CONFEDERAL RE-UNIFICATION AND THE REPORT OF INTERIOR DEFENCE (ID) (1961)
In both sectors of the CNT, the committees were induced by the pressure of their respective rank and files to intensify negociations, contacts and proposals for solving the internal conflict.
The end of the politicals hopes for diplomatic solutions and the revolutionary pragmatism of the anti-politicals led to the same daily praxis and the same daily passivity. As soon as the division between politicals and apoliticals appeared anachronistic and without worthwhile ideological justification, it made the true causes of the Confederal split increasingly apparent: the struggle for representation in the organization, and personal or clan rivalry. Therefore, it is not surprising that in most cases the committees were the most determined opponents of the idea of reunification and the reunification movementat both the national and local levels. As action had been reduced to routine meetings intended to prepare memorandums dealing with questions of management or problems relating to the organization, it had become difficult to find candidates to fill positions of responsibility in the organization. This served as an excuse for the minority, which, for all kinds of reasons, had acquired a taste for the permanence of functions in the organs of the organization. The other organizations and parties in exile experienced identical circumstances.1
Furthermore, the scarcity of militants affected all the sectors of the classical opposition, although the Communist Party partly compensated for these losses by winning new converts, with the ebb and flow of the regimes calculated anti-communist policy. Even the CNT, which was numerically always the strongest exiled organization2, could not remain indifferent to the terrible ravages of this relentless erosion.
Faced with this desolate landscape, which was becoming irremediable, classical anti-Francoism suddenly discovered its responsibility and the urgent need for a serious reaction. The contrast offered by its extreme passivity and the fighting spirit of the workers and students in Spain and the anti-dictatorship forces in Latin America seemed to have made it realize the necessity of reviving itself. For several years already in anti-Francoist circles in exile, this feeling was stimulated by the proliferation of marginal groups which denounced the defeatism of official anti-Francoism. Thus, in Mexico, Spanish Movement 59 and the ALE (Action for Spanish Liberation) appeared. The former grouped young communists, libertarians, republicans, socialists, etc. The latter grouped cenetistas of both factions, socialists of different tendencies, and republicans of all kinds, even including members of the government in exile.
In France, particularly in libertarian circles, marginalism also followed its course. Thus, before the Congress of 1960, the MPR (Popular Resistance Movement) was formed, awakening certain hopes in the Confederal rank and file with its positions and its unitary and combative goals. On the other hand, for some time already, the appearance of certain opposition groups, basically comprised of youth, made classical anti-Francoisms lack of representativeness and presence conspicuous in working class and student circles.
(...) We think that an objectively revolutionary situation exists in Spain, and that the classical parties do not want to or cannot see it. Our mission is to act to relieve them, and from today onward to hold as our goal, unchanged since the start of the clandestinity imposed by Francoism: the socialist revolution (...)3.
As a result, the FLP (Popular Liberation Front) affirmed itself not only as an anti-Francoist front but also as a revolutionary organization.
After its actions of March 1960 and the execution by garroting of one of its members, the DRIL (Iberian Revolutionary Directorate of Liberation) continued to organize groups prepared for action, both in Europe and in America:
(...) The DRIL defines itself as an organization of anti-Francoist struggle, and consequently, with a democratic origin, nature and hallmark, comprising men and women of different political and religious ideologies who, understanding the urgent necessity of overthrowing the Iberian tyrannies, have united to obtain freedom for their country and the right to control the product of their labour (...)4.
By seizing the Portuguese transatlantic liner Santa Maria at the beginning of 1961, in order to make the world aware of the existence of an active resistance to the Spanish and Portuguese dictatorships, the DRIL caused a huge wave of enthusiasm. This exploit had a profound impact on anti-Francoist consciousness, particularly in the MLE, as the DRIL commando counted several libertarians among its members. The activist tendencies were strengthened by it.
Of all the sectors in exile, it was the libertarian sector that felt the consequences of anti-Francoist marginalism most strongly, and its influence on the acceleration of the process of Confederal reunification was decisive.
The Motion of the First Intercontinental Congress of Local Federations of the CNT in Spain and in Exile on the problem of Confederal reunification represented a decisive step toward the resolution of the internal split:
(...) So as not to force anyones will, and not to impose a community before it has ripened by means of relations, to avoid extortions in the integration of militants; being aware, moreover, that there are places where there are no problems caused by a split and that there are others where a Local Federation of one or the other faction exists; and that, finally, in a few others, there are on the other hand Local Federations of either faction, with the whole situation a jumble of disagreements and animosities that can only cause us to lose time, and knowing in addition that the problem, while remaining the same, has developed at different rates from one region of the country to another, we grant, in order to facilitate this process, procedural autonomy to each Local Federation while it reaches a settlement (...)
This procedural autonomy greatly facilitated and accelerated the process of reunification, including the rider that stipulated:
(...) The Intercontinental Secretariat, which is required to receive the answer of the party in litigation, will take account of the invariability of the fundamental points which are specified in the text5 which will be made public, considering, meanwhile, all well-reasoned particulars which tend to facilitate the realization of the conclusions reached by the reporters.
While the partisans of unity hurried to accomplish it, trying to reduce all harshness to facilitate the reintegration, integration or fusion of the militants, its opponents threw themselves into an effort to boycott the unity agreements in the name of sacred tactical principles and ultimate goals. On their own initiative, certain partisans of the split did everything they could to facilitate, with their mistakes and refusal to compromise, the anti-unification efforts of the FAI hard-liners.
Along with the effort at reunification in exile, the International Secretariat, backed by the National Subcommittee, began a broad effort involving the re-organization of the clandestine organizational cadres, which brought about the formation of a National Committee, representing the militants of the two factions.
The unity of the CNT was made on the basis of the re-affirmation of the principles, tactics and final goals consubstantial with anarcho-syndicalism, as well as a result of concrete agreements to encourage a union alliance and a Spanish Anti-fascist Front:
(...) A pact of anti-Francoist activity, with its exiled non-totalitarian organizations and parties, which represent the traditionally known sectors, with personalities and characteristics clearly defined in Spain before the uprising of July 1936 (...).
At the same time, the necessity of revaluing the report of the Plenary Assembly of 1951 on clandestine struggle asserted itself:
(...) Ratifying the classic revolutionary position of the CNT in the face of an eventual insurrection inside Spain against the dictatorship; always tending to be the most active element in the preparation of the insurrectional act (...).
These agreements seemed to be completed for the same purpose: to reinvigorate the anti-Francoist struggle, but this complementarity was only apparent. In fact, while the SI and the majority of the Local Federations that had unified continued the steps necessary for the formation of the union alliance and the Anti-fascist Front, at both the national and local levels, the groups opposed to Confederal unity threw themselves into an open struggle against the latter.
Thus, the old fantasies of libertarian sectarianism began to revive: reformism and collaborationism. But now it was not only the old splitters who were accused of being reformists and collaborationists; these epithets were applied to the very comrades of the apolitical faction who dared to denounce the contradictions concealed by this sectarianism.
The more deeply one studies these oppositions to unity, the more one arrives at a private belief that the CNT and anarchism suffered from the interference of the interests of those who did not want the libertarian movement put back in shape. Likewise, anti-Francoisms progressive suicide seems to have been knowingly desired and manipulated from outside the country, because this suited the world equilibrium imposed by the great powers. But the most decisive factor in the long run was the integration of the exiled masses into the social spheres that the Diaspora had led them to. The loss of combativeness, the compromises and inevitable contradictions gave rise to and fed all kinds of suspicions, criticisms and oppositions.
Tensions also arose within Francoism, and defections from its ranks appeared with a certain regularity, but these hardly affected the political continuity of the regime. Anti-Francoism, particularly in exile, continued to justify its defence of the status quo with useless speculation about the disintegration of Francoism.
However, this time, thanks to the pressure that the two big union federations (the CIOLS and the CISC) exerted on the UGT, the union alliance (CNT-UGT-STV) was created in the month of May by the completion of a joint text. But the exclusion of the POUM and the CNT after the meeting of February 20 appeared incompatible with the attempt to unify the democratic forces that the classical parties were trying to relaunch. In fact, at the end of the month of July 1961 the formation of the Union of Democratic Forces was announced, which was composed of the following groups: the Christian Democratic Left, the Spanish Democratic Republican Assembly, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, the General Workers Union, the Basque Nationalist Party, Basque Nationalist Action and Basque Workers Solidarity.
The goal of this union, according to the assertions of the founding organizations, is to fight Francoism and promote a transitional regime without a defined institutional character, which will hold elections so that the Spanish people can choose the regime they prefer.
In addition, the Intercontinental Secretariat agreed to join the Joint Committee of the Intercontinental Union Committee (CIOLS-CISC). Even though the union alliance agreements of the Congress of 1960 clearly stipulated that:
(...) The Congress is in favour of a circumstantial alliance on concrete points between the CNT and the UGT (...) No coordinating secretariat or permanent joint organization will be formed between the CNT and the UGT under the auspices of the alliance (...).
It should not be surprising, therefore, that the partisans of anti-unification exploited this haste and these transgressions in preparation for the next Congress, as weapons to spread doubt and accuse the members of the SI of being instruments of Confederal reformism.
On July 18, the police discovered, in time, an attempted sabotage of a railway line just before the passing of the veterans train, on its way to a gathering in San Sebastian to commemorate the anniversary of the Francoist uprising. This action, and the fact that two Spanish flags were burned in the center of this same town, publicly announced the existence of a young nationalist organization (ETA), which advocated armed struggle against Francoism for the liberation of Basque territory. These actions were followed by large-scale repression in the Basque country (more than one hundred arrests).
Meanwhile, the Communist Party announced that the time has come to organize a peaceful nation-wide strike, launching an appeal to all anti-Francoist organizations and forces to prepare for this action ...
For its part, the Church after political incidents provoked by the attitude of certain advanced Catholics and the indignant surprise that the letter of the Basque priests6 aroused in traditionalist circles, hastened to reiterate its unconditional support for the regime and vaunt its excellence, thereby denying speculation about a cooling of relations between the Church and the Francoist State.
In mid-August, the press reported the outcome of a guerrilla action unleashed at the French-Spanish border by a commando of thirteen men who engaged the Guardia Civil in combat on the 10th, during which a member of the Guardia was killed and another wounded. The commando had to seek refuge in France, where all of its members were arrested, as well as the presumed leader of this operation, the famous El Campesino.
Despite their outcome, the actions of the DRIL, the ETA and Campesino made large ripples in anti-Francoist circles, reaffirming the theses of direct action in the most radicalized groups, and particularly among the libertarians. In all exiled sectors, a more or less justified enthusiasm developed: the alliances, the actions, the declarations of the opposition inside Spain and the support of the Trade-Union Internationals were full of promises ...
However, within the CNT the process of reunification was unable to consolidate itself; on the contrary, in preparation for the upcoming Confederal Congress, opposing positions continued to feed dissent with their reciprocal attacks and their refusal to compromise. At this Congress, which was to finalize the reunification of the movement, approve the union alliance pact and propose solutions to an entire series of points on an agenda considered to be fundamental for the continuity of the CNT, the latter appeared to be more morally divided than before the Limoges Congress of 1960. As soon as the first debates began, distrust and antagonisms began to appear. However, the Congress, which began on August 26, ended without any apparent split on September 3rd.
The presence of a direct delegation from the National Committee of the already reunified CNT inside Spain, and the fact that the majority of the delegations present at the Congress had already declared themselves in favour of unity in a decisive way allowed the latter to leave the deadlock of double delegations after the withdrawal of the delegations most opposed to unity.
After the declarations of the direct delegation of the National Committee from the Interior, which insisted on the necessity of the CNT continuing firmly in its revolutionary action, the Congress, without any great difficulty, adopted concrete accords about the Syndical Alliance and the Anti-Fascist Front:
...the CNT will insist on the necessity of the Alliances assuming a dynamic character and directing its activities principally into direct opposition to the Regime in Spain ... The CNT considers that the Alliances period of inactivity must come to an end, and that it is urgent that it becomes a dynamic living organization by activity in both the Interior and in Exile. If this condition is not fulfilled, the CNT will reconsider its agreements ...
...as subversive action against the Regime is indispensable, the CNT, along with the other anti-fascist forces, will attempt to set up a National Council of Defence as a fighting instrument, whose task will be to develop, coordinate and set up clandestine struggle in the Interior. If, contrary to our desires and the most elementary of our duties, we do not succeed in impressing this fighting spirit on our acts in common, the CNT will undertake this line of combat by itself, considering it the only hope of salvation.
This firm decision to bring dynamism to the struggle against the Regime, in conjunction with the other anti-dictatorial sections of the anti-Francoist movement or without them, made clear in these two accords, is the most faithful reflection of the atmosphere which prevailed at the end of the Congress. An atmosphere which led to the approval, in a closed session, of the (secret) report of the D-I (Interior Defence).
The report was drawn up by a committee composed of three well-known militants (G. Esgleas, M. Celma and V. Llansola) of the purist faction, who had expressly proposed that they should do it.
Report on the 8th Point of the Agenda:
1st. The existing report of 8th May 1951, adopted at the previous CNT congress at Limoges, is ratified; the sister branch (FAI) also ratifies it.
2nd. Agreeing with its clauses, and considering that we must prepare ourselves in all eventualities so that we, Exile and Interior in strict coordination may take the situation in hand and act coherently as a decisive factor.
WE SUGGEST: that the D-I SECTION be created, via the defence organization.
That a comrade from the Interior may form part of it, if the Interior considers it necessary. The comrades of this Section will be designated by the defence organization and will be replaced by the same organization where the exiles are involved.
This section will be kept secret, and it will maintain secrecy about its members and its work, for which it will be responsible to the defence organization.
The location of the D-I Section will also remain unknown, no details being given of whether it is in the Interior, in France, or some other part of Europe, Africa or America.
The D-I Section will be responsible for the selection of comrades who consider themselves suitable, trustworthy and up to accomplishing the objectives of defence.
Without limiting other complementary initiatives, it is recommended that the section:
a) Prepare organizational networks in the Interior, wherever necessary, with a view to their being used where the needs of the organization call for it.
b) Prepare action networks which specialize in all aspects of combat and conspiracy.
c) Establish preparational and operational bases in reserve, in Exile and in the Interior, particularly in France, Portugal, Morocco, England and other places.
d) Form study and technical, strategic and tactical preparation networks.
e) Form an informational and infiltration structure, particularly in university, student, intellectual and industrial circles and work environments in general.
f) Form a suitable propaganda structure with specialists in oral, written, radio, etc., propaganda.
All comrades, young or veterans, can be counted on to cooperate according to their abilities in the tasks, networks, functions and jobs that have been described.
To collect the means indispensable to the realization of these tasks, the Organization will decide on the methods to be used, whether subscriptions or appeals, to find the full amount of funds that are necessary.
The report Committee considers that all these proposals can only be realized if there are men who are really prepared to work in accordance with the movements conditions, who are capable of realizing its objectives, who are individually and collectively responsible, and if the means are at hand.
For the report Committee; F.L. of Seysses, F.L. of Bordeaux, and F.L. of Ingres.
Limoges, 2nd Sept. 1961 (The delegates signatures follow).
RIDER. In order to raise at least 10 million [pesetas - tr.] in funds as rapidly as possible, we suggest that a special subscription for this purpose be opened in addition to the normal one, in all Local Federations.
NOTE from the Intercontinental Secretariat: Comrade Secretary, the confidential nature of the present Report requires that you take care not to mislay it, and that it be carefully guarded once you have informed the comrades you represent in the region you are responsible for, whether it is a Local or Regional Federation.
In principle, this report represented a decisive step along the road to recovery by the libertarian movement, both because it was the necessary corollary of reunification and the Confederal organizations spirit of struggle and because, along with the accords of the Syndical Alliance and the Anti-Fascist Front, it formed a coherent strategic whole. As a result, libertarian strategy acquired a realistic and logical political direction for the first time in the long anti-Francoist exile. With the adoption of the Report, the Congress fully justified its meeting, and opened promising perspectives to galvanize libertarian enthusiasm and the mobilization of broad sectors of the anti-Francoist movement.
This is why reunification had aroused so much hope and enthusiasm, particularly among the young libertarians who were disgusted by the passive policies laid down by the two other branches of the Movement. A disgust which had culminated in the separation of the FIJL from the Defence Committee (C. de D.) several years earlier.
The management of the reorganization of the Interior, undertaken by the Intercontinental Secretariat [SI], and which had made possible the unity of the CNT and the preparation of an action, with adequate technical means, to assassinate the Caudillo7, had brought about a resurgence of confidence in their elders inside the Youth Organization, and a predisposition to cooperate with them once more in conspiratorial tasks.
The FIJL had declared itself in favour of unity a long time ago, and as far as it was able, had participated in consolidating it. Its sections in Mexico and Venezuela had collaborated directly, from the end of 1960 on, in the collection of funds and the campaign of libertarian mobilization with a view to reopening the anti-Francoist struggle. At the Plenary Assembly of the youth branch in September, the delegation of young libertarians from the Interior managed to overcome the last reservations, and obtained the decision to reintegrate the FIJL into the Movements Defence Committee.
Like the Confederal branch and the specific branch8, the youth branch drew up a report on clandestine struggle, but in anticipation of the non-application of the accords, the FIJL had added a condition to its report:
... if the common line of action is transgressed or sabotaged by one of the other branches, we will regain our freedom of action.
At the same time that many cenetistas were arrested in Spain, the French police proceeded, at the beginning of October, to arrest ten or so militants of the Paris Local Federation of the CNT at their homes, for verification of identity.
In Spain the arrests spread to all the provinces, once again disrupting the National Committee of the CNT and the organizational links it had established after long and difficult reorganizing work. Several delegates from the Youth branch of the Interior had to stay in France, since their names had been mentioned by the Francoist police in connection with the arrest of the CNT National Committee. The fall of this Committee was a hard blow to the immediate setting up of the conspiracy organization (D-I), since the National Committee had to appoint a permanent delegate to this organization.In France the authorities banned the publication of the Confederal newspapers (CNT, Solidaridad Obrera, España Libre).
The end of the Confederal split had revived the meetings of anarchist groups in all continents, who saw the possibility of their own resurgence in the prospect of a relaunching of the anti-fascist struggle. All kinds of shows of support and solidarity appeared, from numerous public acts (meetings, demonstrations and festivals) to more concrete actions, like the attack on the Spanish Consulate in Geneva that was carried out by young Swiss anarchists. In Venezuela, with the help of the STV (a Venezuelan trade union organization) a semi-clandestine radio transmitter that broadcasted anti-Francoist propaganda programs to Spain in the name of the CNT had finally been set up.
Thus, Confederal unity seemed to be definitively consolidated and proceeding toward new goals, but in the Confederal press itself, those who had been keenly opposed to reunification returned to the attack ... feeding the fears and the grudges surrounding organizational disputes which had not yet been resolved. At the same time they carried out a witch-hunt against reformists, applying this adjective to all those who dared to denounce their sectarianism or their intransigence. Seeing that the young libertarians identified with the current that was trying to get the movement out of its stagnation and inactivity, they started to sow rumours about them.
The year came to an end without the working class agitation of its last months, occasioned by low wages and continual violations of collective agreements by the companies, turning into a coherent movement for making demands.
1. This phenomenon of the permanence of the leadership is one of the most striking characteristics of the long anti-Francoist exile.The CNT went into exile with an organized mass of several tens of thousands of militants, and its public assemblies in Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseille, etc., continued to draw audiences of several thousand sympathizers.
2. Taken from issue no. 1 of Révolution Socialiste, the organ of the F.L.P.
3. Taken from the Principles of the DRIL.
4. What was fundamental was the ratification of the principles, tactics and goals which, from start to finish, impregnated the text of the motion that was finally approved at this fiftieth anniversary Congress of the CNT. (1910/1960).
5. In this letter, the group of Basque priests raised a protest against the torture practiced by the Francoist police and denounced the Regime maintaining the Basque country in a state of colonization.
6. The carrying out of this attack against Franco, which was decided on and prepared by the Defence Committee [C. of D.] of the time, failed because the preparations could not be completed before the dictators arrival in the city of San Sebastian in summer 61.
7. The FAI had ratified the D-I Report on all points, theoretically adopting the same line as the CNT.