DEFENSA INTERIOR’ (EL DI) Y LA RESISTENCIA CONTRA EL FRANQUISMO Octavio Alberola. With a background paper, in English. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)


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Por razones generalmente partidistas, la resistencia libertaria contra el franquismo ha sido frecuentemente olvidada en la historiografía del antifranquismo. Pero este “olvido” es aún más notorio en el caso de la resistencia libertaria de los años sesenta, por ser en esos años cuando los libertarios intentaron organizar y poner en marcha su proyecto resistencial más consecuente, el DI (“Defensa Interior”), y cuando sus acciones obtuvieron mayor repercusión internacional. Efectivamente, al reactualizar la lucha activa contra el franquismo y la presencia del anarquismo, el DI fue el blanco de todos los que, inclusive entre los libertarios, no veían con buenos ojos una reactualización que ponía en evidencia su inmovilismo o que contrariaba sus planes y objetivos politicos.

No es de extrañar pues que coincidieran tantos intereses en ocultar la historia del DI y que por ello ésta sea hoy en día, hasta en los propios medios libertarios, tan poco conocida. Un desconocimiento que, gracias a la reactualización del caso Granado-Delgado en el marco del actual proceso de recuperación de la memoria histórica, está comenzando a ser paliado. No sólo porque al hablar de este caso se ha tenido necesariamente que hablar del DI, sino también porque las nuevas generaciones de militantes y de historiadores están demostrando un gran interés por descubrir la resistencia libertaria de esos años, que tantos intereses coincidieron en ocultarla. Este interés exige pues un deber de información de parte de los que podemos aportarla. Y esto es lo que me han pedido hacer hoy aquí; pero, antes de hacerlo me parece necesario hacer algunas puntualizaciones sobre el franquismo y el antifranquismo, desde el final de la guerra hasta 1960.

Background paper:
“DEFENSA INTERIOR (DI) was the clandestine planning and resistance organisation set up at the Limoges Congress in France, in late 1961, by the Defence Commission of the recently reunited three organisations of the exiled Spanish libertarian movement (MLE) — the CNT, the Spanish anarchist trade union; the FAI, the Iberian Anarchist Federation, and the FIJL, the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth.

“The DI’s strategy was to generate a specific, purposive response, not through hurt but by providing the example of resistance through the propaganda of the deed. Its short-term objectives were: to remind the world, unremittingly, that Franco’s brutal and repressive dictatorship had not only survived World War Two but was now flourishing through tourism and US financial and diplomatic support; to provide solidarity for those continuining the struggle within Spain; to polarise public opinion and focus attention on the plight of the steadily increasing number of political prisoners in Franco’s jails; to interrupt the conduct of Francoist commercial and diplomatic life; undermine its financial basis — tourism; to take the struggle against Franco into the international sphere by showing the world that Franco did not enjoy unchallenged power and that there was resistance to the regime within and beyond Spain’s borders.

“The hoped-for long-term objective, taking into account the specific historical and cultural context of the time — with the overthrow of Latin American dictators Fulgencio Batista and Rafael Trujillo and the rising industrial and student militancy within Spain itself, which could have been interpreted as a pre-insurgent mood — was the overthrow of the regime. Parallel with these was the ultimate objective — kill Franco, the root cause of 28 years of murder, misery and oppression in Spain, in the belief that beneficial political change would follow.

“Funding for the first year’s operations of the DI came from the Defence Commission (on behalf of the CNT, FAI and FIJL) which agreed to hand over 10 million French francs. In fact, due to scheming and sabotage by a faction in the CNT’s Toulouse leadership, only 200,000 francs of this was ever received by the DI which survived for a further three years and was formally wound up at the Montpelier Congress of July-August 1965.

“The DI’s arms came from the substantial weapons deposits the Spanish anarchists had maintained after the Liberation. They firmly believed that the Allies would press on to topple Franco. The Spanish exiles had, after all, provided a very substantial part of the so-called ‘French’ Resistance during World War Two; the plastic explosive, detonators and timing devices came from sympathisers in the Algerian FLN.

“The first planning session of the DI took place in March 1962. Its members were mainly CNT and FAI appointees: Germinal Esgleas, Vicente Llansola, Cipriano Mera, Acracio Ruiz, Juan Jímeno, Juan García Oliver; Octavio Alberola was the only FIJL representative. Esgleas was responsible for propaganda, Llansola was initially given the job of organising the attempts on Franco and Alberola was appointed coordinator of the action groups. García Oliver, apart from helping to draw up the DI’s campaign strategy, used his considerable influence and prestige to raise financial support from a range of anti-fascist and trade unions, particularly from the Swedish anarchist-syndicalist labour union, the SAC.

“Delegates from the DI were sent to Portugal in May 1962 to establish contact with the Portuguese anarchist resistance and to Morocco to organise the setting up a clandestine radio transmitter near Tangiers.

“March 1962 also saw the beginning of a DI bombing campaign (under the ‘acronym of convenience’ the Consejo Ibérico de Liberación, CIL) targeting government agencies, institutions and property in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Manresa, Rome, the Valle de los Caidos and Franco’s summer residence in San Sebastián (the latter involving contacts with the nascent ETA). The CIL, in fact, never existed as an organisation. It was simply a set of initials used in DI operations against the Franco and Salazar dictatorships.

“With the exception of the San Sebastian explosion (which was an aborted assassination attempt on Franco) all the other attacks — in which small cigarette packet size explosive devices were used — were intended as symbolic gestures and timed with the intention of not injuring or killing ordinary citizens.   In fact, none of the actions carried out by the DI — nor any of its offshoots or successor groups — such as the First of May Group — caused any deaths, innocent or otherwise.

“However, the French-based DI’s symbolic attacks on Francoist targets and the Spanish-based OAS’s ruthless and indiscriminate terrorist attacks on French civilians exacerbated diplomatic tension between France and Spain. An informal collaborative quid pro quo between the ‘freemasonry’ of French and Spanish security ‘experts’ led to a clamp down on the OAS in Spain and on FIJL activists in France. Strong political and psychological pressure was also brought to bear on the comfortably placed, highly compromisable and bureaucratic leadership of the exiled MLE committees in France to deny the FIJL organisational support and economic aid. The effective dissociation of the MLE from the activities of the DI signalled that the ‘Toulouse-based official’ movement had finally abandoned its support for armed resistance against Franco and Llansola made no attempt to set in motion any plans to kill Franco. In early 1963 — faced with open hostility from the FAI and CNT’s official and public representatives in Toulouse (particularly Montseny and Esgleas) who did everything in their power to obstruct and subvert the clandestine and — to them — ‘compromising’ activities of the DI — García Oliver decided to return to Mexico where he felt he could be more effective in implementing the DI’s remit and supporting his activist comrades in France. DI operations were now left mainly in the hands of Cipriano Mera, José Pascual Palacios and Octavio Alberola.

“The remaining activists launched a fresh anti-tourism campaign early in 1963, ‘Operación Primavera’, specifically targeting European airports and travel offices. But the August 1963 executions of Delgado and Granado (probably betrayed by police agent Guerrero Lucas), together with the arrest in September of 21 of the leading FIJL activists and the victory of the conservative wing of the CNT and the FAI at the congress in Toulouse that October, finally put paid to the DI as an official offshoot of the MLE. The movement was once again divided against itself. Even so, the DI remained nominally active up until the Montpellier Congress of the MLE in 1965.” — from My Granny Made Me An Anarchist. The Christie File: Part 1, 1946-1964. (The cultural and political formation of a West of Scotland ‘baby-boomer.