Thirty Years on From the Execution of Salvador Puig Antich His sisters are to try to reopen the trial that led to his being garrotted

On 2 March 1974 Salvador Puig Antich was executed, The young militant of the MIL (Iberian Liberation Movement) was charged with the killing of a police officer who was shot five times. Puig Antich’s weapon had been fired only twice. Thirty years on, his family is trying to get the case reopened and the director Manuel Huerga is to recreate the murdered anarchist’s last hours in jail for the big screen.

The Editors of CNT

Inma, Montserrat and Carme are Salvador Puig Antich’s sisters. Even though some thirty years have now passed since the MIL militant was done to death, they are fighting back against the ghastly historical amnesia being foisted upon us. To that end they mean to reopen the case that sent their brother to his death by garrote vil. Not that this is their first attempt, but lack of financial backing forced them to back down before now.

Moreover November 2004 will see the start of shooting on a movie that will recreate Puig Antich’s final hours in prison prior to being garrotted. Director Manuel Huerga, musician Lluis Llach and Media=Pro productions will be using Lluis Arcarazo’s screenplay, based on the novel Cuenta atras by Francesc Escribano (currently director of Television e Catalunya). They have already stated their intention of making the movie a plea against the death penalty. Maybe they have forgotten what their protagonist was fighting against. He was of course worried about State murder but his primary concern was with the very existence of the State. And since keeping our fingers crossed is tempting luck, let us try to recall just who Salvador Puig Antich and the MIL were.

The MIL and Puig Antich

The Iberian Liberation Movement (MIL) was not aligned with any of the emerging political parties nor affiliated to any trade union. Perhaps its members were far-sighted enough to anticipate history, the institutionalised lies, the treachery of the “left” and the democratic reinvention of the right in the wake of Franco’s death. Right from the outset they were in contact with anarcho-syndicalists exiled in Toulouse, although their own modus operandi was quite different. They professed to be autonomous and their activities fell into two main areas - propaganda and direct action. They were also the heirs of Situationism and May 1968 and employed irony, humour and irreverence in their texts. Their publication would go under the name CIA (International Anarchist Conspiracy). Their basic direct action consisted of “expropriations” of banks. During the hold-ups they were always unmasked but in disguise, in suits and ties. But the situation altered after 1973 when, in the course of one robbery, they left a bank employee blind. That fact prompted them to dissolve themselves the same year, but it also inspired a change of attitude on the part of the authorities. From that point on they were regarded as terrorists and began to come under the remit of the army as the hunt was stepped up. In connection with that event, Xavier Garriga and Salvador Puig Antich were arrested on 25 September, in an ambush. In an exchange of gunfire the police officer Francisco Anguas was killed by five bullets, only two of which had been fired by Puig Antich. The court declined to listen to a ballistic report.

In order to place the arrests and the ensuing execution in context, we should bear it in mind that in the wake of the death of Carrero Blanco, the regime, headed by Franco and Arias Navarro, meant to demonstrate their power and their priority, “law and order”. At the time there was a new-style, nuanced political opposition that was paving the way for what would later be the “democratic transition” or the Moncloa Palace Pacts. The slightness of the MIL and the dereliction of stronger opposition organisations ensured that a farce rather a trial ensued. At 9.40 am., Salvador Puig Antich was executed in Barcelona’s Model Prison, at the age of 24. Most of the MIL prisoners were freed under an amnesty in 1977.

On 5 April 1976, twenty nine prisoners broke out of Segovia prison. MIL founder Oriol Sole Sugranyes was one of them. Unfortunately he was gunned down by the Civil Guard whilst trying to escape.

Jean-Marc Rouillan, a MIL activist and later member of Action Directe is serving a prison sentence in Arles in France.

On 2 March, the very day when Puig Antich was done to death, Franco pardoned the Civil Guard Antonio Franco who was under sentence of death for the killing of a superior officer.

From: CNT (Madrid) April 2004 . Translated by: Paul Sharkey.