THE GOLPISTA SLAUGHTER OF ANARCHO-SYNDICALISTS IN CADIZ (1936-1937) by José Luis Gutiérrez Molina (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

JOSE BONAT ORTEGA (Cádiz, 1890 – 1936)

In July 1936, the coup-makers (golpistas) were clear that their success would be bought at the cost of the physical elimination of the leading members of the republican and workers’ political parties, as well as of the trade unions. In addition to members or organisations like the freemasons which were held to be hostile to the golpistas’ clericalism and unreconstructed version of Catholicism. This repressive approach resulted in a policy of extermination once the golpistas woke up to the fact that their coup attempt had failed across the country. So that during the summer and the months that followed there occurred in the occupied territories what has been described as “Francoism’s foundational massacre” or “the Spanish Holocaust”.

The rebels were trying to stop the changes in economic relations and in in Spanish society as a whole, these having gathered pace after the proclamation of the Second Republic in April 1931. Both the moderate changes pushed by the republican groups and the more far-reaching changes pushed by anarcho-syndicalism. The defeat of the coup was a boost to the spread of the revolution which it was supposed to have been meant to prevent. The number one enemies to be eliminated were those who represented the greatest radicalism: the libertarians.

This essay means to describe how the policy of extermination was applied to the anarcho-syndicalist constituency in Cadiz. A city where the main economic sectors – metalworking, transport and construction – were dominated by the CNT. I shall focus upon a few of the more prominent militants, whilst not forgetting that the repression encompassed the bulk of the city’s anarcho-syndicalists.

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