Obituary: Luis Lizán Pérez aka Perena

Luis Lizán Pérez, also known by the family nickname Perena died on 5 May 2009 at the age of 93. Born in Zuera (Zaragoza) on 19 December 1915, a farming area just 25 kilometers from the city of Zaragoza on the national highway from France to Huesca, he was active in the CNT from his youth, alongside his brother Braulio. Their father Luis Lizan had been a member of the CNT since its foundation and in July 1936 had fled into the hills after the fascist victory until the militias arrived; after a short while on the front he spent his time up until the end of the civil war working on collectives. In France he experienced the concentration camps in Argelès and Bram, as well as the labour companies and enlisted with the anti-German resistance. After 1945 he and others organised the Hérault branch of the CNT and he remained a member up until he died.

His sons had a much more fraught time of it. Luis also escaped into the hills in July 1936 and hid out on Monte de Zuera up until 6 August when he joined an expedition by 500 runaways who made it through to the republican lines in Tardienta (Huesca).

He spent the entire war fighting in the ‘Paso a la Idea’ battalion of the 28th Ascaso Division, a member of the guerrilla-dynamiter teams that mounted numerous acts of sabotage, intelligence-gathering and rescues of antifascist fugitives. Arrested in the bottleneck in the port of Alicante he was jailed at the end of the civil war in Albatera concentration camp and in Porta Coeli prison (Valencia) where he spent a year. He was released on licence and returned to his home town where he was drafted into the Rentería (Guipúzcoa) Labour Battalion from which he deserted with three comrades on 2 March 1942. After a seventeen day trek and with the help of some Navarrese shepherds they reached Aragon and made their way via Vedado de Zuera, Sierra de Guara and the Pyrenees, with the Civil Guard hot on their trail. The group split up and its two libertarian members, Juan Antonio Lacima and Luis Lizán made their way back to the hills above Zuera where they established a guerrilla base along with Hilario Gracia Marín. They held out for six months until the Civil Guard came in shooting; Hilario was wounded and Juan Antonio was captured and tortured. Luis and Hilario were smuggled into Zaragoza and in September 1942 were moved on to Lérida by train. Once on Catalan soil, they settled in the Giminhell-Alpicat townland, assisted by two comrades from Zuera who were likewise on the run and using false identities: Francisco Lacruz Guallar and Mariano Ardeo Pardo. In 1944 they harboured five CNT militants who had broken out of Huesca prison where they had been on death row. After they were discovered and shot at, they went into hiding in a safe location and, after contacting Luis Begué, they were smuggled into Barcelona with the help of some barber comrades from the Plaza de Cataluña. Once back in Lérida, Luis and his partner Victoria Rome Nivela carried on operating within the resistance groups whilst he worked on farms and in the coal mines. He struck up a connection with the Huesca resisters Pascual Otín from Almudébar, Máximo Fonseca and Pedro Navarro. Wounded in the back in an attempt to escape efforts to arrest him, he was removed to safety and nursed back to health by the close-knit CNT network in provincial Lérida. After five years of resistance he decided to go into exile in France with his partner, entering the country irregularly via Andorra la Vella on 27 October 1947. After the death of Franco, Luis decided to return to his home town and he has left some memoirs entitled Mi modesta experiencia en la resistencia al regimen dictatorial del general Franco. His notes and oral evidence have helped many other locals write a book on Zuera’s history called Rueda, rueda, palomera, recuperando la memoria histórica y oral de Zuera. With the loss of Luis, following the demise of others like Manco Franchón, Tomás Samitier, Vicente Marín, Isidro Arguile, Joaquín Diestre and so many others that generation of Zuera anarchists who gave their all and got nothing in return in the fight against fascism and for social revolution in Aragon is all but extinct. During the 1980s they were all members of the then reconstituted but now no longer extant Zuera CNT Union.

Raúl Mateo of CNT Huesca

From: cnt (Cáceres) No 358, July 2009. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.