D U R R U T I

MENDEZ=N%BASICA%UCV=INGENIERIA@fiucv.ing.ucv.ve
Fri, 8 Nov 96 08:59:07 EST


[This month is the 40 anniversary of the Durruti's death, and the late July
was 100 years of his birth. For remember him, the Colectivo Plum(A) and the
venezuelan anarchists send you this text - in english and spanish - about
that man and his fight. // Este mes se cumplen 40 anhos de la muerte de
Durruti, y en julio pasado fue el centenario de su nacimiento. Para
recordarle, el Colectivo Plum(A) y los anarquistas venezolanos les envian
este texto - en ingles y castellano - acerca de ese hombre y su lucha.]

[Thanks to Luis for the english translation]

*** GETTING TO KNOW DURRUTI ***

To condense in a few lines the life story of he who was the true expression
of rebelliousness and anarchist utopia is a complicated but necessary task,
because the testimony of liberty in struggle that was the life of
Buenaventura Durruti must be broadcast yesterday, today and always.

He was born the second of eight brothers on July 14 1896 in Leon, city of the
Spanish province by the same name. As an adolescent he is initiated on the
same path as his father, a workingman affiliated with the socialist
union UGT. As a member of his railroad section, he takes active part in the
revolutionary general strike of August 1917, promoted in conjunction with the
anarchosyndicalist Confederacio'n Nacional del Trabajo (CNT); which
caused his being expelled fron the UGT for being too radical, his persecution
by the police and his escape to France, where he comes in contact with exiled
anarchists, joining CNT of Asturias upon his return in January 1919.

He joins the open fight against the aggresive employers in the Asturian mines
and is arrested for the first time in March 1919; he escapes and by December
he is in San Sebastian, an industrial city in the Basque country, with a job
as a metal worker. The bourgeoisie was then promoting a wave of assasinations
of syndicalists and Durruti joins a self-defense group - Los Justicieros,
they plan a sensational hit in reprisal: an attempt on the life of King
Alfonso XIII who would be visiting the City in August 1920, but their plan is
discovered and they must escape. Durruti continues doing dangerous
clandestine work throughout the nation, meeting Francisco Ascaso who would be
his fraternal friend and comrade. They travel to Barcelona in August 1922 and
form the group Crisol, that would later adopt a name that would be famous in
libertarian history: Los Solidarios. This group brought together the most
valuable elements of the catalan proletariat, hitting hard against reaction
where it hurt the most, until the Spanish political crisis brought the
dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, installed September 1923 with the
King's wholehearted support. Proper praise for what Los Solidarios did in
courageous defense of the CNT during that hopeless hour has never been given.
Hundreds of militants fell and CNT could barely survive and recover thanks to
its deep roots among the working class, but the price was high: most of the
Solidarios were killed or served long sentences, while Ascaso and Durruti had
to seek refuge in Paris.

The failure of the insurrection plans cooked up during exile forces them to
travel to Latin America in December 1924, accompanied by Gregorio Jover, in
search for funds for the outlawed and persecuted Iberian anarchosyndicalism.
Following 15 months of unbelievable adventures including urban guerrilla
actions to obtain supplies, unknown in those parts until then, chases and
chilling escapes through several countries. The solidary assistance from an
endless number of comrades that supported them wherever they went was their
infallible resource in outsmarting police persecution.

During quiet times they earn their frugal living as laborers, without ceasing
to take part in union work from the grassroots, as the legend grows about
these men. In April 1926 they return to Europe and are seduced by an
espectacular idea: to kidnap the Spanish King and the dictator when they
visit Paris on July 14, but are captured by the police and, after a stormy
trial, are expelled from France in July 1927. They keep on living as
semiclandestine militants abroad until the fall of Alfonso XIII in April 1931.

Back in Barcelona Durruti is in the midst of a great deal of activity,
accompanied by his French companion Emilienne, pregnant with their daughter
Colette, who would be born on December 1931. He joins the Iberian Anarchist
Federation (FAI), a specifically anarchist organization secretly created in
July 1927 - and together with other militants they form the affinity group
Nosotros, spokesmen within the CNT of a radical tendency that harbored no
illusions with respect to the recently proclaimed Republic, maintaining that
the moment was ripe for continued progress. This inner confrontation within
the CNT became more bitter until a split ocurred, while repression became
harsher as well as the government's provocations against these humble workers
- whenever they weren't prisoners Durruti and Ascaso worked as mechanics in a
mid-sized company in Barcelona - who were seen by the do-gooders as the
terrifying fist of the Social Revolution. The repressive hysteria fell upon
Durruti and other anarchists in January 1932, being deported to the Canary
Islands and the "Spanish" Sahara. Popular pressure resulted in their release
in September, but Durruti was inmediately arrested for two more months.

Even with the imprisonment of the so-called "leaders", harder positions grew
within the CNT and the proletariat, which brought the failed anarchist
insurrection of January 1933, after which Durruti must go in hiding until
arrested at the end of March. He is out by July, with the CNT and the FAI
facing changes in the political scene, as the right wing prepares to assume
power after the fiasco of the republicans and socialists, which happens
after the November elections. In December there is another failed attempt at
a general strike; Durruti and hundreds of anarchists go to prison, but an
amnesty lets them out in May 1934, in time for Durruti to play a decisive
role in the transport of 13,000 children of Aragon strikers to Barcelona, to
be care for by the solidarity of Barcelona's working class families.

In October 1934 the Asturias uprising takes place, 14 days of heroic and
unequal combat between the united workers and the army, while the repression
and the undecisive behavior of the UGT and other sectors left the anarchists
isolated in their effort to spread the revolutionay flame. Once again Durruti
suffers months in prison alternating with weeks of feverish public militancy,
until the electoral victory by the Popular Front in February 1936, with the
crucial vote of CNT members, signaled another turn in the situation. In the
midst of an explosive political-social climate, the IV CNT Congress meets in
Zaragoza from May 1 to 5, 1936 where an integral part of the debates and the
anarchist fervor that permeated the proceedings was due to the Nosotros
group, in those days dedicated to workers' readiness for the enormous
challenge that was coming. Left and Right were in a collision course,
initiated rather soon by the military uprising of July 19 1936.

The CNT and the FAI confronted with courage, organization and mass
mobilizations the fascist superiority in weapons and resources; their
contribution was decisive in resisting the blow throughout the nation and in
Catalunya defeated the rebels singlehandedly, Durruti being one of the
boldest fighters in this popular victory and suffering the loss of Francisco
Ascaso. On July 24, from Barcelona where libertarian communism was starting
to be a reality, Durruti left with an armed column towards Zaragoza, occupied
by the rebels. After hard combats that equalitarian militia, without officers
or other military trappings advanced and estabilized the Aragon front against
regular troops better equipped, even though they could not retake the city.

Parallel to this the anarchist forces supported a social transformation which
meant the establishment of agricultural collectives in Aragon, upsetting
communists, socialists and other acolites of the creed according
to which the war could not be won with the revolution going on. Durruti
embodiedthe feelingsand goals of the workers in arms, being a peculiar
"chief" whose main privilege was to fight in the first line, his only rank
the esteem his equals had for him.

That courageous and shining life - "The short summer of Anarchy" according to
his chronist Enzensberger - would come to an end in November of that same
year. On the 15 Durruti arrived with a force of 1800 men to reinforce the
defense of Madrid, where they went inmediately to the toughest section and on
the 19 he was struck by a bullet as he walked by a supposedly secure area. He
died at dawn on the 20, being buried two days later at Montjuich's cemetery
in Barcelona, accompanied by the largest funeral cortege seen in the city.

As with Zamora in Venezuela, el Che in Bolivia or Zapata in Mexico, his death
has a stigma of treason and the main suspect, the stalinist PCE (Comunist
Party of Spain), would unleash a few months later a brutal persecution of
anarchists and other radicals that not only ended the threatening revolution,
but was also the begining of the end of the Republic they claimed to
safeguard.

40 years of intense life had this man that fought for his ideals without
uarter nor fanaticisms; who never ceased to live of his labor, who acted as
much as he read or thought, who loved, dreamed and had close and dear
friends. Durruti was who he was, and also the best of what remains in us when
we share his luminous trajectory.

SOFIA COMUNIELLO
(CORREO@ #20, pp.16-17; August 1992)

CONOCIENDO A DURRUTI

Condensar en pocas lineas la biografia de quien fue expresion cabal de la
rebeldia y la utopia anarquista es tarea complicada pero necesaria, porque el
testimonio de libertad en lucha que fue la vida de Buenaventura Durruti debe
divulgarse ayer, ahora y siempre. Nacio segundo de 8 hermanos el 14 de julio
de 1896 en Leon, capital de la provincia espanhola del mismo nombre. Se
inicia de adolescente en la misma senda de su padre, obrero afiliado al
sindicato socialista UGT. Como miembro de su seccion ferroviaria, participa
con ardor en la huelga general revolucionaria de agosto de 1917, impulsada en
conjunto con la Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo (CNT, anarcosindicalista);
eso le costo la expulsion de la UGT por radical, la persecusion policial y la
huida a Francia, donde se relaciona con exilados anarquistas, afiliandose a
la CNT de Asturias al retornar a Espanha en enero de 1919.

Se une a la pelea frontal contra la agresiva patronal de las minas
asturianas y cae preso por primera vez en marzo de 1919; se fuga y en
diciembre esta en San Sebastian, ciudad industrial del pais vasco, trabajando
como metalurgico. La burguesia impulsaba entonces una ola de asesinatos de
sindicalistas y Durruti se integra a un grupo de autodefensa - Los
Justicieros - que en represalia planea un golpe sensacional: atentar contra
el rey Alfonso XIII que visitaria la ciudad en agosto de 1920, pero son
descubiertos y deben escapar. Durruti prosigue en la labor ilegal mas
arriesgada por toda la peninsula; asi conoce a Francisco Ascaso, quien seria
fraterno amigo y camarada. En agosto de 1922 van a Barcelona y con gente afin
fundan el grupo Crisol, que luego tomara un nombre que se hara celebre en la
historia libertaria: Los Solidarios. El grupo reunio a lo mas valioso del
proletariado catalan golpeando a la reaccion donde mas le dolia, hasta que la
crisis politica hispana trajo la dictadura del general Primo de Rivera,
instaurada en septiembre de 1923 con pleno apoyo del rey. De Los Solidarios
nunca se resaltara bastante la valiente defensa que hicieron de la CNT en
hora tan desesperada, cuando cientos de militantes cayeron y solo pudo
sobrevivir y recuperarse por sus nexos profundos con los trabajadores, pero
el costo para ese colectivo combatiente y decidido fue alto: casi todos Los
Solidarios murieron o purgaron largas condenas, mientras que Durruti y Ascaso
tuvieron que refugiarse en Paris.

El fracaso de los planes insurreccionales cocinados en el exilio les
impulsa a viajar a Latinoamerica en diciembre de 1924, acompanhados por
Gregorio Jover y en procura de fondos para el proscrito y agobiado
anarcosindicalismo iberico. Sigueron 15 meses de andanzas increibles con
acciones de guerrilla urbana para agenciarse recursos ineditas por estos
lares, seguidas de persecusiones y fugas escalofriantes a traves de varios
paises. La ayuda solidaria de un sinfin de companheros fue esencial para que
burlasen la persecusion policial, mientras seguian procurando su frugal
supervivencia personal como asalariados en los momentos de calma y
participaban en el trabajo sindical de base dondequiera que iban, al tiempo
que la leyenda crecia en torno a la figura de aquellos hombres.

En abril de 1926 regresan a Europa y les seduce una idea espectacular:
secuestrar al monarca y al dictador espanholes cuando visiten Paris el 14 de
julio; antes de eso la policia los captura y, luego de un agitado proceso,
son expulsados de Francia en julio de 1927, prosiguiendo como militantes
semiclandestinos en el exterior hasta la caida de Alfonso XIII en abril de
1931.

La vuelta a Barcelona es de efervescente actividad para Durruti, ahora con
su companhera Emilienne embarazada de Colette, que nacera en diciembre del
31. Se integra a la Federacion Anarquista Iberica - FAI, organizacion
especifica anarquista creada secretamente en julio de 1927 - y con militantes
allegados forma el grupo Nosotros, animadores en la CNT de una tendencia
radical que no se hacia ilusiones tacticas con la recien proclamada
Republica, pues afirmaban que el momento era para seguir avanzando. El
enfrentamiento interno en la Confederacion fue agriandose hasta la escision,
mientras arreciaba la represion y las provocaciones gubernamentales contra
esos sencillos obreros - cuando no estaban presos, Durruti y Ascaso laboraban
como mecanicos en una empresa mediana de Barcelona - que eran vistos por los
bienpensantes de toda laya como el aterrador punho de la Revolucion Social.
La histeria represiva cayo sobre Durruti y otros anarquistas en enero de
1932, deportandolos a Canarias y al Sahara "espanhol". La presion popular los
libero en septiembre, pero Durruti fue arrestado de inmediato por dos meses
mas.

Aun encarcelando a sus supuestos "lideres", las posiciones mas ofensivas
crecian en el seno de la CNT y del proletariado, lo que llevo al fallido
intento insurreccional anarquista de enero de 1933, tras el cual Durruti debe
ocultarse hasta caer preso a fines de marzo. En julio ya esta en la calle,
con la CNT y la FAI encarando las variaciones de la escena politica, pues la
derecha se aprestaba a asumir las riendas del gobierno ante el fiasco de
republicanos y socialistas, lo que ocurre tras los comicios de noviembre. En
diciembre hay otra fallida tentativa de huelga general insurreccional;
Durruti y cientos de anarquistas van a los calabozos, pero una amnistia les
permitio salir en mayo de 1934, a tiempo para que Durruti tenga papel
decisivo en el traslado por carretera de 13.000 hijos de huelgistas
aragoneses a Barcelona, para acogerse a la solidaridad de las familias
obreras.

En octubre del 34 es la insurreccion de Asturias, 14 dias de heroica y
desigual batalla de los trabajadores unidos contra el ejercito, mientras que
la represion y la indecisa conducta de la UGT y otros sectores dejaron a los
anarquistas aislados en su afan de extender la flama revolucionaria. De nuevo
Durruti pasa por el vaiven de meses de carcel alternando con semanas de
febril militancia publica, hasta que el triunfo electoral del Frente Popular
en febrero de 1936, con el crucial voto de los afiliados de CNT, marco otro
vuelco a la situacion. En medio de un explosivo clima politico-social, se
reune en Zaragoza el IV Congreso de la CNT del 1 al 15 de mayo, donde parte
esencial de los debates y el ambiente de pletorico fervor anarquista que alli
se vivio fue el grupo Nosotros, entregado en esos dias a prepararse junto a
los trabajadores para el tremendo reto que se avecinaba. Derechas e
izquierdas iban al choque inevitable, iniciado mas temprano que tarde con el
alzamiento militar del 19 de julio de 1936.

La CNT y la FAI enfrentaron con coraje, organizacion y movilizacion de
masas la superioridad facista en armas y recursos; su contribucion fue
decisiva para resistir el zarpazo en toda la peninsula y casi a solas
derrotaron a los alzados en Catalunha, con Durruti como una de las figuras
mas arrojadas de esta victoria popular y sufriendo la dolorosa baja de
Francisco Ascaso. El 24 de julio, desde una Barcelona donde el comunismo
libertario empezaba a ser una realidad, Durruti partio con una columna armada
a Zaragoza, ocupada por los golpistas. Luego de duros combates aquella
milicia igualitaria, sin oficiales ni demas tramoya castrense, avanzo y
estabilizo el frente de Aragon contra tropas regulares mejor equipadas, aun
cuando no pudieron recuperar la ciudad. Paralelamente, las fuerzas
anarquistas apoyaron la transformacion social que significo el establecimento
de las colectividades agrarias aragonesas, para escandalo de comunistas,
socialistas y demas acolitos del credo segun el cual no se podia ganar la
guerra si al mismo tiempo se hacia la Revolucion. En su persona, Durruti
encarnaba lo que eran los sentimientos y metas de los trabajadores en armas,
siendo un peculiar "jefe" cuyo privilegio principal era combatir en primera
fila, con la unica jerarquia de la estima con que lo distinguian sus iguales.

Esa vida radiante y corajuda - "El Corto Verano de la Anarquia" la llamo
su cronista Enzensberger - terminaria en noviembre de ese mismo anho. El dia
15 Durruti llego a reforzar la defensa de Madrid con una columna de 1800
hombres, de inmediato van a lo mas duro del combate y el 19 lo alcanza una
bala, cuando transitaba en area supuestamente segura. Murio en la madrugada
del 20, siendo sepultado 2 dias despues en el cementerio de Montjuich en
Barcelona, acompanhado del duelo mas multitudinario visto en la urbe. Como
con Zamora en Venezuela, el Che en Bolivia o Zapata en Mexico, su muerte
tiene estigmas de traicion y el principal sospechoso, el PCE stalinista,
desatara pocos meses mas tarde una brutal persecucion contra anarquistas y
demas radicales que no solo liquido la Revolucion amenazante, sino que fue el
comienzo del fin de la propia Republica que decian salvaguardar.

40 anhos de existencia intensa tuvo este hombre que lucho por sus ideales
sin treguas ni fanatismos; que nunca dejo de vivir de su trabajo; que actuaba
tanto como leia y pensaba; que amo, sonho y tuvo amigos entranhables. En fin,
Buenaventura Durruti fue lo que fue, y tambien lo que de mejor queda en
nosotros cuando compartimos su trayectoria luminosa.

SOFIA COMUNIELLO
(CORRE@ # 20, pp. 16-17; agosto 1992)