Anarcho-syndicalist and anti-Francoist activist Fernando Carballo Blanco was born in Valladolid (Castille, Spain) on 30 May 1924. His father, Aniceto Carballo, worked at the Northern Railroad Company and, as a member of the (National Confederation of Labour) CNT, was shot by Francoist forces in Valladolid. As a result Fernando’s mother, Concepción Blanco, was driven mad with grief and was committed to Valladolid’s provincial hospital. When the civil war ended, Fernando was jailed for five months for refusing to comply with the wishes of a police inspector and agree that his father had been executed, insisting instead that he had been murdered.
By 1940 Fernando was eking out a living in Valencia, working as a joiner when able to find employment. He served six months in jail for stealing a packet of peanuts, and it was there he first came into contact with CNT militants. In 1942 he was working as a day-labourer in the farms around the towns of Viñaroz, Valencia and Tarragona, planting and harvesting rice. To make ends meet he also bought and sold livestock and other goods on the black market. In 1946 he was arrested in Mora de Ebro for resisting a night watchman who tried to confiscate his black market oil, and as a result he spent 18-months in Tarragona and Reus jails awaiting a trial that never took place. Released in 1947 he was rearrested in April 1948, in Trivissa, and charged with membership of the Socorro Rojo Internacional (International Red Aid/SRI) a charge that was later changed to robbery for which he was sentenced to a 13-year prison term. By 1949 he was in the notorious prison of the Puerto de Santa Maria where he remained until August 1955 when he was transferred to Ocaña prison.
Released on parole in 1956 he met and married Juana Rodriguez Olivar, and worked thereafter as a tailor, a trade he had learned in prison. In 1963 he joined the underground CNT and was involved in propaganda work. On 11 August 1964 he was arrested in Madrid along with the Scottish activist Stuart Christie, and charged with ‘Bandity anmd Terrorism’ for possession of explosives and planning bomb attacks targetting the Franco regime, and on Franco himself at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. On 2 September 1964 a council of war sentenced him to 30-years and Christie to 20 years.
In November 1969 Carballo mounted a hunger strike, claiming political prisoner status. In Burgos prison in November 1970, he mounted a further hunger strike in solidarity with ETA prisoners. He remained in Burgos until 1971 when he was transferred to Alicante where he remained until 1975 after which he was shuttled around a number of prisons (Córdoba, Valladolid, Alcalá de Henares, Jaén, Puerto de Santamaría, Carabanchel, etc.) on a “prison tour”.
In December 1976 — by which time there were scarcely any political prisoners left and at which point he had served 26 years behind bars, 244 days of them in complete isolation, making him Franco’s longest serving prisoner — a campaign was launched in France to secure his release. The ‘Frente Libertario’ group published a poster calling for his release, but this was never fly-posted because on 13 January 1977 he was finally amnestied and released from the Adult Reformatory in Alicante, and at last able to rejoin his wife in Valladolid as well as the 20 year old son he had previously only seen once. After his release from prison he participated in various CNT rallies and meetings (in Paris, Bordeaux, San Sebastián de los Reyes. etc.). In 1977 he settled in Alicante before moving on to Denia. Rearrested in January 1979 he was sentenced to 18-months imprisonment. Fernando Carballo Blanco passed away in his sleep as a result of a heart attack on 5 November 1993 in Denia (Marina Alta, Valencia). Estelle Negre