5. The struggle to survive

Unemployed self-help and direct action during the Republic

5.1 Unemployed street politics

This chapter will explore the patterns of social and political polarisation that developed around the unemployed and extra-industrial struggles in Barcelona. As we saw in Chapter 3, the unemployed played a prominent role in the social protest of 1930–31. Following the birth of the Republic, the overriding objective of the moderate anarcho-syndicalists, then hegemonic within the CNT, was the organisation of the unemployed in union is controlled labour exchanges (bolsas de trabajo). These had several attractions. For instance, since the existence of a reserve army of labour endangered the authority of the unions, the bolsas established a vital connection between the unemployed and the labour movement, ensuring that the jobless remained under the influence of class culture. The CNT’s aim was to force employers to recruit new operatives exclusively through its bolsas, thereby providing work for the unemployed. From a syndicalist/ corporatist perspective, the bolsas would allow the CNT to extend its control over the supply of labour and, more generally, enhance its power over the economy and society The bolsas were also schools for industrial activism: unemployed members were encouraged to undertake union activities, such as fly-posting and picketing and other tasks, which were remunerated at the daily wage rate for semi-skilled manual labourers; following the creation of the defence committees, the bolsas served as a conveyor belt for recruits to the paramilitary bodies inside the CNT.1 Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the bolsas enhanced militancy: strikes could begin in the knowledge that the jobless would not become a weapon in the hands of the employers.

From the start of the Republic though, most unemployed practices developed outside the unions, in the streets, and they were invariably conditioned by the memory of past survival strategies employed by the dispossessed in Barcelona. Illegality, both individual and collective, provides one such example. Notwithstanding its various forms, most illegality can be described as ‘occasional’ or circumstantial, a response to the precarious conditions of everyday life, rather than ‘professional’. Indeed, in the absence of a developed welfare system, a significant part of the urban population was obliged to transgress the law in order to guarantee its physical and material survival.2 Hence the regularity with which basic foodstuffs such as fruit, vegetables and bread, the fundamental components of proletarian diets, were seized from bakeries and shops. The modus operandi commonly employed was for a lone woman to enter a shop or bakery and order provisions as if undertaking her daily shopping. Once the groceries were packed, ‘persons unknown’ would enter the shop and ensure that the foodstuffs were removed. Normally, the implication or threat of violence was enough to allow the seizure of foodstuffs but, when appropriate, these were backed up with physical force.3 Larger groups of unemployed workers sometimes joined together in more organised raids on port stores and warehouses, actions that were often conducted at night.4 Another common way the unemployed ate was ‘eating without paying’ or, as it was sometimes described in the bourgeois press, comiendo a la fuerza (literally, ‘eating by force’). This was generally the preserve of impecunious males, who, either alone or in groups, entered a restaurant or bar, ordered and consumed food, before either refusing to pay or fleeing. On one occasion, jobless workers succeeded in demanding food in the Barcelona Ritz. In a rare and hedonistic case, three unemployed men spent a night on the town in a Paral.lel cabaret before leaving in the early hours of the morning without paying a large drinks bill. More frequently, groups of unemployed workers toured hotels and restaurants demanding food from the kitchens.5 In the peripheral barris, where the city met the countryside, the unemployed often seized food from nearby farms and, throughout the republican years, the estates around l’Hospitalet to the south of Barcelona and Santa Coloma to the north were raided by the jobless. So great was the problem that, according to the Sociedad de Patronos Cultivadores (Small Farmers’ Association) in l’Hospitalet, a local agrarian pressure group, by the end of 1931 farmers were obliged to guard crops ‘at all hours, day and night’.6 There is also evidence that unemployed workers requisitioned valuable items, presumably with the intention of selling them to third parties, namely the regular thefts of religious icons from churches, bicycles and car parts (one unemployed mechanic was detained stripping down a luxury car in the street).7

In a city with a buoyant clandestine firearms market, it was not difficult for unemployed workers to acquire pistols for armed robberies. Again, this assumed a variety of forms. In inter-class spaces such as the Rambles, armed street crime was directed at rich pedestrians. More common were armed raids on apartments and villas in the bourgeois districts of Sarrià, Pedralbes and Vallvidrera, and on the weekend homes of the well-to-do scattered around the outskirts of Barcelona.8 Another favoured location for hold-ups by lone gunmen and small groups was the isolated carreteras (roads) that connected Barcelona with neighbouring towns. Press and police reports reveal that on a single evening an active armed group might stop up to five cars before returning to the city.9 Taxi drivers’ purses were frequently targeted: the common practice was to hire a taxi and direct it to a suitably isolated destination, often the outlying carreteras, before seizing the driver’s money and, sometimes, the taxi. Other popular targets of armed illegality were rent or debt collectors.10 All this occurred alongside a constant stream of attacks on commercial establishments such as tobacconists, bars and jewellery shops and the armed bank couriers who transported money around thecity.11

Owing to the absence of reliable crime statistics, it is difficult to gauge the extent of these practices. The crime pages of the daily press recorded illegality, but this was often exaggerated for reasons of political expediency. Equally, the victims of these attacks were often warned by their assailants not to report attacks to the police. As La Vanguardia noted, robberies on the carreteras were regularly underreported due to fear of reprisals; this was confirmed by the police, who offered full confidentiality to victims of robberies on secluded country roads, which by night were popular with rich lovers.12 What we can be sure about is the strong normative element contained within the practices documented above; this is perhaps clearest in the removal of collection boxes and icons from churches. Many unemployed workers were ready to justify stepping outside the law in order to survive the ravages of the recession. For example, two unemployed workers confronted by a farmer while seizing crops informed him: ‘The land is for everyone!’13 Shopkeepers and shop workers regularly reported that those who seized groceries from shops justified their actions in terms of the recession, that they were unemployed and, through no fault of their own, lacked the economic resources to purchase victuals. Similarly, those who ate without paying in bars and restaurants justified their actions in terms of their ‘right to life’.14

Unemployed illegality was so deeply embedded in the property relations of 1930s Barcelona that it is difficult to disguise its pronounced class character. In the overwhelming majority of cases, unemployed self-help was directed at the middle and upper classes, the real possessors of wealth in the city. For instance, since car ownership was possible only for the wealthy, the hold-ups on the carreteras affected elite members of society exclusively. Conversely, there were very few recorded instances of intraworking class crime. While this is not easy to measure, if we recall that Solidaridad Obrera made every effort to reflect the everyday concerns of Barcelona’s workers, from dangerous stray dogs to pollution, it is striking that reports of workers falling victim to street crime or theft were exceptionally rare. In 1931, there was one report of a worker robbed of his wages at gunpoint. The response of Solidaridad Obrera was both predictable and illustrative: it invited workers to take direct measures of self-defence, counselling that ‘it is necessary for us workers to arm ourselves, to prevent them [i.e. criminals] from robbing us of the fruit of the sweat of our brows’.15 Workers certainly resented those who attempted to steal from them, as was discovered by a foolhardy pickpocket (ratero) who infiltrated the CNT May Day demonstration in search of wallets and watches: the hapless felon was spotted by marchers and heavily beaten before police managed to protect him from the wrath of the crowd.16

Another practice that developed in direct proportion to unemployment was the street trade of jobless workers. These jobless traders peddled foodstuffs, which, for the most part, they purchased from wholesale markets with their savings, although it was also rumoured that some produce was seized from farms and allotments.17 Because street traders habitually sold their wares near markets and shopping areas and had no expenses, they could undercut market traders and shopkeepers, making them very popular with working-class consumers, especially in the poorest barris. Such was the growth of this commerce that street traders constructed el mercadet, a purpose-built trading zone near the Raval, which allowed free access to all unemployed vendors and attracted working class consumers from all over Barcelona.18 While not a form of direct protest, street trade nevertheless reflected a popular struggle for a new proletarian economy.


Figure 5.1 A female street trader with her wares
Source: L’Avenç Archive

This same struggle can be seen in agitation against Barcelona’s high rents, which started in October 1930.19 Shortly before the birth of the Republic, a rent strike began in the waterfront district of Barceloneta, quickly spreading to the poorest barris, such as the cases barates; localised rent protests also began in Sants, a barri with a large factory proletariat, and areas with concentrations of shanty houses.20 For the most part, the rent strike was a protest of the unemployed, the unskilled and the underpaid, for whom issues of material life and consumption loomed large: for the jobless, it signalled complete liberation from the burden of rent payments; for the low-paid, it promised an immediate material gain without the hardships of an industrial stoppage. Although the rent strike demonstrates the capability of the dispossessed to assert their aspirations spontaneously, it did not occur in a vacuum: it was rooted in a multi-faceted web of relations and solidarities derived from neighbours and kinship and drew on long traditions of community autonomy. In keeping with all rent strikes, this mobilisation was strengthened by democratic grassroots decision making.21 It was also inextricably tied to the radical mobilising culture propounded by the CNT since World War One. While the CNT did not initiate the rent boycott, it was no coincidence that it began in Barceloneta, an important union stronghold and the site of La Maquinista, Barcelona’s biggest metal factory, and cenetistas were deeply involved in the street committees and neighbourhood groups that organised the strike.

Nor can the development of the rent strike be separated from the mass expectations aroused by republicans before and after the birth of the Republic, when they proposed a new deal for tenants and rent controls.22 (Naturally, once the rent strike had spread across proletarian Barcelona, this quickly changed, as the republicans appreciated the size of the Pandora’s Box they had opened.) With the ERC in power, many tenants doubtless wished to give notice to republicans of their earlier commitment to act on the housing question. Significantly, the rent strikers were emphatic that they did not seek to embarrass the new authorities, stressing the economic content of their aspirations, which they believed did not presuppose the bankruptcy of the property-owning class or the revolutionary abolition of landlord-tenant relationships. Thus the rent strikers announced their refusal to pay exorbitant rents, which, they insisted, had to be reduced by 40 percent, a ‘modest’ cut that they believed would still yield a 6–17 percent financial return to the landlord. This cut was to be applied only to rents under 100 pesetas per month, i.e. those paid by workers.23

Although the rent strike always belonged to the streets, radicals inside the CNT were quick to recognise its significance as an urban struggle. In particular, a group of cenetistas and anarchists from inside the Construction Union established close ties with the neighbourhood associations and activists who organised the strike. This was unsurprising, for this was the sindicato with the highest rate of unemployment of all the Barcelona unions: approximately 40 per cent of its 30,000 members were out of work in 1931, and rent payments created huge problems for its essentially unskilled, low-paid members still in work.24 Shortly after the birth of the Republic, Construction Union activists founded the CDE (Comisión de Defensa Ecónomica or Commission for Economic Defence) to study living costs in Barcelona.25 Headed by two faístas, Arturo Parera and Santiago Bilbao, the CDE appreciated that the rent strike was an important act of economic self-defence through which the underpaid, the unemployed and the dispossessed could reappropriate space and free themselves from market domination by taking control of everyday life. In a series of meetings and notes in Solidaridad Obrera, the CDE welcomed the rent strike as a justified response to ‘scandalous rents’ and ‘indecent conditions’ and offered workers succinct advice: ‘Eat well and, if you don’t have the money, then don’t pay your rent!’26 The CDE also demanded that the unemployed be exempted from rent payments.27 While it might appear harsh to criticise the authorities for failing to ‘solve’ unemployment in the two weeks they had been in power, the riot gave eloquent notice that the jobless wanted more than just platitudes and promises from the city’s new rulers.


Figure 5.2 An unemployed workers’ demonstration. The banner reads ‘Without Bread and Work’
Source: Francesc Bonamusa, Pere Gabriel, Josep Lluís Martin Ramos and Josep Termes, Història Gràfica del Moviment Obrer a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1989, p. 191

The 31 April riot occurred on the eve of the first May Day of the republican era, the most significant event in the proletarian calendar. The new authorities hoped that May Day would underline the consensus between the Republic and the labour movement. The reformist workers’ organisations represented in government—the PSOE and the UGT— saw it as a ‘day of peace’, while the ERC, in keeping with its populism, made May 1 a public holiday, ‘a day of the people’.28 Yet the May Day celebration revealed the divergent interests of the constituent parts of the ‘people’, as unemployment and the divisions it unleashed fractured the cross-class alliance that had ushered in the Republic. Thus the May Day demands of the l’Hospitalet CNT—the introduction of the six-hour working day and the ‘disarming of all the institutions that served the monarchy, such as the police and the Civil Guard’ underlined that the Republic had not gone far enough down the road to freedom and justice for the most militant sections of the working class.29

But the most graphic measure of proletarian identity and power was the huge May Day rally and demonstration organised by the Barcelona CNT at the Palau de Belles Arts, near the city centre, the first open show of support for the Confederation in its birthplace since the early 1920s. Highlighting the importance of consumption-related issues for the CNT, as well as the inevitability of conflict with republicanism’s middle-class base, the theme of the rally was ‘The First of May against Unemployment, Inflation and for a Reduction in Rents’. This promise of positive action in favour of the unemployed and the unskilled attracted around 150,000 workers from the barris, the largest mass gathering in Barcelona since the birth of the Republic.30 Some of the tenants’ associations active in the rent strike also attended. It was clear that these community groups had established close ties with the radicals from Nosotros, who had draped a lorry in red-and-black flags from which a succession of anarchists and community leaders addressed the crowds, calling for immediate action on behalf of the jobless and the low-paid, such as rent cuts and the readmission of the unemployed into the factories.31 At the end of the rally, the marchers set off for the Generalitat palace in Republic Square to present their demands to the authorities. By the time the front of the demonstration had reached the Rambles, its rearguard was almost half a kilometre away in Urquinaona Square, as tens of thousands of workers proceeded ineluctably towards the Generalitat, breaking everyday routines and power flows and giving notice of their intent to move from the urban margins to reclaim the city centre.

Upon learning that the massed ranks of the CNT were bound for the Generalitat, Macià revealed his lack of confidence in the security forces by ordering that the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, were to take sole responsibility for guarding the Generalitat Palace and Republic Square. However, as thousands of demonstrators arrived in Republic Square singing the anarchist anthem, ‘Los hijos del pueblo’ (The Children of the People), the small contingent of Mossos was very quickly outnumbered. Fearing that his agents would lose control of the situation, the chief of the Mossos d’Esquadra made an urgent call for police reinforcements. A contingent of the Guardia de Seguridad, the state police, responded first. When these reinforcements arrived in a square packed with demonstrators, they also found themselves outnumbered and unable to reach the Mossos inside the Generalitat. The commander of the Guardia de Seguridad, who apparently believed that marchers were attempting to storm the Generalitat, ordered his men to open fire above the heads of the demonstrators. What had previously been a peaceful demonstration was suddenly engulfed in violence. As marchers ran for cover, a 45- minute gun battle ensued between the guardias and armed workers. Calm finally prevailed when the hated guardias were replaced by soldiers, who were cheered through the streets by marchers as the ‘sons of the people’ who, unlike the police, would not fire on workers. When the fighting ended, a policeman lay dead and two more were wounded, along with ten workers.32

It would be wrong to interpret the violent conclusion of the May Day march as evidence that Barcelona was on the eve of a new period of pistolerisme. Although the armed faístas and grupistas that provided security for the march opened fire on the police, it must be remembered that the first shots came from the Guardia de Seguridad. Moreover, and perhaps most significantly, right-wingers and former members of the antirepublican Sindicatos Libres, who had recently been banned by the new authorities, had joined the demonstration and were in Republic Square in order to provoke violence—the majority of those arrested on arms charges were ex-Libres, compared with just a solitary faísta.33

After the violence, the authorities displayed a new keenness to reduce the tensions that were developing around unemployment. However, rather than undercut social protest, piecemeal measures resulted only in further conflict. For instance, a council-run allotment scheme, which created 2,000 plots on Montjuïc on which jobless workers could grow fruit, required a permanent police guard from attack by those who did not have a plot.34 Similarly, in early May the council began to issue food vouchers to those unemployed workers who could demonstrate that they had resided in Barcelona for at least five years. The voucher system inevitably brought new tensions to the surface: besides frustrating the many migrant workers who were not entitled to municipal welfare, it was underfunded and quickly proved incapable of meeting the needs of those unemployed who qualified for assistance. With as many as 3,000 unemployed workers converging on the office in Hospital Road, a narrow street in the Raval from where the scheme operated, it was not long before fights broke out between jobless workers and the police.35 In June, following clashes with the police, unemployed workers stormed the welfare offices and seized food vouchers. Later, the unemployed attempted to march to nearby Republic Square and issue new demands on the authorities, only to be repelled by the police, resulting in further violence.36

Since the riots of 30 April and 1 May, the republican authorities had become extremely concerned about the volatility of street protests in the city centre and were now determined to deny the unemployed the right to define public space. Any attempt by the unemployed to bring their demands to the centre of the political and administrative power of the city would now meet with police repression. Yet this could not bring urban peace: by trying to deny the unemployed access to the only forum in which they could express themselves, the authorities increased the competition for public space and made it more violent. Thus, when the unemployed found their path to the Generalitat blocked, they turned back into the Raval and vented their anger on the middle class, attacking shops and entering bars and demanding food.37

In an attempt to avoid large concentrations of unemployed workers in the city centre, the ERC-controlled Generalitat and city council established a series of soup kitchens across Barcelona. Again, new protests developed. Besides providing free meals, the kitchens brought little relief to the unemployed, who still had to bear the burden of rent payments. On one occasion, a publicity visit by republican politicians to soup kitchens in the Can Tunis cases barates provoked a riot.38 In addition to allegations of graft and corruption in the awarding of catering contracts, most criticism of the kitchens focused on the quality of the food, which Solidaridad Obrera described as ‘slops’.39 In early July, La Vanguardia reported that ‘a spirit of protest’ developed among the unemployed regarding the quality of the meals in the Hospital Road soup kitchens. When asaltos arrived to impose order, fighting erupted and a worker was shot. Carrying the bloodstained shirt of the wounded man, the indignant patrons of the soup kitchen set out to protest to Republic Square, only to be attacked by the police when they reached the Rambles. That afternoon, a second march was charged by Guardia Civil cavalry, and sporadic street battles ensued for several hours in the Raval.40

There was an underlying logic to these street protests. A recurring feature was the collective demand of the unemployed for access to the streets and the defence of their right to occupy public space. Thus, at the end of July, the unemployed began another peaceful march to the Generalitat. When the marchers were charged by Guàrdia Civil cavalry, frustrated demonstrators resisted the security forces before entering hotels to demand food.41 The calculated attack on the property of the urban middle class, whether its seizure or its destruction, became one of the hallmarks of unemployed street politics. Another characteristic was their organisation. For all the apparent confusion that reigned in the streets, the protesting crowds revealed both coherence and structure. Depending on the opposition they met from the forces of order, protesters might withdraw, regroup and launch counterattacks on a range of selected targets, whether the security forces, shopkeepers, hoteliers or market traders.42

These unemployed street politics were inflected by Barcelona’s long history of direct action protests, of which they formed part. These ‘traditional’ protest forms endured into the Republic; for instance, when, in Barceloneta, on a Sunday in late July, a tram collided with two workers, injuring one and killing the other, a crowd quickly formed on the streets and began to vent its anger on Tram Company property, overturning three trams and burning another. When the police attempted to enter the barri to impose order, they were forced out, only re-entering under cover of darkness. The following day, however, when the tram service recommenced, there was, according to La Vanguardia, a ‘popular uprising’ (motín popular), as residents—men, women and children—ripped up pavements and tram lines and blocked roads with barricades to prevent the circulation of trams and police, who were both forced from the barri again. Faced with this popular pressure, the council yielded to the central demand of the community—that the tram service be suspended—and introduced bus transport.43

A further point of commonality between unemployed street politics and working-class customs was their anti-police content, perhaps the most defining feature of jobless protests. Since the police were the guardians of state power on the streets, since the unemployed spent a lot of time in public spaces like parks, and since the streets were the main forums for unemployed protests, relations between the two were inevitably tense.44 The struggle of the unemployed with the police was inseparable from popular traditions of resistance to authority. So great were these traditions that detainees frequently appealed to passers-by to intercede on their behalf. Crowds were often more than happy to oblige, attacking the police and attempting to free detainees whether they knew the arrested person or not.45 For instance, in early September 1931, in a street in the heart of the Raval, a ‘common criminal’ arrested by the police cried for public support. In reply, residents left their tenement blocks to attack the police and attempt to free the detainee, while other neighbours bombarded the security forces with bottles, cans and rocks from their balconies. In the end, police fired warning shots into the air before removing the detainee.46 In another case, according to a police report, in La Torrassa, when an asalto hit a felon in the course of an arrest, the agent was surrounded by an aggressive crowd. The swift intervention of the Guardia Civil and the police was required ‘otherwise things would have turned very nasty’.47

The full repertoire of these complex street politics was acted out in the rent strike. By the summer of 1931, the rent campaign had been ‘appropriated’ by the CDE, which organised a series of mass meetings in the barris. The rent strike spread like wildfire. At the end of July, the CDE claimed that 45,000 tenants were refusing to pay rent in Barcelona. By late summer, over 100,000 tenants had joined the mobilisation, and in September there were reports of ‘significant resistance’ to rent payment in Calella, 50 kilometres to the north, and Vilanova i la Geltrú, 30 kilometres to the south, as the strike spread to surrounding towns.48 Importantly, the CDE provided strategic leadership for the rent strike, constituting a point of liaison for a coordinated protest. In response to appeals from the authorities for the strikers to submit their demands individually to arbitration, the CDE explained at length that the campaign would continue to rely on direct action methods. First, because the urban poor needed an immediate improvement in their living standards, a panacea once advocated by the republicans—passively awaiting the conclusion of arbitration procedures—was not a realistic option. Second, the CDE had little faith in the republicans, who had reneged on their earlier commitment to act on the housing question and were now apparently prepared to tolerate the ‘oligarchy of the landlords’.49 Third, the CDE claimed that the notoriously intransigent landlord class, which was unaccustomed to any challenge to its authority, would only make concessions to tenants under pressure. In the light of the above, the CDE argued that if the rent strike ended, tenants would effectively be disarming themselves in the face of their enemies with no guarantee of any rent reduction.50 These sentiments were echoed by the anarchist newspaper Tierra y Libertad, which considered the rent strike ‘opportune’: it ‘will do more in a few months than several centuries of legislation’.51 It also should be recognised that, given that the rent strike started independently of the CDE, it was far from obvious that it could end the mobilisation, even if it so wished.

The CDE attempted to politicise working-class awareness of consumption issues: it promised a struggle for a new urban meaning in opposition to the vision held by speculators, renters and shopkeepers and, indeed, by the republican authorities, of the city as a place for profit and exploitation. Following a visit to La Boquería market, a CDE delegation remarked that because of uncontrolled food prices, ‘“life” is a privilege. The people either do not eat or, at best, eat little and badly’. The CDE also denounced shopkeepers for cheating consumers by adulterating foodstuffs and doctoring weights. Days later, at a CDE meeting attended by 1,500 people in Barceloneta, where the rent strike began, CDE organiser Santiago Bilbao excoriated shopkeepers and landlords for ‘robbing’ the workers, after parsimonious employers had already ‘pilfered’ from their wage packets.52

The additional layer of organisation provided by the CDE was crucial given the limited protest resources of the unemployed: it allowed for the coordination of those who were individually weak, linking street and neighbourhood networks in a powerful collective resistance to the urban status quo.53 By appealing to an undifferentiated working-class community, the CDE mobilised many non-unionised workers in the rent strike. The open nature of this action was of paramount importance, for agitation on living standards could only really be effective if it attracted the widest number of workers, irrespective of political creed or organisational affiliation. The only demands the CDE made of new strikers was that they register with the strike committee and subsequently act in absolute solidarity with other strikers. This resulted in a kind of united front in the streets. There was a high degree of grassroots autonomy and popular control, which enabled the CDE to mobilise far beyond its own organisational structures.

At the same time, the link between the rent strike and the CDE and, by extension, with the CNT, threatened to open up a new front in the struggle for urban power, uniting the fight for community self-determination with the struggle for workers’ control of industry. For many workers, the rent strike provided a real experience of community decision making and popular democracy. Strikers discussed neighbourhood problems in popular assemblies, and the specific grievances of tenants in different barris were incorporated within the overall struggle for a reduction in rents. Some tenants demanded improvements in housing quality, and the unemployed demanded free public transport to facilitate their search for work, while in the cases barates, one of the strongholds of the strike, the rent campaign fused with longstanding demands for school provision, health facilities, street lighting and transport links with Barcelona city centre. In the Horta barri, the rent strikers issued an audacious series of demands for a working-class space, including the removal of the Guàrdia Civil from the area and the immediate closure of the local church.54

The resultant sense of collective ownership of the rent protest made for a profound level of solidarity, drawing on the order of the barris and the reservoir of community loyalties and networks. As the CDE announced, ‘rather than sleep on the streets, we are ready for anything’. Accordingly, when landlords ordered the electricity or water supply to be cut to strikers, sympathetic workers reconnected them. Similarly, when landlords evicted tenants for the non-payment of rent, CDE activists, strikers and neighbours were always on hand to return tenants and their furniture to their flats. Meanwhile, when evictees could not be reinstalled immediately, there were always neighbours prepared to offer beds and temporary accommodation. This solidarity was reinforced by the relatively uniform existence and experiences of the strikers. For instance, according to one worker, the ‘majority’ of tenants in the cases barates were unemployed migrants who simply could not afford rent.55 As the tempo of evictions intensified, the crowds became more innovative and structured in their street protests. The reinstatement of tenants increasingly assumed the form of community celebrations, drawing in rent strikers from neighbouring streets and, at crucial moments, from other districts.56 Practices such as squatting and returning evictees to flats betrayed elements of counter-cultural ideology, a working-class view of housing not as a source of profit or property but as a social need.57

Collective force was integral to the strikers’ resistance. During a popular protest against an attempted eviction in the Can Tunis cases barates, a lorry of Guàrdia Civil had to be dispatched to prevent the torching of the local church, which was, in the view of the residents, a symbol of oppression. Assaults on bailiffs—the quickest and most effective way of preventing evictions—became commonplace, and there were reports of bailiffs refusing to carry out evictions through fear of reprisals.58 In late August, in l’Hospitalet, an angry crowd attempted to lynch two bailiffs.59 On another occasion, bailiffs left their lorry behind while fleeing an angry crowd. When police squads started escorting bailiffs, violent street battles resulted, sometimes involving working-class women and children. The prominent role of women resembled ‘traditional’ consumption protests, and the police were frequently unable to counter female militancy and withdrew without effecting evictions. Another similarity with earlier protest repertoires was the collective marches on landlords’ houses. Following the reinstallation of an evicted family in Sants, residents marched to the landlord’s abode, warning him not to re-evict his tenants and announcing publicly his contravention of the moral code of the community. Some landlords reported to the police that threats had been made against them by armed rent strikers.60 News of successes—that families had been reinstated or that evictions had been thwarted—travelled from barri to barri by word of mouth and brought added confidence to protesters.61 Meanwhile, Solidaridad Obrera provided a focus for the strikers, publishing the names and addresses of those who opposed the rent protest.62

5.2 Repressing the ‘detritus of the city’

As we saw in Chapter 3, there was no place within the ‘republic of order’ for any struggle that developed outside the new institutions. However, the authorities set about containing the unemployed in part because their street politics threw the antagonistic interests of the jobless and republicanism’s middle-class base into sharp relief. From the start of the Republic, commercial pressure groups placed unrelenting pressure on the authorities to repress unemployed street traders, frequently accusing the police of being too ‘soft’ on these ‘lawbreakers’.63 The new authorities were extremely receptive to the demands of their important middle-class social constituency, especially since several Esquerra councillors were drawn from the urban petite bourgeoisie. Indeed, there was a significant overlap between the new republican political elite and the commercial associations directly affected by unemployed practices.64 For instance, Enric Sànchez, president of the Unió General de Venedors de Mercats (General Union of Market Traders), a market traders’ group at loggerheads with the street traders, had been an ERC candidate in the April 1931 council elections.65 It was understandable then that the authorities should be sympathetic to the demands of market traders and shopkeepers for tough action against street traders.

There were also many ties between the republican movement and the landlord class. In l’Hospitalet, the president of one of the republican groups in Collblanc was head of the property owners’ association, and both bodies were located in the same building.66 Meanwhile, jurisdiction over the cases barates, one of the centres of the rent strike, rested directly with an ERC-controlled quango, the Comissariat de Cases Barates. But the COPUB, the main landlords’ association in Barcelona, did most to encourage repression of the rent strike.67 According to the COPUB, which had a highly idealised view of housing conditions, the ‘state of insubordination of many thousands of tenants [and the] state of anarchy in Barcelona, especially in the peripheral districts’ was the work of ‘irresponsible elements’ intent on ‘harm[ing] tenants’ interests’ and rupturing the ‘harmony between landlords and tenants’. These ‘agitators’ were part of an ‘organised offensive against global property’ designed to ‘provoke conflicts’ and create an ‘unnecessary state of alarm’ in order to ‘compromise the new political institutions’ and ‘damage the national economy’ before establishing a Bolshevik dictatorship. It was thus the duty of the authorities to adopt an ‘unyielding’ policy of repression, including a ban on the CDE, on behalf of the ‘tenants of good faith’, thereby ‘maintaining the principle of authority’ and ‘the triumph of order and social peace’.68 While not averse to threatening that its members would withhold taxes if the authorities did not crush the rent strike, for most of 1931–32 the COPUB relied on the pressure that its longstanding president, Pich i Pon, as leader of Barcelona’s Radical Party, a party represented in central government, was able to put on ministers, both by writing letters and by organising delegations of COPUB members to Madrid.69

The republicans in power in Barcelona and Madrid, who already believed that the consolidation of the new regime required the appeasement of the middle classes, were not prepared to watch impassively as a key part of their support base came under attack. Increasingly, therefore, the authorities criminalised unemployed practices, drawing a sharp contrast between provocateurs and the rest of the jobless. Mobilisations were successively attributed to ‘outside elements’, ‘undesirables’, ‘professional layabouts’ and ‘picturesque criminals who pass as unemployed workers’ but were not ‘the real unemployed’. In a sharp radicalisation of republican discourse, ‘agitators’ were described as ‘the enemy within’: ‘reactionaries’ and ‘enemies of the republic’ who ‘stirred up’ the ‘detritus of the city’, paying them ‘ten pesetas’ to cause ‘disturbances’ and ‘outrages’ while eroding ‘the already limited appetite for work which exists in this country’. Even street trade, an integral part of the culture of the barris since the turn of the century, was depicted as part of the Barcelona ‘underworld’, an ‘attack’ on the Republic by those who wished to create ‘an anarchic city’.70 Similarly, the rent strike was blamed not on an acute housing crisis but on the ‘coercion’ and ‘Violent practices’ of ‘a minority of tenants’ and ‘professional agitators’, ‘a few hundred spoilers’ and ‘irresponsible loudmouths’ whose base ‘manoeuvres’ and ‘disgraceful protests’ were ‘a danger and a discredit to the city’.71

In a further attempt to isolate the rent strike organisers from their potential supporters, republicans spread black propaganda, alleging, for instance, that rent strikers from the cases barates profited from the dispute by subletting their flats while they rented luxurious villas on the Catalan coast or started small businesses.72 Recreating the nineteenth-century distinction between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, and expanding the latter category to include ‘subversives’ such as unemployed organisers and street vendors, the republicans announced that only the ‘morally healthy’, those ‘honourable and dignified workers [who] remain at home’ would receive assistance, in recognition of their ‘social discipline’.73 The ‘genuine unemployed’ were implored to ostracise ‘subversives’, who made it difficult for the authorities to address the problems facing ‘genuine unemployed workers’.74 The logic of this discourse was unswervingly repressive. If, as was claimed, a small group of ‘troublemakers’ in the barris were to blame for protest, the ‘republic of order’ would benefit from the incarceration of ‘subversives’, ‘professional scroungers’ and Volunteer vagabonds’.75

Republican politicians were energetic in their deployment of state institutions in defence of their middle-class constituency. The ERC, which controlled the councilorganised police, the Guàrdia Urbana, and the Generalitat-run Mossos d’Esquadra, deployed all the police resources it could muster against the street traders. From August 1931, Lluís Puig Munner, a shopkeeper and ERC councillor in the Raval, led the newly formed Brigada per a la repressió de la venta ambulant (Brigade for the Repression of Street Trade), a ‘special security service’ created by the city council to remove unemployed traders from the streets.76 Following a series of violent clashes between police and street traders, council police squads were accompanied by asaltos or the Guàrdia Civil on incursions into hostile proletarian districts.77

Yet state power was most fiercely directed at the rent strike and the CDE. Unemployed struggles such as the rent strike typically fail to achieve their objectives because they are either co-opted or repressed. In the circumstances of 1931, with the authorities determined to demobilise the masses and stabilise the political situation, and with the COPUB making incessant demands for repression, the latter was always more likely. The authorities went on the offensive in early August, after Anguera de Sojo became civil governor. The interior minister had already informed a COPUB delegation that the government was prepared to crush the rent strike, recognising that any compromise would serve as a spur to new demands and ‘signify the destruction of authority and its substitution by anarchy, chaos and national misery’.78 Anguera de Sojo’s arrival in office coincided with the peak of the rent mobilisation, and he was determined that anyone involved in the ‘absurd’ rent strike should be made to ‘comply with the law’.79 The paramilitary asaltos, who started supervising evictions from the end of July, were increasingly deployed as the authorities strove to demoralise the strikers by forcing them onto the streets.80 There was increasing cooperation between the authorities and the COPUB, which now provided free legal advice, lorries and men to enable its members to effect evictions and compiled a detailed blacklist of rent strikers and other tenants evicted for rent arrears. Meanwhile, Anguera de Sojo moved to decapitate the rent strike by pursuing the COPUB’s central demand and banning the CDE. Although the CDE had not committed any offence, it faced growing harassment: its meetings and rallies were banned capriciously by the civil governor, who appeared determined either to provoke the CDE or drain its resources—the CDE relied on post-meeting collections among supporters to pay the cost of renting meeting places. Following complaints from CDE activists, Anguera de Sojo imposed a blanket ban on its meetings. He then demanded a list of the entire CDE membership from the Barcelona CNT and, when the latter failed to comply, slapped a heavy fine on the organisation.81 Lastly, Anguera de Sojo, who, like the COPUB, regarded the rent struggle as the ‘manoeuvre’ of a ‘pernicious minority’, resorted to internment without trial, ordering the arrest of prominent rent strike organisers, even though they had committed no crime. In a graphic illustration of the limits of social and political inclusion during the Republic, Bilbao, one of the founders of the CDE, was dragged from his bed by police and placed in the Model Jail, along with many other cenetista and anarchist activists involved in the CDE and the rent strike.82

5.3 Resisting the ‘dictatorship in Barcelona’

The CNT and the FAI could not ignore this escalation of repression, which led to the internment, among others, of Parera, another founder of the CDE who had recently been appointed secretary of the Catalan CRT, and Durruti and García Oliver, two of the most important anarchists in Barcelona. In early September, several dozen cenetistas who had been interned without trial in the Model Jail for several weeks began a hunger strike under the slogan ‘Freedom or Death’. The Barcelona CNT declared a general strike in solidarity with the internees and in protest at state repression on 4 September. The stoppage, which spread to the industrial hinterland of Manresa, Mataró, Granollers, Sabadell and Terrassa, lasted for 72 hours and affected around 300,000 workers in Barcelona. Convinced that the CNT had to be taught a lesson, Anguera de Sojo, with the full backing of central government, made no attempt to negotiate a solution with moderates in the unions. Instead, in response to what he saw as a ‘conspiracy’, he prepared for ‘the final battle’ (pugna definitiva) with the CNT and detained cenetistas in their droves, an act that he believed would forestall ‘great unrest’ by eliminating the mobilising agents connecting the movement to the grassroots.83 The radicals in the CNT, meanwhile, saw this as an opportunity to test the insurrectionary waters and announced a ‘nationwide revolutionary general strike for the triumph of anarchist communism’. With the armed squads from the defence committees already in the streets, the FAI ordered its grupos to take the offensive. Barricades were erected in the proletarian belt of the city and in the Raval, and the middle classes responded with panic buying of foodstuffs, which quickly sold out. However, this was an inauspicious baptism of fire for the FAI grupos and the defence committees, whose poorly armed activists were unable to engage the security forces in anything more than sporadic guerrilla actions.84 In a show of strength, martial law was declared: two warships were moored in Barcelona harbour, and hundreds of Guàrdia Civil reinforcements, including cavalry, arrived in the city. At the end of the strike, sixteen workers were dead, three of whom had been summarily shot while in police detention. A further 300 workers were arrested, and the jails were so full that half of these were interned on prison ships in the harbour.85

In the new climate of repression after September, the authorities placed further restrictions on the access of the unemployed to the streets.86 Police swoops on areas favoured by street traders became commonplace. In mid-September, on the orders of the council, el mercadet, the centre of street trade in central Barcelona, was destroyed in the presence of a detachment of asaltos, local ERC politicians and representatives from market traders’ associations, as embittered street vendors looked on. Later, asaltos occupied Republic Square to repel possible protests by unemployed traders, while a succession of delegations of market traders arrived to congratulate the municipal authorities on demolishing el mercadet ‘for the good name and prestige of the city and the businesses of Barcelona’.87 In the rent strike, highlighting the extent to which the authorities viewed this protest as a frontal challenge to state power, the Ley de Defensa de la República was invoked the day after it became law in an attempt to rupture networks of militants and the connections between the CNT and the barris. Thereafter, rent strikers who opposed evictions or who re-entered flats were interned under the Ley de Defensa, undermining a great deal of the solidarity that had characterised the rent protest until this point, much to the satisfaction of the COPUB, which thanked the central government for this new weapon against ‘acts of rebellion’.88 In the peripheral barris, where the rent strike was especially solid, the law allowed the authorities to limit the space available to dissenters and, in operations that resembled those of a foreign army of occupation in hostile territory, entire neighbourhoods were invaded by the security forces, which searched houses and workers’ centres. Meanwhile, the authorities used the law to sever the connections between the rent strike and the CNT, effectively banning the Builders’ Union, from where the CDE had emerged.89

State violence was never entirely successful in curbing practices that were socioeconomic in origin. To no small extent, this reflected the determination of the unemployed to defend, often with violence, their right to public space. Hence, the unemployed traders remained on the streets throughout the Republic.90 There were numerous instances of collective resistance by street traders to the security forces. Members of the local community often intervened to defend street traders from the police, who responded by using extra violence, even against female and child street traders, in an attempt to make arrests quickly before hostile crowds could form. One asalto explained to a journalist that this often involved using truncheons against women: ‘Nothing annoys me more than those women who let themselves get involved in disturbances caused by rabble rousers’.91 Street traders sometimes reacted to police repression by attacking market traders, whom they knew implored the authorities to drive their unemployed competitors from the streets. In the last quarter of 1931, police persecution of street traders resulted in two major riots at markets in which angry jobless vendors and members of the local community destroyed stalls and seized food and goods.92 Perhaps in an effort to avoid a recurrence of these riots, the local authorities apparently tolerated a limited amount of street trade, although, as one republican journalist noted, the repression of the unemployed vendors increased prior to local and general elections, when the Esquerra was especially keen to please its middle-class electoral base.93


Figure 5.3 Street trade, 1936
Source: Francesc Bonamusa, Pere Gabriel, Josep Lluís Martin Ramos and Josep Termes, Història Gràfica del Moviment Obrer a Catalunya, Barcelona, 1989, p. 318

Nor was repression successful in ending the rent strike. A combination of material need and the dense fabric of social networks in the barris ensured the continuation of the rent protest in some neighbourhoods throughout the Republic. This was particularly so in l’Hospitalet and the cases barates, where strikers resisted the authorities and the landlords despite police harassment and, in some cases, without electricity and water.94

Such community-based defensive struggles against the most palpable manifestations of oppression and exploitation highlighted the innovative capacity of the barris for selfactivity and self-expression and their desire to seize control of their destiny and their local space. These mobilisations may have lacked the focus of protests by formal organisations, but they were nevertheless powerful and dramatic. An example of this came at the end of 1932 when, following an increase in the harassment of rent strikers in La Torrassa, the police came under a fierce attack from an angry crowd, which seized some of their weapons before attempting to burn down the local COPUB office.95

The repression of industrial and extra-industrial struggles inspired by the local material needs of the barris constituted a steep learning curve for ordinary workers and radical activists alike. The experience of repression produced a collective awareness of the limits of ‘freedom’ under the Republic and a prevailing sense of exclusion. In the absence of the promised reform package, many workers in the barris came to view the republican state as little more than intrusive welfare agencies, the police and army.96 A highly conflictive law-and-order situation developed. Following sustained criticism of the jobless in the republican press, it was reported that unemployed activists had visited newspaper offices and ‘threatened’ journalists.97 Policemen in l’Hospitalet, one of the most contested spaces, received written death threats, and there were numerous assaults on members of the security forces and private guards.98 The sense of political alienation in the barris could only have been intensified by revelations of the huge salaries received by members of the new political elite, doubtless giving rise to the public perception that republican politicians were much the same as their monarchist predecessors.99 The gulf between the Republic and the barris was underscored when a member of l’Hospitalet Council was beaten up and robbed in the working-class district of Collblanc.100 The growing sensitivity of the local political elite to urban conflict impelled a succession of republican politicians to apply for gun licences from the late summer of 1931 onwards.101

While, obviously, the Republic was different in various ways from the monarchy, this was less evident to those who experienced aggressive republican policing on the streets, particularly the unemployed, who, more than anyone, were acutely sensitive to the same continuing dynamics of exclusion and repression of protest.102 Over and above the failure of the republicans’ timid reform of the security forces, the ongoing police-people conflict was rooted in the structural inequalities of the urban economy, which ensured that a significant proportion of the working class would clash with authority, either through their individual efforts to survive or through their collective endeavours to improve their social conditions. Hence the uninterrupted street war between the police and unemployed workers, who by the very conditions of their existence were forced to live outside the law.

5.4 Street politics and the radicalisation of the CNT

The war on the streets was central to the radicalisation of the Barcelona CNT and the displacement of the moderate union leadership. The September general strike coincided with the publication of the so-called ‘Treintista manifesto’, issued by thirty prominent moderate cenetistas, for the most part older anarcho-syndicalists such as Peiró and Pestaña, who held important positions within the CNT.103 While the treintistas reiterated their ultimate revolutionary objectives, in the short term they sought a period of social peace, an armistice with the authorities that would allow the unions to function more freely. Rather than criticise the republicans for raising popular expectations and failing to deliver upon their reform programme, the treintistas blamed street violence on radicals and ‘an audacious minority’, a clear reference to the FAI, which they charged was committed to ‘the violent deed’ and ‘riots’.104

Given the march of events since the birth of the Republic, the hopes of the treintistas were naive in the extreme. They ignored the fact that the authorities were never likely to create the political and legal conditions for the CNT to expand its organisation. Indeed, such was the commitment of the republicans to clamping down on the Confederation, particularly after the September general strike, that there was little scope for any rapprochement with the moderate cenetistas. Ongoing repression limited the treintistas’ room for manoeuvre and diminished the credibility of their message. Towards the end of October, the prison population in Barcelona continued to rise, and increasing numbers of ‘social’ prisoners and ‘common’ offenders were kept on a prison ship in the harbour,105 while in early November, Bilbao, the rent strike organiser who had been interned without trial for three months, denounced what he saw as ‘the dictatorship in Barcelona’.106

The influence of the radicals in the defence committees and the prisoners’ support committees grew in direct proportion to republican repression, giving rise to fierce denunciations of the ‘white terror of the Republic’, which included ‘monarchist techniques’ like internment without trial to decapitate ‘the rebellion of the CNT’.107

Further evidence of the ‘Mussolini-type methods’ employed by the ‘republican dictatorship’ came in mid-October, when Anguera de Sojo declared the FAI an illegal organisation, forbidding its meetings and banning its press (Tierra y Libertad continued to publish after shedding the FAI logo, which it had sported since its foundation). In the view of Tierra y Libertad, the ban was a declaration of war by the authorities, who ‘from above, from positions of power, are provoking a social war that we must enter until its conclusion’. All peace was impossible, because underground, the ‘clandestine and anonymous action’ of the FAI ‘will be more radical and more violent’.108 The FAI called its grupos into action, ‘ready to give up their lives for freedom’, and meetings of the ruling Catalan and Spanish republican parties began to be attacked. In early November, a meeting of various republican and socialist groups in Montjuïc was, according to Solidaridad Obrera, ‘converted’ into a demonstration in support of ‘social’ prisoners. The mere mention of Companys’ name ‘produced a wave of revulsion in the auditorium’, while a speech by Victoria Kent, the director of prisons, was jeered as ‘popular fervour took over the meeting’. The following month, at an ERC meeting in Poblenou, protests against internment without trial led to violence as grupistas armed with coshes and iron bars overpowered stewards. This was followed by more attacks on ERC meetings across Catalonia.109

This context militated against a reasoned discussion of the Treintista manifesto and strengthened the claims of the radicals that the moderates were ‘traitors’ prepared to capitulate in the face of state power. Certainly, the moderates surrendered to their radical critics inside the CNT. Overcome by events in the streets and facing sustained attack within anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist circles, instead of holding their ground and answering their detractors, leading treintistas relinquished key positions, which were then filled by their radical opponents. Thus, in September, moderates resigned from the editorial board of Solidaridad Obrera and the following month, at a Catalan CRT plenum in Barcelona, a new radical-controlled editorial board was elected, including García Oliver and Montseny and with Felipe Alaíz as editor.110

The spread of unemployment and jobless protests helped the radicals to strengthen their position inside the CNT unions and among the rank-and-file. When the treintistas were at the helm of the CNT, they failed to take the challenge of unemployment seriously. As we saw earlier in this chapter, at the start of 1931 the CNT leadership had an essentially corporatist approach to unemployment, organising the out-of-work through the union bolsas de trabajo. Also, during many of the strikes from April to September, the moderate anarcho-syndicalists placed anti-unemployment measures at the centre of CNT demands; hence, the frequent calls for work-sharing arrangements, employer funded unemployment subsidies, cuts in the working day without wage cuts, an end to redundancies, and the abolition of piecework and other intensive forms of labour. However, once the authorities and the employers had rallied to check the power of the CNT, the effectiveness of this trade union-oriented approach was exposed. To be sure, the majority of employers opposed the CNT bolsas as a challenge to their freedom to hire and fire, fearing that otherwise their factories would be overrun by rabble-rousing anarchists encouraging free love instead of increasing productivity. (Ironically, the few far-sighted employers who accepted the bolsas and gave work to some of the most feared CNT militants, those with histories of assassinations, bank robbery and industrial sabotage, enjoyed, in return, extremely tranquil industrial relations in the 1930s.111) The moral code of the treintistas was placed under genuine strain by mass unemployment.

The anarcho-syndicalist conception of proletarian dignity was essentially a radical version of the bourgeois conception of the ‘good worker’, an ‘honourable’ wage earner living exclusively from labour. According to this schema, while it was legitimate for workers to break the law during a strike, whether by beating up ‘scabs’ or engaging in ‘active picketing’ and sabotage, extra-industrial illegality, which became increasingly common as unemployment increased, was regarded as ‘crime’, totally inappropriate for ‘disciplined’ workers.112 Not only did the moderates fail to develop an alternative strategy for the unemployed, they sometimes veered towards reactionary positions, such as limiting female access to the labour market and the adoption of immigration controls. (In April, in the heady days after the proclamation of the Republic, Pestaña, increasingly seen as the reformist bête noire of the radicals, was an observer at the històric gathering of the Generalitat’s Unemployed Workers’ Commission, which had first decided to repatriate the immigrant unemployed.113) Moreover, after the rupture between the CNT and the republicans, Pestaña continued to write for the republican press, such as La Calle, a paper that actively demonised the unemployed.114

The radicals, meanwhile, always willing to embrace conflicts in the streets as well as in the factories, rode the crest of a wave of unemployed protest and accused their enemies in the CNT of betraying the interests of the unemployed. The first two unions to fall under the influence of the radicals—the Construction and Wood Workers’ unions—had the highest unemployment rates. By consolidating their influence in the ateneus, community and union centres of the barris, the radicals channelled the growing antirepublicanism of the streets, where they established an everyday presence standing on street corners or on boxes reading from the workers’ and anarchist press, addressing groups of workers and discussing politics with them. Sources both hostile and sympathetic to the workers’ cause insist upon the vibrancy and excitement on the streets, where political events were fervently discussed, particularly in barris with high unemployment.115

Repression and socio-political exclusion presented the radicals with an opportunity to appeal to new radicalised constituencies beyond the factory proletariat, articulating the voices of the dispossessed and all those excluded by the Republic. In the case of the street traders, while the CNT had spoken of their ‘right to the streets’ during the monarchy,116 once the republicans started repressing the unemployed vendors, cenetistas organised them as a section within the Barcelona Food Workers’ Union.117 Radicalised by its experience of state repression, the l’Hospitalet CNT Street Traders’ Union announced at the end of October that ‘the transition from monarchy to Republic was nothing more than a change in names and personnel, while the procedures, ambience and mentalities of the authorities have remained the same’.118 The same anti-republicanism was found among the rent strikers, who had their own sense of what was fair’ and recognised that this was anathema to the authorities, who allowed rents to rise and offered ‘aid [to] the owners’ by interning strikers and their leaders without trial.119 A similar process occurred with thousands of migrant workers alienated by the ERC’s exclusionary policies and stereotyping of migrant workers as ‘Murcians’. The most notorious manifestation of the sense of exclusion of migrant workers was the erection of a sign announcing ‘¡Cataluña termina aquí, aquí empieza Murcia!’ (‘¡Catalonia ends here! Murcia starts here!’), on the border of Barcelona and l’Hospitalet’s Collblanc barri, whose predominantly migrant population was vilified by the authorities, nationalist groups and employers’ associations throughout the Republic. While the CNT had always recruited workers irrespective of their place of origin, and indeed continued to do so, the radicals channelled the hostility of migrant ‘outsiders’ to the authorities, and militant cenetistas and anarchists defined themselves as ‘Murcian’ in solidarity with a community under attack.120 Large numbers of migrants therefore looked on the radicals as the only people prepared to accept them unconditionally and, throughout the 1930s, the newly developed barris on the outskirts of the city that had the largest concentrations of migrant workers, such as La Torrassa and the cases barates, became anarchist and CNT strongholds in the vanguard of social protest. (In the Santa Coloma cases barates, 74 percent of all residents were migrants, and over 30 percent of these were from Murcia.121) These migrant workers joined CNT protests not because they were alienated or isolated individuals, as was suggested by the authorities. Instead, their protest was firmly located within a supportive network of organised social relations that provided mobilisation resources and protection from external threats.

The mass resistance to the state fomented an enabling spirit of community selfdetermination, transforming many barris into an active social force for struggle and change. The closest contemporary equivalent to the simmering urban insurrection in the barris is the Intifada in the Palestinian refugee camps. There was increasing evidence that the radicals and the anarchists were prepared to project and channel anti-police traditions, giving them new layers of meaning. As Solidaridad Obrera insisted: ‘The republican police is like the monarchist police, just as republican tyranny is the same as that of the monarchy. The police is unchanged, nor will it change. Its mission was, is and will continue to be the persecution of workers and the poor’.122 In practical terms, CNT activists could rely on the support of the streets; so, when police detained a cenetista in La Torrassa, he implored members of the public to liberate him before showing up at a union office to have a set of police handcuffs removed by a CNT metal worker.123

In keeping with its characterisation as a ‘guerrilla organisation’,124 the stridently antirepublican FAI and its radical supporters adopted an insurrectionary approach to unemployment. From the end of 1931 until the outbreak of the civil war, the radicals asserted that capitalism was in a condition of irrevocable collapse and that unemployment could only be solved ‘after the revolution’, which would bring ‘the final solution’: the destruction of ‘an economic order that cannot guarantee a life for all’. Thus, welfare benefits and public works were denounced as ‘denigrating’ state ‘charity’ that humiliated the proletariat before the authorities and might weaken the insurrectionary appetite of the masses. Instead, the radicals advocated ‘profoundly revolutionary tactics, concordant with our revolutionary identity’. As the Builders’ Union explained, if workers are sacked, ‘the struggle has to be pursued to its logical conclusion…up to the seizure of the factories and workshops’.125

The combination of state repression and anarchist tactics resulted in a shift away from mass struggles, such as the rent strike and the struggle for recognition of the bolsas, towards modes of conflict based on more irregular, non-institutionalised small-group resistance in the streets. In the view of the radicals, the unemployed would participate in their own ‘revolutionary gymnastics’; by ‘throwing the jobless onto the streets’ to disrupt public order and open up a new front in the war with the state, the unemployed would be transformed into insurgent shock troops.126 The unemployed guerrilla struggles advocated by the radicals were all firmly rooted in the existing constellation of popular street practices, which the anarchists embraced as a subversion of dominant urban rhythms. For instance, building on the traditional jobless practice of touring factories to look for work, the Construction Workers’ Union called for the jobless to storm workplaces and demand work.127 Spurred on by cenetistas, there were reports of up to 300 workers paying visits to employers. If CNT branch unions discovered that management was offering overtime instead of employing jobless workers, they sent along out-of-work members to demand work in what cenetistas called ‘union placements’ (imposiciones sindicales). The unemployed also put themselves to work in factories and then demanded to be paid by management at the end of the day. In a bid to generate employment, groups of jobless builders began ripping up paving stones around the city. There was much action among the new proletariat in the peripheral barris. In Sant Andreu and Santa Coloma, the CNT invited the unemployed to seize all unused land. The unemployed also continued to enter estates to requisition foodstuffs, particularly in l’Hospitalet. Inevitably, these practices resulted in continuing clashes with the police.128 There is also evidence of militants (‘persons unknown’, according to a police report) encouraging street traders to attack the security forces.129

Perhaps the most innovative and controversial feature of the radical anarchists’ support for unemployed street politics was their endorsement of popular illegality, what they called ‘social crime’ or ‘proletarian appropriation’. Solidaridad Obrera and the anarchist press frequently published articles imploring the unemployed to ‘take radical measures’ to satisfy their needs, ‘one way or another’. Following a riot by unemployed workers in Sant Andreu in April 1933 in which shops and the local market were looted, Solidaridad Obrera applauded the propaganda value of ‘the rebel gesture’: ‘the only way to make Capital and the State recognise that there is hunger and that it was necessary to do something about it’.130 Illegality was also justified as the ‘conquest’ of the ‘right to life’ by ‘unfortunates pursued by hunger, who rob because hunger is killing them’. Solidaridad Obrera noted that ‘not only do we understand [them], we also excuse [them], because responsibility lies with the egoistic and brutal society that oppresses us’.131 Unemployed illegality was fully validated by radical anarchist counterculture. As Tierray Libertad mused: ‘robbery does not exist as a “crime”…. It is one of the complements of life’.132 Meanwhile, Solidaridad Obrera called on the dispossessed to ‘assert their right to freedom and to life, seizing “illegally” the wealth that the official robbers hoard under the protection of the state’.133 At a basic level, this was a spontaneous, defensive struggle of the jobless, whose ‘last remaining dignified option’ was ‘to associate with other unemployed to conquer the right to live by force’.134 This ideology of action led to a disdainful attitude towards beggars. One evening, Durruti brought a shocked silence to the La Tranquilidad bar when he responded to the plea of a beggar for money by reaching inside his jacket pocket to fill the hand of the appellant with a huge pistol, offering the advice: Take it! Go to a bank if you want money!’135

For the anarchists, ‘proletarian appropriation’ was pregnant with political meaning: it was an attack on the law, the values and the property relations of the existing social order, the first glimmer of rebellion, a sign of the spirit of self-determination of the dispossessed and a prelude to revolutionary action. Thus anarchists concluded that illegality was ‘anarchist and revolutionary’: it could ‘wear down the capitalist system’ and play a pivotal role in the class struggle, itself an act that perforce occurs outside the judicial framework of bourgeois society.136 All that was required was to politicise illegal self-help strategies and unify the war of ‘our brothers’, the ‘criminals’, with the ‘subversive spirit’ of the anarchist struggle against the state. Ever ready to mobilise beyond the factory proletariat, the radicals applauded street gangs as a vanguard force in the fight against the police.137

In practical terms, there is ample evidence of cenetistas and radical anarchists helping to organise ‘proletarian shopping trips’; these ranged from the small-scale requisition of foodstuffs from local shops, bakeries, lorries and warehouses to well-planned mass raids on markets and farms. In one dramatic dawn raid, a group of eighty people entered the Born market, in the city centre, and tied up market staff and lorry drivers before making away with a huge amount of fruit and vegetables.138 There was also much evidence of activist participation in armed illegality. A clear illustration of this came during the 1932– 33 wood workers’ strike, when pickets organised ‘proletarian appropriation’ against employers who opposed the strike, frequently seizing their cash boxes and raiding their safes.139 Many CNT unemployed activists, whose subculture of resistance impelled them to resist poverty, were implicated in ‘proletarian appropriation’. A gang detained during an attempted robbery on a train included two anarchist brothers from l’Hospitalet, both of whom were activists in the local unemployed committee. Three unemployed cenetistas from La Torrassa arrested while holding up cars on the outskirts of the city were believed by police to be the perpetrators of a series of highway robberies. A number of unemployed activists detained for eating without paying in restaurants were also found to have been involved in armed ‘appropriations’.140 Besides the unemployed, armed illegality was favoured by activists who found themselves blacklisted due to their militancy.141 An important group of armed illegalists was foreign anarchists fleeing Italian and German fascism and the dictatorships in Portugal, Argentina and Uruguay, most of whom were already leading an illegal, clandestine existence in Barcelona, where they faced the constant threat of deportation.142 While the International Refugees Support Committee offered some assistance for the émigrés, organising collections and offering legal advice, there were few opportunities for work. Moreover, the tasks of the International Refugees Support Committee were hampered by the republican authorities, which showed little hospitality towards proletarian anti-fascist exiles.143 Of the foreign anarchist ‘expropriators’, the Italians, some of whom had met Spanish and Catalan exiles in Paris and Brussels during the Primo years, excelled themselves. The most celebrated of the Italian illegalists was Giuseppe Vicari, leader of the so-called ‘Vicari Gang’, which carried out a series of armed raids on shops and chemists.144

Armed illegality was not always economic in inspiration. For some anarchists, the ‘rebels opposed to all laws’,145 it was often tactical, a new version of the ‘propaganda of the deed’ that would inspire the rebellion of the unemployed. Thus one group of unemployed anarchists admitted in court that they had launched an armed robbery in the hope that it might help the unemployed to shake off their servile spirit. Armed illegality sometimes acquired theatrical features, such as when, during an armed raid on a cinema box office, a gang member patiently explained to bystanders that he and his colleagues were not ‘robbers’ but unemployed workers ‘tired of living with hunger’.146 Illegality also became a way of life for some around the libertarian movement. This was especially true of the ‘conscious illegalism’ of anarcho-individualists, who worshipped the free life of bandits and outlaws and saw crime as a glorious virtue.147 These anarcho-illegalists were most candid about their motivations under police interrogation. As one member of a group of individualists detained during an armed robbery proudly told stupefied police agents: ‘I’m a pure anarchist and I rob banks, yet I’m incapable of robbing the poor, like others do’. Another of his associates admitted: ‘I go into banks to withdraw with the pistol, while others withdraw using cheque books. It’s all a matter of procedure’.148 So convinced were they of the righteousness of their cause that a few individualists attempted to convert policemen to anarchism.149

It is perhaps from within the radical youth of the anarchist movement that we find those who most avidly embraced armed illegality. Guided only by their counter-cultural values and their alternative morality, these anarchist youths set out to pursue an autonomous lifestyle within an intentional community of rebels, a mini-society comprised of ‘free individuals’ consciously living outside the law in defiance of social regimentation, conventional moral values such as the work ethic, and traditional hierarchies. Belying the depiction of anarchists as secular saints, these youths embraced ‘rough’ working-class values, and a number of them, doubtless attracted by the black legend of ‘Chinatown’, were habitués of the taverns and bars of the Raval, where they attempted to expose criminals to anarchist ideas and culture and imbue their actions with a new consciousness. The extent to which these young activists permeated the ‘underworld’ milieu of the city was revealed by a police report in December 1934.

During a series of raids on bars in the Raval, the police arrested ‘a mixture of anarchists and robbers’, twenty ‘individuals who led an abnormal way of life (vida irregular), the majority of them young and already on file as anarchists’. One of the detainees was wanted by police for questioning about the murder of an employer. Nine of those arrested resided in the same Raval bed-and-breakfast. A subsequent raid on a bar frequented by young anarchists in Sants yielded over 300 gold watches and a quantity of stolen radios.150 (This openness to those that other labour groups might describe as ‘deviant’ did provide the anarchist movement with some important militants, such as Mariano ‘Marianet’ Rodríguez Vázquez, secretary of the Barcelona Builders’ Union before the civil war and CNT secretary-general after July 1936, a former internee in the Asil Durán.151)

However, there was a major flaw in the radical strategy towards the unemployed: their sectarianism. For all their flexibility in channelling the protests of the dispossessed and the jobless, the radicals ignored the fact that resolute action on behalf of the unemployed presupposed the broadest possible unity within a powerful and massified CNT. This was clearly inimical to the radicals’ aim of an anarchist trade union. The radicals’ sectarianism was first glimpsed in the rent strike. Although the rent strike organisers appealed to all workers irrespective of their ideological affinity, radical anarchists increasingly sought to exploit the mobilisation for their own ends. Thus, at a mass CDE rally in July, Parera, one of the founders of the CDE, attacked what he called ‘the extreme Bolshevik Left’, asserting that the unemployed would only find work after ‘the installation of anarchist communism’. When Marxist-communists in the audience demanded the right to answer these claims, fighting broke out.152 Equally, although the CNT had agreed to organise unemployed workers’ committees—a ‘life or death’ issue for the unions—this was always secondary to the unrelenting anti-communism of the radicals. For instance, during a discussion on the organisation of the jobless at a meeting of the Barcelona CNT local federation, the radical delegate from the Metal Workers’ Union opposed the creation of an unemployed committee due to the influence of the BOC among the jobless in his industry, indicating that the jobless committees that existed were ‘completely communist’. In other words, for the radicals, it was preferable to leave the unemployed unorganised rather than see them fall under the sway of rival factions from within the CNT.153 Anarchist grupistas also hindered attempts by communists to organise the unemployed: in l’Hospitalet, for instance, meetings were disrupted by armed anarchists.154 Later, the radicals made no attempt to establish broad, collective struggles similar to those initiated by the CDE in 1931. Accordingly, the struggle of the BOC to forge proletarian unity within its ‘Workers’ Alliance against Unemployment’ (Alianga Obrera contra el Atur Forgós) was opposed as a ‘communist plot’.155 This was no isolated case: not only did the radicals believe they alone could best organise the unemployed, they were also convinced that they could make the revolution themselves.

  • 1. Martin, Recuerdos, pp. 91–2.
  • 2. LasN, 16 June 1931 and 2 January 1936; communiqué from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 11 March 1936 (AHl’HL/AM); LaV, 15 March and 11 August 1933.
  • 3. LasN, 1 October, 4, 8 and 27 November, 26 December 1931, 4 February and 3 May 1932; communiques from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 13 May, 19 and 21 June 1933 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 4. LasN, 30 April, 5 November and 8 December 1931; LaV, 11 September 1931; interview with ‘Juan’, November 1997.
  • 5. LaV, 5, 28 July, 19, 21 August, 20 September 1931, 29 July 1932; LasN, 4 April, 18 May, 5 and 27 June 1931, 8 January 1932; Matí, 4 and 6 June 1931; SO, 25 July 1931.
  • 6. Letters from La Sociedad de Patronos Cultivadores to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 30 October and 12 November 1931 (AHl’HL/AM); interview with ‘Juan’, November 1997.
  • 7. LaV, 4 March 1932; LasN, 20 May and 5 December 1931, 24 February 1932; interview with ‘Juan’, November 1997; communiques from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 5 October, 6–20 November 1932, 12 May 1933, 4, 12–19, 22 and 28 June, 10 July, 4 August, 25 September 1934, 11 March, 21 May, 21 June, 6 July 1936 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 8. LasN, 6 January, 18 April, 3, 6, 10, 16–17 and 23 May, 5, 13, 17 and 26 June, 25 August, 19 September, 12 November, 16 and 22 December 1931, 2, 7 and 25 February 1932; communiqué from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 19 June 1936 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 9. LasN, 7 May, 12 and 19 June, 9 October, 20 November, 16 and 18 December 1931; L’Opinió, 19 November 1931; LaV, 6–13 March and 7 April 1932; communiqué from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 2 April 1933 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 10. CyN, February–March and June 1933; LasN, 2–4 February and 1–13 May 1934; LaV, 31 October 1933, 24 February, 10 March, 30 June, 2 September 1934; L’Opinió, 10 March and 21 June 1934; LaP, 11 April 1934; Veu, 8 April 1934.
  • 11. LasN, 11 and 20 January, 1 February, 1 and 31 March, 9 and 11 April, 8 May, 16, 19 and 25 June, 1, 24 and 29–30 October, 3–6, 20 and 27 November, 1, 19–24 and 30 December 1931, 8 January 1932; LaV, 25 July, 1, 4–5 and 28 August, 1 September 1931, 6 March 1932; L’Opinió, 16 June, 30 August and 24 July 1931.
  • 12. LaV, 6–13 March and 7 April 1932.
  • 13. Sentís, Viatge, p. 78.
  • 14. F.Candel, Ser obrero no es ninguna ganga, Barcelona, 1976 (2nd edn), pp. 82–3.
  • 15. See SO, 16 June 1931.
  • 16. LasN, 2–3 May 1931; SO, 16 June 1931.
  • 17. Sentís, Viatge, p. 78.
  • 18. SO, 15 February 1932 and 9 April 1936; minutes of council meeting, 1 June 1933 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 19. Rider, ‘Anarquisme’, p. 9.
  • 20. See N.Rider, ‘The practice of direct action: the Barcelona rent strike of 1931’, in D.Goodway (ed.), For Anarchism. History, Theory and Practice, London, 1989, pp. 79–105 and SO, 3 September 1931.
  • 21. J.Hinton, ‘Self-help and socialism. The Squatters’ Movement of 1946’, History Workshop Journal 25, 1985, pp. 100–26.
  • 22. L’Opinió, 13 and 27 March 1931; Calle, 15 May and 16 October 1931.
  • 23. A.Bueso, Como fundamos la CNT, Barcelona, 1976, pp. 53–4; SO, 13 January, 26–28 March, 13 May, 15 August and 3 September 1931; TyL, 5 September 1931.
  • 24. SO, 25 March and 1 November 1931.
  • 25. SO, 16, 18 and 25 April, 23 June, 1 and 25 November 1931.
  • 26. SO, 26 and 30 April, 7, 21 and 24 June, 18 July, 15 August, 3 September, 6 November 1931.
  • 27. SO, 8 July 1931. And no In essence, the CDE’s struggle was reformist, for an increase in the social wage and collective consumption.

    Another form of unemployed mobilisation was street protest. Given that the jobless have few protest resources (perforce they have no labour to withdraw), unemployed workers’ movements tend to present their agenda to the authorities in the public sphere via street action and demonstrations. There were several peaceful unemployed demonstrations in the days after the birth of the Republic. On 20 April, barely a week after the fall of the monarchy, the unemployed marched on the Generalitat and the council chambers in Republic Square, in the city centre. Although there is some circumstantial evidence of activist involvement, this march and others were not intended to discomfort the new authorities. The marchers’ main demands—the six-hour day in industry and public works—both figured in the ERC’s programme before the April municipal elections and could hardly therefore be viewed as revolutionary. Equally, the readiness of the demonstrators to take their demands to the new authorities suggests that they had a certain amount of faith in the republicans. A delegation of the unemployed entered the Generalitat to parley with key political figures, including President Macià, Serra i Moret, the head of the Generalitat Comissió Pro-Obrers sense Treball, Civil Governor Companys and Mayor Aiguader i Miró. The unemployed representatives reported that, in their discussions, the ERC leaders offered ‘not only verbal support but real assistance’, assuring that ‘governmental action in the form of a subsidy or unemployment insurance will undoubtedly be forthcoming’, along with public works. Upon learning of this new commitment by the authorities, the demonstrators outside the Generalitat were jubilant, and they withdrew peacefully from Republic Square. Nau, 20 April 1931; SO, 21 April 1931. Internet

    However, on 31 April, a new unemployed demonstration arrived in Republic Square in a more defiant mood, and this time the protest ended in violence. According to Las Noticias, the marchers, ‘on the whole young people’, attacked nearby shops and requisitioned comestibles, one of the most elementary forms of protest available to the unemployed. When the marchers reached the Rambles, they entered La Boquería, Barcelona’s central market, seizing more food; later, a nearby warehouse in the Raval was stormed and more victuals were removed. Diluvio, LaV and LasN, 1 May 1931; report from Consul-General King, 5 May 1931, FO371/15772/W5305/46/41 (PRO).

  • 28. LasN and LaV, 3 May 1931.
  • 29. Petition from the CNT to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 1 May 1931 (AHl’HL/AM); LasN and LaV, 3 May 1931; SO, 1 May 1931.
  • 30. SO, 3 May 1931.
  • 31. LasN and SO, 3 May 1931; Madrid, Ocho, p. 140; García, Eco, pp. 115–16.
  • 32. LasN and SO, 3 May 1931.
  • 33. In his Eco, pp. l 15–17, García Oliver overplays the role of armed faístas, claiming that welldrilled faístas controlled ‘all four corners’ of Republic Square. This is not confirmed by other sources: SO, LasN and Nau, 2–5 May 1931; Luchador, 8 May 1931; TyL, 8 May 1931; Madrid, Ocho, pp. 138–44.
  • 34. Fabre and Huertas, Barris, Vol. 4, p. 171.
  • 35. SO, 4 June 1931.
  • 36. SO, 27 June 1931.
  • 37. LasN and SO, 27 June 1931.
  • 38. SO, 11 June 1931; LasN, 11–12 June 1931.
  • 39. SO, 14 June and 4 July 1931.
  • 40. LaV, 9 July 1931.
  • 41. LaV, 15 and 28 July 1931.
  • 42. LaV, 5 July 1931; LasN, 21 June 1931.
  • 43. LaV and SO, 21 July 1931.
  • 44. SO, 19 June 1931; L’Opinió, 29 July 1931; LaV, 31 July 1931.
  • 45. LasN, 9 and 16 May, 24 December 1931.
  • 46. LaV, 9 September 1931.
  • 47. Communiqués from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 14 June 1936(AH1’HL/AM).
  • 48. SO, 13–15 May, 5 June, 4 and 21 July, 5, 14–15 and 26 August 1931; LaV, 8 July and 24 September 1931; LasN, 26 June 1931. Perhaps the best measure of the strike was the increasingly fierce complaints of the landlords (Rider, in Goodway (ed.), p. 95).
  • 49. SO, 24 June, 2, 12 and 19 August, 1–3 September 1931; Luchador, 4 September 1931; TyL, 11 July 1931.
  • 50. LasN, 3 May 1931; SO, 12 August 1931.
  • 51. TyL, 11 July and 1 August 1931.
  • 52. SO, 28 June and 3 July 1931.
  • 53. F.Fox Piven and R.A.Cloward, Poor People’s Movements. Why They Succeed, How They Fail, New York, 1977, p. x.
  • 54. SO, 9 and 31 May, 4, 8 and 18, July, 3 September 1931; TyL, 8 August 1931.
  • 55. Interview with ‘Juan’, November 1997.
  • 56. EIDG, 5 August 1931; SO, 20 September 1931.
  • 57. SO, 20 May 1931.
  • 58. SO, 15 August 1931.
  • 59. Rider, ‘Anarquisme’, p. 14.
  • 60. SO, 15–19 and 28 August 1931, 17 September 1935; LasN, 30 June, 11 and 22 October, 29 November 1931; EIDG, 2 October 1931.
  • 61. Paz, Chumberas, p. 87.
  • 62. SO, 3 September 1931.
  • 63. Nau, 24 April 1931; LaV, 27 and 30 August 1931; letter from La Unió de Venedors del Mercat de Collblanc to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 4 September 1935 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 64. Aiguader, Catalunya, pp. 12–14; Correspondencia de I’Ajuntament de I’Hospitalet, 1931– 1936, and minutes of l’Hospitalet Council meetings, 1931–1936 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 65. Ivern, Esquerra, Vol. 1, p. 78.
  • 66. Rider, ‘Anarquisme’, p. 17.
  • 67. LaV, 26 September 1931; COPUB, Memoria…1932, p. 91.
  • 68. COPUB, Memoria…1931, pp. 93, 255–67, 440; LasN, 1 May and 7 October 1931; LaV, 7 and 18–21 July, 16 August 1931.
  • 69. Letter from Pich i Pon, president of the COPUB to the Interior Ministry, 30 July 1931, Legajo 7a (AHN/MG).
  • 70. L’Opinió, 7 August and 20 September, 19 November, 2 December 1931, 14 January 1932; Calle, 1 January 1932; Diluvio, 16 May 1931; LasN, 22 May 1931; Madrid, Ocho, pp. 145, 156–7.
  • 71. LasN, 1 May, 4 and 27 June, 13 December 1931; L’Opinió, 6 May, 24 June, 10 and 17 July, 13 and 20–21 August, 23 October, 5 and 19 November 1931; Madrid, Ocho, pp. 145, 158; LaV, 1 May, 15 July and 19–20 August 1931; Azaña, Obras, Vol. 2, pp. 67–8; Diluvio, 1 May 1931; Matí, 4 June 1931; Calle, 1 January, 7 and 29 April 1932.
  • 72. L’Opinió, 6 May 1931.
  • 73. LasN, 1 May 1931; L’Opinió, 17 July 1931; LaV, 13 August 1931.
  • 74. L’Opinió, 10 July 1931.
  • 75. Calle, 1–8 January 1932.
  • 76. L’Opinió, 20 August 1931; LaV, 19 and 21 August 1931.
  • 77. LaV, 13 August 1931 and 3 March 1932; L’Opinió, 1 June 1932; SO, 13 September 1932; communiques from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 8 and 13 September 1934; minutes from l’Hospitalet Council meetings, 10 January 1933 and 28 August 1934 (AHl’HL/AM); letter from the mayor of l’Hospitalet to the commander of the Guàrdia Civil post, 7 March 1936 (AHl’HL/AM); LasN, 12 November and 16 December 1931.
  • 78. Legajo 7a (AHN/MG).
  • 79. COPUB, Memoria…1931, pp. 263, 479.
  • 80. SO, 31 July 1931.
  • 81. COPUB, Memoria…1931, pp. 44, 255–7, 440, 492; COPUB, Memoria…1932, p. 65; SO, 5 June, 30–31 July, 5, 12, 15 and 26 August, 10 October 1931; ElDG, 13 October 1931; LasN, 14 October 1931; Juzgado Municipal to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 28 August 1931 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 82. SO, 14, 18 and 27 August, 9 September 1931; LasN, 11 October 1931; TyL, 5 September 1931; LaV, 19 and 27 August 1931.
  • 83. Telephone conversation between Barcelona civil governor (Anguera de Sojo) and Interior Ministry subsecretary, 11 am, 4 September 1931, and telegrams and letters between interior minister (Maura) and Barcelona civil governor (Anguera de Sojo), 4 and 9 September 1931, Legajo 7a (AHN/MG).
  • 84. M.Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868–1936, Edinburgh, 1997, pp. 182, 187, n. 12.
  • 85. LaV and L’Opinió, 3–9 September 1931; Calle, 11 and 25 September 1931; SO, 3, 6 and 12 September 1931; TyL, 5, 12 and 19 September 1931; Luchador, 25 September, 2 and 9 October 1931; LaB, 10 and 17 September 1931; Madrid, Ocho, p. 227; letters from Sir G.Grahame, 5, 7 and 11 September 1931, FO371/ 15775/W10124/46/41, FO371/15775/W10194/46/41, FO371/15775/W10335/46/41 and FO371/15775/W10541/46/41 (PRO).
  • 86. LasN, 1–2 December 1931; communiqué from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 26 April 1936 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 87. LasN, 2 and 7 October 1931; LaV, 19 September 1931; L’Opinió, 20 September 1931.
  • 88. LasN, 1–2 December 1931; COPUB, Memoria…1931, pp. 20, 488, 497–8, and Memoria…1932, pp. 39–40.
  • 89. Ballbé, Orden, p. 331; SO, 22 October, 1–10 November, 4 December 1931; TyL, 22 August 1931; Noche, 13 November 1931.
  • 90. LasN, 10 November and 18 December 1931, 29 August 1935; LaV, 23 August 1935; minutes of the l’Hospitalet Council meeting, 1 June 1933, and communiques from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 17 July, 7 October 1932 and 10 April 1936 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 91. Estampa, 9 July 1932.
  • 92. EIDG, 24–25 September 1931; LasN, 1 and 21 October 1931; LaV, 24 September 1931; SO, 30 October 1931. See also C.Ealham, ‘La lluita pel carrer, els vendedors ambulants durant la II República’, L’Avenç 230, 1998, pp. 21–6.
  • 93. Sentís, Viatge, p. 78.
  • 94. SO, 17 September 1935; LasN, 11 and 22 October, 29 November 1931; Adelante, 7 January 1934.
  • 95. Sentís, Viatge, p. 68.
  • 96. Paz, Chumberas, pp. 87, 1
  • 97. L’Opinió, 19 July 1931..
  • 98. SO, 24 December 1931; communiques from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 17 July 1932, 18 March and 14 June 1936 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 99. Madrid, Ocho, p. 145; Veu, 15 December 1932; Cánovas, Apuntes, p. 162; La Colmena Obrera (hereafter Colmena), 6 December 1931.
  • 100. Communiqués from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 10 October 1932 (AH1’HL/AM).
  • 101. Jefatura Superior de Policia de Barcelona to the Juzgado Municipal de l’Hospitalet, 28 September and 25 October 1931, and Gobierno Civil de Barcelona to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 20 April, 1 May and 1 June 1932 (AHl’HL/AM).
  • 102. Communiqués from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 10 June 1933 and 10 April 1936 (AHl’HL/AM); SO, 7 July 1933 and 1 February 1936.
  • 103. See Vega, Trentisme, passim.
  • 104. Bueso, Recuerdos, Vol. 2, pp. 349–53; L’Opinió, 30 August 1931.
  • 105. Telegram from Barcelona civil governor (Anguera de Sojo) to Interior Ministry, 20 October 1931, Legajo 7a (AHN/MG).
  • 106. SO, 6–10 November 1931.
  • 107. SO, 23 August, 1–2, 9, 17 and 29 September, 6 October, 3–10 and 26–28 November 1931; TyL, 13 and 27 June, 5 December 1931; Luchador, 9 October and 20 November 1931.
  • 108. SO, 1–7 November and 8 December 1931; TyL, 26 September–31 October 1931.
  • 109. TyL, 31 October 1931; SO, 3 November, 3–5 and 8 December 1931; L’Opinió, 3 December 1931; LaP, 6 December 1931; LaB, 10 December 1931.
  • 110. SO, 22–24 September, 14 and 21 October 1931; Luchador, 23 October 1931; García, Eco, p. 216.
  • 111. SO, 14–15 September 1933.
  • 112. SO, 14 January, 13, 19, 26 and 30 May, 19 and 24 June 1931.
  • 113. SO, 22 April, 5, 10, 22 and 29 May, 2 June, 11 and 14 July, 2 and 11 August 1931; minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 29 November 1931 (AHN/SGC); LasN, 1 May 1931.
  • 114. Calle, 14 April and 8 July 1932.
  • 115. Sentís, Viatge, pp. 80–1; interview with ‘Antonio’, November 1997.
  • 116. SO, 24 September and 2 October 1930.
  • 117. SO, 20 May 1931, 13 and 22 July 1934.
  • 118. SO, 31 October 1931.
  • 119. SO, 3 September 1931.
  • 120. SO, 20 October 1932, 29 October 1933, 24 April 1934.
  • 121. Oyón, in Oyón (ed.), p. 88.
  • 122. SO, 9 September 1932.
  • 123. Gimenéz, Itinerario, p. 49.
  • 124. R.Vidiella, ‘Psicología del anarquismo español’, Leviatán, May 1934, pp. 50–8.
  • 125. SO, 21 February, 2 April, 12 and 29 May, 4 and 21 July, 7–8, 15, 18 and 20 August 1931.
  • 126. Minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 24 October 1931 (AHN/SGC).
  • 127. SO, 12–15 May 1931.
  • 128. TyL, 5 September 1931; SO, 6–8 and 18 August 1931; communiques from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 10 April 1936 (AHl’HL/AM); LaV, 13 and 25 August, 29 September 1931, 31 March 1932; Noche, 9 November 1931; LasN, 18 November and 13 December 1931; Gimenéz, Itinerario, pp. 43ff; Marin, ‘Llibertat’, p. 469.
  • 129. Communiqué from the Guàrdia Urbana to the mayor of l’Hospitalet, 10 April 1936(AH1’HL/AM).
  • 130. SO, 10 August and 7 December 1932, 4 and 16 April 1933, 20 February and 15 September 1935.
  • 131. TyL, 24 June 1932; SO, 22 March and 9 November 1932, 18 and 25 March 1933, 1 March 1935.
  • 132. TyL, 26 April and 8 May 1931, 9 June 1933.
  • 133. García, Eco, p. 188; SO, 23 June, 26 August, 16 September and 13 October 1932, 12 January and 11 February 1933, 15 April 1934, 15 September 1935.
  • 134. Iniciales, November 1934; FAI, 8 January 1935.
  • 135. J.Llarch, La muerte de Durruti, Barcelona, 1985, pp. 44–5.
  • 136. SO, 26 April 1934; Luchador, 7 July 1933; FAI, 8 January 1935.
  • 137. SO, 20 April and 16 September 1932, 15 April 1934.
  • 138. TyL, 13 January and 17 March 1933; SO, 21 February, 14 March, 4 and 15 April 1933; CyN, February–July 1933; LaV, 5 January, 14 and 18 February, 14–15 March 1933; Catalunya Roja, 26 February 1933.
  • 139. LaV, 17 January, 26 February, 10, 12 and 30 March 1933.
  • 140. LaV, 27 September 1933 and 9 September 1934; L’Opinió, 21 June 1934; Legajo 54a (AHN/MG).
  • 141. LaV, 23 July, 20 August and 6 September 1931, 17 March, 19 July, 25–26 October and 8 November 1932, 11 and 24 January, 19 February, 15 and 31 March, 2 April, 14, 23 and 31 May, 1–2 and 20 June, 18 and 27 July, 2, 8 and 11 August, 15 and 24 October, 15 December 1933, 14 February, 3 April, 1 and 6 June, 19 and 25 July, 5 August, 26 September, 22 November, 4 and 7 December 1934, 5 and 16 March, 10 April, 15 and 31 May, 4 June, 22 August, 26 October, 25 December 1935; LasN, 1 February, 11 April, 8 and 31 May, 4 June, 3 November–1 December 1931, 19 January, 16 February and 17 August 1932, 14 April, 8–9 May, 4 and 26–27 September 1934, 24 January 1935; Noche, 2 November 1931; LaP, 31 May 1933 and 10–12 April 1934; Veu, 5 January and 31 May 1933, 8, 12 and 21 April 1934; SO, 9 August 1923; Matí, 4 June 1931; L’Opinió, 8 October 1933.
  • 142. TyL, 19 November 1935; Abad, Memorias, p. 188. According to police estimates, in 1935 there were around 16,000 ‘illegal’ immigrants in Barcelona: 5,500 Germans, 1,500 Italians, 600 Argentinians, and 130 Portuguese (LaP, 2 January 1935).
  • 143. LasN, 7 March, 17 May, 5 June and 29 November 1931, 4 May 1934; LaV, 8 and 17 September 1931, 5 July and 13–15 December 1932, 7 May, 8 and 11 August, 27 September and 15 October 1933, 4 December 1934; Nau, 24 April 1931; L’Opinió, 26 October 1933; Abad, Memorias, pp. 182, 220–1.
  • 144. LaV, 6 January, 18 and 24 March, 4 and 7 April, 31 May, 18 July 1933, 27 December 1934, 4 and 28 January 1935; Revista Anarchica, Red Years, Black Years. Anarchist Resistance to Fascism in Italy, London, 1989, pp. 7, 37–8, 43; TyL, 19 September 1931; SO, 29 September 1934; LasN, 17 May and 5 June 1931, 4 October 1934, 5 February, 16 May and 4 July 1936; A.Téllez Solà, Sabaté;. Guerrilla urbana en España (1945–1960), Barcelona, 1992, p. 42; Veu, 6 January 1933, 18 and 21 April 1934; García, Eco, p. 230.
  • 145. SO, 26 August 1932.
  • 146. LaV, 20 August 1931; Veu, 24 December 1933.
  • 147. C.Ealham, ‘“From the summit to the abyss”: the contradictions of individualism and collectivism in Spanish anarchism’, in P.Preston and A.MacKenzie (eds), The Republic Besieged: Civil War in Spain, 1936–39, Edinburgh, 1996, pp. 135–62.
  • 148. LasN, 11 April, 3 November and 21 December 1931, 17 August 1932, 21 April 1934, 2 July 1936; LaV, 16 December 1932, 13 August, 27 September and 19–20 October 1933, 31 March and 3 April 1934, 13 January 1935; Iniciales, December 1935–February 1936; LaP, 11 April 1934; L’Opinió, 8 and 19–20 October 1933; Veu, 21 April 1934; Llarch, Muerte, pp. 23–4; SO, 3 December 1935 and 7 February 1936.
  • 149. LasN, 4 September 1934.
  • 150. LaV, 27 December 1934.
  • 151. M.Muñoz Diez, Marianet, semblanza de un hombre, Mexico, 1960, pp. 25–30.
  • 152. TyL, 11 July 1931.
  • 153. Minutes of the plenum of the Barcelona CNT local federation, 10 January 1932 (AHN/SGC); LaB, 7 January, 6 June and 29 September 1932.
  • 154. Unidad sindical 31 March and 21 April 1932.
  • 155. Fam, 10 February 1933.