Maggie Torre’s welcome and rigorous study analysing the CNT’s trajectory during its thirty-five years of clandestinity and exile, describes, convincingly and in satisfying detail, the internal and external vicissitudes and complexities that led, in December 1979, to the steady eclipse of anarcho-syndicalist influence following the CNT’s first Congress in Spain since Zaragoza in 1936: the carrot and stick of thirty-five years of vicious and murderous repression and co-option of militants into the Francoist vertical unions; thirty years of the baleful and corrupting influence of the Gestapo-compromised Federica Montseny (1905-1994) and Germinal Esgleas (1903-1981) controlling an oligarchic mutual aid society in exile, and seeking to control — and betray, —the clandestine union organisation inside Spain; the changing nature of Spain’s labour movement in the 1950s and 1960s; the impact of the guerrilla action groups and Defensa Interior’s direct actions targeting Spanish tourism and its attempts to kill Franco; ‘cincopuntismo’ and the CNT’s relations with the vertical union; the ideological evolution of Spanish anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in the 1960s and 1970s; the Scala-type machinations of the ‘Bunker’ to ensure a seamless, Dr Who-like transition to power and retain control in the brave new world of post-Francoist democracy.Continue reading…
“The assassination of John Kennedy and the downfall of Richard-Nixon have both been viewed as isolated moral disasters for American democracy: Kennedy’s murder as a demonstration of our continuing national inability or unwillingness to cope with violence; Nixon’s downfall as a demonstration of the failure of our democratic institutions to overcome the abuses of secret intelligence and electronic surveillance at the seat of national power.
But these two events represent neither isolated disasters nor a generalized failure of American institutions but something almost beyond the ability of ordinary people even to see, much less control. The two events – Dallas and Watergate – are actually concrete links in a chain of related and ominous events passing through the entire decade in which they occurred and beyond. And this chain of events itself represents only the violent eruptions of a deeper struggle of rival power elites identified here as Yankees and Cowboys.
Defensa Interior (DI) was a clandestine anarchist organisation, founded in September 1961 by the congress of the Movimiento Libertario Español (Spanish Libertarian Movement: CNT, FAI, FIJL, Mujeres Libres) and disbanded by their 1965 congress. The objective of the DI was to revitalise and co-ordinate international resistance against the Francoist State, and to organise the assassination of General Franco. It quickly became clear, however, that it was, primarily, the new generation of young libertarians (FIJL) who demonstrated the political will to relaunch the armed struggle against Franco, a strategy that in reality had long since been abandoned — and actively sabotaged! — by the Toulouse-based leadership of the CNT-FAI (principally Federica Montseny, Germinal Esgleas and Vicente Llansola. My personal preferred explanation [i.e. SC] for Esgleas’ and Montseny’s behaviour — which is outlined in Pistoleros 3 — is that they had been seriously compromised by their collaboration with the Gestapo during the Occupation, which explains why they were never handed over to Franco, as occurred with most other prominent Spanish Republican exiles. After the war the Gestapo’s archives fell into the hands of the Soviets, which would have provided the Communists with leverage over the CNT/MLE in exile, thus ensuring the CNT’s passivity and allowing the PCE free rein as the principal opposition to the Franco regime. The Gestapo’s information was also more than likely available to the Spanish police and security services). It was to be the last time the CNT, the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist labour union in exile, created a defence structure and funded the formation of action/defence groups.
ÁNGEL HERRERÍN LÓPEZ, is the author of the highly recommended: La CNT durante el franquismo. Clandestinidad y exilio (1939-1975),
Octavio Alberola Suriñach (Alaior, Menorca, 1928), anarcho-syndicalist and Franco’s public enemy No. 1 from 1962 to 1975. Exiled with his parents to Mexico in 1939, Alberola studied civil engineering and theoretical physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), where he became involved with the Libertarian Youth and the CNT in exile. He also worked, from 1956, with the exiled Cubans of the July 26 Movement and the Student Revolutionary Directory until the fall of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. In 1962 the Defense Committee of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) formed the clandestine Interior Defence (Defensa Interior) Committee, to which Alberola was delegated as a representative of the Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth (FIJL). Consequently, Alberola moved to France to coordinate the DI’s harrying, propagandist and solidarity actions across Europe, including inside Spain. These actions included an assassination attempt against Francisco Franco in San Sebastián in the summer of 1962, the first of a number of attentats. The San Sebastian attempt failed due to technical problems with the triggering device — and because Franco arrived later than expected.
Part Four: Contents
- Remembrance of the Battle of Medoc
- Anarchist Losses
- Libertad Battalion Combatants – Spanish Anarchist Guerrillas in the Dordogne – A Short list of Libertad Battalion Combatants
- The Enigma of Capdevila (aka Caraquemada)
- The Traces of the Battle
15. THE BATTLE OF THE MEDOC MEMORIAL
The names of all the troops (French, colonial and foreign) who featured and perished in the Medoc offensive are engraved on the Memorial erected in the town of Soulac-sur-Mer. Beside the dunes of the Atlantic shore-line, a thick wall pays tribute to the lives cut short in the Battle for Pointe de Grave and the Liberation of the Medoc (1945).