Defensa Interior. The Final Curtain for Libertarian Violence by Ángel Herrerín López (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia — Centro de Investigaciones de le Democracia Española). Translated by Paul Sharkey

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),

 

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Octavio Alberola, interviewed by Agustín Guillamón in November 2016

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.

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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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