The harshness of the sentences imposed on anti-Francoists by the court-martials sumarisimos -- particularly on young libertarians -- reminded many of the persistence of fascism in Spain and the duplicity of the Francoist rulers in their continual declarations of evolution and reconciliation with democratic Europe.
The report "The Empire of the Law in Spain", which was made public by the International Commission of Jurists, caused great indignation both in Spain and abroad due to the judicial monstrosities and the fascist conception of Law, which the Spanish State continued to apply.
The Minister of Justice, Antonio Iturmendi, during a press conference of foreign correspondents and Spanish journalists, unscrupulously affirmed that:
"(...)In Spain no one is sentenced for his political ideas, but for criminal activity of a subversive nature, conspiring against the social and institutional order of the country, stipulated in penal law."
Indeed, in the months that followed, Francoist courts honoured the declarations of the Minister of Justice. In three months, and before the trial of communist leader Julian Grimau began, more than a hundred people accused of belonging to various political organizations had appeared before the court-martial in Madrid. The murder of young poet Manuel Moreno Barrancos, thrown over the veranda of a tier of Jerez de la Frontera prison on February 22, and who died a few hours after having crashed to the ground, should also be remembered.
After the official contacts which took place in Paris in early December 1962 between the Spanish Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Commerce and their French counterparts came the visits to Spain of the Minister of the Interior, M. Frey, and that of the Chief of Staff of the French army, General Ailleret, occurring in late January and early February, 1963 respectively. The diplomatic and political rapprochement between the governments of Paris and Madrid took on a very special significance, as it not only confirmed the natural and logical tendencies of General de Gaulle's international policy, but at the same time met the requirements of the two countries' internal policies.
On January 30, Le Monde, in an editorial entitled "A Paris-Madrid Axis", affirmed:
"The President of the Republic seems to feel a certain admiration for the Caudillo's political skill. There is an obvious political kinship between them, and what is more, the same stubbornness in defending their national sovereignty through all the vicissitudes of a troubled epoch. The General is not one of those who think that the regime imposed on this noble people should close the doors of Europe and the Atlantic alliance against it (...)"
In an internal circular, the SI of the CNT in exile alerted its militants to the possible consequences of this Spanish-French rapprochement:
"(...) The Madrid talks, relative to a reciprocity of "services", have a precise enough meaning to leave no illusions. We, Spanish anti-fascists, will be currency in exchange for OAS activists staying in Spain (...)"
(Circular no. 11 of the SI of the CNT of Spain and in Exile, 1-2-1963.)
In late March, the French press reported the first consequences of this exchange of "services" in French territory: house arrest for the Coordinating Secretary of the SI, the definitive banning of Nueva Senda, the organ of the Libertarian Youth, a threat to ban the newspaper Espoir of the CNT, as well as four other house arrests.
All of these measures revealed something more than a mere exchange of "services". As the French press emphasized: "France is the foreign country that has invested the most in Spain." It was therefore "logical" for the French government to assist the Francoist regime in struggling against any attempt at subversion. Trade, which had already doubled between 1959 and 1961, had increased again by more than 30%. Moreover, France provided more than half the tourists visiting Spain.
The upsurge in repression was due to the fear of seeing foreign investment and tourism flee the country if anti-Francoist harassing actions and social agitation continued. Highly-placed Francoist officials knew that without the aid of foreign capital and revenues from tourism, the Spanish economy would be on the brink of bankruptcy. And so that financiers and tourists would not become afraid and look elsewhere for calmer and safer horizons, it was necessary to resort to terror to "pacify" the country. But instead of calming people, the repeated court-martials only increased popular resentment and foreign animosity toward Spanish fascism.
In early January, the Portuguese vice-consul in Milan was the victim of an attack, which was immediately linked to the abduction of the Spanish vice-consul.
In early March, the Iberian Liberation Council began an intense campaign to warn tourists of the possible risks they might undergo in Spain.
Between March 3 and 4, several bombs exploded inside airplanes of the Spanish national companies Avianco and Iberia parked on runways of the Barcelona and Madrid airports, at the same time that anonymous phone calls announced to the control towers of the airports of London, Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris that bombs had been placed in Iberia airplanes leaving for Spain. Correspondents of the foreign press in Madrid received a communique of the CIL which said:
"(...) The Iberian Liberation Council, continuing its struggle for the freedom of the Iberian peoples, carried out operation "Warning" with a view to alerting "international tourism" to the grave peril it is risking by using the Francoist airlines (Iberia and TAP) and by continuing to crowd into our territory. As long as the last nazi-fascist refuge has not been eliminated from the Iberian peninsula, the tranquillity of Europe will be impossible (...)"
The next day, in Rome, two bombs exploded in the offices of Iberia and in the offices of the Conseil national de recherches scientifiques. On the airline's windows, the authors of the bombing left this message: "No to tourism in Spain". A few days later, the press reported the discovery of time-bombs inside several Spanish airplanes in the airports of the peninsula.
These actions aroused an enormous response in publicity. As a result, the anti-tourism campaign, led for some time by most of the anti-Francoist organizations in exile (flyers, declarations, etc.) and supported by a few European trade-union organizations, assumed its true dimensions and its true importance.
On April 10, the press simultaneously announced the expulsion of three French students sent by the newspaper Clarté to photograph the social agitation movements and "the arrests of three French anarchists who had committed acts of terrorism."
"(...) The first, Alain Pecunia, exploded a bomb in the ship "Ciudad de Ibiza", which was returning from Palma de Majorca in the direction of Spain (...) The second, Guy Batoux, attempted to place a similar explosive charge in the American embassy in Madrid on April 8 ... And the third, Bernard Ferry, placed an explosive charge on the evening of April 8, in the Iberia branch in Valencia (...)"
Parallel to these arrests and other attacks carried out against the property of the Iberia company, the foreign press published a new communique of the CIL:
"Madrid. In a declaration sent to foreign press services, the anarchists announced that they have unleashed the second phase of their offensive against tourism in Spain and Portugal, which, according to them, aids 'the fascist economy of Franco and Salazar ...' The CIL again warned 'international tourism' of the risk it is taking by using Spanish and Portuguese airlines and shipping lines ..." (La Dépêche, 10-4-1963).
During these same days the CIL made public an 'Open Letter to President Kennedy" sent via the United States ambassador to Spain, on the occasion of negociations for the renewal of economic and military accords, and concerning the visit of the celebrated democratic representative Stevenson to Franco.
"(...) The friends of Franco, although they call themselves democrats, will always be the enemies of true Spanish democrats (...)"
The Spanish press continued to speak of "plans for communist agitation against the Iberian peninsula". The CP and international communism attempted to make the trial of communist leader Julian Grimau the meeting point of world anti-fascist protest. Communist organizations organized an unprecedented propaganda campaign and international mobilization, which culminated in big public demonstrations and meetings in Europe and America when the sentence of the military court was known. Political and intellectual personalities from all over the world participated in it, as well as all the anti-fascist parties and organizations, even the democratic states, which intervened unofficially on behalf of Julian Grimau.
However, despite the many last-minute interventions to avoid this "useless death", including a telegram from Khrushchev to Franco and an "exhortation to Christian charity and forgiveness" from the Holy See conveyed by the apostolic nuncio of Madrid, Julian Grimau was shot. This execution did not help Francoist plans for "liberalization" at all, but it allowed the communists to take the lead once again in the opposition to the Regime.
Social conflicts continued in various regions, putting the problem of the minimum wage and other material demands on the agenda, as well as that of the representativeness of the vertical unions, which was more important politically.
The opposition continued to avoid the responsibility of effective struggle against Francoism. Only the FLP, in its declarations, and the MLE, by its actions, continued to pose the problem in its true terms:
"(...) The finality of revolutionary actions (whether they are peaceful: Propaganda, radio, etc., or violent: guerrilla war, sabotage, etc.) is to disrupt the present status quo, change the present situation, and exert an influence, in the positive sense, on the mind of the masses (...)" (Frente, July, 1963).
On June 6, a new series of well-synchronized actions in various European and American airports took over the front pages of the newspapers. The next day, the entire international press talked (with big headlines and many photos) about the results of this spectacular action by the CIL against airplanes of the Spanish and Portuguese airlines:
"Five airplanes sabotaged in one week. The Spanish anarchists want to frighten the tourists (...) For a week, acts of sabotage have spread on board Portuguese and Spanish commercial airplanes (...)" (Paris-Presse, l'Intransigeant, 9 and 10-6-1963)
"(...) The campaigns and operations that the CIL has carried out in recent years corresponds to the plan it has drawn up to bring the struggle as far as its decisive point, after having created favourable conditions for the alliance and unity of all authentically anti-fascist forces, and genuinely interested not in the formal and platonic struggle of condemnations without transcendence, but an effective struggle against Francoism and the dictatorship of Salazar (...)"
Tourism continued to pour into Spain without paying attention to the appeals of the anti-Francoist movements, and once again, in the middle of the tourist season, strikes began in the Asturias region. Little by little, the strike movement spread to the whole mineral field, acquiring, as a result of the intransigent attitude of the employers and the repressive measures of the regime, an increasing politicization.
It was in this context that, on July 29, two bombings took place in Madrid that caused a great shock, due to an extraordinary police mobilization and the publicity given to them on the radio, on television and in the press.
Three days later, the police presented the "presumed authors" of these bombings:
"(...) The Director-General of Security, Don Carlos Arias, accompanied by the Vice-Director and head of police, and Inspector Martin Herreros, accompanied by his brigade, informed us that the authors of the two criminal bombings of July 29, in the passport section of the very same building that houses the General Directorate of Security, and in the Union Hall, had been arrested. The prisoners are Francisco Granados Gata and Joaquin Delgado Martinez, both thirty years old. They are members of the Libertarian Youth organization, and came from France (...). They had an arsenal composed of 20 kilos, 950 grams of plastic explosive, a submachine gun, a certain number of cartridges and a radio transmitter, intended to cause explosions by short wave radio (...)" (ABC, 2-8-1963).
The fact that "the explosives left in the offices of the General Directorate of Security, which were supposed to explode in the night, when the public would have been absent from the offices1 exploded prematurely, causing some twenty light wounds, was used by the Francoist press in order to launch a furious campaign of insults against anti-Francoist activism in general, and against the "presumed authors" of these bombings in particular. But although they were subjected to constant interrogation and atrocious torture, Joaquin Delgado and Francisco Granados never admitted to having taken part in the bombings attributed to them.
"(...) As it has in the past, when the Iberian Liberation Council always took responsibility for its actions, it declares today before national and international public opinion:
1) Joaquin Delgado and Francisco Granados had absolutely nothing to do with the events that took place on July 29 in Madrid.
2) The arms cache attributed to Francisco Granados -- like so many others that exist in our country for specific purposes -- was unused, and was intact at the time of its discovery by the police (...)"
These declarations were useless, as were the many protests, which, faced with an imminent court-martial sumarisimo, began to flood in from everywhere. The Francoist authorities did not wait for months to pass; and in hardly two weeks, the judicial-military farce was set up to give an appearance of legality to this new crime. On August 13, in the afternoon, the press agencies received an official communique giving an account of the court-martial sumarisimo, as well as the sentences inflicting the death penalty on the defendants.
Four days later, a new official communique to the press announced their execution by "garrotte vil". As they were for the execution of Grimau, international protests were equally indignant and violent, but this time, the big parties and organizations, the representatives of the democratic States and the Khrushchevs said nothing, as the prisoners were "mere libertarians".
What was Francoism after, or what did it fear, for it to resort to such expedient measures?
Referring to the ultra-rapid condemnation and execution of F. Granados and J. Delgado, the newspaper Le Monde, in its front page editorial entitled "Stormy Summer in Spain", said:
"(...) Were they only smugglers of arms and propaganda material, as an anarchist organization affirms, or were they preparing an attack on General Franco, as some claim? As the sumarisimo trial was closed to journalists and the public, all hypotheses are permissible (...)" (Le Monde, 5-9-1963.)
In fact, the CIL had declared that the material seized at Granados' home was intended for an attack on Franco.
Moreover, on August 2, on the railroad of Port-de-Bou in Barcelona, sabotage interrupted traffic for more than five hours. Almost simultaneously, several high tension pylons were sabotaged at Cam Prim, in the commune of Rajadell. Five days later, the Civil Guard, which had deployed in full strength, discovered two guerrillas, one of whom died during the engagement; the other was captured. The anarchist guerrilla who was killed was the celebrated Caraquemada, who had continued the armed struggle against Spanish fascism in the Catalan mountains since the end of the war. The Spanish authorities did not hesitate to blame all of these acts of sabotage on Caraquemada, even though it would have been physically impossible for him to go to two different locations that were at least two to three days march apart.
The clash of the Regime and the active opposition had come to a test of strength. Francoism had proven that it was unlikely to yield at any level unless it was obliged to do it by force. On the other hand, at the decisive moment the active opposition was left once again to its fate. Fatigue and fear, exploited by the advocates of passivity on all sides, paralysed the exiles at a time when its moral and material support was most needed in the interior.
Spanish libertarians had not yet digested their reunification, and a systematic campaign of criticism, calumny and manoeuvres organized by Esgleist organizational passivity tended to reduce the support given by the rank and file to the DI. To give more weight to this campaign, the Esgleist "delegation" in the DI had resigned beforehand. This led to an organizational denunciation tabled by the other members of the DI against the resigning members.
The preparation of the 1963 Congress was the battlefield where two conceptions of the anti-Francoist struggle and the proper revolutionary content of the CNT settled their disagreements and tried to make their point of view prevail. Also, it should not be forgotten that there were many interests opposed to the libertarian resurgence, and that most of the manoeuvres tending to cause confusion and divisions in the rank and file responded more to clearly defined directives backed by all those who had an interest in maintaining the status quo in Spain or in taking the leading place the CNT had always had in the Spanish workers' movement, than to a pruritus of representativeness or personal appetites.
Because of the decisive consequences they had on the final outcome of the Congress, we must single out two measures with a very peculiar significance: one was the repression unleashed by the French authorities against the FIJL and certain Confederal militants close to the combative position of the youth organization; the other was the authorization given by the same French authorities -- after having refused it for many years -- to celebrate the Confederal Congress in Toulouse.
Following police operations, carried out on September 11 in France, twenty-one libertarians remained in prison, two of whom were Confederal militants; Cipriano Mera2 and José Pascual3, who were very influential in the Local Federation of Paris.
The second measure, the authorization to celebrate the Congress in Toulouse -- where six young libertarians had been arrested, some of whom were active members of the CNT, and where the SI's own Coordinating Secretary, Marcelino Boticario4, had been placed under house arrest -- thus took on a very special meaning ... For it was clear that the repressive measures against the FIJL tended to exert pressure on the CNT, so that the latter would sacrifice anti-Francoist agitation for the continuation of legality in exile. These two measures, decreed so opportunely by the French authorities, favoured the ambitions of organizational passivity.
The results of the Congress, which took place in mid-October, did not surprise anyone, for even though the agreements of struggle and the management of the DI were approved, the "triumph" of the specific candidacy (G. Esgleas, V. Llansola and J. Celma) meant the final burial of the above-mentioned agreements, the triumph of organizational passivity and the continuation of legality in exile for the CNT. The "organizational accusation" tabled by the DI (through the Commission of Defence) against the resigning members was evaded. The silence concerning this "accusation" was decisive, for if the Congress had been made aware of it, the members of the specific candidacy would have been unable to accept their posts, or the entire organization would have been forced to reconsider the agreements of struggle, which had just been ratified almost unanimously, after approval by the management of the DI.
Thus, the Congress of October 1963 opened the doors to the most serious organizational and ideological crisis in the whole history of the CNT, and of anarchism in general.
On October 11, the young Spanish libertarian Francisco Abarca was arrested in Belgium on letters rogatory of the Swiss government, which demanded his extradition for his supposed participation in an attack on an Iberia airplane at the airport of Geneva.
A few days later, the trial of the three French students began; they had been under arrest since the month of April.
"Three young French students, accused of acts of terrorism, were sentenced on Thursday in Madrid by a special court-martial to prison terms ranging from 15 years and one day to 30 years (...). However, the court had followed the theses of the prosecutor -- "A commando team trained by the FIJL (Iberian Front of Libertarian Youth) and the French P.S.U. (United Socialist Party) with a view to changing the order and tranquillity of a sovereign country" -- and had applied the full force of the law 'to make an example' (...)" (Le Monde, 19-10-1963).
The French press widely publicized the case of the three students, whom the newspaper Candide called "new Ravachols" in an article that filled a whole page, with the significant title: "How One Can Be a Twenty Year-Old Anarchist in 1963". The journalistic interest seemed to be explained by the fact that the three students were "young people eighteen or twenty years old and very idealistic, who had gone through all the political parties; disappointed by the lethargy of the left and its bourgeoisification, they wanted to do something effective (...)"(L'Express, 24-10-1963). The anti-Francoist struggle, as the young libertarians imagined it, stimulated revolutionary spirit and passion in the most rebellious circles of young French students, already aroused by the war in Algeria.
At the instigation of the Spanish police, the police forces of Europe mobilized against revolutionary anarchist subversion. This repressive solidarity brought into relief the fear of revolutionary contagion spreading to the rest of Europe, in the heat of the struggle against fascism in Spain. The conjunction of the strike movements and violent anti-Francoist action inevitably brought about a subversive situation and a revolutionary emulation that had already appeared in the declarations and programs of struggle of organizations with a decidedly young membership, like the FLP and the ETA, and in the politicization and radicalization of the strike movements themselves.
It was this danger, then, that had "revived" and once again set in motion men like Gil Robles and all those who, by their attitude, helped the dictatorship commit its crimes with impunity. The sentences and murders in Madrid, the arrests of libertarians in France, the pressures and interference to force the Libertarian Movement to paralyse its subversive actions, were only different aspects of a single intention: maintaining the status quo in Spain, in Europe and in the world. As it was in 1945, fascist Spain was preferred to anti-fascist Spain, and Franco's totalitarian order attracted the support of the so-called democratic world, far more than the democratic aspirations of a people that, in its struggle to win back freedom, might once again try to go too far ...
It is in this political context that one can measure the true value of the CP's efforts to counter the growing influence of anarchist activism among the most rebellious Spanish youth. In late August, and accompanied by a great amount of propaganda -- even in the international communist press -- the CP released a letter from Jorge Conill, "To My Libertarian Friends of the FIJL", written in Burgos prison. In this letter -- with which the CP sought to exploit Conill's "conversion" to communism -- the sole target was the revolutionary activism of the FIJL:
"(...) Direct action was a circumstance, a first encounter with revolutionary praxis; a consequence of a stage in which I did not know how to find or could not find anything (...). But today in prison, I am more than ever certain of having found the true path where I can develop my capacities and be useful to the struggle of our people (...)" (J. Conill, Burgos prison, August 1963).
While representatives of passivity in exile generally allowed a more than opportune time for the generalization of the anti-Francoist struggle to pass -- doubtless waiting for "the fruit to rot on the tree"5 -- new events increased the uneasiness and anxiety in libertarian ranks and, in general, in those of the most combative sectors of anti-Francoism. The strikes in Asturias, which had aroused such enthusiasm and hope when they started again in mid-July, came to an end, faced with the general negligence of the opposition in standing up to the repressive policy of the Regime.
"(...) The miners' strike has already lasted for 50 days ... We had hoped that the stoppage would spread to several other more important provinces. But things do not happen this way; the comrades and the majority of workers in general are disappointed and deplore the lack of unity and solidarity in the other provinces (...)"6.
In fact, apart from very isolated cases, the strikes did not spread to other provinces. And one can only cite, as the sole demonstration of active solidarity, although without any clear strategic plan, the series of explosions attributed to the group of the aforementioned Colonel Montenegro.
While the repressive forces were busy defeating the last refuges of working class resistance, imposing "normalization" of work in the mineshafts, a group of intellectuals led by writer José Bergamin publicly denounced the brutalities committed by government forces against the strikers. The uproar caused by this denunciation caused another event to be forgotten for several days: the (completed) extension of the United States' rental of several military bases in Spain, which supplied Francoism, in full crisis, with an additional oxygen bottle.
Also, the Minister Castiella met French Minister Couve de Murville in Paris on November 20.
Francoism had overcome the crisis without renouncing any of its basic principles, and especially those of its policy of repression, continuing its speculations on the prospect of a slow liberalization.
At the end of the year, the "classical opposition", which had appeared to revive and gather its forces in the heat of anti-Francoist activism7 and the strike movements, returned to the secondary place it had occupied for many years in the Spanish socio-political context.
1 Taken from statements by a member of the CIL published in France-Observateur, on 28-8-1963.
2 The commander of an army corps on the Madrid front. At the end of the war, he, together with General Casado, caused an attempted coup d'etat by the communists to fail. He played a decisive role in the reunification of the CNT in 1961.
3 The Coordinating Secretary of the SI during the bloodiest period in the activity of the libertarian action groups in Spain: 1950 and 1951.
4 The measure taken against Mr. Boticario took place at the same time that an arrest warrant was issued for Jacinto Guerrero, a young libertarian militant whom the Spanish police and press presented as one of the principal leaders of the FIJL in Spain.
5 Taken from a letter dated September 2, 1963 to the CNT Committee of Asturias, reproduced in the information bulletin of the CNT in exile, on 10-9-1963.
7 Shortly after the failed attack on Franco in San Sebastian and the series of sabotages of the airplanes of Spanish airlines, the General Secretary of the CNT had an interview -- at their request -- with a delegation of Colonels of the Spanish army reserve who came to offer their assistance to the CNT for the defence of prisoners, etc.; in exchange the former would have to stop violent action and facilitate a plan to change governments.