Laguarda Batet, Pepita (1919-1936)

Pepita Laguarda

A short biography of the Spanish anarchist militia woman Pepita Laguarda

Pepita Laguarda lived in the Santa Eulalia quarter of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat immediately southwest of Barcelona. This was a working class barrio with three railway lines crossing it and many textile factories.

Pepita joined the anarchist movement at a young age, apparently against the wishes of her parents. She appears to have been active in the Libertarian Youth and to have the anarchist militant Juan Lopez Carvajal as her boyfriend. Juan, who was five years older than her and worked as a typographer, had already served time for his anarchist beliefs.

Accounts of the period describe Pepita as having an enthusiastic and courageous personality, with an ability to maintain a strength and presence of mind.

After the fighting of 20th July 1936, Pepita said to Juan: ”At Pedralbes, in the Miguel Bakunin barracks, a column is forming to go to the Aragon front., and I have enrolled as a volunteer”. Juan replied : “If you’re going there, I’ll go with you”. They enrolled in the 45 group of the fifth century of the Francisco Ascaso Column on 19th August, Pepita having to escape from home to join.

Within the militia column some comrades tried to persuade her to serve in the rearguard but she always refused this advice, saying that she had joined the militia because she wished to undertake the same dangers and responsibilities as others. Handling her rifle well, she fought heroically on the front line.
On the 1st of September she was engaged in combat for several hours on the outskirts of Huesca when she was grieviously injured at 5.00am. She was moved first to the Vicién hospital for initial treatment and then to the blood hospital of Grañén where she died at 9:30 a.m. She maintained her fortitude to the end.

Her coffin was draped with the red and black flag and members of the Column as well as the entirety of the population of Grañén defiled past. As her disconsolate comrade Juan wrote in a letter to Jaime Balius, journalist for the CNT paper Solidaridad Obrera (and founder member of the Friends of Durruti), her life was dedicated to one objective, to live and die for the social revolution and the liberation of the proletariat (1).

Nick Heath

Sources:
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepita_Laguarda_Batet
http://gimenologues.org/spip.php?article305

(1)An obituary written by Balius based on information supplied by Lopez Carvajal appeared in Solidaridad Obrera, 13 September 1936