More on the last days of the Spanish Republic — A Mission of No Importance (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

Extracts from Juan López Sánchez’s1 Una 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
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).

In Toulouse

Mariano Rodríguez Vázquez — 'Marianet' (1909-1939)
Mariano Rodríguez Vázquez — ‘Marianet’ (1909-1939)

“They rang me from Paris, I picked up the receiver and recognized the voice as [Facundo] Roca’s.1

  • Hang on a minute – he said. – I’m putting Mariano [Rodríguez VázquezMarianet] on.
  • Brilliant!

Things were coming together. Just as we were about to enter into talks with minister [Segundo] Blanco,2 here was Mariano himself speaking to us from Paris. Our general secretary had travelled a long way!

  • Yes, it’s me. Put him on. How are you faring up there? Look, I’m really delighted, because, take it from me, I’m going to be talking to Blanco in just a few minutes.

Mariano let out a roar that came close to shattering the phone lines. He was extraordinarily delighted at the news.-

  • Escolta (Listen) .. he was speaking Catalan.

Our conversation was brief, but interesting historically. The CNT’s general secretary had not set eyes on the CNT’s minister for the past five days, due to the chaos. But they needed to get together as soon as possible. If at all possible, we were to leave for Paris with Blanco that very night. Naturally, he must already have given the minister his categorical orders; no matter what happened, he was not to attempt to set out for the other zone [Madrid] without first speaking to him, with Mariano. I found it odd that such instructions should be issued to a minister that, as we saw it, he was not to set foot in France and was duty bound to make for the other zone, pronto. But he would understand what was behind that order. Mariano was our organisation’s know-it-all, the decider of all and the order-it-all. What he said was to be done. That was the notion of discipline that prevailed in our libertarian circles at the time. Before we hung up the phone we all agreed: if possible we would set out for Paris with the minister that very night. Otherwise he was to be called the following day and he would travel down to Toulouse. But we had to do our best to set off immediately for the city of lights …

Segundo Blanco González
Segundo Blanco González

It wasn’t long before Blanco showed up at the consul’s office. Shaking our hands he expressed surprise at finding us there. He wore a dark grey suit with a coloured scarf around his neck that made him look like a brickie on holiday. His face, somewhat flushed, as if he had spent the evening in a shebeen drinking cider. Obviously, that was not the case, for he had been closeted all evening with the other ministers, upstairs, in the consul’s private rooms. I gave him a quick run-down on the reasons why we were there and who we were representing:

  • We are a delegation appointed by a plenum of regionals of the entire libertarian movement. We were originally bound for Catalonia but landed up here. Since the particular mission entrusted to us has been rendered redundant by the fall of Catalonia [Barcelona fell on January 26; Franco closed the border with France on February 10], we want to inform ourselves as to what has happened, come to some agreement with the National Committee and immediately head back to Valencia.

Blanco realized that, with witnesses present, there was no way we could give any sort of a briefing then and there.

  • Let’s go somewhere else …

We left through the door by which he had entered. He did not bother asking the consul if we might have a room to meet in. What was the point? We could get together in some corner right there. We were at war and there was too much standing on ceremony. We made ourselves comfortable under the stairs that led to the office where the other ministers were gathered, which is to say, right around the corner, just as you came out of the consul’s office. That is a measure of the importance of what a minister was about to reveal to three-man delegation from the organization he was representing in the government.

As far as we could see, our minister was not a novice when it came to dealing with the most important issues around the corner. This no doubt was a practice he had acquired during all the days of forced marches leading up to the departure from Barcelona. Ah, the kilometers he had had to cover … by car, while simultaneously governing the country, waging the war, thwarting the enemy advance … were as nothing. Small wonder then that he should receive under a staircase, on the Q T, standing up – lest we waste time sitting down or soil the chairs . And when he spoke he assumed a tone of mystery and confidentiality, measured and cautious. Even as we were making ourselves fleetingly at home under the stairs my thoughts turned to the lead-up to his elevation to the ministerial office. That had been a flaw in our policy …

Did I say flaw? More than a flaw. It had been a disaster. Thinking back to that point in our war was thinking back on the irreparable bankruptcy of our worth as a workers’ organization with deep roots in the people. The confederal movement had gained in influence and as a political force had the ability to tilt the scales in national politics, war or no war. During the early months of the war it was an inexhaustible source of men who stood up to the rebel forces, a guarantee of victory, the bulwark protecting the interests of the toiling masses, from which the republic drew its defence forces. When the libertarian movement joined the Largo Caballero government, one of the most important phases of the struggle began. The phase during which a start was made on organizing the Army, when political life in the rearguard was sorted out, having been in unbelievable disorder since the day the rebellion broke out; and the economy could be organized in accordance with the demands of the war.

It marked the beginning of a period when the Spanish people were en route to having a national unity policy as never before, under the leadership of men incapable of making concessions to outside powers, one of the essential reasons underlying all Spain’s misfortunes. During the six months that that collaboration endured, issues of organization, order, and the articulation of government forces were on the road to resolution.

A squalid political conspiracy brought that government to an end. The CNT emerged from it full of prestige for its performance. And was excluded from government for nine months. Nine months of Negrín government! To wit: the loss of the whole of the North that had stood by the Republic. The collapse of the entire Eastern front, from Belchite to the shores of the Mediterranean, threatening to cut loyalist territory in two. At which point, when enemy forces were on the verge of severing communications between the extensive central zone and Catalonia, the seat of the government, libertarian forces were the soundest, most important political force the government could count on.

To their effective, numerical strength must be added the moral strength they afforded by their conduct and the rationale that consistently underpinned their honourable stance of loyalty to the cause. And the efforts made to arrive at the formation of a mighty instrument of unity and worker power, lobbying for an alliance between the CNT and UGT unions, the real basis for the popular, economic and military securing of the Republic and, thus, the best tool for victory.

Negrín was up to his neck, drowning, in the throes of suffering the final defeat of his policy, a false policy of resistance and warfare, when the socialists in control of the UGT (hitherto reluctant to achieve unity or enter into any pact with the CNT) finally decided to sign up to a Trade Union Alliance pact — news welcomed with cheers throughout republican territory. This act of unity would galvanise the country’s energies. It was an instrument of victory. It was what ought to have been done from the very start of the war but which was not done because the socialists and the communists sabotaged it, rejected or refused to agree to it.

Now … Now the Alliance’s time had come, when the enemy had already notched up victories that had rendered ours impossible. After all, when the crunch comes it is never too late. Yes, at least the clauses of the Pact that were wholly acceptable to the proletariat and which comprised, 90 per cent of them, points proposed by the CNT. We needed to keep our wits about us, what with all this generosity on the part of the socialists and communists, suddenly making concessions to us all. Might that unity pact not be a trap? A lot of things had been put down on paper and agreed that were in the workers’ favour, by those who had been out to sabotage any sort of working class prerogative.

But after the CNT-UGT Pact there was more to follow: the libertarian movement [MLE] joined the Popular Front. The CNT was rejoining the government … This all happened at dizzying speed. One night, while listening anxiously to the war reports to gauge what progress the enemy was making in his drive for the coast, fearful that communications between the centre zone and Catalonia might be cut off, the announcer broadcast a note from the Prime Minister’s office, announcing the formation of a new government.

In this government, the self-styled war-time ‘Government of National Unity’, there was a CNT minister. Who was that minister? What was his name? Segundo Blanco. If truth be told he was barely known inside the CNT. Furthermore, he was not the man who was needed, nor was he appropriate for a movement such as ours.

The roll-call of that second Negrín government made a dire impression in political circles. No one dared to speak out honestly and, as had almost become the custom, the newspapers gave them their blessing. Especially because a National Unity government had been formed. National Unity, with all these useless characters? And with the powers they had granted to Negrín? Were they right to place such boundless trust in him?

We later discovered some of the detail as to how Segundo Blanco was appointed to represent the libertarian movement. Negrín could not have had more to do with it — or our organization less! It transpired that it was the illustrious plastic surgeon himself who had picked the man to represent the CNT. Obviously his choice had to be disguised and the pill sweetened. Negrín had requested three names from which to make his choice, and our leaders allowed themselves be humiliated by agreeing.

The three selected were: Mariano R Vazquez, Horacio M Prieto and Segundo Blanco. Negrín knew that from that moment on he could count on docility on the part of our leaders. He chose Blanco, whom he knew to be the more docile, more manageable and more useless — which is to say, more useful in his (Negrin’s) policy.

Segundo came second in everything; he was chosen too because this minister of ours joined the government so that our organization could be kept in the dark; the only unity in the National Unity government was that between Negrín and the communists, it wasn’t so much the national interest as the Russian one, especially that of the clique around Negrín, given the way they perked up at the considerable number of millions they pocketed. (…)

In Paris

“We took the lift up to the apartment.

The building housed the offices of the Public Education Ministry’s Evacuee Children Board. It was headed by Facundo Roca, an excellent comrade, short and open-eyed and intelligent. And there, in one of its offices, by coincidence, was the CNT’s serving general secretary, Mariano R Vazquez (Marianet).

Marianet had arrived at the offices before us. He was already at work, his dark hands sifting through papers, his equally dark face verging on black and his stupendous mane of dark brown hair, defiant of comb and pomade, as if it relished constantly caressing his well-proportioned forehead, under which were the two tiny searchlights that were his eyes, peering for light and indefatigable in secretarial endeavours. Physically, Mariano resembled an Indian; psychologically, a barbarian. In his aspect, in his movements, in his behavior and his background as a young militant the brute force of the barbarian was to the fore. He was quick-witted, a bold decision-maker, not one to stand on ceremony, dauntless and sometimes shrewd, with an overblown self-confidence. Nevertheless, circumstances had led his natural inclinations astray and the mediocrities surrounding him had stunted the development of his personality which had many fine qualities. His most obvious failing was having ascended prematurely to the most burdensome post in our organization. Not through any fault of his own, of course …

But leaving these considerations aside for the moment. There he was, fresh from the catastrophe in Catalonia, newly arrived in Paris, with his recently purchased off-the-peg suit, thrown on without much attention to detail. What interested him was casting off the clothes that betrayed his refugee status and which he had been wearing for several days in a row, until he crossed the border to be led away by some Senegalese, from whom he escaped, making his way to Paris.

Few words were exchanged when we met. We needed to get down to brass tacks, put our heads together and sort out our affairs. The circumstances added electricity to our movements, although for all our fussing about, we made no progress at all in our chores. But keeping on the move guarded against the cold. (…)

Be it said that even though we were on his home turf now, there was no warm welcome for the minister. We were on premises under his command. So what! This guy was the minister? Right-o. The fact is he radiated a complete and utter absence of authority. Friend Val was constantly remarking upon it.

  • What the.. ? Did you see? Nothing. Can’t even make up his mind to go …

We waited a few moments for a few of the missing faces to arrive before getting down to business. But they were delayed, so in we went to the office Roca made available to us and things began: Garcia Oliver, who had been sent for by Mariano, and [Dr. Camilo] Boer3, a comrade we had nicknamed ‘The CNT’s diplomat’ on account of his dealings with embassy types and his knowledge of their mysterious and Machiavellian world. So, present at the meeting were: Mariano, Val, Amil,4 minister Blanco, Boer and García Oliver. Facundo Roca popped in and out, sometimes to hear what was being talked about and occasionally to urge Mariano to lower his voice, as the walls there had ears, albeit that none were needed because when Mariano raised his voice they could hear him on the Champs Elysees.

Everything kicked off after Mariano had read through and ticked off notes on a block in front of him. Those notes were a diary kept over the last days of the evacuation from Catalonia. It is a pity we don’t have those notes to hand now to reconstruct his briefing, but the gist of it is etched in my memory. It is not my intention to misrepresent anything and yet I reckon I will go easy on his report. A report that was buried right there, and of which only those present have any knowledge.

As far as the organisation is concerned, no written testimony remains, unless one turns up some day in a book of war anecdotes. Because there were anecdotes galore that served as political facts during the tragic events of that time.

I cannot resist the temptation to bring up the bit that we might describe as the report’s preamble. In it Mariano sought to explain away the well-established reasons why the National Committee had not sent a delegation, even though the whole libertarian movement assembled in the Centre-South zone had urgently requested one. His words amounted to a bloody diatribe against the majority of the members of the National Committee, whom he described as pretty much uppity twerps. Which is to say, useless trash …

— First of all I have to tell you that the National Committee sent no delegation to the plenum of regionals that you held out there because no body there had the authority to call any plenum. It is the National Committee that convenes plenums …

Without a word, he looked to Val, Amil and me. Such were the laws of the organisation. Only the National Committee was empowered to call regional plenums, the next best thing to congresses. A plenum of the entire libertarian movement constitutes the super-force, the— as we called it — super-embodiment of the moral and material might of Spanish libertarianism.

Mariano was big on matters of legitimacy; ever vigilant when it came to CNT rights and jurisprudence. But we were not — and had not been, for a long time — living under the rule of law. We were governed by facts, by unleashed forces, by the law of whimsy, bluff and lie, by Negrin’s watchwords and harangues. And facts, reality, had shown themselves in that other zone with such force that legality and all ceremony had had to be set to one side.

Legally speaking, those of us in that other zone had been lied to about the facts, and bamboozled with empty, muddle-headed circulars, whether issued by the government or from the National Committee. What we were told in circulars, speeches, public declarations was one thing, and the harsh reality of the facts quite another.

The reality, only a few short days before, was that the government decreed a general mobilization, calling up men between the ages of seventeen and forty five. Our National Committee had offered no clarification or guidance regarding that mobilization. Such a mobilization spelled the total collapse of the war industries, agricultural and the economy. And, with the collapse of the economy, loss of morale in the rearguard, the scattering of political and trade union organisations, the dissolution of which would leave life and order in the rearguard at the mercy of enemy agents in circumstances in which the population was showing menacing signs of weariness, defeatism and anti-war sentiment.

Mobilization served no military purpose, many of the reserve units in the Centre zone were unarmed due to the lack of rifles, materiel and provisions. In practical terms, that mobilization, had it been carried out in the Centre zone as stated, was of no assistance to the fronts in Catalonia, which, once the Ebro front was broken, virtually ceased to exist.

The Army of Catalonia abandoned Catalonia, or rather, Barcelona and raced for the border … How could there be any formalities about standing on ceremony when there was this urgent need to take measures to resolve a very difficult situation? Ever since communications with Catalonia had been cut, there were three movement sub-committees up and running in the Centre zone – belonging to the FAI, the JJ.LL (Libertarian Youth) and the CNT.

Unfortunately, their operations were subordinate to the National Committee’s operations. But was it not incumbent upon those bodies to answer to the whole organization for the cohesion of movements across the extensive zone they represented? Sure. Which is why they took the initiative to convene a plenum of the movement’s regionals, calling for a National Committee delegation so that they might brief it before coming to any resolutions, etc. They were overly respectful of that Committee which was unequal to the circumstances, and the appeals to it from the other zone fell on deaf ears. Legality, sure — but what legality should they have been considering? That of red tape, outward formality, or the legality of irreversible actions? Hence the silent scanning of us three delegates drew a response and a chastisement of the blithely legalistic words of our secretary …

  • But let us leave all that to one side – he continued – In spite of everything, had we been able to send a delegation, we would have done … But the fact remains that in the circumstances the National Committee could not spare anyone to send to a plenum of such note, someone capable of making a proper, responsible report. We need to be honest and tell the truth: there are many nonentities on the National Committee … With the exception of two or three comrades, the others are useless in such matters. They have no ability, and the ones with ability – he mentioned two or three names – were needed in Barcelona.

Mariano was telling the truth. Why deny it? It was the only explanation for the movement’s policy being almost entirely in the hands of the secretary. The regionals had sent the National Committee morally sound comrades, but they were lightweights, which is to say, fine when it came to the Union Committees, maybe, men of high principle, but politically uninspired and lacking the political qualities needed to govern the fate of a collective of that size.

Yes, what Mariano said was true; this was down to his rather caciqueish background. Somebody had taught him to be the way he was then he grew wings and they had pushed him in that direction – giving him the power to stamp the seal of his personality on CNT policy and on the administrative workings of the National Committee.

The Spanish organization is manifold in its thinking, and is founded upon a wide base of several generations of militants fighting on behalf of the libertarian ideal, and is as democratic as can be, with less bureaucracy, or virtually no bureaucracy, as compared with the social democratic organisations; there, idols were eaten alive or burnt to the ground by corrosive – and not always well-founded nor appropriate– criticism, and nobody was allowed to loom larger than the higher-ranking militants, where there was no acceptance of chieftainship, leaders, plaster saints or men sent from providence; by some freak circumstance, or maybe due to a wealth of political talent, which we had always lacked, it had wound up in the hands of this impetuous young man, with his mane of black hair, who would deliver sage political speeches with his feet up on the table in token of his disregard of formality and his uncouth strength.

All the political investment the movement had so liberally made over the two and a half years of the war now lay in those powerful, but inexperienced hands. A genius, a political craftsman. A mature, experienced man in control of the power that our movement radiated (setting its iconoclasm and its diffidence regarding direct involvement in politics to one side and capable of uniform self-discipline an obedience to a single voice of command) might have taken control of the situation and, without absorbing the other governmental forces, might have become the axis about which the Republic’s war policy revolved. For which reason it certainly was a great pity that we had a National Committee consisting of mediocrities unequipped for their lofty mission and thereby allowing a strong personality like Mariano’s to pursue an overpowering, personal policy …

— We had no one we could send. That’s about the size of it.

(…)

Neither Mariano nor the minister nor Oliver talked about Negrín as the agent of a liquidationist policy. As far as they were concerned he embodied resistance, the spokesman for the policy of resistance. Resist, resist, resist! With bread or without bread, but resist! That was the tone of their speeches, which were better written than read. On the other hand, who thought that Negrín was all the time pursuing a policy of liquidation? That Negrín was winding down the war, as evidenced by the surrender of Catalonia to Franco, in obedience to an outlook and political interests unconnected with the Spanish people? Why allow ourselves to be gulled by Negrin’s words and speeches, if he was doing the very opposite of what he claimed?

Val put his finger into the wound. Zeroing in on the problem.

— You say that Negrin’s policy is one of resistance and pressing on with the war. I’m telling you that Negrín is the No 1 liquidationist of this war.

They all showed disbelief. Even myself. Only Amil, watching how the rest had responded to Val’s words, looked at them with what was intended as a friendly reproach, as if wanting to say: “Believe him. He has evidence for what he is saying.

— Val continued: — Only a few days ago, Negrín sent a coded telegram to his socialist friends in Madrid, ordering them to burn all their files and prepare everything for evacuation … So much for the resistance this scoundrel intends to put up …

I will admit I found the information Val had just mentioned unwelcome. He had sat on it during all the time we had spent together. Might it not just be for effect, as a rebuttal of the other comrades’ points of view? My annoyance stemmed from my view of what a delegation is. A delegation is a unit. It sees eye to eye. No matter whether it has three or twenty members, the facts and arguments it has to set out should be one and the same. The information that Val had, and which he had kept to himself, radically altered the opinion one might form regarding Negrin’s policy on the specific count of resistance. Yes indeed. What sort of resistance did Negrín have in mind if he was ordering the burning of files and secretly ordering his people to prepare to leave the other zone? Was that not indicative of a clear intent to liquidate? The scoundrel!

Val expanded his contribution into a rebuttal of the substance of Mariano’s information as regards its military information. That being his bailiwick as secretary of the Defence [Intelligence and Security] Section of the Centre region. He also took exception to the fact that winding down the war was not quite that easy. There was still much that could be done. Moreover, the morale of our troops could not have been better. And stiff resistance could also be expected from our rearguard. In short: there was no reason to think that the war was over.

— The war should continue …A better defence could have been mounted in Catalonia …

(…)

Amil made the same case.

— Negrín? No way.

The meeting moved towards a conclusion. Mariano was taking notes, drafting whatever conclusions might emerge. Attempting to smooth matters he stated that we were all of the same mind — the war must be wound down, of that there is no doubt. Any more than there is any doubt that we must continue with the war. The greater the resistance we can put up, the better the peace terms we can secure. We agree that things must be brought to a head and another government formed. Agreed?

Mariano’s ideas were spewing from his mouth like fritters. It was all so clear and simple in his mind. The stiffer the resistance, the better the peace terms. Whoever has the power to lash out is well placed to inspire fear— and fear invites concessions. Anyone allowing themselves to be pushed around is in no position to impose settlement terms. They have to submit. Is that not right? Plainly it is; there was no counter-argument and so those ideas could not be measured alongside other ideas which may not have been quite as simple but were more objective.

Nobody believed the story that the enemy was already in a position to insist upon unconditional surrender. Putting up further resistance in the other zone: was that not serving up total military victory on a plate, cheaply – cheap for him but dearly bought on our side, as we would be paying the price of thousands more lives? Once the Negrín government had left in its wake a Catalonia overrun by the invaders, all further resistance was futile and crazy. And why should it not be described, not just as futile and crazy but as criminal as well? We wasted no time in demolishing Mariano’s simplistic conclusions. But there was agreement, then and later— Negrín could not continue ruling us.

What emerged from that meeting was the decision that things should be brought to a head, but how? The organisation’s brain [Marianet] then blathered on about the procedure. He was awash with resolutions of that sort. The first thing that needed doing: meet with Azaña. Talk to him plainly. Spell out the CNT’s view and its wish to see a peace government formed, a government of liquidation. Then, talks first with Giral and then with Martinez Barrio. With the ground prepared, Blanco was to bring things to a head and raise the other matter at the cabinet meeting. The government was taking shape and then it was off to the other zone to work towards ending the war.

In keeping with this plan, the comrades appointed had to make their moves without delay. Mariano had a solution for everything; then it came down to appointments. Blanco, Boer and Garcia Oliver would call on Azaña and Giral in Paris that very day. That night, Oliver would set out for Perpignan to meet Martínez Barrio and brief him on the idea and ask for his cooperation, etc. The minister, would then return to Toulouse and move that a cabinet meeting be held. Everything was in place.

The CNT was about to bring things to a head with the government. Negrín was not to return to the Centre zone as prime minister. He was to be ousted.

With the comrades appointed and assigned their tasks, the meeting  wound up with an agreement to reconvene at four that afternoon to learn the outcomes of the visits to Azaña and Giral. It was then off for a bite to eat! […]”

[The three-man delegation subsequently returned to Madrid and were eventually evacuated to the UK by a British Royal Navy destroyer at the insistence of Lt. Col. Segismundo Casado despite specific orders to the contrary from Rear Admiral John Tovey (“care will be taken to exclude undesirables”, i.e. anarchists!5]

Translated by Paul Sharkey

  1. Facundo Roca Gasco (1905-1957) part of the CNT-FAI’s Paris-based arms commission (with Montseny’s partner in crime Germinal Esgleas and Mascarell). He was one of the group of CNT and FAI elistist and collaborationist ‘influentials in Barcelona who operated in fundamental violation of anarchist principles. For more on Esgleas, Montseny et al see Pistoleros! 3:1920-24 — The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg.  e.g., it was Roca who obtained — on the orders of Germinal Esgleas and CNT National Secretary Mariano Rodriguez Vázquez — the arsenic to be used to murder Joaquín Ascaso and Antonio Ortíz of the Defence Council of Aragón.
  2. Segundo Blanco González (1899-1957), CNT ‘appointee’ minister (Education and Public Health) in the Negrín government
  3. Camilo A. Boer, a Barcelona-based orthopedic specialist who had developed his own method for treating inguinal hernias. During the war the CNT National Committee sent him, Facundo Roca and Nemesio Galve to Paris to negotiate the purchase of arms and materiel on behalf of the Republic (i.e., the CNT, Generalitat and the central government). While well-known to the CNT in Barcelona (his medical practice was regularly advertised in Solidaridad Obrera), it is possible that he was previously unknown to Juan López. One  reason for Boer’s appointment, other than having studied in Paris, may have been that he was a Grand Orient Freemason — as were many prominent cenetistas. Membership of the Grand Orient of France (GODF), the oldest French Masonic Grand Lodge, would have provided him with many well-connected and influential diplomatic, political and trade union contacts.
  4. Manuel Amil Barcía (1906-1972) “The Amil referred to is Manuel Amil, an outstanding Galician comrade long active in Madrid. He was general secretary of the National Transport Federation and had served as a member of the CNT National Committee. Tall and sturdy, outstandingly muscular; he has a store of Galician stories; he is very high-minded, of very vehement temperament and somewhat impulsive. Contrary to Val, he talks nineteen to the dozen and loves writing. His mono was kept for working hours. He shaved regularly and never missed a meal-time, like a good Galician.” (Juan López)
  5. See also The Final Weeks of the Spanish Republic by Ignacio Iglesias; The enigmatic Juan Negrín y López. Stalin’s ‘Golden Boy’, visionary, crook, or man of straw? ; THE CNT AGREES TO TOPPLE THE NEGRIN GOVERNMENT by Gregorio GallegoTHE WAR ENDS IN TRAGEDY FOR SOME MISUNDERSTOOD ANARCHISTS by Julián Vadillo Muñoz