Cipriano Mera’s letter to the “comrades from SERE” — Camp Morandon , 15 July, 1939. (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

The Mera1Servicio de Evacuación de Refugiados Españoles or Servicio de Emigración de los Republicanos Españoles (SERE) (Emigration/evacuation service for Spanish Republican refugees) was, supposedly, a non-sectarian refugee support organisation set up in February 1939 under the aegis of pro-Stalinist prime minister Juan Negrín. Distribution of SERE’s funds — responsibility for which had been arbitratrily arrogated to themselves by Negrín and his Socialist Party (PSOE) cronies — was suspended in July 1939 on the grounds the organisation had ‘run out of money’. In reality, according to many informed observers, including Cipriano Mera and anarchist historian Francisco Olaya Morales, the funds had been misappropriated, administered and distributed without any proper oversight, and benefited, primarily, senior Republicans close to Negrín. Cipriano Mera wrote the following letter to SERE clarifying his role in militarisation, the National Defence Council and in the pre-emptive coup against Negrín — and effectively informing them what they could do with their offer to him of financial support.

“Those like myself who have travelled a piece down life’s highway, a path strewn more with thorns than with flowers; those like myself who are over the hill in life and closer to its setting than its rising; those like myself who have spent twenty years fighting to see to it that the long-suffering worker may live, if not well then at least a touch less badly; those like myself who have been, not onlookers but actors in the drama of war, are entitled, not to force others to follow in our footsteps, but to give us a hearing, since, amid the enormous brutality called war, we have left chunks of our dignity, pained by the impossibility of our acting in accordance with the dictates of our revolutionary consciousness; those like myself whose hearts have been hardened over the course of the struggle by the brutal errors made by an infinite number of individuals – some irresponsible for want of the understanding required to make a clear distinction between good and evil, but others bearing great responsibility because endowed with their vast learning – we, I say again, are within our rights in speaking candidly to any Spaniard who in one way or another, has had a hand in the war waged against international fascism.

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