José Manuel Montoro aka Chaval

José Manuel Montoro Gonzalvo (Borja, Zaragoza 23 December 1921 - 27 April 2009) known to all and sundry by his guerrilla nickname Chaval was living in Barcelona when the civil war broke out, working in a workshop that was taken over by the CNT; he was a member of the CNT’s chemical industry union. After the Francoist victory he crossed into France and was interned in a range of French concentration camps.

After contacting the French resistance he fought against the German army and at the age of 24 returned to Spain with four other Aragonese who would form the famous Los Maños group.

After three years fighting the Nazis in France and seven years as a guerrilla fighting Francoists he was forced to quit Spain again and the Communist Party of Spain, which orchestrated the guerrilla movement, found him a new life in Prague. In 2005 he returned from exile and campaigned actively for the recovery of historical memory and has now died in the town where he was born.

Chaval has left behind some splendid memoirs of his guerrilla days in the shape of Cordillera Ibérica, recuerdos y olvidos de un guerrilla.

This guerrilla, despite his deep-seated anarchist beliefs, joined the Communist Party of Spain during the turbulent days of the guerrilla struggle without at any time abjuring his libertarianism and at all times he displayed a personality imbued with rebelliousness and was a non-conformist until his last breath.

We will always remember Chaval from long conversations amid tobacco smoke and the aroma of coffee, vehemently defending his beliefs and his critical mind and revolutionary fervour evident in his every word.

Chaval is the second libertarian guerrilla to have left us recently. Not so long ago another comrade, Eulalio Barroso aka Carrete died in his home in Valencia. In both of their cases, we prize and learn from their commitment to their beliefs in mutual aid, justice and freedom.

José Izquierdo, CNT Cáceres Norte

From: cnt (Cáceres) No 357, June 2009 . Translated by: Paul Sharkey.