Il “delicatissimo” Ramón Mercader

🇮🇹 Per la versione italiana clicca qui.

Ramón was born in Barcelona to Pau Mercader, a wealthy textile merchant, and Eustaquia María Caridad del Río Hernández, a Cuban communist who played a key role in her son’s political orientation. Since his youth, Ramón was fascinated by the communist ideology and cooperated with Spanish left-wing organisations until his arrest and subsequent release in 1936. At the same time, his mother became a Soviet secret agent, and Ramón decided to follow her to Moscow. There, he joined the NKVD (the brutal People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) which, by order of Stalin, gave him the task of eliminating Trotsky in case ‘Plan A’ should fail.

According to ‘Plan A’, the Soviet revolutionary was to be shot dead in his home in Mexico. On the 24th of May 1940, an armed mob broke into Trotsky’s home and reached his bedroom. The intruders started shooting at the bed, but Trotsky and his wife Natalya managed to take refuge and escape the assassination attempt.

After the attempted murder, the atmosphere became tenser. The Mexican security forces were sure that Stalin would again try to eliminate his opponent. They tripled the number of policemen on watch, and militants of the Fourth International raised funds to better the home’s defensive systems. They installed bulletproof doors and windows, built a fortified bomb-proof building and three turrets and surrounded the house with barbed wire.

However, they did not know that the NKVD’s ‘Plan B’ had already begun time before. Ramón had assumed two fake identities. The first was that of “Jacques Mornard”, a businessman born in Teheran to a non-existent Belgian diplomat. The second was that of ‘Frank Jackson’, a Canadian journalist and a great admirer of Trotsky.

On the 20th of August 1940, at about 5.30 p.m., Frank Jackson arrived at the house with the pretext of delivering an article on Nazi-occupied France to Trotsky, wearing a raincoat despite the nice weather. The NKVD agent managed to dismiss the doubts of the guards by saying that he was not feeling very well.

Trotsky and Frank then headed towards the study, where the former Soviet politician started reading the manuscript. Ramón had been waiting for this moment. He pulled an ice axe out from under his raincoat, closed his eyes and hit Lev Trotsky’s head with all his strength. The blow did not kill him immediately. After being hit, Trotsky got up and confronted an astonished Ramón, who was then captured. Despite this, Trotsky died on the 21st of August 1940, at the age of sixty.

Ramón was sentenced to twenty years in prison by the Mexican government. After serving his sentence, he returned to the Soviet Union, where he was awarded the medal of “Hero of the Soviet Union”. In the 1970s he moved to Cuba, where he was employed as an advisor to Fidel Castro until he died in 1978.
Up to this point, I am probably not telling anything new. There is, however, a small detail that I have omitted to say up to this point. Not many people know that Ramón Mercader is closer to Italy than one might imagine.

His sister, María Mercader, was a Spanish actress who naturalised as an Italian. In 1942, she met the great director Vittorio De Sica on a film set. Until 1958, the year of their marriage in Mexico, she was forced to live as a mistress, because Vittorio De Sica could not get a divorce from his wife. But the couple had two sons: Manuel and Christian.

Ramón Mercader, one of the most famous hitmen of the last century, is the uncle of Christian De Sica, one of the most popular Italian comic actors.

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