Limia, José Ledo, 1900-1974

A short biography of little-known Spanish anarchist militant José Ledo Limia.

Submitted by Steven. on July 27, 2004

Galician anarchist born in Lugo (some sources say in Orense) in 1900. He emigrated to Rio de Janiero (Brazil) around the time of the great war and later popped up in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Peru.

He returned to Spain as a stowaway and was arrested in Vigo. He joined the army in the wake of the Anual military disaster (Morocco) and served for several years as a gunner in Africa (1921-25).

Later he travelled to Havana and on to Mexico (1925-26) and worked in the United States (Pennsylvania). It was in the USA that he came into contact with A. Quintas who introduced him to anarchism. A short time after that he was deported to Spain over his involvement in the Sacco-Vanzetti campaign.

He arrived in a Spain under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and spent several months in prison. Later he lived in hiding but was very active, amongst other things helping to set up the social Ateneo in Madrid.

During the republic he worked for the Transmediterrnea shipping line (travelling to Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) acting as a liaison between anarchists on both sides of the Atlantic (smuggling militants and propaganda materials). He gave up the sea after a trip to Fernando Poo when he nearly died of malaria.

He was intensely active then in Barcelona and Madrid; the uprising in Asturias in 1934 found him up to his neck in the revolution and he was jailed along with Fosco Falaschi and Benigno Mancebo.

He was released on parole in mid-1935 (although some people claim that he was sentenced to death and released under the amnesty in 1936). Thereafter he was active in the catering union in Madrid and in the anarchist federation the FAI. When the civil war broke out, he joined the Galician column as its trade union delegate, fighting on the Madrid front - and rejecting promotion.

He later joined the Investigation Branch (in Barcelona-Madrid) whose task was to counter the Stalinist counter-revolution (1937). At this time he was disappointed at the course being taken by the revolution and was bitter at the sight of yesterdays red-hot revolutionaries jockeying for 'position'.

He had a miraculous escape from capture by the Francoists at the end of the war and crossed into France via Matar and Camprodon, only to begin an odyssey through concentration camps in Argeles, Barcares, St Cyprien and Arles - from which he escaped several times (he was in Perpignan in February 1939), but to little avail.

He was sent to punishment camps and assigned to the Sur-Niort labour battalion. Eventually he made it to Paris where, after some harsh confrontation with anarchist trade union, the CNT, leaders he secured a passage to the Americas. In April he sailed from Le Harve, bound for Cuidad Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Later he moved on to Queretaro in Mexico in 1942, where he remained until 1965 when he smuggled himself to Portugal from where he was forced to flee to Mexico after a short while.

In 1974, sorely disenchanted, he returned to end his days in his native land, working on the land. An indefatigable battler, not much given to writing (though he was friendly with well-known libertarian intellectuals) and a born activist, he was without doubt one of the greatest anarchists of his day and one of the ones who resisted the temptation to compromise which seduced lots of other CNT members in 1936.

Among his friends were Carpio, B. Esteban, Odón, Tato, Lamberet and Mancebo. Yet he remains a little-known militant.

From the Kate Sharpley Library