A short biography of Spanish anarchist militant Antonia Fontanillas
Antonia Fontanillas Borras was born in 1917 in Madrid on 29th May.
She was born into an anarchist family, both her parents being anarchists and her grandmother and grandfather were the noted militants Francesca Saperas Miro and Martin Borras Jover. Antonia Fontanillas emigrated with her mother and brothers to Mexico in 1925, followed by her father. She attended school there for six years and became an avid reader, especially of anarchist and social literature. When her father was expelled from Mexico, the family followed him to Catalonia in 1934.
Antonia found work in a lithographic company and joined both the CNT and the Libertarian Youth (FIJL) in 1936. She was elected delegate of the Libertarian Youth for the Graphic Arts.
When the Spanish Revolution and Civil War broke out she attempted to join a militia in the expeditionary force to free Mallorca from the Francoists but was unsuccessful and worked as an administrator in the offices of the CNT paper Solidaridad Obrera in Barcelona.
With the triumph of Franco she went underground, working with the secret network of FIJL militants and composing several issues of the now illegal Solidaridad Obrera from her home. At least 14 issues of the paper appeared between January and November 1945. The paper was printed on the little press of the anarchist Armengol in the Gracia neighbourhood and was written by FIJL members Juan Domenech, Jose Lamesa and Arturo Benedicto, members of the graphic arts syndicat and composed and laid out by the FIJL militant Jose Nieto.
Domenech was arrested on 7th November 1945, followed by Lamesa who was brought by the secret police to Antonia’s home. They discovered insignia of the CNT, FIJL and SIA (International Antifascist Solidarity). Antonia remarked that everyone had them before. She and Lamesa were taken to the police station where they were questioned about the whereabouts of the print shop. Fortunately she was not charged but the publishing of “Soli” came to an end.
In the following years Antonia collaborated with others in bringing out the underground paper Ruta between 1946 and 1948 (15 issues between June and November 1946, and at least 5 between March 1947 and May 1948). She was also responsible for coordinating contact between anarchist prisoners and their lawyers in this period. Two thousand copies were regularly printed and distributed by the underground groups in various neighbourhoods of Barcelona.
In this period of underground work Antonia became the companion of the anarchist militant Diego Camacho Escamez [Abel Paz], become first acquainted with him when he was imprisoned in 1948. When Camacho was released from prison in 1952, they both went into exile in France the following year, settling first at Brezolles and then in Clermont Ferrand in 1954.
Antonia continued her activity with the FIJL and in the CNT. She was also active in the local arts group. She established contact with the anarchist guerrilla group animated by Sabaté (El Quico) which carried out actions in Spain.
In 1957 she was responsible for bringing out the Regional Bulletin of the FIJL and took part in all the annual summer camps organised jointly by the FIJL and French anarchist youth groups.
She separated from Camacho in 1958 and went to live in Dreux with her son Ariel. Here she continued her activity with the FIJL and on the International Secretariat of the CNT. Together with Antonio Rodriguez Cañete, with whom she established a relationship, she formed the Alfa group of the Federacion Anarquista Iberica in 1960. She was involved in a wide range of propaganda and cultural activities, including taking part in a theatrical group. She was a militant of the local federation of the CNT in Dreux until its dissolution. After these she was active in the Agrupaciones Confederales formed of groups that supported the newspaper Frente Libertario. She edited the newsletter Surco between 1966 and 1967 (seven issues) which was published in French, Spanish and Esperanto.
In 1966 her partner Antonio was arrested in Spain and served 3 years in prison. Antonia remained with him until his death in 1979.
After the death of Franco Antonia attended all the CNT congresses between 1979 and 1983, and after the split, all the conferences of the CGT between 1983 and 1997. She also took part in many other conferences, exhibitions, meetings and seminars. She worked for the CIRA (International Centre for Research on Anarchism) and engaged in a large amount of historical research on anarchism.
Under various pseudonyms (like Tona, A F Borras etc.) she contributed to many anarchist papers. These included: Action Libertaire, Anthropos, Boletin Amicale, Boletin Rodano-Alpes, CIRA Marseille, Le Combat Syndicaliste, Confrontacion, Espoir, Mujeres Libertarias de Madrid, El Chico, Nueva Senda, Rojo y Negra, Volontà, CNT, etc. She also penned a number of books, on various Spanish anarchists, including one co-written with Sonya Torres on the great anarchist Lola Iturbe in 2006. She also contributed to the special centenary issue of Solidaridad Obrera published by the CNT in 2007 and to a conference organised by the CGT on the history of Mujeres Libres in the same year.
She died on September 23rd 2014.
As Jose Luis Gutierrez Molina noted, with her death, "goes one who, through her activity and her family line, represents the history of anarchism in Spain."