The Anarcho-Syndicalist Guerrilla Curuxas

[The CNT in Galicia (CNT Galiza) has spent years trying to rescue its history – a history of anarcho-syndicalism, of the CNT – from oblivion, Galicia having fallen into the clutches of fascist barbarism in July 1936. Despite that Galicia fought back, orchestrating many escapes by sea, organising resistance and guerrilla activity and was fortunate to be able to count on hundreds of male and female comrades who held out against fascism throughout the 40 years they were obliged to endure it. One outstanding example of this was comrade Ramón Rodríguez Varela aka Curuxas, who died of natural causes in Irago de Abaixo-Toques (La Coruña) on 14 May 1967.]

The first startling fact about Curuxas was his ability to hold out against the fascists who were never able to finish him off. As Carlos Parrado entitles his book about him, Curuxa,. O guerrilleiro que no cazou Franco, he was Curuxas, The Guerrilla Franco Was Never Able to Hunt Down. Curuxas had belonged to the CNT since 1932, in which year he joined the powerful, CNT-affiliated “Mining and Amalgamated Trades Union” in Lousame (La Coruña) and from then on and throughout his long life as a resister he continued to profess his anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian beliefs.

In the initial response to Franco’s coup attempt in 1936, he served with the legendary San Finx column of CNT miners which raced from Lousame and Noia to Compostela and La Coruña in an effort to face down the fascists.

When their attempt failed, he was forced to make his way back to Lousame and Noia, escaping through the hills to join the hundreds of “fuxidos” (runaways) as those who fled the clutches of repression in their early days are referred to in Galicia.

Later he would mount his first armed raid on 14 April 1937, pay day for the miners of San Finx. Still later he tried to cross into Asturias but failed and so had no option but to return to his family home in the village of San Xiao do Camino in the town land of Toques (La Coruña) in 1938, where his partner Marcelina gave birth to their sixth and last daughter, Celsa.

After that the Civil Guard made a number of attempts to capture him, arresting Marcelina so as to force him into turning himself in. Then came the frustration of the end of the second world war across Europe and Curuxas persisted in his resistance struggle, operating through the “Melide and Ulloa districts” and becoming a guerrilla, first with the Neira Group and later with the “Galicia-León Guerrilla Federation”, engaging in underground political activity that would have been impossible without the support of the people.

He continued to mount a number of guerrilla operations such as the hold-up at the Guimarei Mule Fair (Friol-Lugo) in 1944, the expropriation carried out at the ‘Saints’ Fair’ in Monterroso, the “Herdeiro de Castro” raid of 1945, the incident surrounding the death of “the priest from Meire”, the deaths of Benedicto, the commander of the “III Guerrilla Army of Galicia Group” and the “priest from Cubrián”, incidents which brought a violent crackdown on the heads of the guerrillas in 1946. The upshot of the latter was – given also that the Spanish Communist Party let them down – lots of guerrilla fighters such as Domingo de Cancela and Trosky were forced into exile.

By 1947, when the CNT, Curuxas’s trade union dating back to his days in the San Finx mines, sent out word that the armed struggle against Franco should be abandoned, the “Melide and Ulloa district” guerrilla war had petered out and once more Curuxas found himself a “fuxido“, but, far from dying down, the repression was stepped up, the object being to wipe out this legendary guerrilla.

At that point Curuxas decided to send his 4 oldest children off to Argentina, overseeing a complicated arrangement whereby he would smuggle letters to his wife Marcelina via his children in Buenos Aires for reposting back to Galicia, as if Curuxas was living over there too, leading the Civil Guard to believe that he had relocated to Argentina to escape the crackdown.

Life was hard for the family, yet Curuxas, due to his adaptability or to the intelligence always available to him and due to his many contacts – being admired by some and respected by others – managed to survive the fascist repression for so many years; he was frequently guest of honour in many local homes and on a number of occasions was tended by doctors from Melide or Palas de Rei. Curuxas was always grateful for such small gestures of solidarity, making small gifts to the children of his helpers.

It was general knowledge following the remarks made when the Civil Guard arrested the CNT’s Benigno Andrade García aka Foucellas in 1952 or when the Civil Guard mowed down another legendary guerrilla friend of Curuxas‘s, José Castro Veiga aka O Piloto, that they had no intention of taking him alive.

It was due to his commitment to his beliefs, his strong anarcho-syndicalist convictions, the calibre of the man, his intelligence and shrewdness, the support from his friends and solidarity from his neighbours that he made it to 14 May 1967, on which day he passed away in the home of Ramiro Mosquera aka O Zarato and Manuela Pardo, who, with other collaborators and friends of his, undertook to dress him, slipping his old pre-1936 Astra [Star] pistol into is pocket, a pinch of tobacco, a lighter, a neckerchief and a 100 peseta note in his pockets: later they brought the corpse by stages, with an overnight stop in Silverde, a hamlet which is part of Vilamor to Itago de Abaixo-Toques (La Coruña) where they laid it out at the side of the road. His neighbours and friends clustered around his coffin and laid him to rest in Vilamor, the serving parish priest undertaking to give him “a decent burial”.

27 June 2009 witnessed a moving rally in Vilamor and the unveiling of a stone recording the affection, respect and admiration felt for our comrade by his neighbours, relatives and friends, all of whom had stood by Curuxas and the cause of freedom throughout the fascist “long night of stone”.

Further details: Carlos Parrada, Curuxas. O guerrilleiro que non cazou Franco (A Nosa Terra books)

From: cnt (Madrid) No 360, October 2009. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.