LAUREANO CERRADA SANTOS. Notes from ¡Pistoleros! The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg. 2: 1919 (1944-1954)

1976, Café de L’Europe, Rue des Couronnes, Belleville, Paris: last photograph of Laureano Cerrada Santos (1902-1976), seated, centre. He was murdered a few days later on 18 October 1976. His murderer, Ramón Benichó Canuda (aka “Leriles”), a CNT Infiltrator and French Mafioso, fled to Canada; he was never arrested or faced extradition charges to face justice in France.

Although the French police and security services had had Laureano under regular surveillance since the Liberation (of Paris), they had only been able to arrest and convict him on a handful of occasions. According to Spanish and French police reports, he had been involved in large-scale black-market and counterfeiting operations during and after the Nazi Occupation and was reputed, according to their reports, to have amassed a fortune: ‘reckoned at over two hundred million francs, with which he funds the Spanish Libertarian action groups—within Spain as well as abroad’. Equally they knew Laureano’s counterfeit IDs, driving licences and ration cards had saved the lives of countless members of the Resistance, Allied and Jewish evaders and escaping POWs, as well as ordinary French men and women who had to reinvent themselves to escape the Gestapo and the Milice. For that reason—and for his role in the Resistance—they respected him and to a large extent turned a blind eye to his activities. But as the bitter memories of the Occupation receded, new geopolitical and domestic pressures began eroding French sympathies for the exiles who had contributed so much to the Liberation.

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‘OPERATION DULCINEA’ The Hijacking of the SS Santa Maria, 21 January— 2 February 1961.


Surrounded on all sides by the US Sixth Fleet, the DRIL finally agreed to negotiate with the Americans. Rear-Admiral Allen Smith, second-in-command of the US Atlantic Fleet, came on board the Santa Liberdade with a number of his officers and two CIA men on Sunday 29th January to negotiate on behalf of Admiral Robert L. Dennison, the commander-in-chief of the US Atlantic Fleet[/caption]

“THE ‘WINDS OF CHANGE’ heralded by Prime Minister Harold MacMillan in February 1960 were global ones. His Cape Town speech, referring as it did to Africa and, considering the Portuguese dictatorship’s massive dependence on Angola and Mozambique, no doubt made António de Oliveira Salazar distinctly uneasy. It also gave heart to the anti-colonialist movement worldwide. In Venezuela in 1958, the dictator Marco Pérez Jímenez, faced with growing popular opposition, stuffed his suitcase with dollars one day and fled to the US. On January 1 the following year, armed guerrillas marched into Havana, overthrowing another US cacique, Fulgencio Batista.

“These events gave a major boost to the expectations of radicals and liberals everywhere. Across Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula young people began to believe that the idea of toppling tyrants looked achievable and, finally, the time had come to rise up in arms against Franco and Salazar. New opposition groups began to emerge inside Spain itself such as the libertarian Movimiento Popular de Resistencia (MPR) and the socialist-oriented Frente de Liberación Popular (FLP).

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