Josep (José) Ester Borrás was born in Berga on the second floor of No 3, Carrer Baixada del Vals (otherwise Carrer Mossén Comellas) on 26 September 1913. Josep was the second child of Francesc Ester Escobet, from Berga and Dolors Borrás Solanas, from Freixenet (Lérida). At the time of Josep’s birth, his parents were 23 and 22 respectively. Josep’s older sister was Antonia, a year and a half older than him. Their father Francesc Ester, who had previously been a bricklayer was doing his mandatory three years military service at the time.
To speak of anarchism as a way of life, as an ethics, takes us to difficult questions about what it is to be, to act, as an anarchist. And perhaps among what is most important about the written work of Tomás Ibáñez is that he has never shied away from confronting them directly, as he does in the work that we share below, translated from the French and published with Grande Angle Libertaire. And it is a reflection which calls up again the centrality of mutual aid in anarchist practice.
If the reference to the “existential element” of a political option refers to the fact that, apart from a membership of simple convenience, people who commit to it integrate this political choice as a structuring element of their social and personal identity, with all of the repercussions that this has on their lives, it is clear that this is certainly present in anarchism, but also, from left to right, in the whole, broad range of political ideologies.
On the other hand, if this reference refers to the fact that a political option carries an existential dimension, the range narrows considerably and anarchism then presents itself, not only as one of the options which satisfy this condition, but again as one of those where it asserts itself most clearly. From my point of view, there is no doubt as regards this matter, the existential element is constitutively part of anarchism.
Agustín Comotto’s new biography of Octavio Alberola, El peso de las estrellas(Rayo Verde), delves into the 20th century libertarian struggle through the life, considered thoughts and ideals of one of the most pugnacious anarchists of our day.
In Octavio Alberola we have the
red thread connecting and affording meaning to the continuity between the
libertarian struggles under the Republic and the civil war, the anti-Franco
struggle, the revolts and armed actions of the 1970s, right up to the fresh
re-formulations of anarchism in a globalized world. The narrative and his
thoughts on his life and times as offered to us by the author of this book, the
Argentinean writer and artist Agustín Comotto, through the skilful use of two
voices embodying two generations, allows for a contextual analysis of
things. We have the voice of a
protagonist who lived through historic times and personal and collective
tragedies, and an activist familiar with great players in history such as García
Oliver, Cipriano Mera, Federica Montseny, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Daniel
Cohn-Bendit, Régis Debray and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.
Furthermore, the book plunges
into the contradictions and misgivings, certainties and ethical commitment to
his ideas and to society that have always guided Alberola’s life through an
unrelenting re-framing of the anarchist idea and the meaning of social
struggle, not forgetting what it means to live one’s own individual life in
accordance with anarchist ideas too. We discover not just the activist but also
the person alive to and curious about the world of culture and thought. He was
a very good friend of Agustín García Calvo and locked horns with Noam Chomsky,
among others. His intellectual interests range from quantum physics and
relativity theory to art, music, history, cinema, engineering and architecture.
Cipriano Mera Sanz was born on 4 November 1897 in Madrid’s Tetuán de las Victorias quarter. His childhood was tough, as it was for every other working class family.
He never got the chance to go to school and, from a very young age, he was forced out to work by the need to make some contribution towards the running of his humble household. At the age of 16 Mera made up his mind to become a bricklayer and, so that his rights would be protected, his father enrolled him the UGT-affiliated ‘El Trabajo’ bricklayers’ society. From then on, Mera was up to his neck in social issues and labour affairs. But he soon found that the what the UGT stood for and what he was looking for were not the same thing, and he found the socialists’ trade unionism a bit restrictive. Cipriano Mera was out for a revolutionary change that reformism just did not offer.
After a 40-year silence, our group, all former members of COPEL [Coordinadora de Presos En Lucha — Prisoners in Struggle Coordinating Body], reports on the role played by prisoners in Francoist Spain’s so-called ‘transition to democracy’ between 1976 and 1979.
The process of Spain’s democratisation from dictatorship wasn’t a gift granted from on high following Franco’s death; it was taken from below by the direct actions of many campaigning movements, starting with the assembly-based wildcat strikers of the 1970s.
The amnesty law, for example, was only secured as a result of countless street and prison rooftop mobilisations — and near permanent confrontation — with the regime’s riot police at the cost of a number of lives.
COPEL (Coordinadora de Presos En Lucha) emerged through spontaneous mobilisations by prisoners pushing for the amnesty law of October 1977 to be extended across the prison population; it developed as a rank-and-file body that gave voice and leverage to those excluded from the political process, and which challenged the State for more than two years, exposing its injustices and the inhumanity of society’s punitive machinery.
This documentary, focusing on Franco’s and post-Francoist’s prisons and the plight of its prisoners, is told by the victims of the regime, activists who lived through those long years of struggle and who are determined to expose the truth about the nature of the regime and its penal system.