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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