Can you tell us your name and when and where you were born?
I’m Manel Aisa Pampos. I was born in Barcelona, in the Raval. Well, back then the ‘Chino’, in the Pinto district.
In 1953, that is, I’m already a bunch of years old.
I was born in Barcelona.
Could you tell us about your job?
My job, well, I’ve grown up in the Raval, at,
at first I worked many jobs.
My work has been following my family’s cultural tradition, who were house painters.
Until the year… until about 20 years ago when I established as a bookseller in Barcelona.
First in a bookstore and later in the Sant Antoni Market,
selling every Sunday. I’ve been almost 28 years
working every Sunday in the Sant Antoni market and well, now it’s going downhill. There was a very sweet time but now it is something else.
I’m about to retire, that is.
We’ve read that your nickname in the Sant Antoni market is ‘the anarchist’. Could you tell us a bit why is that so?
Well, this comes from, this anarchist thing isn’t…
It comes from two interviews that took place…
It comes a bit from Facebook. It comes from Facebook and the cart.
The cart that I, a cart that is over 100 years old where I keep my books,
where there are some stickers
that began with the people from ‘Sí se puede’.
And well, people keeps bringing stickers to add. People, many, most are alternative, almost all of them are alternative and people from the CNT
or close social movements
who bring me their sticker so that I can add it.
From here, I made some stuff on Facebook
relating the picture, I mean, the cart from the Sant Antoni market
with all the social fighting that had taken place around the Sant Antoni market, from the Paral·lel
almost to the Sant Antoni market, about all of that. The, I spoke about
About, I don’t know, in 1909’s tragic week, the cart was defending the barricades.
Just like, in 1935, the cart was being part of the barricade and defending the barricades in 1935 in the Molino, something like that is what I did on Facebook.
They liked that, especially, first, to a colleague from here,
a journalist colleague named Abel Xavieteros [????, who has a Nobel award, not Nobel award,
he has an award, I can’t remember the name, he’s won an award for his novel.
And then to a journalist in a newspaper,
with the newspaper’s journalist, it had a much greater diffusion.
And well, that’s how all this story began, it began like with, bit by bit with the stickers
and the reference that all these stickers mean. In the Sant Antoni market people find me by my stickers.
Could you explain to us the role of the CNT fighting the 19thof July military uprising?
Well, they could already see the 19thof July 36 coming.
What happens in Barcelona the 19thof July is, mainly, well, that everyone was ready and waiting for… well, they started the uprising in
Africa the 17thof July and the peninsula the 18thof July. So, they were waiting for it.
It also needs to be said that General Mola, who is the designer
of the military upraising in Spain 1936,
was counting on it being a breeze.
He was counting on it being a breeze as it was, roughly speaking, on the 34, during the incidents of October 64,
I mean, 34, and found that there was more resistance than it was expected.
Because the people from the worker’s movement, in this case the CNT mainly, was ready to face
the military uprising.
Even though there were ups and downs, where you’d think one side was going to win
and after a few hours the others were winning. There was a very important fluctuation of,
well, I mean, there were changes, it wasn’t until the next day, so to speak, that
the tides fell in favor of the republic for then.
Keeping in mind the amount of members and in appreciation of the role in the victory against the Francoist army, Lluís Companys offered the city to the CNT-FAI. How do you think history would have changed if they had taken power like that?
Well, there is a…
The worker’s movement, the CNT back then, hold an assembly the 21stand I think another one the 23rd,
where they bring up whether they go for it or not. The militias committee, what they had decided formerly, this
[according] to people who lived it,
always kept in mind, I think they kept in mind, the libertarian movement from back then, kept in
mind what had meant Russia, 1917 in Russia.
They didn’t want to fall for the trap of setting up a proletarian dictatorship too.
They kept that mind and were very wary not to fall for that trap.
That’s why they didn’t decide to go for it,
even though it was proposed by some very important people from back then, such as García Oliver, one of the mains, Aurelio Fernàndez, who was with him too,
I don’t know, Xena, an important part of the FAI,
Hospitalet, well, the local federations from back then.
But they didn’t decide and they believed that having, as they did back then, the control of the street,
it was enough with the militias committee.
I mean, the anarchists believed that back then the street was theirs -it was obvious that they owned the street- which is why Companys offers to them, well, he says, you won.
And well, the thing is that they believed that the Militias Committee was enough to carry out all that was coming,
because they were also aware that fascism was 300 kilometers away.
Then, well, in other places victory wasn’t as clear, as in Valencia or Madrid.
Victory for the proletariat hadn’t been so clear. That helped turn the tide in that famous assembly that took place
the 21st, mainly the 21stof July and the 23rd, I think.
Can you tell us a bit about what the ‘Comité de Milicies Antifeixistes’ is?
The ‘Comité de Milícies Antifeixistes’ is
what is instituted, the revolutionary embryo of the moment.
There’s people… it’s what lasts two months.
There’s people who talk about it lasting two months or three at most,
it is what tries to regulate what’s happening in the street. That is,
back then the committee of militias is made out of the UGT, the CNT,
and some other parties that were around back then, I think Esquerra Republicana is around,
and some others.
What… it always goes after what the workers have decided in all factories.
That is the militias committee. The militias committee tries to,
so to speak, to organize on the street what is already organized. That is,
collectivizations, or socializations as they are called,
begin before. It’s the people who suggest the project.
Afterwards it will be the trade union who approves it, and later it will be the militias committee what regulates all of it.
All of this takes place during the collectivizations and socializations.
Because there are sectors that need to be socialized, like power, woodworking,
the key sectors aren’t collectivized, they are socialized.
It’s seen perfectly, when one studies it,
how it is people who, after the next day, well, there’s a week of strike,
but when the strike is over, the next day, it’s the workers who already know what to do.
And there are assemblies for each of them, who decide individually what needs to be done. And then comes the trade union, and after it, the militias committee.
That’s how it is articulated.
They aren’t very interested in politics because, of course, it all begins from the bottan
and begin, well, the politicians begin their tricks to try to take it down, as they will do
Regarding this that you’ve mentioned, I have here a quote from Pepe Ribas, could you comment on it?
Well, this is a bit what I explain in this book of social effervescence in the 20s in Barcelona,
in which in a place where there are no social rights,
it’s the working class itself, society itself, what needs to organize itself.
I mean, in Barcelona, from the very beginning,
from the 20s, there were consumption cooperatives: company stores,
they have to do everything on their own, construction cooperatives,
schools are built by the trade unions themselves. Rationalist schools, the same schools,
every trade union will build a school so that on the morning can attend the children and at night can go the whatchamacallits,
I mean, all this, the mutual help, I mean, the, so to speak, social security, is made by the workers themselves.
All of this is a breeding ground that brings
what I call the parallel society.
I mean, the people of Barcelona have the capacity to build for themselves the whole spectrum, all they need to survive,
because there’s no structure at all from the top.
This is what allows that when the 36 arrives, people are trained to handle factories, they are very educated to handle factories, not only
the workload, but the paperwork as well. They’re already trained for that.
That’s what allows for the revolution to start working after three days, as Pepe Ribas says.
He’s a friend here, he’s come quite a few times here.
That’s what made possible this society that is already working from the beginning of the century.
Do you have any anecdote or story about some company that was collectivized or socialized?
Well, there were several collectivized companies.
For example… They socialized the whole wood sector,
which was mainly in Poblesec, it was one of the sectors where there was more socialization of wood.
So, it was an specialist, even, each was an specialist, one in furniture, the other in making, I don’t know, chairs, the other divans, I don’t know how… another tables.
Every warehouse specialized in making a sort of…
Besides all that, generally back then the ones there were,
were very tight, the barnishing rooms and all is a very conflictive space to breathe and all.
And what they did, the first thing they did was
to widen the whole spectrum, that is, much wider factories and with standards that they had never had to work this kind of material.
Besides, regarding wood, they couldn’t bring Galician pine nor anything like that, they had to adapt it to what existed back then in the Pyrenees and the like.
Could you tell us who Federica Montseny was?
Federica Montseny? Federica Montseny is the legacy of a…
of a traditional anarchist family. Her parents, Federico Urales and Teresa Mañé, are the ones that create the ‘Revista Blanca’
and the ‘Novela Ideal’ and all that. She grows up in that atmosphere.
Federico Urales is a man who, from Madrid, during the first period of the ‘Revista Blanca’,
campaigns against the ‘Procés de Montjuïc’ in Barcelona.
And well, she’s born, she’s raised in that atmosphere, she’s an intellectual… she’s an intellectual…
well, she ends up having some major knowledge and is a woman, well, an intellectual who…
well, daughter of anarchists, who is an anarchist,
who managed to be the first female minister in this country, the minister for health.
Where, one of the famous laws she passes is the abortion law,
which in 1936 is a complete breakthrough. Well, it’s something that nowadays I’m not sure if it is…
Well, I don’t know how it is today.
I dn’t know, it’s not so clear yet. I mean, she does that sort of things.
She’s a very interesting woman. Furthermore, because she has an analysis capacity that nowadays most mortals lack.
In 1899 UGT moves its headquarters to Madrid. It’s said that this created a trade union whole that the CNT used to gather workers. Could you comment what the UGT was and about this topic?
Well, I don’t know what to say about this.
UGT is born in Barcelona, in the Tallers street.
And what is clear is that it is a moment of the first international in which
the people of Barcelona side, mainly, for the referent Gonzalez Morago and the tendencies of
I don’t know, Anselmo Lorenzo and Farga i Pellicer and all these who are the embryo,
the people who arrives, especially Farga i Pellicer and his José Luís Pellicer, who was an artist,
who was a very interesting drawer.
They are the ones who pick up with Pi Margall’s federalism.
I mean, it’s a bit that tradition.
And it’s the one that rules in Barcelona, which is why UGT leaves Barcelona, because it doesn’t really
connect with the worker movement, whereas the libertarian movement does.
I think that they don’t leave because they want to, but rather they leave because they have nothing here,
nothing to do at all.
That’s part of why the socialists from back then leave.
I think that’s why they leave.
What were the ‘grupos de afinidad’ in the XIX century? And why were they important for the growth of the anarchist movement?
Well, the ‘Grupos de Afinidad’ of the century…
I think the ones in the XX century are more important. The ‘Grupos de Afinidad’ of the XIX century
are people who, well, who gather at any place in
Spain to debate, because they think that reaching, at the end of the century, when the XX century reaches,
they think that the year of the light, so to speak, has arrived, they speak
in Esperanto and all that they are, well, many of them use Esperanto as a language to bind with other peoples.
I think that well, this affinity takes place in
all the European geography, sorry, in all the Spanish geography, probably even in France and so there’s some of it too. France and Italy,
back then, have the same or similar ways as, especially in Itally, here in Spain.
But this happens…
with the packagers, passion for reading, for knowledge, and all that.
But specially because they believe the moment for the great change has arrived, that with the new century emancipation will arrive.
Also because, in that moment, especially following Kropotkin,
they believed that science was…
Well, the working class was very much for science, because they thought that science would redeem all about, well, exploitation.
Which wasn’t completely like that, no.
Well, I don’t know, it’s arguable.
Could you tell us about the importance of ‘Los Tres Ochos’ -eight hours of sleep, eight hours of work and eight hours of free time? The importance of ‘Los Tres Ochos’ to help the anarchist thought reaching the workers?
Well, that’s the ‘Canadenca’ strike.
The ‘Canadenca’ strike is one of the most important things that happen in Barcelona.
The ‘Canadenca’ is a company.
In Barcelona, the Catalan bourgeoise doesn’t want, it’s not an entrepreneur bourgeoise, but an speculating one, as always.
And what it works with is, mainly, all that is…
all that is the speculation, they are busy building the Eixample, speculating with the Eixample. They keep making houses and speculating
with the land…
And this is in a moment when the electrification is, it’s the second…
the second stage of the industrial revolution, when the factories’ electrification arrives,
when the Catalan businesspeople think, well, with an
extra compressor will be enough,
while Canadian capital arrives, in Toront, well, you can say how it is,
and, Mr. Pearson who is an American businessman, well, Canadian,
who died in Lusitania during the first world war, in the Lusitania ship, which was, well, was sunk by the German.
He and his wife, along many more people, went to the bottom of the…
of the Atlantic.
Well, he is the man who later chances a project, he bets on electrification arriving to Catalonia through water, the energy created in Pallars Jussà,
up in the mountain, which still exists I think.
And that it reaches Barcelona to electrify the city.
While all of this is happening, in Barcelona, well, there were some people
who wrote bills, which back then were written by hand.
And they wanted to set up a syndicate, well, to go fast,
there’s a disagreement between the
direction of Mr. Fraser [Lawson], I think his name was Mr. Fraser,
and these workers and, from here on, there’s a strike
of these who break, well, the people refuse to write the bills which, stopping to make the bills, you create an, since they were made by hand then,
you create a serious imbalance.
Well, in the end the strike kept growing and growing and it became a support stri… it became a support strike. First there were those, the scribes that were in
Catalunya square, where the offices were. Then it moved
to the people in the power plant, which was in Paralel,
and then it moved to other power plants that were in the city
and then to everyone. That is, the whole city was paralyzed.
From here on is when they sign a
well, they sign, well, with many days, 44 days I think,
in the end Mr. Fraser decided,
well, to reach an agreement with these… with the strike committee, which back then was already CNT.
And among the…
among what was agreed in the agreement there was first that 50.000 pesetas from back then, they had to give back 50.000 pesetas from back then, pay back 50.000 pesetas
to the CNT trade labor,
and besides, for the first time in history, they achieve the eight hours thing.
It came from Chicago and all these things, the fights from
the United States and all these things.
And, in the industrial world, it was the first time that it was achieved, in the first world, so to speak, of… because I think something like that had already happened in Uruguay,
but that wasn’t, well, Uruguay wasn’t still considered as the first world, like Europe. For the first time arrive the 8 hours
of work, of free time and of rest.
Despite that… management, in many occasions, denied to comply with it, it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t a decree…
it was a decree signed by the Count of Romanones
but that didn’t take effect, well, it was made effective reluctantly, right?
It was tough to do, it wasn’t easy.
But well, it was in that moment.
How was the CNT organized when it was founded in 1910?
The CNT in 1910 is founded
after the tragic week, in 1909, it already had… first they create ‘Solidaritat’
and after ‘Solidaritat’, which is a bit… ‘Solidaritat Obrera’, which is a bit the answer to ‘Solidaritat Catalana’,
‘Solidaritat Obrera’ is created.
But this didn’t have… they were… it didn’t reach all of… it was closed in Catalonia, or Barcelona,
and didn’t reach the whole of the Iberian Peninsula.
Then, when they decide, in 1910, to create the CNT and the first step to create the CNT, because already here
all the… that it is a confederation, it was decided on the last moment.
So that it can reach the whole Iberian peninsula.
Something that is often commented about the city of Barcelona is that the neighborhoods, that formerly were towns, are very independent, with their own identity. How did this independent spirit of neighborhoods help define the way CNT acts?
Well, the people from…
the people are, each from their…
people, before, when they were going, especially people from the periphery, until recently, the 70s or 80s, there were still some who said it.
In neighborhoods when they were going down to Catalunya square,
when they were going to the ‘Corte Inglés’, for example, the women said, let’s go to Barcelona.
They weren’t, there weren’t these… I don’t know, I think now there are…
there are ‘Corte Inglés’, I haven’t entered a ‘Corte Inglés’ in 40 years, but I think now there’s a ‘Corte Inglés’ in the…
there in Meridiana, right? Or, even, they are all around. But back they weren’t.
And well, people had, they’re all towns. ‘El Clot’ was its own town, Poblenou was a town,
Sarrià, of course, was another town, everyone had their own town. Besides, the center of Barcelona, already, was for,
I don’t know, to party, to have fun, for shopping.
That kind. This is a…
I think that…
I don’t know…
For example, when I talk about the rental strike in the 31,
the conflict mainly takes place in…
it doesn’t happen in the center of the city, it mainly happens in the towns.
I mean, it happens in ‘El Clot’, it happens in Poblenou,
it happens in Horta, it happens in Hospitalet, but it doesn’t happen, for the most part, in Raval.
The Raval is another story, something completely different.
Or in Gracia, in Gracia it doesn’t happen so much, the conflict was,
for the most part, because they are poorer, in the other place, they were more working class.
They were, to the south… well, because they join in. Sant Martí de Provençals, they join in.
It’s not the same.
I’m not sure if I explained myself right, but it was different.
Something that one often reads about CNT is that there were three main factions. Anarchosyndicalists, anarchists and communist-syndicalists who supported the Bolshevik revolution. Could you tell us a bit about the differences between these three factions?
Well, I don’t know…
Anarchism, and especially CNT, always…
Anarchism isn’t an ideology, but rather a feeling, an attitude towards life.
And from here, everyone understands it in their own way, that’s why there are anarchists. The other day, a guy was asking me if the CUP
was anarchist, and I said to him, let the CUP define itself as an anarchist or not.
I don’t know.
Each has to do it their own way, right?
You can reach anarchism from
naturism, from ecology, from…
from, I don’t know, from syndicalism, from rebellion, from anywhere, right?
From pedagogy, you can reach anarchism from many places.
Back then, there are people who are there to make syndicalism, as there are people who are like…
the purists, who are there to carry out the revolution,
do everything which naturally, well, it’s like
the way of thinking is quite different.
Purism in the CNT is guidelined,
so getting out of the guidelines is difficult, well, difficult,
if you step out of line they hit you, right? So to speak.
That’s a bit how it is, I think, eh.
Then, of course, everyone has their own tendencies. For example,
it’s no the same Joan Peiró, who was an organization man and,
well, a factory man,
as García Oliver, who was more for fighting from the street. I don’t know if
you’ve seen in Durruti’s tomb the speech they gave a year before, 38 I think, 37 or 38,
where he gives a revolutionary speech about the ‘owners of Barcelona’. If you haven’t see it, you have it,
well, Televisión Española has it, and it’s around, in ‘Vivir la Utopía’ or one of these,
who incidentally were around here too.
Well, it’s a very revolutionary speech, right?
And well, Peiró is a man who was shot by a firing squad on Franco’s orders,
he was a man of, well, of agreement, to reach agreements,
to work with the purest syndicalism.
So, there were these two sides present.
What was the ‘pistolerisme’?
‘Pistolerisme’? ‘Pistolerisme’ is…
The 20s, which we’ve talked about before,
while people are building this parallel city about which we’ve talked about before,
they meet all the repression of the bourgeoise, of the Catalan businesspeople union. The businesspeople union,
from the 19’ strike, the one we mentioned before, the ‘Canadenca’ strike, on,
the Catalan businesspeople union, which is mainly in the construction sector,
decides something, to create the Spanish businesspeople union.
Wit a single goal, which is to terminate the CNT. Their only goal, the Spanish businesspeople union has only one worry: to finish off the CNT.
That’s why they will set up, one of the first things they do, one of their weapons, is the ‘lock out’.
The ‘lock out’, which will take place in Christmas 1919,
and Epiphany 1920.
During that time, December and January, they carry out a ‘lock out’ in Barcelona, which means
that factories stop so that the workers don’t have anything to eat during all of Christmas.
That’s the foremost weapon of the Catalan bourgeoise.
With the idea that when they come back to work, in the midst of January 1920
the condition is that they break, in front of the manager, they break the CNT card.
That doesn’t always happen, right?
There’s people who still want to resist.
And the people from the CNT resists thanks to, so to speak, resists poorly,
because they have created company stores, they have created cooperatives…
and with that they try to survive, not resist, but rather survive
in a moment where they generate no economy of any kind.
I don’t know, in a moment when people were quite poor,
So, they made stock from… putting the shoes in the water and made broth from that, right?
They didn’t have much else.
This is where ‘pistolerisme’ begins.
In that very moment,
they create in the Tapineria street, in Barcelona,
the ‘Sindicat Lliure’ is created. The ‘Sindicat Lliure’ are the gunmen.
They are the management association gunmen.
Then there were also the bands of, first, the
ah, what’s his name… the Baron of König
and there was… a police officer, Bravo Portillo.
Bravo Portillo, who was executed, right?
By the workers themselves, right?
Where, well, there are confrontations
in Barcelona, in Catalonia
that well, every they there’s a handful of dead. During the years 20, 21, 22, 23, mostly until the 23,
every day there’s fighting in Barcelona,
well, killing people on the street. Because some
tendencies fight the others.
Until there arrives, in the 23, the new generation of García Oliver, of whom we’ve talked before,
because most of the management association’s gunmen were, in the end, or are people
who is blackmailed, I mean,
that happened, they recruited people by blackmail, which means
if you don’t help us, well, your daughter,
we will kill your daughter if you don’t help, we’ll kill your mother, your wife, well, whoever.
So, it was their way to recruit, too,
the very same workers that might had been
thre president of a trade union
and had to move to the ‘Sindicat Lliure’.
Those things, back then happened. These things happened.
Well, until García Oliver gets here and considers a change of strategy, he says, “Why should we fight
there in a small square in Barcelona among
ourselves”, they wanted to create what they called, García Oliver, the ‘gimnàsia revolucionaria’.
‘Gimnàsia Revolucionària’ meant to carry out economic strikes.
That’s why they strike, for example, against the Bilbao bank in
I mean, the ‘Banco de España’ in Gijon, they strike, well, they rob it.
They carry out a robbery in Avignon street, where the vaults,
well, where the treasury of Barcelona’s city hall was.
And well, they carry out several acts of that kind.
They begin to rob banks to gather money to carry out the revolution.
That is, to buy weapons,
that will later come out in the 36.
That’s a bit how it goes.
‘Pistolerismo’ also has many more things, such as the ‘Llei de Fugues’ in between,
I’m not sure if it was one of the questions.
The ‘Llei de Fugues’, there are two way…
which is in the same period.
The ‘Llei de Fugues’ are two things. Martínez Anido,
back then civil governonr, in the 21, twenty… when they kill Seguí, for example.
There’s Martínez Anido and Legui, who is the chief of repression here in Barcelona.
These two come up with the ‘Llei de Fugues’. The ‘Llei de Fugues’ is nothing more than arresting someone,
and when they bring him to Vía Laietana… well, back then it wasn’t yet in Vía Laietana.
When they bring him from the station
to the Model prison to lock him up,
the officers take two steps back and then argue that they wanted to escape and shott twice in the back.
That was the ‘Llei de Fugues’, a common practice in Barcelona.
There’s a moment when this is denounced and then, what they do is…
when they have a prisoner… the government office, back then, isn’t in Vía Laietana, it was in the Palau square, by the door…
the door on Palau square from civil government, right?
That’s where the main police station was.
Then, what they did was,
during the night, setting free the prisoners but first they had given warning to the management gunmen
so that they would be nearby, in a dark street in la Riera.
Well, the old part of Barcelona, to shoot them.
Aware of that, the ‘Dones Lliures’, the women, what they do
is that when they know there’s a prisoner, the women take mattresses
and go to the doors, in Palau square,
to sleep there, waiting for him to go out
so that they would keep him there when he came out.
Well, that he didn’t get killed, right?
The women keeping watch, the wives of the libertarians.
A rather important ‘Grupo de Afinidad’ are the ‘Solidarios’. Could you tell us who they were and why were they important?
Well, the ‘Solidarios’ I have…
explained the basics with García Oliver.
There was also Durruti, Ascaso, Aurelio Fernàndez -about who I will soon publish a book, I hope by the end of the month.
Well, and others, right?
The ‘Solidarios’ is the arrival to Barcelona of the club that has been running away from
well, half Spain already, from
Zaragoza and all that,
and the confluence they find with the group ‘Crissol’ which is in Barcelona. The people who were in it, Ricardo Sanz and others were in Barcelona already.
There in Sant Geroni street, that is today the Rambla Raval.
There, in the Sant Geroni street, in Domingo Escaso’s house,
is where there is a gathering to create the group ‘Los Solidarios’, which will later be ‘Nosotros’, right?
The group ‘Los Solidarios’ is the one that I’ve told you a bit about before, the one that performs the revolutionary gymnastics that we’ve talked about befre,
and well, is where the famous Durruti is,
and Francisco Ascaso, right?
Speaking of Durruti, could you tell us a bit about who he was?
Well, Durruti is a symbol for the whole libertarian movement, even though…
they always talk about not to create any myths or figures, Durruti has been…
a myth and figure. Durruti is a Leonese who arrives
and, well, he’s a Leonese worker who arrives in Barcelona
and joins with all the rebellions he finds in the city, such as García Oliver, and…
and how they begin their journey through… during all the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera,
assaulting the bank of, and taking part of the assault of the Gijón bank, he’s one of the ones who participates with Torres Escartín, who is arrested.
With Aurelio Fernàndez, and Aurelio Fernàndez’ cousin too,
they take part in that becasuse
Ascaso, Francisco Ascaso, is arrested in Zaragoza,
and one of the things they try to do is acquire money to buy,
well, for the trial and all these things, to get him out of
Zaragoza, that’s why they carry out the robbery in Gijón on the ‘Banco de España’, right?
Well, he was a legend. He later travelled all around Europe.
And around America, they have…
there’s a moment when, around America they do… well, the legend from America is that they commit robberies all
around south America, especially in Argentina, right?
Because they also connect with many exiles there, many Catalans that had been, or Spaniards, that had been
exiled to Argentina.
And well, at last, when they manage to escape Argentina, after doing some… well, a few robberies, right?
They are claimed by justice,
and they reach France again, and aren’t deported either to Argentina nor Spain,
because in that moment there’s another very important case, which I’m sure they will know in the United States, which is that of Sacco and Vanzetti.
Sacco and Vanzetti’s happens at around the same time as Durruti and Ascaso,
and they won’t be deported from France to either Spain nor Argentina
because the working class pressure in France is serious, because not long ago, a few days ago or, well…
there’s all the pressure form Sacco and Vanzetti,
and that they were executed, right? In the United States, right?
And that’s why the French government cops out
and what they do is send them to Brussels. Or it is afraid that the same might happen to them,
and doesn’t want to, and decides to expel them to Belgium, where they spend a while in exile until they can come back
to Spain, because the government has changed here, right?
And well, that’s Durruti. Then, in the 36,
there will be the famous Durruti column, he will be one of the key
men to defend Barcelona.
Especially there, in the front,
in Atarasanes and the Catalunya square.
And well, from here on, when he is shot in Naranjero during the defense of Madrid, appears all the…
all the symbology of ‘Who was Durruti?’, right?
What’s the importance of the bar ‘La Tranquilidad’ in Paral·lel?
The bar ‘La Tranquilidad’ is owned by… Martín Sis…
The cook they had there was Martín Sisteró,
who was one of the deported, together with Durruti and the rest -I don’t know if you’ve seen the photo, which we have in the other… thing.
They were deported to Bata, to, well, to Fuerteventura and down south, where they were sent
the year, what year was it? I can’t recall the year.
Oh, yeah, it was after the thirty… the 33’ insurrectional movements, I think it was.
In January 33. In Barcelona, more often than not there was an insurrectional movement.
I think it’s the one… I’m not very sure about the dates now, maybe I’m wrong.
But I think it is during the whole Fígols incidents, when the
‘Alt Llobregat’ incidents and all that, there’s an insurrectional movement that half of Catalonia, well, on the area of… around the mines of Fígols and
Sargent and all that, libertarian communism is declared, right?
When also takes place all the ‘Casas Viejas’ incidents down in Andalucía.
And well, all these people, as a punishment, are deported. They are deported towards… towards… towards Africa.
And Martín Sisteró, who was the anarchist who had the ‘La Tranquilidad’ bar,
was there, and he’s the one who made, well, the stay in Africa a bit better because he was a great cook.
And well, that’s the thing.
One of the main things too of ‘La Tranquilidad’, speaking about the Paral·lel, is that it’s a meeting place, like ‘El Español’ back then, of all the…
of all the… of all the anarchists from back then.
And the gatherings were important. Also, for example, Abel Paz always told that they, when they were young, ran to ‘La Tranquilidad’
to listen to the debates that took place there, right?
Out there took place… Paz is Durruti’s biographer.
Then, this man used to tell that when he was young, from ‘El Clot’, where he lived, they would go running or behind the streetcar, hanging from the streetcar,
to go to ‘La Tranquilidad’ and listen to what was being talked about there.
Well, things like that happened.
And there is where, according to García Oliver, where is decided the
the ‘Gimnàsia Revolucionària’ we talked about before. There is where it’s talked about.
Why was the CNT, despite having a huge member base, unable to put up much resistance against Primo de Rivera’s coup?
They weren’t worried about Primo de Rivera’s coup.
The continue the same. Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship is a bit special, so to speak, since it
isn’t a dictatorship like the ones we’ve met with Francoism, that went having head off from everyone, but rather,
at first, if you pass… The UGT carried on with their work, even Largo Caballero was a minister.
And that sort of things.
Otherwise, the Primo de Rivera dictatorship gave a chance to carry on.
Under certain premises.
That are trade unions that continue and others that decide in an assembly whether or not they enter clandestinity.
That’s at first… The CNT, the day of the dictatorship, which is the 13thof September 23, I think,
the CNT holds an assembly in Blanes and ignore most things.
The thing is, every trade union, choses to enter or not clandesitnity, they don’t go…
because there are some, that later were maintained even in… during the republic, they were the rules,
all that… they asked you to… to have a police officer in all assemblies,
to have a list of members, where they lived, this, that.
When one checks documents from that time, from an Ateneu or a bit later,
in the case 28 or 29.
One realizes that…
that well, the main members in each Ateneu or trade union
never live twice in the same place.
In each assembly they live somewhere different, right? Well, the address is always different, right?
So, here there was some tricky stuff, right? That is, maybe they made them up or… I don’t know, I don’t know how it went.
But what I mean is, it was all… there was always a guard.
To every assembly, to every gathering,
the police sent an officer to check what they talked about.
Of course, there’s people, there are trade unions that don’t want that,
but maybe the fisher’s union doesn’t care, right? But the Ironworks union, which was a tough union, maybe this one didn’t agree, right?
But well… or the one… I don’t know. There were trade unions that never went clandestine.
But they kept doing their own syndicalism,
slowly. The fabric union maybe not at the beginning, but later did,
that’s how Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship went.
Especially at first.
Who was Joan Peiró and why was he important during the dictatorship?
Well, Joan Peiró is a man who I think is born in Badalona, but who grows up mainly in the glass sector, glass factories, a glass cooperative
that still existed until not long ago,
where syndicalism is quite important, right?
He even was, well, during the 10s and 20s, he was a man of, well, wisdom, a man who tried to set up
what we mentioned before of the parallel society.
He was one of the ones building the parallel city, right? Through cooperatives, company stores, all these things, right?
He was a man of union, and well, during the civil war he was, I think he was,
a minister, or later he was in the Generalitat government. He had an important post, I can’t remember which now.
He was… Maybe not a minister, but he was in the Generalitat government, in work and all those things.
And well, during the… later, in exile, when he was exiled, he was arrested by…
he was arrested, like Companys, by the Nazis,
and they brought him to Spain, right?
Then, the condition… in that moment,
the 40s and 50s,
Francoism built the ‘Sindicato Vertical’. The ‘Sindicato Vertical’
is to copy the CNT but upside down, the other wa… It’s
copying the bases, that is, the idea of the CNT but upside down, that is, the other way around, right?
Doing the CNT pyramid upside down. That is, first the workers were the ones to decide,
and the national committee, the other way around… the national committee is the one that has to develop
what the workers have decided from the base, right? I mean, the workers, the syndical links, it goes up.
While the ‘Vertical’ does it upside down. It turns it around and does it the other way around. What they wanted was for
people from the libertarian movement
to hold posts in this ‘Sindicato Vertical’.
Peiró denied to do that and just because of that,
well, as a revenge, he was executed by a firing squad in Paterna, Valencia.
And he’s buried there I think, right?
In Paterna. It was, It was a punishment because he never
wanted to collaborate with Francoism.
There were others who did do it.
Well, there… In a moment, especially during the dictatorship’s full force, in a moment of desperation, people who had been to prsion so many times and all that,
there were some who did collaborate with Francoism, in a moment when they didn’t…
they didn’t have another choice, they couldn’t see,
they couldn’t see past the darkness of that grey Spain.
There were some who collabored.
But well, Peirò didn’t want to, and paid with his life.
What was the BOC, the ‘Bloc Obrer i Camperol’?
These belong to the POUM.
Well, about the POUM I…
The BOC are the people from the POUM
that is born, precisely, in the Ateneu Enciclopedic Popular, that is, where we are now.
Even though I don’t know the details, I know it is the, well, the people who comes from… well, has the…
this initiative is already more Marxist
than anarchist. There’s many people who passed through anarchism,
during the Russian Revolution, there is… in Spain there were many people who went to France, I mean, to Russia, to evaluate what was happening there.
There are are some who
value it as… well, they don’t see it as how it should work, and others evaluate it positive, right?
In this case, well, people like Andreu Nin and others,
Joaquín Maurín and these people,
who have another evaluation of that moment, right?
Out of all of it I…
And a part of the BLOC is settled in the Ateneu Enciclopedic Popular. It should also be said
that there was a moment, especially during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship,
when almost everyone was settled [there], because everything banned but the Ateneu, this Ateneu was banned for fifteen days
and that’s it, fifteen or twenty days it wasn’t… a month at most.
And all these movements, both the CNT and the BLOC, were born, the BLOC was born in the Ateneu Enciclopedic.
But no… I’m not quite sure how it went. You should ask Pepe Gutiérrez or someone in the Nin foundation about it,
I’m sure that… or Pelai Pagés.
I don’t now if you’ve interviewed Pelai Pagés.
Women, often, were a bit underrepresented in trade unions. What active roles did women have in the CNT?
Women in the… well, that goes by seasons.
But, for example, at the beginning for example, in the fabric setor, even though there were some women who broke the mold and all that, but for example, when there was a strike,
the women, especially in these colonies that we see close to Barcelona,
the women went to the kitchen to cook dinner
and it was the men who attended the assembly,
to discuss whether or not there was a strike or if they were fighting to get a pay raise, I don’t know, whatever.
This also happens, especially during the early century, right?
The 1900, 1910, 1920, all that happened.
In the 36, I think that in the moment of the breaking, really, when the woman discovers,
because some things I’ve discussed with some of them I got to meet, like Concha Pérez.
It’s in the libertarian Ateneus. In the libertarian ateneus from the 29 on,
with magazines like Igía, Ética,
and ‘Coses dels Estudios’ and all that when they begin to discover, to have a voice
inside the libertarian movement and even to discover their own body, because
back then, the proletariat woman wasn’t…
she didn’t have much knowledge about her own body, back then. She didn’t get much explained.
Well, she must feel, she must feel something, but…
But they didn’t have… no… no…
They didn’t know it.
And in the libertarian Ateneus, from the 28, 29 on, with the speeches by Felix Martí Ibañez,
María Marimorni [???], people who were more experienced
began talking to young people about how it went, right?
And how they begin to have a voice.
But this happens and all of a sudden, before the civil war, begins to appear
the ‘Dones Lliures’ and all that.
It’s during this time.
In 1927 in Valencia FAI is founded. Could you tell us a bit what FAI was, what their goals were and what their connection with the CNT was?
Well, the FAI came from some projects that had already unfolded, specially in France, in the exile from Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship,
where there are a few anarchist meetings in Perpig… I don’t know, in southern France, right?
But these are mainly people who are in exile, you need to keep into consideration that there were,
France was a hotbed of exiles from all around. From all around Europe.
That’s why the best archives
are still in France.
The French police force has some impressive archives of all the movements, all Russian, Italian, French, what you need.
Well, those are the first embryos the 24-25 of the FAI gatherings, that will later be the Valencia gathering.
There is where all the groups gather. I mean, the gather in the FAI only in order to… as a… trying to find the purism of the CNT, right? I mean, the purity of anarchism, right?
That is, mainly, what is created with the FAI.
And then, these ateneus that we’ve talked about before,
it’s a bit… it’s a bit the application of this way of thinking, right?
But it’s not… they are heterogeneous groups in all sense: ecologists, naturists,
I don’t know, vegans, all sorts, unionists, they are all represented. Regarding the direct-action groups,
there aren’t as many as people think.
They aren’t action groups, they are groups of actions through words, of radicality,
maybe, in the terms they use to build a dialogue, right? To build an opinion, right?
Which is what later they apply to the libertarian Ateneus
with this new way to understand libertarian ateneus, breaking from the popular ateneus
from the beginning of… just like it could be that in the 20s or so, that the popular Ateneus are the ones where people is more…
isn’t as radical, right?
It’s a variety of thought, right?
There it is more purist, purism, anarchist purism.
I think, eh.
Wait, I’m going to drink some water.
Who was Juan Manuel Molina Mateo?
Juan Manuel Molina Mateo was the husband of… the partner of… what’s her name… of Lola Iturbe.
Well, he was a man of… I think he’s the one from FAI that comes from… I think he comes in that moment from… or he’s one of those that take part
of the paella in 1927 in Valencia.
This is a man, a representative, I’ve met him. Well, I’ve met him, seen him. Haven’t really talked to him,
but I’ve met Juan Manuel Molina.
He’s a man that, during all the civil war, has been active.
He’s in the FAI clubs.
And later, in the clandestinity, he also has an important role, during the whole dictatorship of Primo… I mean, Francoism.
I met him in the 80s.
Of course, I saw him, right? Well, I attended some of his conferences.
Well, I don’t know what to tell you about him right now, just that he was, he had
during the civil war or so I don’t remember his exact importance,
but I do remember that during Franco’s dictatorship he did have some committee…
Some committee was his. For example,
during the exile to France, I’m remembering, trying to remember.
During the exile to France, he sets up…
in the moment when the CNT is still working here,
there’s a thing that he creates at the end of the 37 or 38, that is SIA.
SIA stands for ‘Solidaridad Internacional Anarquista’.
Which tries to help the Spanish refugees, just like there was
the republican one…
and Juan Manuel Molina is one of the men, with Marianet in París, and he’s retained in the concentration camps in
France, Barcares o some of those, I don’t remember which now.
He tries to organize the escape, being in a concentration camp,
he tries to organize the escape of people who are, for example, in Albatera.
The concentration camp of Albatera, in Valencia, there was people…
people who fell, mainly, in Madrid later,
and how from the Sire or the SIA they try to change the papers
of some so that they can be… they can get out.
There are some cases of people from Madrid and so who could leave
thanks to that,
from París or from Perpignan or Bacarés and all that,
they managed to change some papers that reach
Albatera so that people can get out as if they were a John Doe without anything
violent, right? No violent crimes or anything like that, right?
They don’t always manage it, but there
are some who achieve it.
And Juan Manuel Molina is a part of all this.
And then he was also in some committee, in some clandestine national committee during Francoism.
Later, I don’t know, I lose him. There’s a very interesting book he made
that has been corrected later
but it’s one of the first books about libertarian
clandestinity, named… well, I don’t know, I can’t recall the title now,
but it’s one of the first books to have information about what had happened during Francoism.
It’s written by him.
Juan Manuel Molina.
Why did the founders of ERC had so much prestige among the leaders of CNT?
Well, I don’t know.
It needs to be kept in mind too, that many… many of them,
especially in comarcas, there’s a lot…
maybe not in Barcelona, but there are comarcas in Catalonia
where there’s a closeness between Esquerra Republicana and anarchism in each of the towns here.
Maybe it’s not as obvious in Barcelona, right?
Even though, well, Companys had been a close friend fo
Salvador Seguí and all those. Then, there was a certain affinity too. There’s also people who can’t even see each other, right?
I don’t know, the Badía brothers and the whole mess of the Badía brothers, that sort of stuff, right?
But there is a certain affinity, I’d say, mainly
in the outskirts of Barcelona.
When you check the names, when you get information from the towns, you see that many people were in Esquerra Republicana and the CNT, at the same time.
Actually, during the transition, there was also… Also, the people from Esquerra Republicana, at first was also a member of CNT.
During the tran… in the 77, eh.
That happened like that. I don’t know…
For a while, eh. Later, now I don’t know what they are members of, if they are at all.
Could you also tell us about the opinion the CNT leaders had about Macià?
No, I can’t tell you much, because Macià died o Christmas, 31 maybe or 33.
I don’t know if they had… the opinion that some of them possibly had,
there was a moment, in the plot where García Oliver and him tried, the plot… damn, what was it called?
There was a moment during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, there’s a moment, the plot of…
I can’t get the name now. Well, there’s a moment where they try to set up a plot, well, a, well, to come here with an army to confront the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera
but in the end this fails and never gets going, right?
Macià is, well, he’s considered the grandpa, I don’t think it’s so…
I don’t think there’s either a sympathy or an antipathy.
I think it’s a moment,
all of this happens, for example, during the strike…
During the rents strike, which is a very interesting moment, bustling with life in Barcelona,
but that, in a way, the confrontation…
Macià is worried about his statut, the 32’ statute.
And he isn’t too worried about what’s going on in Barcelona, right? It’s a budding generalitat
that doesn’t have… it’s not developed yet, it has no sort of
background nor any sort of projection.
There’s even Companys too, who is the civil governor. The 31
he leaves the post as early as possible, to leave for… to leave and build
the statute of the 32. Meanwhile in Barcelona there’s a crisis, well, in Barcelona and all around. After the universal exposition of the 29
there’s a huge economic crisis and people, even though they had left jail with the arrival of the republic,
they left the 14thof July but the 1stof July, I mean, the 1stof May in the protests of the 1stof May, they already begin to fill up again
the jails with workers because,
well, and well, then takes place all the thing about the
rents strike that well, we can talk some other time about it, right?
Well, I don’t think that… I don’t think that… well, I don’t know about that.
In August 1931 there were 41 strikes only in Barcelona, including a sop of 40.000 metal workers for a month. What caused this?
Well, the August 31 is when
Well, I’m talking about the rents strike that mainly affects all this mess. It’s a moment when,
in Barcelona, in all of Europe,
the… the… well, the rent of houses has become cheaper, especially at
where they live, in worker’s neighborhoods,
while in Spain, especially in Catalonia, speculation has continued to grow, right?
In a such a moment of crisis as this,
there’s a riot of…
they build… the construction trade union builds the
economic defense committee who say…
The economic defense committee proposes a reduction
of… a reduction of rents, back then, at the beginning, by a 40%.
But there’s a moment, in August 31, where there’s talk that those who aren’t working don’t need to pay
the thing, the rent of their place, right?
Well, this causes a conflict between the Chamber of [Urban] Property,
the strikes that take place are fueled mainly by
by that conflict.
But, above all, it is ‘Telefonica’, which back then, if I remember right, and the construction union, which is the one leading the way in a moment when it’s practically the…
Barcelona is paralyzed, there’s basically no economic activity. That’s why the strikes,
they are strikes because there’s nothing to do,
there was little to do. Only, maybe, the fabric sector is the one that could still work.
Well, it was a very tough moment, August and September, is when arrives…
Repression arrives in a moment when, mainly, the dictatorship already…
the republic has the rule of the ‘Guardia d’Assalt’, which is the one that can repress any strike, any whatever.
That’s when arrives the true conflict.
There’s even a moment when there’s a solidarity strike, which is the 6thof January 31, I mean, 6thof September 1931.
There’s a solidary strike in Barcelona,
where there’s a direct confrontation
between the workers and the ‘Guardia d’Assalt’, especially around
Vía Laietana and so, but I mean, bullets are flying. There’s eight dead…
eight dead from the worker’s side, in that strike.
But it all goes… it’s not a strike… it’s not a strike of… but rather it is a strike solved
with guns. Well, that’s how it went back then.
And they all end up in prison, well, García Oliver and company.
Well, this kind of stuff.
In what way did Largo Caballero and the Juardos Mixtes cause a rupture between CNT and the republic?
What do you mean? I don’t know what the mixed juardos are. […] The mixed commissions?
Well, the mixed, mystical commission was what already during
Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, even the CNT had taken par… when Segui was there he had been part of the mystic commissions. Then a…
Mixed, it’s that of, when there’s a strike, they sit
on a table to debate some workers and some managers and what is decided, is accepted, right?
There’s a moment, during the 20s… this, during the dictatorship, is accepted, especially when Salvador Seguí is there,
it’s quite accepted.
But already with the republic, the trade unions already have a different dynamic,
they care much more about the assemblies and what the assemblies decide is what goes forward.
Then, there’s no…
Well, at least here in Barcelona, this doesn’t really work, eh.
The trade unions don’t accept it.
They are the mixed commissions.
Well, during… during Primo de Rivera’s that worked, for a while.
It’s seasonal, eh.
They weren’t always happy, even Salvador Seguí had some problems with
with these commission, because there was always someone who wanted more or whatever.
And it had, then, well, I can’t explain it. Well, there were issues.
The actions of governor Anguera de Sojo, how did the foment the radicalization of CNT?
Well, Anguera de Sojo is the main repressor
during the whole rents strike.
Anguera de Sojo in the…
he is the civil governor during this 31stof August, for example, the 30thof August, well, September-October.
Anguera de Sojo and Joan Pich y Pon, the president of the [Urban] Property Chamber,
they will be the ones in charge of the… main repressors in the city of Barcelona
with all this fighting there is, mainly, that is for the rents in the city, right?
And they will be the two repressors, those who send people…
who send them all the repressive machinery at all times. For example, Anguera de Sojo is the one that
sends to prison the whole economic defense committee of the construction union. He sends them to the Model.
And not only that, but also when he finds out that
they are in a hunger strike in the Model,
he shows up at the Model and calls them to his office one by one to mock them individually, right?
With which, well, Model erupts.
The next day, happen the events of the 6thof September of the 31,
where Barcelona erupts and there’s a solidary strike.
Well, the 36 this strike is very significant, because it’s a huge confrontation
that the 36, once the revolution is already underway, let’s say,
in the streets, this, what’s the name, behind the… argh, what’s the name?
Well, the street… the passage to… Street 6thof September, right? Shit, the street…
Well, it’s behind… Vía Laietana, the next one, behind the Deveopment [office]. That street. Now I cant come up with the name, it will pop up later.
That street changes name to 6thof September of the 31, as a memento of all the repression created by Anguera de Sojo.
Anguera de Sojo is a lawyer, or a jurist, but he is a repressing
man. Is that so that when…
at the 34, after the October incidents, the Spanish government will place here in the generalitat Anguera de Sojo,
and as the mayor of Barcelona Joan ‘Pinypon’.
That is, the two main repressors in the 31 in Barcelona,
later, when the Generalitat falls, say, the 34, just right now, right?
He places the main opponent, so to says, of the Catalan people, Anguera de Sojo.
And they place him as the president of the Generalitat, so to speak, right?
Like I don’t know who they put right now, but it’s the same.
And ‘Pinypon’ as the mayor of Barcelona.
What will be the first great fast buck that is talked about in the history of Barcelona’s city hall,
is done by this man, Joan ‘Pinypon’.
Well, people from that time.
Could you tell us about the political significance of the proletarian appropriations and how illegality was seen as a need to survive?
I don’t get the question. [Explanation, skip]
You’ve mentioned before the Badía brothers. Could you tell us who were they and what caused that they be assassinated by the FAI?
Well, what I think happened is that, well, there’s a moment when they are…
they are the people that… the Badía brothers were in many of the messes of the time
together with the libertarians. That is, in the year 31 they were
in the same messes as the libertarian movement, or the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.
But then there’s a distancing, there’s a distancing where they even try to gra…
when they are, when the Generalitat is developed,
it has its military units and the Mossos and has…
he’s the chief of police.
Then, the chief of police in Barcelona,
tries to punish all those who try to do something different.
Here comes the conflict, they even try to but the services of confidants and that sort from the libertarians
and there’s a moment, well, when they decide
to kill him, or something. But not the brothers, I think that they were only out to get one.
The thing is that it so happens that there’s the two of them,
and they kill both of them, here in Muntaner street I think it was, right? Where they lived. I think that, I don’t know if there’s a plaque, I haven’t seen it.
I think there is a plaque, in Muntaner… Muntaner or Aribau, I can’t recall which one it is.
Well, somewhere around Consell de Cent.
But that’s why. Well, he’s the head of the city police and is repressing the worker’s movement.
And then is a woker movement that is armed,
What were the moral panics?
Moral panics? [Explanation, skip]
Can you tell us about the apparition of the ‘Grupo de Afinidad’ ‘Nervio’?
I don’t know this one. ‘Nervio’?
‘Nervio’, well, I’d have to think who it is, I don’t know who it is, ‘Nervio’.
Durruti was in favor of economic atacs, but in 1935 he wanted the end of expropriations. Can you comment?
Are you sure? I’m not sure that he was trying to end expropriations.
I think that working to expropri… I don’t know, I’m unaware of it,
that in 1935 he was working to…
I’d say no. No… well, he was a born expropriator.
What was ‘Mujeres Libres’?
Well, ‘Mujeres Libres’, ‘Dones Lliures’, is a…
it’s an attempt of women to…
well, we’ve talked before a bit about the liberalization of women, right? And themselves, Amparo Poch
and Lucía Sanchez Saornil and all them
they try to, well, open
a libertarian organization that gives voice to women, it’s mainly that.
It’s not something else.
And well, there are many women in the libertarian movement that wasn’t in that movement, even after the thing, that didn’t agree with ‘Dones Lliures’,
but believed that emancipation was for all,
and that then they had… well, they had to leave gender aside.
While others reclaim gender, gender as a…
well, because she’s abused, she doesn’t have the same chances,
for all those things. That’s the road of ‘Dones Lliures’, mainly.
What did barricades represent, both literally and symbolically, during all that time?
Well, there are always… Barricades, as always, aren’t all made to endure, right? Actually, the…
during the tragic week, barricades,
few of them were thought to resist, almost none. Or they made the barricade
and if anything, even in the 36, defended it from the rooftops or from balconies, but never
from the barricade itself.
The barricade is a symbol that “opens the way” or whatever, right?
That’s what the barricade represents, right? Actually,
well, at any given moment it’s that, the barricade is an obstacle to…
but that opens roads on the other side.
A barricade for repression, but that opens new roads elsewhere, right?
Barcelona and Paris are the cities with most barricades in the world.
I’m not sure if there’s a book that tries to count the barricades of each…
of each country. Well, of each city.
They are counted, there’s a book that counts the barricades up.
During the civil war, how was different the violence that took place in the zone controlled by the fascists from that in the zone controlled by the republic?
Well, as controlled?
Well, I think that… I, in the book I’ve written, the one about Aureli Fernandez, who is the
person with the responsibility to, let’s say,
the responsibility in the revolutionary movement in the 28thof July,
of the, well, the repression of the city, the vigilance of the city.
I think that they have…
It’s a moment when the five columnists in Barcelona… it was infested with five columnists. That is,
people who were in favor of fascism.
It’s important, but at the same time they have, from the first moment, they are very aware that Europe is watching, right?
Then, they hold back in many occasions.
They hold back more that they should. Even though there was… well, there were the ‘Patrullas de Incontrolados’, which had existed from the beginning in the republican zone.
From the militias committee, for example, they do try to control all this.
They don’t always succeed, but…
it has some, but for a…
the main reason is that they realize that Europe is watching what is going on ehre. And that’s like, I don’t know, like now, right?
They’re aware of what’s being said in Europe, same happens.
Meanwhile in Burgos, the government in Burgos, all they… what they do, for example, is people who are left in the ditch and nobody has ever reclaimed anything,
but there’s something else, the most summary trials,
where nobody has any kind of right to defend oneself.
And that continues, not only through the 36, but continues… until deep into the fifty-something, to the ‘camp de la Bota’ here in Barcelona there were still…
Every week more there was more than one
who fell. Well, there’s a differ…
And all legally done. Like it’s legal, well…
Well, I’ll shut up.
How did the PSUC end up being the political protector of the bourgeoise elements of the city?
The PSUC… The PSUC is created…
days after the beginning of the civil war the PSUC is created, they create it because it didn’t exist.
The worker’s movement space was occupied, mainly,
by the people of the CNT or the POUM, the ‘Bloc Obrer i Camperol’ and all that.
The only available room is the good, small bourgeoisie that isn’t enrolled to any organization of that sort.
and here they can being influencing these sorts of social layers, right?
It’s how they begin, buddingly they begin that way.
But, of course, in the…
the whole apparatus that comes from Russia
is how they will continue to grow.
Because of the few things that arrive to Spain
is through Mexico or through Russia.
And Russia, in that moment, already has… the few money that arrives, or the few foodstuffs, or the few… comes through these people.
Well, the Ziryanin, for example, is a ship that arrives…
the first Russian ship that arrives to Barcelona.
It arrives… well, with many foodstuffs and all that, but well, it is the PSUC who controls the handing out of all this, and how it can grow
in this… with this help it gets, right?
The Third of May of 1937 explodes what many people call the civil war inside the civil war. Could you tell us about it?
Well, the may of…
I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s ever since Aurelio Fernandez
can’t continue as secretary…
it’s not secretary… I can’t get the name of… the exact name right now of the post he has of… what is the post he has exactly, right?
But ever since he leaves this secretary of…
well, the control of the city, the control of the frontiers. Ever since he leaves this post
is when Artemi Aiguader and, let’s say, the peple of the PSUC is when they have the chance to,
with Rodriguez Sala, who was already in the PSUC, have a change to do the coup they
wanted, that is, to remove the workers
from the control of the city. That is, the main they have is, back then,
the ‘Telefonica’. Why the ‘Telefonica’? Because it went… back then, the telephones went through a call center.
Which meant that what was talked in an office of the civil government, or what was talked in any political office in the city,
the workers knew what was being talked about at any moment, right?
With which they tried to remove this chance, right? Put their own,
the people that interested them, right? The people from the CNT weren’t
in this sector.
And here is a bit where is born… where the direct conflict is born
in this story, right?
As in… well, many shoots were fired here and, well, the CNT,
despite having the strength in that moment, decided,
throught García Oliver and the Federica, who were the ones who had…
who were in the government back then are the ones who decide to stop all of it, right? Not to let it escalate, right?
This stopping, not letting it escalate, what causes is a downfall of…
well, a downfall of the working class movement, which lost a lot of interest to continue fighting in a
war that they continually saw it belonged less and less to them.
And well, it’s here the incidents of May 37 that
synthetize all this, right? Whe the workers see that it’s not worth it to fight for a government…
well, a bourgeoise government that is being established ever more clear.
And well, here begins the decadence of the working class movement and the CNT even though the CNT managed to keep their strength.
The POUM, many people from the POUM saved their lives thanks to that the CNT still had their backs covered because they were the most,
but well, Andreu Nin disappeared….
Yes. What didn’t interest Russia began to disappear.
Now that you’ve mentioned the POUM, could you tell us what it was and why it was declared illegal?
Well it’s declared illegal for all that. Because
from… they try to persuade that it is a party that the PSUC isn’t interested in having a communist party to their let and isn’t interested in a communist party
that is in the barricades with people from the CNT. It’s also a weaker party because it’s not a party that still has…
that has… that has… well, it has the support from Russia, it doesn’t have… doesn’t have any support from anywhere,
that’s why they declare it, well, they try to discredit it as much as they can, and even declare it illegal and prosecuted, right?
Well, they arrested a bunch of people, right?
They didn’t kill anymore I don’t even know why.
But well, from the 37 on you need to keep in mind
that prisons like the Model, and others there were, are filled, from May 37 on, are filled with libertarians and people from the POUM who are together with the fascists, in the Model prison they are all together.
They are… there’s a wing of anarchists, there’s another wing for people of POUM,
people of Falange. The three of them are here in Barcelona.
After May 37 they are all in prison. Aurelio Fernandez also entered prison
after the 37. For complications of the time.
Also, after May, well, a bit later, he enters prison.
Can you tell us about the participation of the CNT in the coup that ousted Juan Negrín from power?
That’s in Madrid, I get lost there, no. Better ask someone from Madrid who will know the story better.
Well, there’s a lot of ulterior motives between Mera, Casado, I don’t know.
And each of them, well, I don’t know much.
From what I’ve seen from many people in Madrid, each of them has a different version,
and well, no… Madrid is a bit far away for me.
In 1939, with the law of political responsabilities, the CNT is declared illegal, their properties expropriated… in that moment there’s about a million members, and is often said that Francoism killed hundreds of thousands. Care to comment?
Well, the 39, well, 26thof January of the 39 enter the Francoist troops into Barcelona. […]
Starting the 26thof January 39 the troops enter to Barcelona,
and from there on the Francoism starts…
well, those who can flee to France flee to Frace,
but… and here in Barcelona there’s some brutal repression.
It leaves a mark, a mark in every sense.
People, besides everyday life,
people need a voucher in order to carry on. And those who have no kind of vouchers,
be it, I don’t know, a priest or a nun that vouches fro you or something,
you’re screwed, eh. Well, the repression was brutal.
Even, for example, the people who are in the concentration camps in France.
There are many who decide to go back and when the see the Germans invading Europe and all that,
there are some who say, this isn’t our war, let’s go get the Germans, right?
But there are others who say, no, this isn’t our war, our war is in Spain,
in Barcelona, let’s go back to Barcelona.
But of course, they arrive here and find that
they don’t… the only option they have is to get into crime.
I mean, stealing because they can’t get a job, they can’t… and nobody, nobody picks them up, because the repression is brutal.
If you hide a, even a friend, even, I don’t know, even your brother. If you hide them you know that…
they will get you too, right?
This sort of things happens. Then, all these people have no choice but to commit crimes and ends up, well, making up action groups, whatever, during the 40, 41, 42.
But they end up arrested and have to go through and are shot and get killed and… well, they end up in the Model and in the Model
a most summary war council and you end up, well, they… they…
well, they kill you, right?
They just shoot you and that’s it. This all happened, right?
Well, it’s in the pure Barcelona of those years…
well, imagine that Barcelona… I don’t know, it can’t be imagined. 40, 41, 42,
and meanwhile there is…
There’s a moment in Barcelona, when the Americans,
they would tell you about it often, when the Americans were winning the war,
the 43… 44, 45, not yet… In May 45 it was over, but during the 44 and 45 is when the libertarian clandestine press told you that ran amok through the Rambles,
because there was such an euphoria and there’s a moment when the Falangists, the fascists, all these shut up, they are afraid
that, in truth, the allies will enter Spain, right? Then they say, damn…
There’s a stop. There’s a slowing to all the repression there was back then, right? While the Germans are winning, here they go wild, killing…
But when the Americans being winning ground, during the 44 and early 45,
the Rambla was full, they say that in the newsstands in la Rambla they sold ‘Solidaridad Obrera’. That’s what those who lived it tell you.
But of course, when all happens and see that nothing happens, the ‘Solidaritat’ disappears from la Rambla and they go back to…
again, to killing people.
Until the 51 they kept entering the ‘Camp de la Bota’ eh, until the 51, 52.
Well that’s the… that’s the Spain, the Barcelona we had.
That people, those who ere 20, 23, were screwed, eh.
Those who were 30 during that time…
Can you tell us what was the caso Scala and how it affected CNT?
Well, the Scala case is in the year 78, it’s the…
The CNT… The CNT…
now, what’s going on…
It’s the only, so to speak, entity
that goes against… that goes against the ‘Pacto de la Moncloa’.
The ‘Pacto de la Moncloa’ is the pact of the 78 constitution.
They are the only entity, or organization, whatever,
that in 1978 is against the ‘Pacto de la Moncloa’ because they denounce
what represents the ‘Pacto de la Moncloa’, which is the constitution
well, it’s the whole thing of
the 78 constitution, right?
What was agreed on in the 78, is reflected on the ‘Pacto de la Moncloa’.
Which is no more and no less than a vendetta between Francoism and the new arrivals from…
well, the socialists and communists who agree on a high-backed chair, a chair, to continue with a democracy, so to speak.
So that… then, they don’t accept that,
which isn’t accepted by the government or anyone.
And what they do is take down the organization that could…
well, that was bringing trouble to this new way to understand democracy
in this country.
What they do is, in a protest against the ‘Pactos de Moncloa’,
in the same day they cause, via a confident, Gambín, the famous Gambín,
that some libertarian lads from back then throw some Molotov cocktails
to a varieties room there was in Barcelona, that by then every Sunday or every, I don’t know, once a week it appeared on…
to put on a show on ‘Televisión Española’.
Which means that it was seen, in a moment when there was only one channel, it was seen by 24 million people.
What this causes is that throwing four Molotov cocktails to the entrance of a… a venue,
the fire takes place at the back.
With which it became clear that it was all set up and rigged by the secret service of…
well, of the country, right? Who were interested in that
well, to begin the discredit of the CNT, which they couldn’t allow in that sense.
Well, that’s what happened in the Scala case, which was a police set up
to repress the libertarian movement.
Immediately the CNT was accused, not only accused but also on that same day
everyone was arrested except for the confidant, who took about 4 or 5 years to arrest, he was arrested for something else.
Well, that’s roughly what happened with the Scala case.
I was in that protest, that day.
And well, I’ve known… I knew quite a few from there.
Of the ones who threw the cocktails. Well, something like that.
Can you tell us about the 79  meeting in Montjuic?
The 77 there’s the meeting in Montjuic and the libertarian conference. The meeting… it happens in fifteen days,
a… of difference.
Well, it is the most important meeting of… that is help back then. Not even Tarradelles, with his famous “I am here!”, when he reaches Barcelona,
gathers as many people as are gathered in that moment by the libertarian movement.
That is, it is a moment when, back then, it’s more than 300.000 people, they talk of between 300.000 and half a million,
let’s settle for 300.000 who are already a lot.
They all go to a meeting of the libertarian movement, well, that
that they weren’t even expecting. It was a moment of anarchist euphoria where the grandpas from back then told you that we were like in the 36…
This kind of thing, right?
Well, it’s a moment of… full swing of the libertarian movement. It needs to be kept in mind
that it is a… during all this, it is a moment where a democracy is on the making,
and in democracies what they do is constantly legislate. They are always legislating.