BARRICADES IN BARCELONA focuses on Barcelona in 1936-1937; it provides an account of the street battles and victory of July 1936, examines the defence and neighborhood committees that defeated the uprising in the city, and addresses the arbitrary decision of the CNT-FAI superior committees to collaborate with counterrevolutionary parties and social groups to preserve anti-fascist unity at any price, and how this decision culminated, in May 1937, in the defeat of the revolution. It also focuses on the emerging discontent among the anarchosyndicalist rank and file and the role of The Friends of Durruti Group in crystallizing opposition to official CNT policies.
Joaquín Ascaso Budría (Zaragoza, aprox. 1906 ó 1907 – Caracas, marzo de 1977), anarcosindicalista español, presidente del Consejo Regional de Defensa de Aragón entre 1936 y 1937. De profesión obrero albañil, en su juventud se afilió a la Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, participando en la agrupación anarquista “Los Indomables” y colaborando con otra llamada “Los Solidarios”. Fue detenido en Zaragoza por sus actividades sindicales en 1924 y la ficha policial le daba una edad de 17 años, tras lo que huyó a Francia hasta el advenimiento de la Segunda República Española, viéndose muy influenciado por la Sublevación de Jaca.
To protect the hard won land of the rural communities and the new society the people of liberated Aragón were building, the regional committee of the CNT, acting in concert with Durruti and his column, organised by an assembly of militia, village, and trade union representatives from Rioja and Navarre which was held in Bujaraloz on 6 October 1936. Francisco Muñoz, the regional secretary of the Aragónese CNT outlined proposals for the formation of a special regional committee which would ensure that the Aragonese region was ready and able ‘to organise itself in this revolutionary hour and re-establish its personality among the other Iberian peoples, in preparation for the great federation of the future.
Spanish Revolution/Civil WarComments Off on More on the last days of the Spanish Republic — A Mission of No Importance (Translated by Paul Sharkey)
Extracts from Juan López Sánchez’s1Una misión sin importancia (written in September 1939. Published Madrid 1972). The mission was to meet with the exiled MLE leadership in Paris to discuss salvaging the best possible outcome to the war, inform them of the creation of the Madrid-based Casadist National Defence Council, and organising resistance to post-war Francoism. The author, Juan López Sánchez (16 January 1900 – 1972) was a Spanish construction worker and, as a signatory of Angel Pestaña’s anti-FAI ‘Manifesto of the Thirty’, an anarchist-hostile member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo. From November 1936 he was the collaborationist CNT National Committee’s appointee as Minister of Commerce under Largo Caballero. By February/March 1939 he was part of Lt. Colonel Segismundo Casado’s National Defence Council which ousted the pro-Stalinist premier Dr Juan Negrin; López was also secretary-general of the highly questionable and self-appointed National Committee of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE). He returned to Spain from Mexico in 1966 and later joined the Falangist trade union organisation, the Sindicato Vertical.
Albacete — January-February 1939
Juan López Sánchez
“Allow me to briefly introduce my comrades. Val is Eduardo Val [Bescós 1908-1992. Close friend of Cipriano Mera and a pivotal player in countering the military coup in Madrid in July 1936], the then secretary of the Defence Section of the Regional Committee of the CNT of the Centre. He is a comrade associated with two “hardlies” that mean a lot: he hardly ever speaks; he hardly ever writes. His name has popped up out of anonymity during the war, gaining a position of importance in the Castilian libertarian organization. The fact that he says little and writes less has not stopped him from acquiring a sound reputation in the Republic’s military circles for his performance as Defence Secretary. That was a position of some importance in the recent conflict, for in war-time the CNT’s Defence Sections have been equally as important as the National Defence Ministry. But Val hardy speaks and hardly writes. And there is about him another “hardly” no less important than the other two: he hardly dresses. This is the man who donned his mono the day the war started and did not take it off until he came ashore in the English port of Newhaven where he wound up as one of the refugees who left from the port of Gandia, by then a member of the National Defence Council. During the war he had no time to eat, to shave, to wash, much less bother about his apparel. My first dealings with him were on that occasion, but from hearsay I knew the prestige he enjoyed in the Centre Region. (There is a mistake in the above that the reader will correct. He removed his mono, not in Newhaven, as he had no clothing there into which to change. That action would take place in London, where he set up home and where he is living at the time of the writing of these memoirs).
Anarchist Noam Chomsky’s 1969 clinical dissection of historian Gabriel Jackson’s The Spanish Republic and the Civil War:1931-1939 (in American Power and the New Mandarins) in which, to quote editor Barry Pateman in his Chomsky on Anarchism, “he links to the liberal ideology prevalent in America in the 1960s, an ideology that reflects ‘an antagonism to mass movements and to social change that escapes the control of privileged elites,’ which in Jackson’s work reveals itself through a regular use of negative language to describe the actions of the anarchists. Chomsky, using a rich array of historical texts, brought his points to a wide audience and influenced a new generation of researchers and militants, inspiring them to probe deeper and further. In his portrayal of Jackson’s work as representing contemporary American liberal thinking on Vietnam, Chomsky impressively linked past and present, making a shrewd and disturbing comment on liberalism in general. In the words of Peter Werbe: ‘As Chomsky amply and admirably demonstrates, when the major issues of an era are settled in blood, liberalism’s pretense to humane ends or means crumbles under the demands of an implacable state.’”
The original essay consists of three parts. Part I, not reproduced here, deals with the Vietnam War and the influence of intellectuals and ‘advisers’ in government and public and foreign policy. The present extract, Part II, focuses on the Spanish Civil War and how the so-called objective ‘conservative, ‘moderate’ and liberal’ intelligentsia use elite ideology and bias to manipulate and mould public opinion. Part III is Chomsky’s summation and conclusion.
In August 1989, José Peirats — anarchist militant, brickmaker, baker, propagandist and chronicler of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT labour unions — ended his intensely lived span of eighty-one years by walking into the sea at Burriana beach. A multitude of deteriorating health issues including Parkinson’s disease meant he could no longer face life— or death — with dignity. As his biographer, Chris Ealham, observes: “As a lifelong activist, existence had little meaning without action — this had been the principle that guided him in his struggle for a better Spain.”
Tomàs Orts Martin was born in Barcelona on 5 December 1908 A Catalan speaker, he worked for two years in Jesús García’s umbrella factory at 7 Calle Villaroel before moving on to Bartolomé Español at 7 Calle Salvador where he joined the CNT union on 1 February 1930, and subsequently held various posts with the Local Federation of Trade Unions.
During the street-fighting of 19-20 July 1936 Tomàs fought on the Paralelo, the University, Atarazanas barracks and elsewhere alongside Manuel Hernández (president of the Timberworkers’ Union), Eugenio Vallejo (the metalworker who spearheaded the conversion of Catalonia’s industry into war industries) and Liberto Minue (brother-in-law to Manuel Escorza, secretary of the CNT-FAI Investigation and Information Service).
Anarchism in SpainComments Off on MY REVOLUTIONARY LIFE JUAN GARCÍA OLIVER Interviewed by FREDDY GÓMEZ Translated by PAUL SHARKEY. Interview conducted in Paris on 29 June 1977 (eBook £1.00. Print copy also available from Kate Sharpley Library)
Juan García Oliver (1901-1980) was an anarcho-syndicalist CNT militant who played a key role in the Spanish anarchist movement from 1917 through to the end of the Spanish Civil War. When the military moved out of their barracks on 18 July 1936 he, along with Durruti, Ascaso, and other members of the ‘Nosotros’ Group, the core of the Regional CNT Defence Committee of Catalonia (the co-ordinating body of the Catalan workers’ resistance), were prepared and ready for them. From 21 July onward, following the workers’ defeat of the attempted fascist coup d’état, Oliver became a central political figure in subsequent events, first as secretary of the Militias Committee then Minister of Justice in the Madrid government of Largo Caballero. This interview with García Oliver by anarchist historian and journalist Freddy Gómez, made in Paris in June 1977, benefits enormously from Oliver’s hindsight, probably the only one of the ‘official’ CNT-FAI leadership (Federica Montseny, Germinal Esgleas, ‘Marianet’, Horacio Prieto, Diego Abad de Santillan, Fidel Miró, Francisco Isgleas, Serafín Aliaga, none of whom were activists!) with any degree of integrity.
The eBook is available as a Mobi file from the CB eBookshelf at £1.00. An ePub file is also available (email) (Also available from both Kindle and Kobo)
Anarchism in Spain, NewsComments Off on DURRUTI — LETTER FROM PRISON (El Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz) 1933 Agustín Guillamón (Translated by Paul Sharkey)
On Sunday 2 April 1933, Durruti, Ascaso and ‘Combina’ were arrested leaving the Andalusian-Extremaduran Regional Congress in Seville charged with promulgating the ‘criminal’ ideas discussed during the closing session.”  This was blatant ‘thought crime’ and flew in face of the Second Republic’s much vaunted right to freedom of expression. On Sunday 9 April, the representative leaders from Estat Catalá and the ERC (Republican Left of Catalonia) gathered in Barcelona to pay tribute to the fascist Josep Dencás (the Minister of Health at the time); they believed the Seville arrests had decapitated the FAI and that that organisation could now be considered a spent force. Such declarations amounted to wishful thinking, commonplace among those directing the bourgeois machinery of repression when they set out to resolve complicated and deep-seated social issues and concomitant bitter and run-of-the-mill terrorist and public order implications by reducing the issues to a few individual leaders and scapegoats. Josep Dencás was one of the founders, prime movers – along with the Badía brothers – and sponsors of the fascistic, pro-independence escamots of the JEREC (Republican Left Youth-Estat Catalá).
The guerrilla struggle against Francoism arose in the days following the army revolt against the Spanish Republic on 18 July 1936. In areas which fell immediately to the mutinous army the principal leader of which was Lieutenant-General José Sanjurjo y Sacanell (then a refugee in Portugal) with General Emilio Mola Vidal (relieved by the Popular Front government of his post as general-in-chief of the Armed Forces in Morocco and appointed Army Commander in Navarre instead) as its organiser, a bloody repression was promptly set in motion and this obliged many antifascists to take to the hills to save their skins.
This business of fleeing into the hills for survival’s sake was repeated over nearly three years of civil war in the areas conquered one after another, by the Francoist army and it extended to virtually the entirety of the Peninsula after the Republican troops surrendered in the Centre-Levante zone on 31 March 1939.