CIPRIANO MERA SANZ. Portrait of a militant

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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.

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Anarchists in La Cerdanya — SEGUNDO JODRA GIL (1907-1943) by Antonio Gascón/ Agustin Guillamón. Translated by Paul Sharkey

Puigcerdà,1939: Retreating Republican forces destroy Puigcerdà’s arsenal

Segundo Jodra Gil, unmarried carpenter and CNT member, was born in 1907 in Pálmaces de Jadraque (Guadalajara). In October 1934, he was briefly jailed in Puigcerdá, together with Antonio Martín. He was acquitted of the charge of killing a policeman. In 1936, he was appointed Economy sub-delegate for the Cerdanya by the Generalidad government and was actively involved in the running of the Puigcerdá People’s Co-operative, a leading libertarian experiment in the Cerdanya. After the war ended, he was arrested in 1942 and shot in Gerona cemetery on 12 July 1943.

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THE REVOLUTION ENDED IN MAY A film by Mikel Muñoz

‘The revolution ended in May’, Mikel Muñoz’s 2015 film (Spanish with French subtitles) on the five days of infamy and treachery that ended Spain’s social revolution. In the Spring of 1937, with the anti-fascist war at its peak, the pro-Stalinist ‘socialists’ of the PSOE, led by Finance Minister Juan Negrín, the communist-led PSUC (The Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia) led by Juan Comorera, supported by right wing nationalists of the Estat Català, moved against the power bases of the anarcho-syndicalist workers’ militias in Catalonia, starting on April 25 with the customs post at Puigcerdá on the French border, and culminating in the attempted seizure of the Barcelona Telephone Exchange. The latter action and the call for the CNT employees defending the building and adjoining barrio barricades to abandon their positions and give up their arms was endorsed by the infamous ‘notables’ of the higher committees of the CNT, particularly anarchist ministers Federica Montseny and Juan Garcia Oliver, and CNT National Secretary Mariano T. Vazquez. The following account of the ‘Events of May’ is from ‘Building Utopia’.

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THE OBLIGATORY MARTYR by André Prudhommeaux (1902-1968) (Translated by Paul Sharkey)

André Prudhommeaux

André Prudhommeaux (15 October 1902 – 13 November 1968 ) was an was an early Council Communist, then an anarchist publisher and bookstore owner whose Paris shop (opened in 1928) specialized in social history and was a venue for many debates and discussions. An agronomist, libertarian socialist, editor of Le Libertaire and Le Monde Libertaire, writer and publicist, he grew up in a Fourierist “Familistere” cooperative association, but always adopted a non-sectarian approach to the left, generally. His bookshop carried publications of the Italian Left, the Bordiguists, and council communism, and he was prominent in defending Marinus Van Der Lubbe, the Dutch council communist accused of setting fire to the Reichstag in February 1933. Ultimately, however, Prudhommeaux inclined more towards anarchism. 

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Mariano R. Vázquez (‘Marianet’) — a pen portrait by ‘Farquhar McHarg’

Mariano R. Vázquez (1909-1939)

November 1936: “Farquhar was adamant that things began going badly wrong in 1936 with the vertiginous rise to power of Mariano R. Vázquez . ‘Marianet’, as he was known, was the protégé of the CNT’s collaborationist secretary-general, Horacio Martínez Prieto, and Juan García Oliver —first to the position of regional secretary of the Catalan CNT then, in November 1936, to the post of secretary-general of the CNT National Committee…

“According to Farquhar, it was Marianet who — largely single-handedly, but ably assisted by Montseny, Esgleas and others who should have known better — began suffocating the revolutionary process with his bureaucratic and cowardly deference to the Catalan and Madrid governments, and to the British and French consuls in Barcelona by ensuring that the CNT did not socialise those countries’ important commercial interests in Catalonia. Tragically, the majority of the membership acquiesced to this, by allowing the CNT-FAI street patrols to be replaced first by the Central Committee of Anti-Fascist Militias, then by security forces answerable only to the Generalidad Defence Council…

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