Manifesto of the National Committee of the CNT regarding the May Days in Barcelona
Since everything in life has an origin, we must seek for the origins of the May Days in what was taking place before. The history of the opposition to our movement in Catalonia is a long one. The Communists, the Estat Catala and certain stool-pigeons have been working actively to discredit us both in Catalonia and abroad. But few people are aware of the strange series of events that accompanied their operations, which finally culminated in the events of last May.
Nobody knows, for instance, that Casanovas, Lluhi Vallescá, Xicota Sancho, Polo and Ventura Gassol were travelling about France last January, working for the ‘independence of Catalonia’. The process of preparation was similar to that carried on during the dictatorship. But with a difference. At that time, Italian fascism operated through the agent-provocateur, Garibaldi. Now Mussolini uses Dencas, the agent-provocateur separatist of October in Catalonia.
As far back as December a conspiracy came to light, which resulted in the execution of Roberter, Commissioner of Public Order, and the flight of Casanovas, President of parfiament, who had given away his complicity in the frustrated coup d’état.
The separatists, bourgeois in the last analysis, could not reconcile themselves to the fascist uprising that resulted in proletarian victory and threatened them with the loss of all their wealth. And in their search for some substitute solution, they entered into negotiations with Italy, in order to provoke internal strife that would furnish the opportunity for foreign intervention and facilitate the recognition of Catalonia as an independent state, thereby undermining the anti-fascist front at the same time. All those who wanted Catalonia to return to the status quo prevailing on 18 July, accepted these proposals.
They carried on their conspiracies in France. Many prominent individuals were involved. An agent of the intelligence department at the service of Spanish anti-fascism discovered certain documents.
Just as he was completing his startling investigations that would have unmasked all the traitors in our midst, this agent was assassinated. By whom?
He was working for the government of the Republic. He was therefore assassinated by those who were conspiring against the government, and yet by some means or other, knew all about the work of this important agent.
We must recall that Aiguadé was the Councillor of Internal Security; that he is a member of the Estat Catala and that he fell under suspicion of being implicated in the conspiracy.
On 20 April, Comorera, leader of the Communist Party in Catalonia, was in Paris. Among the people he visited was the secretary of Ventura Gassol and a certain Castañer. Who is this Castañer? We are told an ‘Agent of the Generality’. Investigators have found out that he is in contact with a certain Vintro, secretary of Octavio Saltó, journalist in the service of the Spanish fascists. He has also been seen with other well-known members of the fascist movement living in Biarritz and St Jean de Luz. He also maintains close relations with members of the Estat Catala, especially with Dencás and Casanovas. The former visits Castaner in his house, and the latter is visited, in turn, by Castañer.
Polo, another police agent of the Generality, who was in the confidence of Badia, operates in France under the orders of Vizcaíno, agent of the fascist counterespionage, which is functioning under orders of Beltrán and Musitu. What is the meaning of this peculiar mixture of fascists and separatists? Can we not find the cause of certain provocations here? We are convinced that we can. And whoever examines the case objectively must agree with us.
In addition to all this the fascists were making preparations to land both men and materials on a large scale all along the coast from Almeria to Rosas. They failed to carry this plan out because they could not get together the necessary war materials. The project was postponed until the middle of May. And if they have still failed to carry it out, it was due to the fact that their plans fell into the hands of the police of a neutral country.
We must also add, incidentally, that the Estat Catala had concentrated all the armed forces at its disposal in France on the frontier.
And one thing more. The Gazette of the Republic published a list of officers and privates who were to be discharged from the National Republican Guard, as well as being subject to the punishments established by the decree of 21 July. However, one captain, four ensigns, 19 brigadiers, four lieutenants, 18 sergeants, 23 corporals, and 55 guards among those included in the discharge were not dismissed, either because of the charity or the direct complicity of Artemio Aiguadé, ex-Councillor of Internal Security of the Generality and in the forefront of the May events.
We must point out that large contingents of guards were sent to the frontier during these days, and when one of these contingents arrived at Figueras, instead of presenting himself to the town council, the commanding officer went directly to the local headquarters of the PSUC, demonstrating by this simple action, that they were an armed force, not at the disposal of the people or of the government, but of the Communist Party.
All these details clearly prove that the events in Barcelona had been carefully planned, and that the spark that caused the outbreak did not come from the CNT.
From the very first moments the CNT tried to bring the fighting in the streets to an end. This committee, together with the executive committee of the UGT, came to Barcelona and made superhuman efforts to settle the conflict. We looked for a solution. We found one that was accepted by everyone except the communists, who refused to accept it immediately. They held up the settlement in the hope that the Valencia government, no longer able to tolerate the tense situation, would assume control of public order, which actually happened.
And when on Thursday the CNT and the UGT issued the order to return to work, and the city became rnore calm, bands of separatists and Communists roamed the streets, stopping and searching people, tearing up CNT membership books and attacking CNT locals. The members of the CNT who had already stopped fighting, were compelled to set up their defences again. When the first trolley car started to make its run down the Paseo de Gracia toward Plaza de Catalonia, guards and members of the Estat Catala shot at it from behind their barricades at the streets of Paris and Diagonal, and so that the public services were unable to resume functioning.
The repair squads who had gone out to repair the lines were also shot at. When, on Friday morning, at the hour agreed upon, the firing stopped, the Communist and separatist strongholds started all over again in the hope of renewing the conflict. And on Friday night, when the car carrying the secretary of the national committee passed the commissariat at the Calle de Paris on his way to Valencia, some 70 shots were fired at him by the guards of the Estat Catala. The affair becomes more serious when one realises that the car was an official car of the Ministry of Health, and the shots might well have been intended for Federica Montseny, Minister of Health at the time.
The national committee immediately sent delegates to all regions in order to avoid repercussions in other parts of Catalonia.
At the same time a delegation was sent to the Aragon front to prevent the troops from leaving the trenches. None of the libertarian forces left the front. We would like to point out the assassination of the well-known anarchist, Professor Berneri, respected by anti-fascists all over the world. He was arrested, ostensibly, by agents at the service of Rodriguez Salas. Why? We suspect that he was killed more for possessing irrefutable documentary proof of Italy’s preparations, over a period of time, for the military uprising in Spain, than for being an Anarchist. These documents, which were to be turned over to the government of the Republic, were very dangerous for Italy.
And now, after the movement has been stopped, the conduct of those sectors who want to crush the CNT and anarchism in Catalonia has been more despicable than ever.
In the first place, the barracks of the Communists and the Estat Catala could be seen everywhere weeks after the May events had been ended, while our barricades disappeared on the same Friday that the fighting stopped. Secondly, a wave of blood and terror devastated the towns of Catalonia. Assassinations, with full impunity for the murderers, have been the order of the day. Our libertarian movement has remained silent and suffered the loss of our best militants without resisting. We have tolerated, not through cowardice but out of an exalted sense of discipline and responsibility, the assault upon the collectives and the destruction of the constructive work of the proletariat.
And after this exemplary conduct, they still speak, who, if they had any sense of honour at all, would have withdrawn from public view in the face of the overwhelming evidence of their criminality, their barbarism and their treachery to the anti-fascist cause. And still they continue to threaten and to fume, and even try, with unbelievable cynicism, to throw the blame upon the CNT. It is clear that there is a combination of interests in Catalonia mortally opposed to us. The Estat Catala, the Communist Party and the Esquerra (left Republicans), each have their own party interests; but they are all in agreement, for different reasons, upon the necessity of crushing the CNT. And in full agreement with them, giving them much indirect aid, through Dencás, is Mussolini. We want to make it clear that we do not commit the folly of confounding the Communist Party with the fascists. We affirm categorically that the Communist Party does not have the least connection with the fascists. But that is not the case with the Estat Catalan; and when they join hands in the streets, who gives the orders?
We assume the full responsibility for everything we have said. We have said nothing that is not in full accord with reality, and no one can deny our statements, because they were based upon the facts and documented evidence.
Aiguadé, Dencás, Mussolini, Casanovas, Lluhí Vallescá, Ventura Gassoh, Sancho, Xicota, Castañer, and many others whom we are not mentioning, all grouped together in a series of sinister plots and treason. These are the responsible agents of the bloody events of Barcelona.
No one can say that the CNT is a provocateur, a disrupter, or a traitor to the anti-fascist fight. The CNT has a much cleaner conscience than these despicable men who cannot attract the masses by honourable means, and therefore resort to underhanded deals, gangster-like intrigues and conspiracies, in order to suppress us.
But the CNT will not be liquidated by such traitors. They can only overcome the CNT by operating with greater honour, nobility, and austerity, and those who participated in the Catalonia intrigues are incapable of that.
The Spanish Left in its Own Words
Last updated on 30.12.2002