tragedy of Spain knows no end. The most vivid pens fail to describe the tragedy of a
people whose bodies and minds are scarred by past and present horrors.
writers cannot accurately reflect the calvary of a race that appears to have been born to
February, 1936, the sad picture of this Spanish scene was at its blackest. On that date
Spain was one vast detention camp. Thousands of workers were behind bars.
stand on the eve of July. We must call to mind the events that paved the way for the army
policies of the black biennium were bankrupt. Gil Robles had not slaked the appetites of
his followers. A conflict had arisen between Alcala Zamora and the Chief of Popular
Action. The Jesuits were supporting the president of the Republic. He was their new hope:
not for nothing had he raised the banner for constitutional reform and religion. How long
the Cortes would last was uncertain. The Radicais had broken away from the Rightist bloc,
feeling quite estranged from the heart of the nation. Stormy sittings matched a policy
that was base, repugnant and criminal in its crudity.
proletariat was beginning to make itself felt in a more befitting manner. Monster rallies
held in the Stadium in Madrid, in Barcelona and in Valencia commanded huge crowds. That
these exhibitions of determination and the spirit of revolt served to renew the
credibility of an old reactionary figure such as Azana is something to be regretted. It
was an error which would have to be paid for later on with interest. Alcala Zamora thought
he was in control of the situafion. The Cortes was dissolved. Franco, Goded, Cabanellas,
Queipa de Llano, Mola-these were Zamora’s puppets. He chose a financier-bandit, one
Portela Valladares, to carry his plan into effect.
resources of the State failed the Galician cacique. In spite of electoral malpractice and
the ministry'’s list of approved candidates, the resuits of the February elections
failed to set the Holy See’s mind at rest.
his plans frustrated, Alcala Zamora urged Portela to proclaim a state of emergency.
Portela did not dare. He realised that the people of Spain were on the streets and
recommended that Azana be sent for. He was right. The politician from the red biennium was
to be a temporary sedative. That was precisely what the reactionaries were after at that
point. . . a breathing space during which to put the final touches to preparations for the
revolt by the generals who frequented the Plaza de Oriente.
successful elections of February failed to open the eyes of the Socialists. The monster
rallies to protest against the numbers imprisoned, the enthusiasm for the release of the
prisoners taken during the great drama of October ... allí this suggested nothing new to
them. They stuck to their old ways. A new Cortes. A fresh election for the presidency of
the Republic. They kept Alcala Zamora’s plans and his scheme for handing control over to
the military and not to the people.
the proletarat had leamed the harsh lesson of the two biennia, they had lived through.
They dashed headiong into the streets. Firebrands set religious centres ablaze. The
clamour from the imprisoned defied their walls. City and country were equally aroused.
ignorance of the social democrats postponed the outburst by the people. Fortunately, after
five months, the Rightists’ lack of sophistication and their failure to appreciate the
truly counter-revolutionary roles of Azana and Prieto, brought the issue on to the
was sporadic violence from February to July. Yet again workers’ blood was spilled. The
strike by the building unions in Madríd-and a clash in Malaga exposed the cretinism of
the February politicians.
the Right mobilised for an attack on the situation emerging from the emotion-filled
elections. Fascists killed the coward's way, arousing hatred by their surprise attacks.
There was a vague feeling that the black Spain was planning something. The talk was
persistently of army mutiny.
was no doubt. The proletaríat was setting out along the road to July. The govemment took
a back seat. Faced with a choice between fascism and the proletariat, they opted for the
former. To cover his tracks, Number One traitor, Casares Quiroga would threaten the
Rightists from the govemment benches, inciting them to take to the streets.
Sotelo’s murderer brought things to a head. When rumour had it that the army would be
invading the streets at any moment the rumours seemed probably true. But did those in
govemment take any preventive measures? Franco was in command in the Canaries, Goded in
the Balearics, Mola in Navarre . . . Why was the whole bunch not dismissed? The fascists
could also rely on powerful allies in govemment circles!
July 1 7th, that nemesis we had been warding off for some time unmasked itself. In the
Balearics, in Morocco, in the Canaries, the officers were in open revolt.
was done to bring the rebellion to en abrupt halt? What did the govemment of that scum,
Casares Quiroga do? Shut itself up in complete inertia. Concealed the gravity of the
situation from the people. Imposed a rigorous censorship. Refused weapons to the
was still time, between July 17th and July 19th, to compel the militarists to capitulate.
But a highly suspect, suicidal attitude prevailed. Casares Quiroga is Mola’s accomplice.
He kept him on in Pamplona, even after he had proclaimed himself openly in revolt against
the results of the February elections, and regardiess of the protection he was extending
to all the conspirators on the Right.
treachery by the Left is obvious. No arms were given to the people, because the bourgeois
democrats were afraid of the proletariat. In Zaragoza the attitude of govemor Vera
Coronel, who prevaricated with the workers’ representatives in negotiations, helped the
fascists to victory. And in Valencia, when all of Spain was already plunged into fighting,
the rebels were allowed to remain in their barracks.
this historic, blood-soaked hour, it is not with mealy mouths that we charge those
Republican politicians who acted openly in favour of fascism out of their fear of the
working class. We accuse Azana, Casares, Quiroga, Companys, and the Socialists, all the
farceurs from the Republic which, built on a one act sketch in April, has waste the homes
of the working class. And this is happening because of the failure to make the revolution
at the correct time.
people had to go and look for weapons. They took them by right of conquest. Gained them by
their own exertions. They were given nothing; not by the Govemment of the Republic, not by
the Generalitat - not one rifle!
July 19, as on other great occasions before the proletariat took up its positions in the
streets. For some days it had been keeping a close vigil on the streets of every
settlement in Spain. In the capital city of Catalonia, memories of glorious past struggles
were being conjured up.
first weapons were seized by workers from some supply ships lying at anchor in the port of
Barcelona, the "Manuel Amus" and the "Marques de Comillas."
dawn broke on July 19, the militarists surged on to the streets facing an attack from the
Catalan people, who stormed barracks and fought on until the last fascist redoubt had been
Catalan proletariat saved the proletariat of Spain from fascism. Proletarian Catalonia
became a beacon shedding its light ovar all of Spain. No matter that the agrarian regions
of Spain are in fascist hands we, the workers of the industrial zones, will redeem our
comrades from the captivity which has befallen them.
Madrid, the pattem was the same. No arms were distributed there, either. They were won in
the streets. The proletariat fought and stormed the Montana barracks, overwhelming the
soldiery. And then, with shotguns and whatever else they could get their hands on, the
workers set out for the Sierra de Guadarrama to cut of the advance of General Mola. With
the Navarra brigades behind him, he was preparing to conquer the capital city of Castille.
was routed in the North, in Levante and in a number of places in Aragon, Andalusia and
Extremadura. But elsewhere in the peninsula the workers were disarmed and had to contend
with leftist govemors who eased the way for the Spanish fascists.
Quiroga made way for a govemment under Martinez Barrio. This politician, who torpedoed the
April Constituent Cortes, was coming into power in order to reach an understanding with
the fascists and hand power over to them. Swift reflex action by the working class aborted
one of the most infamous acts of treachery ever conceived. lf this treachery was never
implemented, it was only for lack of time. The politicians, beginning with Azana must pay
for this vile manoeuvre with their heads. This initially pessimistic outlook and the
suggestion of surrender circulating in official circles, were cancelled out by the
ferocity of the protetariat. Giral replaced Martinez Bardo.
have presented en anecdotal outline of how events developed. But it behoves us to dwell a
little longer on July and to examine what sort of revolution was achieved in those days of
has been a lot of theorising about July. The bourgeois democrats and Marxists insist that
the popular explosion in July must be classified as a legitimate act of self-defence by a
proletariat which saw itself under attack from its worst enemy. Taking this as their basic
thesis, the argument then is that July cannot be deemed a typically revolutionary, class
thesis from our opponents is a fallacy. Revolutions do break out unforeseen, but they are
always preceded by a long period of gestation. April opened one era, closed another. And
right in the foreground of the April era, and still there today the working class
continues to occupy the advance positions of the revolution. Had it not surged head long
on to the streets in July, the proletariat would have done so at some other point, but it
would not have desisted from its noble undertaking-to free itself of the bourgeois yoke.
the petite bourgeoisie comes en allegation that we were-all of us, all shades of
opinion-out in the streets. But we must remind them that, but for the CNT and the FAI
rushing to where danger was greatest, there would have been a repeat performance of the
comic opera in Barcelona in October.
Catalonia, the organised workers in the CNT predominate. lf there are any who deny that,
it is through ignorance or an attempt to ignore the history of the CNT on Catalan soil.
July revolution drew its impetus from the workers and, as such, was a class revolution. On
the streets and at a theorefical level, all the petite bourgeoisie did was to act as en
after thought, nothing more.
there are other equally important considerations, perhaps more so. The memory of the
political conditions which capitalism caused in the XVllth XVlllth and XlXth centuries has
grown vague. What is more petite bourgeois democratic illusions on what earlier bids-like
1873, or April-brought about have been shattered. After February the only type of
revolution possible in Spain was social revolution- such as that which blazed with such
splendour in July.
was decisive. it was enough to prevent our falling into the same error. By which we do not
mean only the repression of which we were the targets. We shall confine ourselves solely
to the nonsensical argument put forward by the Marxists.
do we account for the fact that in the July revolution we saw a repetition of the errors
we have criticised hundreds and hundreds of times? How come we did not hold out for social
revolution in July? How come workers' organisations failed to assume maximum control of
vast majority of the working population stood by the CNT. Inside Catalonia, the CNT was
the majority organisation. What happened, that the CNT did not makes its revolution, the
people’s revolution, the revolution of the majority of the population?
happened was what had to happen. The CNT was utterly devoid of revolutionary theory. We
did not have a concrete programme. We had no idea where we were going, We had lyricism
aplenty; but when all is said and done, we did not know what to do with our masses of
workers or how to give substance to the popular effusion which erupted inside our
organisations. By not knowing what to do, we handed the revolution on a platter to the
bourgeoisie and the Marxists who support the farce of yesteryear. What is worse, we
allowed the bourgeoisie a breathing space; to retum, to re-form and to behave as would a
CNT did not know how to live up to its role. It did not want to push ahead with the
revolution with all its consequences. They were frightened by the foreign fleets, claiming
that Barcelona would come under fire from ships of the English fleet.
any revolution ever been made without having to overcome countless difficulties? Is there
any revolution in the world, of the advanced type, that has been able to avert foreign
fear as a springboard and letting oneself be swayed by timidity, one never succeeds. Only
the bold, the resolute, men of courage may attain great victories. The timid have no right
to lead the masses.
an organisation’s whole existence has been spent preaching revolution it has an
obligation to act whenever a favourable set of circumstances arises. And in July the
occasion did present itself. The CNT ought to have leapt into the driver’s seat in the
country, delivering a severa coup de grace to all that is outmoded and archaic. In this
way we would have won the war and saved the revolution.
it did the opposite. lt collaborated with the bourgeoisie in the affairs of state,
precisely when the State was crumbling away on all sides. It bolstered up Companys and
company. It breathed a lungful of oxygen into en anaemic, terror-stricken bourgeoisie.
of the most direct reasons why the revolution has been asphyxiated and the CNT displaced,
is that it behaved like a minority group, even though It had a majority in the streets.
this minority outlook the CNT has not been able to make its plans prevail; it has found
itself continually sabotaged and trapped in the web of a confused, deceitful policy.
Inside the Generalitat, as well as the Town Council, we had fewer votes than other groups,
even though we had far more members. And, what’s more, we were the ones who conquered
the streets. Why have we given them up so crassly?
the other hand, we would assert that revolutions are totalitarian, no matter who says
otherwise. What happens is that the various aspects of revolution are progressively dealt
with, but writh the proviso that the class which represents the new order of things is the
one with most responsibility. And when things are done by halves, we have what presently
concems us, the disaster of July.
July a Committee of Antifascist Militias was set up. it was not a class organ. Bourgeois
and counter-revolutionary factions had their representatives on it. It looked as if this
Committee had been set up as a counter-balance to the Generalitat. But it was all sham.
Control patrols were organised. They were men of the barricades, men of the streets.
Factories, work shops and businesses were taken over and the latifundists tackled. Defence
committees and supply committees were established in each locality and municipality.
months have rolled past. What remains? Of the spirit of July, only a memory. Of the
organisms of July, a yesterday.
the machinery of politics and the petit bourgeoisie lingers on, intact. The undergrowth of
some sectors, maintained solely by the backs of the workers, lingers on in the Plaza de la
Republica in the Catalan capital.