Puente, Isaac, 1896-1936

Isaac Puente.

A short biography of Spanish anarchist Isaac Puente Arnestoy, who was executed on the dawn of the 1936 Revolution.

Isaac Puente Arnestoy was born in 1896 in Las Carreras, near Vizcaya, in the Basque country in Spain, the son of a Carlist soldier.

He went to a Jesuist school in Orduna and then took up medical studies at Santiago and Valladolid Universities between 1914 and 1918. He started practicing as a doctor in Ciruena in Logrono province and then from 1919 in Maestu in Alava province. He was much appreciated for his work and began to write many articles and small pamphlets under the pseudonym of “A Country Doctor”. From 1923 he began to write for the anarchist press, writing on subjects like birth control and sexuality, first for the Alcoy magazine Generacion Consciente, and then for its successor Estudios, as well as for the Barcelona magazine Etica Iniciales.

He was one of the leading anarchist theoreticians during the Republican period. In 1933 the Peninsula Plenary of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) nominated him to write on the concept of libertarian communism. His pamphlets on this theme, above all El Comunismo Libertario, were massively distributed.

He propagandised around birth control, hygiene and sexuality and was much admired for his humanity towards his patients. He linked the problems of health to the need for revolution.

An active militant , he served on the Peninsular Committee of the FAI, on the National Revolutionary Committee of 1933, and was one of the coordinators of the uprising in December in Aragon and La Rioja alongside Buenaventura Durruti, Cipriano Mera, and the Alcrudo brothers. As Miguel Foz, an anarchist who took part in the uprising, noted: “We lived for five days under libertarian communism”.

The uprising was savagely repressed. Puente was one of those arrested and tortured by the police. After 5 months he and other organisers were released due to massive public pressure. This was due to the collapse of the case against them after a raid on the prosecution offices from within the prison!

Puente’s pamphlet was the basis of the positions on libertarian communism formulated by the CNT at the May 1936 Congress in Zaragoza.

The military uprising of 18th July 1936 which started the Civil War took him by surprise as he worked in his Maestu practice. He was arrested and taken to Vitoria. On 1st September he was taken from prison and shot at Pancorbo, near Burgos, along with two young anarchists. Despite having already been summarily executed, he was sentenced to death by a military tribunal at Burgos!

Nick Heath