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(en) bandilang itim - Quico Sabaté: Anarchist Guerrilla BY PETER GELDERLOOS

Date Sat, 16 Jan 2021 11:37:41 +0200

On this day [January 5] in 1960, Catalan anarchist guerrilla Quico Sabaté was finally shot down by the fascists after thirty years of combat against capitalism. As a teenager he joined the CNT to organize his workplace (several factories, working as a mechanic), and with his brothers he created an affinity group within the FAI. In Jan 1933, he participated in the insurrection organized by the CNT, in 1935 his affinity group carried out their first expropriation to raise money for prisoners. When the Civil War broke out in 1936 he went with a FAI militia to the Aragón front, he was accused of killing a communist commissar who was withholding armaments from the anarchist columns, allowing the fascists to take Teruel, was imprisoned, escaped, went back to the front to continue fighting the fascists, escaped to France when the war was lost in 1939, was put in a concentration camp by the French together with hundreds of thousands of other refugees, gained his release by working in an explosives factory, moved to a village in the Pyrenees to begin preparing clandestine routes across the border. He made his first trip into Francoist Spain in 1944. Thus began his life as a guerrilla.

The anarchist guerrillas practiced “armed agitation,” carrying out expropriations, sabotage, and attacks in order to support the broader anticapitalist struggle rather than trying to make themselves the protagonists or vanguard of that struggle. They stole money for strike funds and prisoners’ families, assaulted and threatened particularly abusive bosses in front of the workers, destroyed power lines, assassinated police officials, broke people out of prison (including saving people from the extermination camps the fascists were running), distributed illegal pamphlets, and organized several assassination attempts on Franco, all of it as a complement to workplace and neighborhood organizing rather than a substitute. Hundreds of anarchist guerrillas and supporters were killed in this struggle (including Quico’s brothers) and many more imprisoned. There were also guerrilla movements, communist as well as anarchist, in Euskadi, Aragón, Galicia, Andalucía, and Madrid.

The CNT eventually withdrew their support for the guerrilla campaign, but Sabaté’s group and several other groups continued. When Quico heard a comrade had been imprisoned late in 1959, he prepared his last journey, going with his group in a rescue attempt.

The French police regularly passed their fascist Spanish colleagues intelligence on the anarchist groups, but around New Years’, Quico’s group managed to evade patrols on both sides of the border. But on January 4, the five anarchists were surrounded by over one hundred Guardia Civil at a small farmhouse in the mountains, Mas Clarà. The police laid down intensive fire for hours, killing Antoni Miracle Guitart, Roger Madrigal Torres, Francisco Conesa Alcaraz and Martín Ruiz Montoya. Quico Sabaté had three bullet wounds, but under cover of darkness he snuck away, injuring one Guardia Civil and killing a lieutenant in his escape. Severely injured, he made it dozens of kilometers through the snowy mountains, crossed the river Ter, boarded a train, leapt off when he was discovered, and eventually made it to the town of Sant Celoni. By now his wounds were gangrenous and Quico was disoriented. As he searched for a doctor who supported the cause, a fascist found him and shot him dead. He was dumped in an unmarked grave, which comrades later located and memorialized.

The last Catalan maqui, Ramon Vila Capdevila, was killed 3 years later but their memory & practice inspired the next generation of anticapitalists who would begin to take action in the middle of the 60s.

There’s a forthcoming book on this next generation’s struggle by @AKPressDistro [Salvador Puig Antich: Collected Writings on Repression and Resistance in Franco’s Spain edited by Ricard de Vargas Golarons and translated by Peter Gelderloos].

Socialists have tried to limit the legacy of these guerrillas as mere antifascists, and Catalan nationalists have tried to recast them as champions of political independence, but their struggle was always against capitalism and the State in all its forms.

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