Alain Pecunia (1945-2024)

Alain Pecunia

A short biography of Alain Pecunia, French anarchist militant.

Submitted by Battlescarred on May 18, 2024

When I was living and working in Paris in the early 70s, I attended meetings of the Alliance Syndicaliste Revolutionnaire et Anarcho-syndicaliste (ASRAS) at 21 Rue Jean Robert in the 18th arrondissement. These involved around 30 militants wishing to orient the anarchist movement to workplace agitation. Alongside Bulgarian exiles and the granddaughter of the Spanish libertarian Juan Peiro, victim of dictator General Franco’s firing squads, and both French veterans and those new to the movement, was Alain Pecunia, by then confined to a wheelchair.

He was a co-founder of the Alliance and one of its pillars. Another participant recalled, ”we preferred single-storey militant premises. Otherwise we had to carry Alain and his wheelchair up the stairs of the venerable buildings that we frequented in the 70s…The new comrades, including me, vaguely knew that Alain had carried out actions in Spain, that he had had an "accident" afterwards, but comrade Pecunia didn't tell much. The Spanish libertarian exile militants knew more than us, young people after ‘68 attracted by anarchosyndicalist ideas.”

Alain was born in Paris in 1945, the son of a senior naval officer who had served on De Gaulle’s staff in London during World War Two.

In 1958, at only thirteen years old, Pecunia participated in some demonstrations against the Algerian war organised in Paris by the youth group of the Communist Party. Two years later he approached the Verité-Liberté group led by Pierre Vidal-Naquet and the Groupe Louise Michel of the Federation Anarchiste. At the beginning of 1961, Pecunia, still a “rebellious and romantic republican,” met a Spanish anarchist exile exile, Paco Abarca, with whom he would form a group agitating against the OAS, , the far-right terrorist organisation created after the self-determination referendum of Algeria. Through Abarca, Pecunia was introduced to the world of the exiled Spanish anarchists. In the following months he would meet Octavio Alberola and Luis Andrés Edo, leading lights in the anarchist resistance to Francoism.

The Interior Defence group was an organisation set up by the Spanish anarchist exile movement which united notable old veterans like Cipriano Mera and Juan Garcia Oliver with younger militants like Alberola and Edo. They began to engage in symbolic actions against Spanish tourist interests, such as banks and airlines, to force the French and international press to talk about the Franco regime.

In June and July 1962 Pecunia participated with two other Frenchmen, , in a series of actions in Spain. In less than two months he crossed the border at least three times to take material to a colleague in Barcelona and to observe Franco's police controls.

It was in that period when Pecunia met Jacinto Ángel Guerrero Lucas, at that time a close collaborator of Alberola in Interior Defense and probably already an informer of the Spanish police.

At the end of March 1963, against Alberola's advice, Abarca asked Pecunia to participate in another operation. Arrested on April 6th, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison for “subversive activities”, and became Spain’s youngest political prisoner at the age of seventeen. Detained in Carabanchel Alto prison, in Madrid, alongside the Scottish anarchist Stuart Christie, he shared the fate of some 250 political prisoners there.

“It was our war against fascism,” said Pecunia. “My father had done the resistance in France and my Italian great-grandparents were from the Carbonari. You know, when we were twenty years old we didn't think about old age.”

Released in 1965 thanks to interventions at the highest level, partly due to the influence of his father in Gaullist circles, he was the victim, shortly after his return to France, of an attack that remained unexplained. In the early hours of August 5th, 1966, an unknown car ran him over, leaving him unconscious and later paralysed in both legs. He and others believed that he was the victim of elements within the French police, in league with the Francoist authorities. After studying sociology at Nanterre university, he worked as a publishing and printing proofreader. He was a co-founder of the ASRAS and chair of the Free Spain committee between 1974 and 1977.

Since 2002 he devoted himself to writing, including two noir thriller series, Petits Films Noirs and Chroniques Croisées, numbering over twenty books, as well as a historical novel in three volumes, Mathilde, and his memoirs of life in the Carabanchel prison, Les ombres ardentes : un Français de 17 ans dans les prisons franquistes, published in 2004. Another novel, Le Dernier Maquisard, followed in 2006. More recently, Alain Pecunia brought out a volume on Spanish anarchist history, Les Anarchistes espagnols aux portes du pouvoir - I: Histoire de la guerre des classes en Espagne (1812-1939) published as a paperback in 2023.
He maintained his anarchist convictions to the end, dying on 6th May, 2024.

Nick Heath

Above photo taken by the late Stuart Chrisie in October 1998.