Twenty Years in Franco’s Jails. An Anarchist In Franco’s Prisons by Juan Busquets Verges. ISBN 978-1-873976-58-6. Prologue by Ángel Urzáiz and Introduction by Stuart Christie. Translated by Paul Sharkey.
First arrested in 1944, aged 16, Juan Busquets Verges was an apprentice fitter in the Hispano Suiza factory in Barcelona, a member of the clandestine anarcho-syndicalist labour union, the CNT (Confederación Nacional Del Trabajo — and a member of the factory strike committee. In 1947 he crossed into France where he contacted the Spanish Libertarian Movement in Exile (MLE) in Toulouse, and found employment in the mines of Cransac. The following year he joined Marcelino Massana Bancells’s (‘Pancho’) anti-Francoist guerrilla group and took part in a number of operations inside Spain including, in June 1949, the dynamiting of more than 40 electricity pylons and the uprooting of a kilometre of railway lines in the vicinity of Terrasa.
In the autumn of 1949, Busquets (aka El Senzill), guided by Ramón Vila Capdevila Caraquemada, crossed into Spain with the guerrilla group led by brothers Gregorio and Saturnino Culebras (Los Primos). Other members of the group included José Conejos García, Manuel Aced Ortell, Helios Ziglioli and Manuel Sabaté Llopart. Arriving in Barcelona he attended a meeting of various urban and rural guerrilla groups in the Clot district of Barcelona with José Sabaté (brother of El Quico and Manuel) to whose urban guerrilla group he had affiliated. José Sabaté was killed soon after, in a police ambush in October. Busquets himself was arrested on 18 October 1949.
Transferred from Barcelona’s Security Directorate in the Via Layetana to Barcelona’s ‘Model’ Prison on 16 November 1949, he was sentenced to death three weeks later, on 7 December, by a drumhead court martial lasting 45-minutes. Sentenced to death with him were Manuel Sabaté and Saturnino Culebras. The others, Manuel Aced Ortell, José Conejos Garcia, and Gregorio Culebras Saiz, each received sentences of thirty years, and a sentence of twenty years for Miguel Acevedo Arias. Busquets’s death sentence was later commuted to thirty years, which he was to serve mainly in the Valencian penal establishment of San Miguel de los Reyes (like many of Franco’s prisons, a converted monastery). Seven years later, on 6 February 1956, Busquets made an unsuccessful escape attempt with fellow anarcho-syndicalist Juan Gómez Casas, during which he broke his leg badly in a fall from the façade of the Church of San Miguel de los Reyes. Both men were caught and received four months solitary for their pains. As a result of complications resulting from his untreated leg injury, Busquets was transferred (four months later) to the main general hospital in Valencia for an operation, and was subsequently shifted backwards and forwards over the years to the prison hospital of Yeserias, and transit prisons in between, including Franco’s main clearing prison in Madrid, the notorious Prision Provincial de Madrid in Carabanchel Alto. In May 1965 Busquets was transferred to the main political prison of Burgos penitentiary, where he was released on 18 October 1969, having been held prisoner for twenty years and six days.
Juan Busquets subsequently crossed into France, illegally, where he worked closely with the CNT’s Toulouse-based Prisoners’ Aid Commission and the Anarchist Black Cross, moving to Paris in 1974 where he was later detained by the French police on a number of occasions as a consequence of his continued and ongoing involvement in the anti-Franco resistance. In October 1976 — on the occasion of the state visit to France of Juan Carlos, Spain’s new king and Franco’s designated successor — Busquets was arrested along with twelve other anarchist comrades (including Octavio Alberola) and deported (‘assigned residence’) to Belle Ile en Mer off the Brittany coast. Since Franco’s death Busquets has been an untiring supporter of the campaign for the ‘Recovery of Historical Memory‘ and, with Manuel Llatser Tomás and Alicia Mur Sin, was responsible for setting up the French-based Association of Political Prisoners of Francoism (officially recognised in the Journal officiel of 31 octobre 1990). Apart from his memoirs Veinte años de prisión : los anarquistas en las carceles de Franco and El Senzill. Guerrilla I preso d’un maqui. Juan Busquets has written for — and continues to write for —libertarian journals such as Rojo Y Negro, Polemica (Barcelona), Cenit (Paris) and Black Flag (The Organ of the Anarchist Black Cross, then located in Sanday, Orkney)…