Puig Antich, 30 Years On

I was up and about early that morning. I had not slept well. It was freezing cold in Paris. I turned on the radio and listened to the news. Still nothing.

The news reached me later, by which time I was stuck in traffic on a ring road. My worst fears had been confirmed: “Catalan anarchist Salvador Puig Antich” - the announcer on France-Inter read out - “was executed at dawn today in Barcelona. Franco refused clemency. Also executed was the Polish national Heinz Chez, sentenced to death for the killing of a Civil Guard. Both were executed by garrote vil.” Tears welled up in my eyes. “Rotten bastards” - I muttered.

It was not the Francoists that I was thinking of. Not just them, at any rate. My thoughts flew to a few months before. I was remembering a meeting held right there in Paris. Several of us far left militants had sought a meeting with the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Spain. (PCE) It was granted. Santiago Alvarez, the general secretary of the Galician Communist Party, and Napoleon Olasolo, an old acquaintance from the Communist Party of Euskadi attended. We suggested to them that they coordinate efforts to mount a robust campaign to prevent the execution of Puig Antich. Santiago Alvarez treated us to a lengthy oration showing according to him, how “objective domestic and international conditions” would prevent Franco from proceeding with the execution. As a result, since the execution was “objectively” an impossibility, no need to get unduly exercised about opposing it.

But what if objective conditions let us down? - I pressed him. He looked at me with a paternal grin reflecting the vast superiority afforded him by lengthy experience as an old campaigner over the naïve impulsiveness of this 25 year old youngster who dared to question the scientific character of his analysis. In short, they rejected our proposal.

We did what we could, but we did not have the capacity to whip up across Europe a state of outrage that would really bother the Franco regime. The PCE had that capacity. There was no mobilisation. The execution went ahead. 2 March 1974.

Yet again, objective conditions had gone awry. Their fault, no doubt.

Javier Ortiz. 


[Objectors to the movie Salvador and its message have a site: www.paremoslapeliculasalvador.tk that contains a lot of MIL-related materials from Tellez and others. ‘The Fight For History’ which we published in the KSL Bulletin #20 is well worth reading again: ‘Official History is the bourgeoisie’s history and its mission today is to wreath nationalism, liberal democracy and the market economy in myth so as to have us believe that these are eternal, immutable and immovable.’]

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