Miguel Garcia : a review and tribute

Looking Back After Twenty Years of Jail: Questions and Answers on the Spanish anarchist resistance. Miguel Garcia. Kate Sharpley Library. 2002. 14 pages. £1.50 ;
Unknown Heroes: biographies of anarchist resistance fighters. Miguel Garcia. Kate Sharpley Library. 2005. 18 pages. £2.00

Miguel Garcia (1908-1981) was a Spanish anarchist who served a full twenty years in Franco’s prisons. On his release he came to London where he spent many years before returning to Barcelona … This reviewer knew Miguel Garcia well. He was a typical example of the classic working class Spanish anarchist. He could be warm and generous, always modest about his past, at other times cantankerous and exasperating. This little pamphlet is an account of his life as a revolutionary anarchist militant, prefaced with a warm tribute from the KSL. As they say ” Miguel Garcia…was in some ways, perhaps every way, the reason why the Kate Sharpley Library exists… Anarchism for Miguel was what you did”.

And Miguel did it alright. He fought as a young man in the working class fightback against the generals’ coup in Barcelona in 1936. He fought on the Aragon front and outside Madrid in an anarchist militia. He forged documents to get refugees over the border from France during World War Two. As part of the anarchist underground resistance he was arrested in 1949 and sentenced to twenty years.

Released in 1969 he was invited to Britain by Stuart Christie who had been a prisoner alongside him. He became International Secretary of the newly formed Anarchist Black Cross. With Albert Meltzer he set up the Centro Iberico, an anarchist club in North London. I remember many evenings or weekend afternoons spent there, with Miguel presiding over his tapas and glasses of rough red wine, occasionally blasting out the old inspiring anarchist songs A Las Barricadas and Hijos del Pueblo on an old Dansette record player. As the preface says: “His arrival in London confirmed what some of us had been instinctively sensing anarchism could be and was. His very presence epitomised for us the necessary unity of anarchist practice and theory. Irascible, spiky, possessed of a ferocious temper that could leave as quickly as it came, certainly not given to suffer fools gladly, he carried with him a dignity and remarkable lack of arrogance”.

In the pamphlet Miguel reminisces about his past recalling the hundreds of anarchists who fought in the underground, people like the guerrillas Sabater and Facerias. He also recalls the anarchist collectives set up during the Spanish Revolution.

As his old comrade the Italian anarchist Goliardo Fiaschi, who had been himself imprisoned for many years after fighting with the Spanish resistance remarked:

When Anarchy comes the new generations must be told what the anarchists endured in order to liberate humanity from injustice, and the name of Miguel Garcia must be written in the annals of the future”.

But Miguel Garcia wanted to commemorate the brave comrades who fell in the war.

I was among the guilty. I fought. I fell. I survived. The last is the most unusual,” he says in Unknown Heroes. The pamphlet describes militants like Manuel Lecha, Valencian docker, who on his own, in 1936, pulled an enormous cannon from the Barcelona docks to the middle of town, where it blew out a Francoist machine gun nest. Lorenzo Lopez Noguero, who was active in the underground. Captured, he was sentenced to be garrotted, only to escape but finally to be gunned down by the Guardia Civil in 1950. “El Negret” who escaped at least 17 times from jail and “El Valencia” who escaped at least seven times. Santiago Garcia Gasco, who died at Belchite on the Aragon Front in 1937. Francisco Denis “El Catala” captured by the Francoists and tortured for four days in 1949 who managed to take cyanide. And of course Ramon Capdevila, or Caraquemada (Burnt Face) alongside Sabater and Facerias one of the great anarchist guerrillas who fell in a Guardia Civil ambush. Perhaps most poignant of all, five militants who had worked with Miguel in the Tallion Group and had been imprisoned with him, all executed by the Francoist butchers on 13th March 1952; Miguel being one of the four who were reprieved.

Miguel, dear old comrade, I raise a glass of rough red wine in remembrance of you and your example of what anarchism was and should be.

From: http://www.afed.org.uk/publications/organise-magazine.html (Organise no. 75).