Updated information about Manuel Huet and those close to him

Updated information about Manuel Huet and those close to him

With the Blind Spot [El Ángulo Muerto] book now in the shops, interesting, complementary and better information is still coming to light. Here are a few examples.

Hello again readers. Here we are at the end of the month again, as ever, so let us not put off until tomorrow what we can do today.

I have been a bit busy of late with the launch of Blind Spot, the book recounting the life and adventures of Manuel Huet aka el Murciano. Book launches have been held in La Rioja, Pamplona and quite a few around Catalonia. And you can imagine how stunned I was when, among those attending the launch in Berga, as part of the 26th Tribute to the Maquis March, was our last remaining guerrilla, Joan Busquets aka el Senzill, a member of Marcelino Massana’s group. Plus which, he spoke up during the discussion.

On the back of 40 years having passed since Huet perished in a traffic accident in the town of Alfarras (Lérida), my dear friends from the ‘A les trinxeres’ team coordinated a launch and a tribute, erecting a plaque in his memory at the crash site.  The next launches are scheduled for La Puerta Gotika in Logroño, the Delirio bookshop in Móstoles and at the Fundación Anselmo Lorenzo in Madrid. 

Given that the tour takes me through the home-town of some colleagues of mine, I intend to give today’s entry over to expanding on a few points regarding Huet that are not included in the book but which I have been unearthing since its publication. Since I have no intention at the moment of going for a second edition, I will lay out those things that come my way here, or which in come upon which are connected.

The first item I have for you is {…} that thanks to the folks at A les trinxeres I have managed to fill in some of the gaps surrounding Manolo’s wife, Rosita. In the book I complained bitterly that had I not even managed to discover her second surname, nor indeed locate a photo of her or hardly anything else. Well, some fresh information has come to me and I am delighted to share it here. 

Rosa Curt was born in Barcelona on 21 April 1911. Her second surname was Carrió, so she was Rosa Curt i Carrió. She died in exile in Béziers in France on 26 July 2007, aged 96.

As for María – the daughter of Manolo and Rosa – she was born in Barcelona on 9 January 1933, 10 months after her parents’ wedding. She died in Béziers, like her mother, on 28 November 2015, at the age of 82. I am always indebted for information supplied regarding the women who crop up in my articles and I get the impression that if I were to really focus, I could achieve more. Once again, I offer my complete support and expression my desire to see the women writing their own histories and recapturing their rightful places. 

I have also come by a snapshot of one of Huet’s comrades from his days with the action groups in Barcelona. I mean the Navarrese Pablo Mayo Mayo, a native of Uztarroz, who had a long record in the agitation in Barcelona (the Rosa de Foc/Fiery Rose). Furthermore, I have discovered that he shared accommodation in the housing projects in Can Tunis with Eugenio Barrio Galilea, a native of Santa Cecilia, a hamlet in the Jubera valley in La Rioja, very close to where I live myself. Eugenio Barrio is included in the list of dangerous anarchists compiled by the French gendarmerie at the end of the civil war; that list also included Huet. 

Pablo Mayo Mayo belonged to Huet’s action groups in Barcelona in the 1930s.

Moving on. You know, there is nothing better than setting the search to one side and stumbling upon things. There I was with the book finished and in print, leafing through the on-line newspaper collections for something on the libertarian guerrillas in Catalonia when it occurred to me to enter the name of Huet on the off-chance – whereupon I stumbled upon something about which I had had no inkling at all.

To be specific: the main characters are Manolo on one side and, on the other, Valentín González aka el Campesino. For anyone unfamiliar with the latter, he was a communist from Extremadura who made his name as commander of the 5th Regiment during the civil war. He was a rising star within the Spanish Communist Party and the military hierarchy, until he was made lieutenant-colonel and given command of the 46th Division. His Stalinism ended when he finished up in the USSR and was sent to the Gulag, from where, fortunately, he escaped. El Campesino appears in Blind Spot because in 1959 he met up with Franisco Sabaté aka el Quico to look into the chances of mounting guerrilla raids against Francoism.

What I had not known was that Manolo and Valentín had met before. Back in July 1938. Huet and No 1 Company of the 7th Automobile Transport Battalion, in which Huet was a captain, were billeted in the village of Sant Boi de Llobregat (known back then as Vilaboi), getting ready for the approaching battle of the Ebro, due to start within days. Over to Manolo to tell the story: “A couple of cars pulled up in the village square and out stepped el Campesino and his armed bodyguards and, spotting the fifty or so lorries that we had parked there, he asked who was in charge of these vehicles. I was sent for and the moment he set eyes on me he said: ‘I am el Campesino and I want to know what is going on here … as I am organizing a parade.’ So I told him, with all due deference, that I was not there to organize parades for anyone and that my lorries and drivers were standing by to go into action, and not to parade and that we were ready to move out at five minutes notice upon receipt of an order from our battalion commander.”

As you can imagine, this did not sit well with the bigwig communist who was not used to having his orders queried. What with the raised voices and threats, the tension was growing and some of the officers from No1 Company and its political commissar Florencio Gras were drawn to the square. Let me say that the 7th Battalion was made up mostly of CNT personnel from the transport militias, so the appearance that morning of a PCE commander shouting and making threats could not have sat well with them. By the time they got to the square, el Campesino was threatening Huet with a court martial for insubordination. But lo and behold, the arrival of a large number of Huet’s comrades and their determined stance, plus the visibility of their weapons, cooled tempers and quietened the irritated Valentín who, little by little, in the company of his people, drifted away and withdrew to their cars. To complete this anecdote, let it be said that Huet was wounded during the battle of the Ebro and his company was commended for its performance, whereas el Campesino was stood down from his command in mid-battle, first for feigning sickness and then on account of the dire performance of the Division over the few days during which he had had command of it.  

Naturally I would not have let that one go.

Last year a new movie was released about el Quico. The title was Quico Sabaté. Sense destí. And it contains a reference to Manolo Huet. I had thought that it might be a big help to me, but no such luck. For one thing, I haven’t managed to view it and for another the reference to Huet relates to the remark that the arms he had secured for the group were not good and not in good condition. Dear screenwriters: for years, Manolo was one of the people in charge of the MLE’s arms-purchasing and -shipment teams, so he must have had some expertise in that field. Moreover, these were arms meant for el Quico, who was like a brother to him. Stop messing with me, man.

But Huet is not the only one about whom fresh discoveries are coming to light. The second part of my book focuses on Laureano Cerrada and his clandestine teams. Fresh things have been coming to light about them as well but I won’t give too much away as I want to write a separate article about that. What I can say is that I have turned up some more collaborators with the teams that he passing counterfeit currency, some details regarding how they operated, the extension of the counterfeiting to lots of other European currencies as well as petrol vouchers (remember that France had just emerged from a devastating war) and the much-in-demand dollars.

The new information also includes the action groups that worked on behalf of the ‘Sección Fomento’, with new names coming to light as well as fresh information regarding the strokes they pulled in France. There is more than enough there for another article, or at any rate, so it seems to me.

El Salto 30/11/2023 https://www.elsaltodiario.com/ni-cautivos-ni-desarmados/nuevos-datos-informaciones-manuel-huet-gente-cercana

Photo: Memorial plaque in Alfarrás for Manuel Huet. Source, Imanol

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.