As far as the Spanish Libertarian Movement was concerned, the situation at the beginning of this year was extremely confused and depressing. The impact of the "victory" of organizational passivity had the effect of an ice-cold shower on the most active militants. Although obliged in France to go into full clandestinity, the FIJL was the only one to react against the plot by supporters of organizational passivity, whereas the militants of the other branches went through this organizational crisis with a certain indifference.
After having established the new clandestine structure of the youth organization, the "provisional" Commission of Relations began preparations for an extraordinary Congress. It took place on December 1, 1963, and the final decision was as follows:
"(...) To obtain, by means of our delegation in the Defence Commission, complete information about the serious problem that exists there, caused by the paralysis of the policy of action, and by the case of the two resignations from the organization of people serving as delegates (the DI). This information, by mandate of the Congress, must be forwarded to the rank and file so that it can decide about the application of the condition1 of the Youth organization's Dictamen."(...)2
In applying this agreement, the OJ's new Commission of Relations3 conducted an interview with the branches of the CNT and the FAI. After useless discussions, the OJ sent a circular, dated January 3, 1964, discussing the status of the organizational litigation:
"(...) Faced with the situation of organizational passivity that has befallen the MLE, whose activities have been reduced to vegetating harmfully in exile and for exile, (...) the Libertarian Youth, after the Confederal reunification, asserted that it was urgent to react to this suicidal situation to again situate the MLE at the height of its historical responsibilities regarding the Spanish problem and our survival as a revolutionary movement (...). This position was concretized in the agreements of the three branches in 1961 (...). As a precaution against the sabotage of these agreements by those who persisted in wanting to keep the MLE in a condition of organizational passivity and decadence, the Libertarian Youth approved a conditional motion by which they reclaimed their independence of action in the event that one of their sister branches failed to keep or broke the agreements of 1961 (...). Our fears of 1961 have been confirmed (...)."4
The OJ's C. of R. sent several delegations on tour beginning on January 4, to expand on the information related to the problem addressed in the circular. They also invited militants with responsibilities in other branches of the Movement to the meetings that took place in the principal Local Federations in exile, without discrimination by tendency or position.
At the beginning, advocates of the status quo strongly resented this direct information at the rank and file level of the Libertarian Movement. But with the surprise over with, and without responding to the protests of numerous Local Federations which sent demands for an explanation to the SI, the new holders of Confederal power carried on with their confusionist and immobilizing work. To thwart these manoeuvres, the Libertarian Youth got themselves bogged down in a sterile organizational conflict, which in the final analysis only served the interests of organizational passivity. For if the accumulation of frustrated attempts and dilatory manoeuvres provided additional proof for the accusations of the Libertarian Youth, thus allowing them to pose the problem of the ideological crisis in clearer and more exact terms, in reality, with the first reactions of indignation and protest having passed5, the specific and Confederal rank and file accommodated themselves to the new organizational situation with an attitude of resignation, waiting for the next Congress to clear things up.
At the end of the month of March, the OJ's Commission of Relations published a pamphlet in which, in addition to the "chronological development of the internal problem", they completely reproduced the documents regarding this subject which had been exchanged between the above-mentioned Commission and the Higher Committees of the two other branches of the Movement. In the introduction to this bulletin, the Libertarian Youth revealed the root of the problem and its consequences.
Arising from a "simple" problem of incompatibility in the interpretation and application of the agreements concerning the struggle, the organizational crisis now caused the appearance of something more serious and fundamental: the violation of normative principles, which all libertarian organizations are founded on, by those who openly set themselves up and acted as real higher Committees.
What the Libertarian Youth denounced, then, was not only support for the status quo in exile, but the ideological and revolutionary degeneration which was wiping out the Spanish libertarian movement.
But the denunciation of these "facts" was not enough to incite the "awakening" of a "rank and file" which, in exile, had progressively lost all of its motivation and former revolutionary enthusiasm. A "rank and file" disillusioned by so many years of demagogy and organizational conflicts and struggles between committees; but also wiped out by its own sociological and economic contradictions, resulting from its inevitable integration into the everyday life of the countryside and towns of France and other countries that welcomed the exiled masses.
On February 19, the five libertarians still imprisoned out of the twenty-one arrested in September 1963 began a hunger strike at Fresnes prison to draw attention to their situation. A few days later they were all released. Their release coincided with an anti-Francoist campaign launched by the Committee for a Free Spain6, founded during the month of December 1963 by Louis Lecoin, an old defender of solidarity campaigns. An appeal for solidarity with Spanish libertarian youth was also published in Action Libertaire7:
"The editorial group of Action Libertaire (the organ of the French section of the International Federation of Libertarian Youth) appeals to the militants of all countries to draw attention and to request their moral and material assistance to support the activity of the FIJL, which, despite the heavy repression it has been subjected to recently, continues its struggle in Spain against fascism and for the defence of anarchist ideas (...)."
In Spain, on March 14, the Francoist police invaded the Faculty of Political and Economic Sciences to remove a hundred students and three professors, who had locked themselves inside since the day before. The day before, a student demonstration demanding the right to union freedoms had been brutally dispersed by the police in front of the Faculty building. This demonstration was motivated by the government's banning of a conference by professor Tierno Galvàn and the students' desire to show their solidarity with the workers who, a few days before, had publicly declared themselves to be against the Falangist unions, demanding the right to organize freely.
Similar demonstrations took place more or less simultaneously in Barcelona, Saragossa, Seville, Granada, Huelva, Bilbao and Pamplona, during which students occupied the universities and destroyed portraits of Franco and José Antonio. The FUDE (Democratic Federation of Spanish University Students) displayed great activity and obtained what the students demanded; the resignation in Madrid of the SEU's national delegate, Martin Villa. For the first time in Madrid, flyers appeared signed by the Libertarian Students.
During the month of May, three cenetistas who were members of the ASO, Francisco Calle Mancilla, Mariano Pascual Ramon and José Casas Alfonso, were arrested in Barcelona and placed at the disposal of the Special Court of Public Order. These arrests did not put an end to the rivalries among the reformist trade-unionists in Spain and in exile, but they clearly showed the regime's decision to not permit, beyond what might serve their own interests, the continuation and extension of this embryonic clandestine reformist trade-unionism.
While the regime devoted itself to celebrating "twenty-five years of peace" with great pomp, the active opposition did not disarm. During the month of May and in early June, anti-Francoist activity redoubled in intensity on two fronts which the dictatorship feared the most: those of violent action and working-class agitation. Alongside the workers' collective activity, which appeared in the form of strikes from Asturias to Leon and all the way to Andalucia, Murcia, Valencia and Catalonia, violent anti-Francoist action renewed itself with a new series of attacks.
Until the arrest of Andrés Ruiz Marquez, known as Colonel Montenegro, which occurred on June 24, bombs continued to explode in Madrid in official centers, functionaries' cars, banks, pro-Francoist embassies and even in the Castellana Hilton hotel, where the American magnates stayed. This arrest was immediately linked to the name of Alvarez del Vayo8 and the FELN (Spanish National Liberation Front), which was formed on February 16, 1964 in Algiers, and which united the III Republica movement and a certain number of socialist dissidents and ones from other parties.
On July 7, Andrés Ruiz Marquez was condemned to death by the military court. The executive commission of the PSOE, however, declared in issue number 134 of the newspaper Le Socialiste:
"(...) It is no less strange (...) that this police force waited so long to 'discover' and 'capture' the leading actor of this 'terrorist network', according to the expression of the same police force. And that it allowed him to set and explode up to fifty small bombs. Especially when it is a matter of someone who fought in the Francoist army with the rank of lieutenant9(...)".
Andrés Ruiz Marquez was sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment, after the death sentence was commuted by Franco, at a time when an intense campaign denouncing the false Francoist "liberalization" was developing outside the country.
Actually, public opinion in Europe had been made sensitive by various anti-Francoist solidarity movements on behalf of the strikers in Asturias, and, particularly in Belgium, by the case of Francisco Abarca, who, after eight months of uncertainty and thanks to several hunger strikes and the mobilization of all Belgian democratic sectors10 was finally released on June 12 in Brussels. The Abarca case brought to the fore the importance and effectiveness of a permanent anti-fascist solidarity organization, in order to make sensitive and mobilize all of the various anti-fascist sectors.
After the disarticulation of Colonel Montenegro's group, only the FIJL and the ETA were left to continue violent action against Francoism. Their activity represented a permanent denunciation of the "status quo" policy practiced by the other sectors. It also gave prominence to the farce of the regime's liberalization. A farce that the "peaceful opposition" so fancifully persisted in considering a reality.
On the occasion of the trial of Francisco Calle Mancilla, Agustin Mariano Pascual and José Casas Alfonso, the libertarian youth clearly defined their position:
"(...) Although we are in fundamental disagreement with the attitude of these comrades concerning their position in the face of the Francoist regime in this campaign of so-called "liberalization", which they seem to honestly believe in, and in the face of cooperation with the new "Catholic opposition", we nevertheless consider it necessary to alert public opinion to the detention of these cenetista workers, who, despite their passive opposition to the regime, were imprisoned and tried for activities11 which are totally legal and tolerated in any civilized country (...)."(FIJL news bulletin, August 1964.)
Hardly a week after this trial, on August 11, the young British anarchist Stuart Christie and libertarian militant Fernando Carballo Blanco were arrested in Madrid. According to the police, Christie was to give explosives to Carballo so the latter could "commit a series of bombings of public and private buildings". But during thr trial, the Francoist press asserted that Fernando Carballo was "given the job of placing explosives in the Stadium of Santiago Bernabeu for the final soccer game of the Spanish Cup, at which General Franco would be present." The sentences that were passed on them by the court-martial sumarisimo, which took place on September 2 in Madrid, 30 years' imprisonment for Carballo and 20 years for Christie, showed that the regime was not afraid of braving foreign public opinion when it was a matter of repressing truly serious attempts against the head of State. Although thanks to the mobilization of solidarity on behalf of Christie in Britain -- in which many Labour personalities participated side by side with the famous Committee of One Hundred, which ws headed by philosopher Bertrand Russell -- Carballo avoided the worst.
The detention of Stuart Christie once again made obvious the cooperation of young European anarchists with the FIJL in the struggle against Francoism. On this subject, it is fitting to emphasize the formation, during the months of June and July, of a Liaison Committee of Young Anarchists (CLJA) and a Committee of Relations for French anarchist students (LEA), which acted as a public medium for the exiles of the FIJL.
The formation in Belgium, on August 9, of a foreign Delegation, allowed the FIJL, as well as its newspaper Ruta, to reappear in public. At the same time, its propagandistic field of action grew with the Bulletin d'informations FIJL, published in Britain by the Commission of Relations, in addition to the sporadic clandestine publications (bulletins) by the youth wing of the interior. It could be said that rarely before had the FIJL deployed such a degree of propaganda activity and gained such an audience in international anarchist circles. During their respective annual congresses, both the Italian Anarchist Federation and the French Anarchist Federation unanimously approved identical motions of support for the FIJL, which implicitly represented a censure of the official representatives of the CNT and the FAI in the hands of the supporters of organizational passivity.
The denunciation of support for the status quo within the Spanish Libertarian Movement made the FIJL the symbol of radicalization and contestation within the international anarchist movement, in which the youth currents began to leave behind the old militant cadres, whose ideological and revolutionary sclerosis was increasingly obvious.
The pressure of the FIJL on the libertarian "rank and file" was such that the SI was was finally forced to accept and call a "confrontation meeting" under the conditions demanded by the youth. "Esgleism" had understood that it could not continue to oppose the realization of this meeting without running the risk of seeing its following among the Confederal rank and file diminish more and more. But contrary to the intentions and illusions of the Youth wing, for the SI, calling the meeting did not mean an intention of holding it, and even less facilitating the clarification of the situation.
As the Committee of Relations of the OJ affirmed, in its Bulletin d'informations for the month of August, it was clear that:
"(...)The postponement of the meeting, after they had agreed to it and called for it, at a time when the Confederal militants were to reach a decision about the next Congress, and after they had proclaimed that everything was on the point of being resolved, showed the implications of this manoeuvre, which tended, on one hand, to demonstrate the pointlessness of a Congress, and, on the other hand, to put off clarification of the denunciation presented by the OJ."
For the young libertarians and for a large part of the Confederal and specific militants, it was unacceptable that Germinal Esgleas be allowed to consider the MLE as a political party. Their denunciation and their revolt, when faced with conduct incompatible with the most elementary libertarian ethics, proved that there were nuclei of militants within Spanish anarchism prepared to react against this ideological degeneration.
By dint of facing events and suffering their consequences more directly each time, the Libertarian Youth began to understand that the dialectic of everyday reality in Spain and in the world had made fundamental changes in the attitudes of the two camps that had fought the war; for if the Regime, after having been forced to abandon its national-syndicalist euphoria and its clerical and military rigidity, had transformed itself into a specifically capitalist dictatorship, the Republican, socialist, communist and libertarian "old notables", by accomodating themselves to the situation both in Spain and in exile, had abandoned their illusions of a restoration of Republican legitimacy or a return to July 19 ...
1 Which consisted of a motion so that the Youth Organization would be totally independent to continue the struggle in the event that the other branches did not honour the agreements made in this sense.
2 From the pamphlet entitled: "Information About the Internal Problem of the C. of D.", published by the O.J. in March, 1964.
3 In organizational documents, the initials O.J. (Organizacion Juvenil) referred to the FIJL.
4 Circular no. 1 of the Commission of Relations of the O.J.
5 In reality, there were many Local Federations, and even Regional ones, that demanded a clarification of this problem from the SI, without it condescending to pay attention to these demands.
6 This committee was composed of the following French personalities: Collette Aubry, Claude Autan-Lara, Robert Barrat, André Breton, Ch.-Auguste Bontemps, Claude Bourdet, Jean Cassou, Alfred Kastler, Jean Cotereau, Henri Laugier, Morvan Lebesque, Denis Forestier, Jean Galtier-Boissière, Maurice Joyeux, Louis Martin-Chauffier, Georges Montaron, Jean Paulhan, André Philip, Emmanuel Roblès, Laurent Schwartz, le bâtonnier Thorp and Henri Torrès.
7 Published by young French libertarians, this newspaper began to publish in early 1964 for the purpose of acting as the legal cover for a Spanish-language organ of the FIJL.
8 Who had been Minister of Foreign Affairs and ambassador of the Republic in Paris.
9 It should be specified that his father and brother, both socialist militants, were shot by the Francoists. In addition, he was present at the VI Congress of the PSOE, as a member of the Maximo Muñoz tendency, opposed to that of Llopis, the irremovable leader of the Party.
10 Particularly the former Committee for Peace in Algeria, which, on November 19, 1962 changed into a Committee Against Neo-Colonialism and Fascism.
11 Francisco Calle Mancilla was sentenced to six years and four months in prison, Agustin Mariano Pascual to three years and José Casas Alfonso to five years.