River Plate anarchist militants in the Spanish libertarian movement

The Argentine Libertarian Federation (FLA)’s collection of documents and correspondence regarding the Spanish Revolution affords us access to a part of anarchist history through the internal writings generated within the movement even as history was being made. These letters and documents amounted to the means whereby comrades on both sides of the Atlantic coordinated efforts to defend the Revolution.

Given that this correspondence was for internal consumption and unpublished, as ell as the precautions taken by their writers in order to protect their comrades and their endeavours, we have seen fit to offer a brief guide to the activities of some of the militants from this region (Argentina) active in the Spanish Revolution. We have taken as our basis the letters concerned, the recollections of Jose Grunfeld and other comrades who were or who were acquainted with the protagonists, letters found in Spanish archives and bibliography. We appreciate that the information noted here may be incomplete and would be grateful to receive further clarification or correction at fla2[at]radar.com.ar

The FLA’s (at the time it went by the name of the FACA - Argentine Anarcho-Communist Federation) first delegate to make the trip to Spain was Jacobo Maguid (aka Macizo, Maciso, Mazizo in correspondence or, in Tierra y Libertad, Jacinto Cimazo). Maguid arrived in Paris before travelling on to Barcelona in late November 1936. Initially he worked on the commission organizing the international anarchist congress meant to be held in Spain. In December 1936 he started working with the FAI regional secretariat, with Tierra y Libertad and Tiempos Nuevos, as well as writing for Timón. He suggested that the CNT-FAI Propaganda Branch launch a bulletin, to which he also contributed. In October 1938 he stepped down as director of Tierra y Libertad. He worked for Timón and came up with the idea, implementing it as far as he was able, of writing Memoirs, working on these first in Barcelona and later in Marseilles. He left Spain on 25 January 1939.

José Grunfeld (referred to in the correspondence as José), the second of the FACA delegates to go, travelled with his partner Anita Piacenza, reaching Barcelona on 28 December 1936. He was elected secretary of the Barcelona Local FAI. In January 1937 he started work with the CNT-FAI War Commission. He was secretary of the Defence Section of the CNT-FAI Regional Committee for Aragon and Catalonia, coordinating resistance and liaising directly with the front lines. Alongside him worked Laureano Riera and, later on, Antonio Casanova. In June 1938 he went to Valencia to take charge of the FAI’s Peninsular Sub-Committee there. He visited the 117th Brigade and the Cartagena naval base, negotiating the release of the comrades under arrest there. He took part in a Regional Plenum of the Spanish Libertarian Movement (MLE) in Baza (Andalusia) in August 1938. In September that year he toured virtually the entire zone. In October 1938 he travelled up to Barcelona to take part in the national MLE plenum before returning to the Centre-South zone. In March 1939, Grunfeld was elected on to the National Committee of the MLE. He left Gandía for Marseilles in March 1939.

The third and last FACA delegate was Jacobo Prince (real name Jacobo Prinzman, aka Jacques, Tocayo, Eduardo Mendez Beade, Eduardo, or Mendez in correspondence) who set off with four comrades in February 1937, reaching Barcelona on 10 March. It was he that wrote most of the weekly letters reporting back to the FACA. He worked on Solidaridad Obrera, drafting international news; he served on the CNT-FAI’s Propaganda Section catering for the outside world, South American department, drafting its bulletin with help from Anita Piacenza. And served on the FAI Peninsular Committee. In June 1937 he represented the FACA and the FAI Peninsular Committee at a conference of several standing international delegations looking into the events of May ‘37. In November 1937 he was writing editorials for Solidaridad Obrera. In March-April 1938 he carried out a two week tour through Levante and Andalusia. In May 1938 he took over as editor-in-chief of Solidaridad Obrera. He also handled the foreign correspondence for the FAI Peninsular Committee, thereby liaising with organizations all around the world. He wrote pieces that he signed as Prince or Jacques for Más Allá and Umbral, respectively. He remained in Barcelona until 25 January 1939, at which point he set off for the French border.

So much for the delegates from the FACA. Now to the activities of other individuals connected with Argentine and Uruguayan anarchism in relation to Spain.

Aldo Aguzzi (aka in correspondence Aldo). FACA member. Arrived in Barcelona in June 1937. In November that year he was working on Solidaridad Obrera and publishing Guerra di Classe. Quit Barcelona for Marseilles in April 1938.

Aladino Alonso (Aladino in correspondence). FACA member. Arrived in Barcelona in May 1937. Served as a sergeant on the Aragon front in December 1937. Tried to return to Argentina due to family problems in February or March 1938. We have no further information about him.

Horacio Badaraco (referred to in correspondence as Horacio or HB). Arrived in Barcelona in April 1937. Worked with Tierra y Libertad before setting off for the Aragon front as Solidaridad Obrera correspondent. On his return, he joined the staff of Solidaridad Obrera together with Jacobo Prince before moving on to Tierra y Libertad. In June, as representative of Spartakus, he took part in a conference of various standing international delegations looking into the events of May ‘37. In November 1937 he was still working for Solidaridad Obrera but was even then considering returning to Argentina, which he finally did in March 1938, bringing with him material from the CNT National Committee’s Propaganda Section for the FACA and for La Protesta.

Antonio Casanova (travelled to Spain on documents made out to one Antonio Freire, a fellow Galician from the bakers’ union. In correspondence he is referred to under his real name, Casanova, and occasionally as Casanovas or just Casa). FACA member. Made the trip with Jacobo Prince, arriving in Barcelona in March 1937. By April that year he was in the front lines. In November 1937 he was with the 28th Division and publishing Más Allá, the division’s newspaper. He stayed there until March 1938. In May he took over from Riera on the Defence Section under José Grunfeld before both he and Grunfeld were dropped from it in June. He considered returning to Argentina but in August 1938 was still in Barcelona, working as a baker. He was informed that he was being sought by the police in Avellaneda. He was still in Barcelona in January 1939.

José Comas (referred to in correspondence as Coma or Comas). FACA member. Travelled to Spain in October 1938, reaching Barcelona that November with another comrade by the name of Aguilar. The last information we have of him is that in December 1938 the FAI Peninsular Committee seconded him to the National Council of the SIA.

Roberto Cotelo (Cotelo or Cot. In correspondence). From Uruguay. Reached Barcelona in February 1937. Started working for the Council of Economy in Catalonia on behalf of the FAI, Printing Trades section and served on the FAI Peninsular Committee’s Economic Commission. Directed Tiempos Nuevos after Lunazzi left. Left Spain in November 1937.

Pedro Di Césare (mentioned in correspondence as Di Césare or as Pedro). FACA member. Probably one of Prince’s travelling companions. In March 1937 Maguid mentions a Pedro (most likely him) as being in charge of the Foreign Relations Commission. In April 1937 he was on the front. By December 1938 he was in Marseilles.

Marcelino Fernández (aka el Rosarino Fernández, Marcelino or possibly Mauricio, de Rosario in correspondence). FACA comrade from Rosario. Arrived in Barcelona in April 1938. By August 1938 he had chalked up three months’ service with the Aragonese guerrilla battalion known as the ‘C’ Machine-gunner Battalion, carrying out raids behind enemy lines and carrying out sabotage. Just might be the person thereafter referred to as Mauricio, el de Rosario of whom Prince say that he had joined an Aragonese guerrilla battalion in June 1938. Still there as of December 1938.

Rodolfo González Pacheco (aka el Viejo Pacheco, el Viejo vizcacha, el Viejo obrista, el Viejo or el anciano in correspondence). Arrived in Barcelona in April 1937 and set about organizing the People’s Theatre, with help from Rey. Belonged to the Entertainments Union and ran the review Nosotros for one edition. Left Barcelona in November 1937.

Pablo Hernández (aka Pablito or Pablo in correspondence). FACA member. He was dispatched to Aragon in February 1938 and served on the FAI’s Aragonese Regional Committee there, crossing into France with the rest in April that year. He returned to Barcelona in June 1938 and was still there that August, working as a waiter in a canteen. No further details available.

Adolfo Laina (aka el pibe Laina or Laine in correspondence). FACA member from Santa Fé. Arrived in Barcelona in February 1937. By July of that year he wasa prisoner , and had been since that May. Served on the Libertarian Youth Regional Committee but had left it by November 1937 to join Solidaridad Obrera. In May 1938, Laina was helping Maguid on Tierra y Libertad. Still in Barcelona as of January 1939.

José María Lunazzi (aka El Gringo, Pepe or Luna in correspondence). In March 1937 he joined the Council of Economy in Catalonia on behalf of the FAI - Electricity, Water, Gas, Power, Fuels and Combustibles department. He was also to serve on the FAI Peninsular Committee’s Economic Commission and addressed important meetings. Contributor to Tierra y Libertad. Later he was director of Tiempos Nuevos for one issue before moving across to Nosotros, the Peninsular Committee’s newspaper. In November 1937 he left Spain, touring Italy and Germany with David Kraiselburd.

Anita Piacenza (aka Anita in correspondence or Nital Nahuel in Mujeres Libres and Tierra y Libertad). FACA member. Travelled to Barcelona with José Grunfeld and began work on the administration of Tierra y Libertad in January 1937. By July that year she was working for Tierra y Libertad, drafting notes and reports and was co-editor. Also helped Prince out on the Boletín. Wrote for Mujeres Libres and was involved in the group of the same name. Left Barcelona for Marseilles in April 1938.

Simón Radowitzky (aka Simón in correspondence). Reached Barcelona in May 1937. Joined the 28th Division with Casanova and then served as a liaison on the front. Saw action in the battle of Teruel. Left Barcelona in January 1939.

Ramos (real name Miguel Jiménez Igualada aka Ramos in correspondence or M. Ramos in Nosotros). In October 1937, Prince says that González Pacheco sold out to Ramos. In November that year Ramos appointed Pacheco director of the review Nosotros and later published the latter’s Carteles. No further references in the correspondence.

Jorge Rey Villalba (aka el pibe Rey or el cuzquito enfermizo que se llama Rey in correspondence). Having recently arrived in June 1937, assisted González Pacheco in theatre work. By November that year he was in the Entertainments Union, planning to return to Buenos Aires with González Pacheco.

Laureano Riera (aka Riera, el croto Riera and Riera (Gonzalez) in correspondence. The name on his phoney Spanish papers was Abelino Alvarez). FACA member. Set off in June 1937, arriving in Barcelona in July 1937. Initially he was Grunfeld’s assistant on the Defence Section of the CNT-FAI Reional Committee for Aragon and Catalonia, but in December he joined the Liaison Committee of the CNT-FAI Defence Section of Aragon and Catalonia on the eastern front. In November 1938 he toured the Segre and Ebro fronts, writing reports on operations there and stepping down from his post on the Section in order to move to the Centre-South zone to join the FAI Regional Committee of Andalusia. In January 1939 he moved to Valencia before touring Andalusia as liaison for the FAI Peninsular Sub-Committee. Travelled to Marseilles in March 1939.

Pedro Tufró (aka Tuffró, Tufró, el uruguayo T and possibly Pedro in correspondence). From Uruguay. Reached Barcelona in January 1937, immediately joining the Libertarian Youth, working on Ruta and helping out the commission organizing the international congress. Murdered in Tarragona in May 1937 on his way back from a mission to the Aragon front.

Vicente (aka el Gallegito Vicente). Probably one of Prince’s travelling companions. In March 1937 he planned to join the front lines and was there by April that year. By November 1937 he was a “Russian soldier“. No further information.

Other Rio Plata anarchists active in Spain include: Diego Abad de Santillán, Virgilio Botero, ‘el chico’ Caleti or Caletti, Fausto Falaschi, Domingo Fernández (aka el Alamo Verde, from Rojas), Arturo Tomás García, José Gomensoro, el mallorquin Mari, Alfonso Martínez Blanco, Joée María Montero, el viejo Rodriguez, Serafín, the Prina brothers, Agustín Villamor and Manuel Villar.

From: 1890 -1939, Catálogo de Publicaciones, Folletos y Documentos Anarquistas Espanoles (BAEL, Editorial Reconstruir, Buenos Aires, 2005), pp. 20-26. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.