communism haunting the western hemisphere and check the liberation struggle that is spreading like a prairie fire among the peoples of Latin America.
While scheming to strangle Cuba by directly mobilising their own armed forces, the US imperialists are instigating the reactionary dictatorial Latin-American regimes under their domination and subjugation to put political and economic pressure on Cuba and to suffocate her with their blockade policy.
To attain the ultimate victory of the revolution, the peoples who have gained power within the encirclement of international capital – while reinforcing their own internal forces in every way – should be given solid support by other forces of the world socialist revolution, and broad international assistance by the working class and the oppressed peoples of all countries. In other words, successive revolutions should take place in the majority of countries of the world, in several adjacent countries at least, so as to replace imperialist encirclement with socialist encirclement.
The barriers of imperialism that surround a socialist country should be torn down so that the dictatorship of the proletariat can become a worldwide system; and one country’s isolation as the socialist fortress within the encirclement should be ended with the formation of strong ties of militant solidarity of the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world. Only then can it be said that all imperialists’ armed intervention will be prevented and their attempt to restore capitalism frustrated, and that the ultimate victory of socialism has been secured.
Just as the forces of capital are international, so the liberation struggle of the peoples has an international character. The revolutionary movements in individual countries are national movements and, at the same time, constitute part of the world revolution. The revolutionary struggles of the peoples in all countries support and complement each other and join together in one current of world revolution.
A victorious revolution should assist those countries whose revolutions have not yet triumphed, providing them with experiences and examples and should render active political, economic and military support to the liberation struggle of the peoples of the world. The peoples in countries that have not yet won their revolutions should fight more actively to defend the successful revolutions of other countries against the imperialist policy of strangulation and hasten victory for their own revolutions.
This is the law of the development of the world revolutionary movement and the fine tradition already formed in the course of the people’s liberation struggle.
The Cuban revolution is an organic part of the world revolution and, in particular, constitutes the decisive link in the chain of Latin-American revolution. To defend the Cuban revolution and to consolidate and follow up its victories is not only the duty of the Cuban people but also the internationalist duty of the oppressed peoples of Latin America and all the revolutionary people of the world.
In the same way that the defence of the gains of the October Revolution in Russia – which made the first breach in the world capitalist system – was an important question decisive of the fate of world revolutionary development, so, too, the defence of the gains of the Cuban revolution – which made the first breach in the colonial system of US imperialism in Latin America – is crucial to the fate of the Latin-American revolution.
It is of great importance to the defence of the Cuban revolution that the revolutionary movement in neighbouring Latin-American countries should advance. If the flames of revolution flare up fiercely in many countries of Latin America where US imperialism sets foot, its force will be dispersed, its energy sapped, and the attempts of the US imperialists and their lackeys to strangle Cuba by concentrated force will inevitably fail.
Furthermore, if the revolution triumphs in other Latin-American countries, Cuba will be saved from the imperialism that hems her in on all sides, a favourable phase in the Cuban and Latin-American revolutions will be opened, and the world revolution will be even further advanced.
For a revolution to take place, the subjective and objective conditions must be created. Each country’s revolution should be carried out to suit its specific conditions in which the objective revolutionary situation is created.
However, this by no means signifies that the revolution can develop or ripen by itself. It is always the case that the revolution can be advanced and brought to maturity only through hard struggle by revolutionaries.
If, because revolution is difficult, we just wait for a favourable situation to come about and fail to play an active part, then revolutionary forces cannot be developed. Revolutionary forces cannot rise up spontaneously without a struggle; they can be fostered and strengthened only through an arduous struggle. Without preparing for the decisive hour of the revolution, preserving revolutionary forces from enemy suppression while constantly storing them up and building them through positive struggle, it will be impossible to succeed in the revolution even when the objective situation has been created.
To turn away from revolution on the pretext of avoiding sacrifice is in fact tantamount to forcing the people to accept lifelong slavery to capital and to tolerate cruel exploitation and oppression, unbearable maltreatment and humiliation, enormous suffering and victimisation forever. It can be said that the acute pain experienced at a revolutionary turning point is always much easier to endure than the chronic pain caused by the cancer of the old society.
Social revolution cannot be achieved as easily as going down a royal road in broad daylight or as smoothly as a boat sailing before the wind. There may be rough and thorny problems, twists and turns, along the path of revolution, and there may be temporary setbacks and partial sacrifices. To flinch before difficulties and hesitate in the revolution for fear of sacrifice is not the attitude befitting a revolutionary.
It is the task of revolutionaries of every country to define a scientific, careful method of struggle on the basis of a correct assessment of the internal and external situation and a proper calculation of the balance of forces between friends and enemies; they must store and build up the revolutionary forces by cultivating the nucleus and awakening the masses through the trials of revolution, carrying on an active struggle, yet circumventing the snags and avoiding unnecessary sacrifices at ordinary times.
And it is their task to make complete preparations to meet the great revolutionary event. Once the revolutionary situation is created, they must seize the opportunity without hesitation and rise up in a decisive battle to shatter the reactionary regime.
The forms and methods of revolutionary struggle are also determined not by the wishes of individuals, but always by the prevailing subjective and objective situation created and the resistance of the reactionary ruling classes. Revolutionaries should be prepared for all forms of struggle; and they should effectively advance the revolutionary movement by properly combining the various forms and methods of that struggle – political, economic, violent, non-violent, legal and illegal.
Counter-revolutionary violence is indispensable to the rule of all exploiting classes. Human history to date knows no instance of a ruling class submissively turning over its supremacy, nor any instance of a reactionary class meekly waiving its power without resorting to counter-revolutionary violence.
The imperialists, in particular, cling ever more desperately to violent means of maintaining control as they approach their doom. While suppressing the peoples of their own countries, they brutally suppress all the revolutionary advances of the oppressed nations by mobilising their military forces in order to invade and plunder other countries.
Under such conditions, the liberation struggle of the oppressed peoples cannot emerge victorious without using revolutionary violence to crush foreign imperialists and overthrow the reactionary dictatorial machinery of their own exploiting classes, which work hand in glove with imperialism. It is imperative to meet violence with violence and crush counter-revolutionary armed forces with revolutionary armed forces.
The revolutionary fires now raging furiously in Latin America are the natural outcome of the revolutionary situation created in this area.
The overwhelming majority of Latin-American countries have come under the complete domination and bondage of US imperialism. Pro-US dictatorships have been established in many Latin-American countries and their economy has been completely turned into an appendage to US monopolies.
The US imperialists’ policy of aggression and plunder in Latin America is the major impediment to social progress in this area and has plunged the people into unbearable hardship and distress. The US imperialists and the pro-US dictatorships in Latin America set up extensive repressive agencies, including the army and police, and suppress all forms of revolutionary advance by the people in the most brutal way.
It is obvious that unless the ragged, hungry, oppressed and humiliated people in Latin America bravely take up arms to fight against their oppressors, they cannot attain freedom and liberation.
It is quite justifiable and admirable that under the banner of proletarian internationalism, under the banner of an anti-imperialist, anti-US struggle, Che Guevara, together with other Latin-American revolutionaries, took up arms and carried out an active, heroic revolutionary struggle in various Latin-American countries in the teeth of sacrifices in order to defend the Cuban revolution and hasten the day of liberation for the oppressed peoples in that area.
The revolutionary people of the whole world express profound sympathy with the brave act of Che Guevara, who waged a heroic armed struggle in company with other Latin-American revolutionaries. The brilliant example of Che Guevara is a paragon not only for the Latin-American people in their revolutionary struggle, but for the Asian and African peoples who are also fighting for liberation. It inspires them to great feats of heroism.
Che Guevara is not with us now. But the blood he shed will never be wasted. His name and the immortal revolutionary exploits he performed will go down forever in the history of the liberation of mankind, and his noble revolutionary spirit will live forever. Thousands, tens of thousands, of Che Guevaras will appear on the decisive battle grounds of the revolutionary struggle in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the revolutionary cause that he left uncompleted will surely be won by the struggle of the Latin-American revolutionaries and revolutionary peoples the world over.
Today, Asia, Africa and Latin America have become the most determined anti-imperialist front. Imperialism has met with the strong resistance of the Asian, African and Latin-American peoples and has suffered the heaviest blows from them. Nevertheless, imperialism is trying desperately to recover its former footing and to regain its lost positions in those areas.
The cause of liberation of Asians, Africans and Latin Americans has not yet been realised. So long as imperialism exists anywhere in the world and oppresses and plunders them, the people cannot stop their anti-imperialist struggle even for a moment. The struggle must continue until all shades of colonialism are wiped off the face of the earth once and for all; until all the oppressed and humiliated nations establish their independent states and achieve social progress and national prosperity.
Imperialism will never relinquish its domination over colonial and dependent countries without being kicked out. It is the nature of imperialism to commit aggression and plunder. Imperialism that was not aggressive would no longer be imperialism. It will not alter its aggressive nature before it dies. That is why one must dispel all illusions about imperialism and determine to fight it to the end.
Only when a principled stand is maintained against it and a staunch anti-imperialist struggle is intensified can the oppressed nations win freedom and independence; only then can the liberated peoples check imperialist aggression, consolidate national independence, and achieve prosperity for their countries and nations.
US imperialism is the most barbarous and heinous imperialism of modern times; it is the ringleader of world imperialism. It is not only the Asian or the Latin-American or the African countries which are having their sovereignty and territories violated by US imperialism, or which are being menaced by US imperialist aggression. There is no place on earth to which US imperialism has not stretched its tentacles of aggression, and wherever US imperialism sets foot, blood is spilled.
The US imperialists pursue their constant aim of bringing the whole world under their control. To realise this aim, they continue to carry out invasion and subversive activities against the socialist and newly independent countries and brutally suppress the liberation struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This savage, aggressive design of US imperialism must be conclusively frustrated. It is clear that world peace cannot be safeguarded, nor can national liberation and independence or the victory of democracy and socialism be achieved without fighting against US imperialism. The anti-US struggle is the inescapable duty and the principal revolutionary task common to all the peoples of the world.
For the successful defeat of US imperialism, it is necessary to penetrate its world strategy thoroughly.
US imperialism’s basic strategy for world aggression at the present stage is to destroy, one by one and by force of arms, the small and divided revolutionary socialist countries and the newly independent countries, while refraining from worsening its relations with the big powers and avoiding confrontation with them as far as possible.
In addition, it is to intensify its ideological and political offensives in an attempt to subvert from within those countries which are ideologically weak and are reluctant to make revolution, and which spread illusions about imperialism among the people and want to live with it on good terms, noisily demanding nothing less than unprincipled coexistence.
On the basis of this world strategy, the US imperialists are greatly increasing their armaments and further reinforcing their military bases and aggressive military alliances so as to attack both the socialist and the progressive countries. They are extensively preparing total and nuclear war and have openly embarked on ‘local war’ and ‘special war’ in Vietnam and elsewhere.
At the same time, while desperately trying to bribe and manipulate the cowards within the working-class movement who fear revolution, the US imperialists have resorted to a new form of cold war, which encourages ‘liberalisation’ and ‘democratic development’ in certain countries. They cry out for the ‘most favoured nation’ treatment and the expansion of ‘east-west contacts and interchanges’ and seek, by this means, to infiltrate their reactionary ideology and culture, degrading the peoples ideologically, hampering economic development and thus subverting those countries from within.
The imperialists are carrying out sabotage and subversion to prise the newly independent states away from the anti-imperialist front one at a time. While resorting to overt force, they use ‘aid’ as a bait to penetrate these countries and meddle in their internal affairs. The US imperialists whip together right-wing reactionaries and pit them against progressive forces, and seek to influence certain newly-independent countries to follow the road of counter-revolution.
In other words, wielding an olive branch in one hand and arrows in the other, the US imperialists are plotting to swallow up the revolutionary countries one by one through armed aggression and to subvert the ideologically weak countries through ideological and cultural aggression, combining nuclear blackmail with ‘peaceful penetration’ and repression with appeasement and deception.
The people of the whole world should maintain the sharpest vigilance against such intrigues and stratagems by US imperialism and should be fully prepared to counter the enemy’s aggression in whatever forms it might appear.
In order to develop the anti-imperialist, anti-US struggle vigorously, it is important to cement as firmly as possible the militant unity of all areas, countries, parties, people – to cement all the forces that oppose imperialism.
The revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin-American peoples are closely linked on the basis of common desires and aspirations. When Latin America groans under the imperialist yoke, the Asian and African peoples cannot live in peace; and when US imperialism collapses in the Asian and African areas, a favourable phase will also be created for the national-liberation movement of the Latin-American people.
The militant unity and close ties of the Asian, African and Latin-American peoples will multiply the anti-imperialist, anti-US revolutionary forces several times, tens of times, and become an invincible force that can successfully frustrate imperialist aggression and the united front of international reaction. Therefore, wherever US imperialism is entrenched, the peoples should pool their strength and strike hard at it.
In Asia, Africa and Latin America, there are socialist and neutral, large and small countries. All these countries, except the imperialists’ puppet regimes and satellite states, constitute anti-imperialist, anti-US forces. Despite the differences of socio-political systems, political views and religious beliefs, the peoples of these countries, because they are oppressed and exploited by the imperialists and colonialists, oppose imperialism and old and new colonialism and jointly aspire towards national independence and national prosperity.
The differences in socio-political systems, political views or religious beliefs cannot be an obstacle to joint action against US imperialism. All countries should form an anti-imperialist united front and take anti-US joint action to crush the common enemy and attain the common goal.
It is true that there may be different categories of people amongst those who oppose imperialism. Some may actively oppose imperialism, others may hesitate in the anti-imperialist struggle, and still others may join the struggle reluctantly under pressure from their own people and the peoples of the world. But whatever their motives, it is necessary to enlist all these forces except the henchmen of imperialism in the combined anti-US struggle.
If more forces – however inconsistent and unsteady – are drawn into the anti-US joint struggle to isolate US imperialism to the greatest possible extent and unite in attacking it, that will be a positive achievement. Those who avoid the anti-imperialist struggle should be induced to join it and those who are passive should be encouraged to become active. To split the anti-US united front or reject anti-US joint action will only lead to the serious consequence of weakening the anti-imperialist, anti-US struggle.
To defeat US imperialism, all countries, both large and small, should fight against it. It is particularly important here that small countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America relinquish flunkeyism, that is, the tendency to rely on big powers, and take an active part in the anti-US struggle.
It is wrong to think that US imperialism cannot be beaten unless large countries fight it. It would certainly be better if large countries would join small countries to fight US imperialism. That is why small countries should endeavour to unite with large countries. But this by no means signifies that only such a country can combat and defeat US imperialism.
It is clear that a small nation will not be able to make revolution if it depends on large countries and sits by doing nothing; other peoples cannot and will not make the revolution for it. Even a small country can defeat a powerful enemy once it establishes juche [self reliance], unites the masses of the people and fights valiantly, regardless of the sacrifice.
This is a very simple truth of our times which has been borne out by experience. The experience of the Korean war demonstrated this truth. And the triumph of the Cuban revolution and the Vietnamese people’s heroic war of resistance against US imperialism and for national salvation have eloquently endorsed it.
Moreover, when many countries, however small, pool their strength to fight imperialism, the peoples will overwhelm the enemy by superior forces, however strong the enemy may be. The peoples of the countries making revolution should combine their efforts to tear the left and the right arms from US imperialism, then the left and the right legs and, finally, behead it everywhere it raises its ugly head of aggression.
The US imperialists are bluffing now. But when the revolutionary people of the world join in dismembering them, they will totter and finally crash into oblivion. We small nations must unite and counter US imperialism’s strategy of swallowing us up one by one, by each one of us chopping off its head and limbs. This is the strategy small countries must employ to defeat US imperialism.
For more than 20 years, the Korean people have fought against the occupation of south Korea by the US imperialists and for the reunification of the country. The Korean revolution is part of the international revolutionary movement, and the revolutionary struggle of the Korean people is developing within the joint struggle of the peoples of the whole world for peace and democracy, for national independence and socialism.
The Korean people are fighting to realise their cause of national liberation and, at the same time, are doing everything in their power to accelerate the advancement of the international revolutionary movement as a whole. Our people unite with all forces opposing US imperialism and consistently support the peoples everywhere in their struggle against US imperialism. We consider this an important factor in bringing victory to the Korean revolution.
Imperialism is a moribund force whose days are numbered, whereas the peoples’ liberation struggle is a new force, which aims for the progress of mankind. There may be innumerable difficulties and obstacles and twists and turns along the path of this liberation struggle. But it is the inevitable law of historical development that imperialism is doomed and the liberation struggle of the peoples is certain of victory.
The US-led imperialists are desperately trying to check the surging liberation struggle of the peoples, and theirs is nothing but the deathbed tremor of those condemned to destruction. The more frenetically the US imperialists act, the more difficult their position becomes.
US imperialism is going downhill. Its sun is setting, never to rise again. The US imperialists will undoubtedly be forced out of Asia, Africa and Latin America by the peoples’ liberation struggle.
The great anti-imperialist revolutionary cause of the Asian, African and Latin-American peoples is invincible.
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