Update: March 2024

Update: March 2024

Hello again, readers. End of the month approaching and another article on the guerrillas due. I had not even considered my topic as this has been a busy month for me as I have been travelling hither and yon. I was going to open with the sabotage attack mounted by libertarian guerrillas against the gunpowder store in Santa Creu d’Olorda on 18 May 1947, as it is none too well known outside of Catalonia and is interesting. But once I began the draft for this month, I could see that it was going to be a long one, so I decided on a change of plan and to offer a swift overview of the meetings, people and places that have been occupying me recently. 

Our month kicked off in Barcelona with a tribute to Puig Antich, marking the 50th anniversary of his execution at the hands of the State. He was executed by garrote vil, nastily and viciously, after a trial riddled with dodgy evidence. His family and close associates are still campaigning to keep his memory alive and to expose all of these irregularities. I came across a lot of people, a lot of familiar faces, others as yet unknown and a good schedule of events, plus, of course, the “official progressives” out to hijack a part of history and of libertarian memory, the usual. Between one meeting and another, I was trying to make time for a time out. I spent a little time in Vallcarca, in La Riera, grabbing a coffee and meeting up with Sandra, the grand-daughter of Domingo Labrador Guiral, the libertarian guerrilla gunned down in the little town of Santa Eulalia de Gállego (in Huesca) after a shoot-out with the Civil Guard on 3 August 1946.We have been writing to each other for quite some time, but sometimes distance helps.  I hope that we can meet up again soon.

Back to the events and after so many years a meeting with Myrtille from the Les Giménologues team. In my book about Manuel Huet there is a chapter dealing with the Perpignan group and I had a hard time finding sources in the writing of it. Well, it turns out that Myrtille is the daughter of Jordi Gonzalvo, a member of that group. I really must work on how I go about asking questions and above all putting them to the right people.

That said, allow me to pose a question here, fingers crossed. In the Les Giménologues’ book A Zaragoza o al charco, there is mention of an explosion that cost the lives of – among others – Virgilo Garsaball, while some explosives were being handled in 1970s Grenoble. If anyone has any information abut that incident, please get in touch with me. My friend David, a relation of Virgilio, will be only too delighted to receive it.  

I am still up to my eyes but I could still set a little time aside to go and meet Jonas and Nuria, a Swede and a Catalan, respectively who were both friends of Juan Sánchez aka el Pelao. El Pelao led an intense life and, from what Jonas told me, had managed to survive three death sentences passed on him in his life-time. He was sentenced to death by the Stalinists during the civil war, by the Nazis during the Second World War and then by the French government for the 1951 Lyon hold-up. He ended up living in Sweden, that being where Jonas and Nuria met him. We still have more to talk about and I hope that Nuria gets better as soon as possible and that we can meet up again soon. 

Despite my spreading myself thin, the events go on. Talks, concerts, a visit to Salvador Puig Antich’s grave in Montjuich, the brand-new mural by El Roc, some stunning activity centres, which cannot help leaving provincial folk like me open-mouthed with the non-stop series of people, anecdotes and stories to tell.

And then, on the Monday, with the tribute to Puig Antich over, I hit paydirt. The program taped by my beloved Barrio Canino team in December regarding my book on Manolo Huet and broadcast this March, laid down a marker. On listening to it, it turns out that one of the last remaining questions related to Huet’s family and how I answered to it, as I had not managed to track them down, very much to my regret. But the guys at Barrio Canino have a nose for these things and do not ask random questions. As luck would have it, thanks to the video that the Fundación Anselmo Lorenzo posted of the launch of the Huet book in Madrid, it emerges that Manolo’s family – yes, the family of Manuel Huet Piera aka el Murciano – the family that I had had no luck trying to track down, had been in contact with the publishers and wanted to meet me. When I discovered that, I was bowled over at first and became emotional and then I began to feel nervous, like some kid before his/her first date. Such is life. Well, that Monday I had dinner with the family in the Gracia barrio in Barcelona and I was humbled and I think “uncle Manolo’s” descendents enjoyed it too.  Later they showed up for the launch of the Huet book at the Ateneu Llibertari de Gracia; that was a day that will live on in my memory and which I hope to repeat with them all. In fact, I enjoyed the switch from “el Murciano” to “Uncle Manolo” more than the visit to their home. 

But the adventures of Ni cautivos ni desarmados (my blog) did not stop there. A few days after, my partner and I were getting ready for a trip up to Gerona. We spent the morning of 8 March in Berga, with friends, and there we attended some of the events and that afternoon we dropped into Berga to see Floreal Cuadrado, the forger who worked for the GARI or the 1st of May Group and the autonomous groups in the 1970s. He made up a room for us and we chatted about loads of things and anecdotes from those days of struggle, day and night, some of the stories mind-boggling and others highly interesting and involving people familiar to all of us. I need to sort through the recordings we made of him, the current ones and some I made years back. So if we come up with a little surprise or two, we shall see. It came as a surprise to me that I had been in Berga ignorant of the fact that the great El Roc was working on a new mural dedicated to the local guerrillas down below the CGT local. A must-see next time I am in the Berga region.

So much for the Catalan end of the month, followed by a few days visiting my father in La Rioja and then it was off to pastures new and I was northbound, although, to be honest, I should say, this was to introduce “Uncle Manolo” to audiences in Cantabria and Asturias. I have to say, it had been ages since I was in Santander, but I missed it. The launch took place at the ‘La Voragine’ bookshop, an interesting co-op with very splendid premises. I also availed of the chance to visit ‘La Libre’, another spot in the Cantabrian city that I had heard mentioned plenty of times but had never visited before. The turn-out was not huge but I really had a good time and I hope it won’t be too long before I can repeat the visit. That was on Wednesday, 20 March.

On the morning of the 21st I was off on a three and a half hour bus trip to Santander-Xixón. That morning, my friends from Agobio took off from Bilbao to Gran Canaria and in the end that left just three of them. That afternoon we ventured further afield. I would have liked a book-launch at ‘La Semiente’ in el Entregu, where folk from La Rioja have always received the best treatment and they made us feel at home. But ‘La Semiente’ shut down in June 2023 after a dozen years in operation, so the launch was held at El Castru in Garganta, a little village near the top of the mountains, in a brand-new centre opened at the start of the year. And it went pretty well, good crowd, very interesting location and some of our people from the basin with others drawn in from elsewhere in Asturias. With a smile on my face, it was then off to Muno to spend the night. I should say that a second edition of Blind Spot is with the printers and it should come out with fewer mistakes, to the delight of my publishers, myself and Manolo Huet.

Saturday 23 March found me in Oviedo at the ‘Cambalache’ bookstore. Nice surroundings, good crowd, first class dinner and a few familiar faces. Besides which I bumped into Virginia. One of her relations is Constantino García Alonso, a CNT member captured by the Francoists and shot in Oviedo on 30 May 1938. Abelardo Torrijos Fueyo, another anarchist, was Virginia’s grandfather; he managed to get out to France where he was placed in the Argélès and Le Vernet concentration camps. He went on to fight in the resistance, albeit that in France he went under the name Belarmino Torres. Once the Nazis had been beaten, he took part in the cross-Pyrenean incursions and, using the alias Juan Lanas, he passed through La Seo de Urgell at the head of a fifty-man guerrilla unit. They made it as far as Matarrodona, only to be surrounded by Civil Guards and Falangists, upon which a fierce gun-battle erupted, leaving Abelardo seriously wounded and a prisoner of the Francoists … And now it is up to us to fill in the gaps, if we can. Anyone interested is referred to  https://caudelguille.net/38-myblog/myblog/700-maquis-i-emboscats-12 [try https://web.archive.org/web/20230606161038/https://caudelguille.net/38-myblog/myblog/700-maquis-i-emboscats-12 ]

That said, it only remains for me to offer lots of thanks to everybody responsible for making my month of March as good as it was. First of all, to the people and premises cited in the lines above and then to Javi, Dani, David, Ru, Sol, Charli, Amparo, Joni, Ricard, Jean Marc, Isa, Edu, Ali, Oscar, Carmen, Sandrina, Veru, Delfo, the folks from the basin and from Piñeres, plus Jorge and Puente … and anyone else I may have forgotten as my head is so full. 

Best wishes, friendship and anarchy.

Back next month.


[Photo: Roc Blackblock’s mural tribute to Salvador Puig Antich. Source: Imanol]

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.