Monday, December 16, 2013



     The following brief biography was originally published at the website of the CNT of Puerto Real in Spanish. The original Spanish version can be found there under their 'Biografias' section.

     Joan Peiró, glass worker, anarcho-syndicalist intellectual, and Minister of Industry during the second Spanish republic, was executed by firing squad on July 24, 1942 at Paterna (Huerta Oeste, Valencia). He was born on February 18 in the working class district of Sants in Barcelona. He began work in a Barcelona glass factory at the age of 8 an d didn't learn to read and write until he was 22. He continued to work in the glass sector and along with other compañeros founded the Glass Cooperative of Mataró, a thing he never abandoned.

     In 1907 he married Mercedes Olives, a textile worker, with whom he had three sons (Juan, José, Llibert) and four daughters (Aurora, Aurelia, Guillermina, Merced). As he explained his union militancy began in 1906, and he began to hold positions of responsibility from 1915 to 1920 as Secretary General of the Spanish Federation of Glaziers and Crystal Workers and director of La Colmena Obrero (organ of the unions of Badalona) and El Vidrio (publication of the federation of glassworkers).

     Because of his intellectual acuity he later became editor of the newspaper Solidaridad Obrero (1930) and the daily Catalonia (1937). Very influenced by French revolutionary unionism he began taking on positions of responsibility in the CNT after the Sants (1918) Catalan Regional Congress. Thanks to his capacity for work, organizing skills and prestige he held the highest offices in this organization.

     At the Congreso de La Comedia (1919) he defended industrial union federations which were rejected at the time (in favour of geographical During the 1920s he suffered the repression unleased by the state and the employers and was arrested and imprisoned inSoria and Vicoria. In 1922 he was elected General Secretary of the CNT. During his term the Conference of Zaragossa was held where the resignation of the CNT from the Red Internation Federation of Unions was approved and membership in the reconstituted AIT/IWA was accepted.

     At this same Congress, along with Salvador Segui, Angel Pestaña, and José Viadiu, Peiró defended the "political motion" which was widely criticized by the more orthodox sections of the organization. He settled in Mataró in in 1922, and in 1925 he guided the establishment of the glass workers' cooperative that he had previously intended to organize. Under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera the CNT was outlawed, their offices closed and their press suspended. Many militants were arrested and Pieró was imprisoned in 1925, 1927 and 1928. In the last year he was again elected Secretary General of the CNT.

     He criticized the UGT for their advocacy of  "mixed commissions" during the dictatorship and also Pestaña with whom, however, he agreed on other matters. He also criticized the more anarchist union sector, and despite the fact that he joined the FAI he was never militant in it. On the contrary he defended a more syndicalist mass organization and opposed the action groups that a minority of militants controlled. In 1930 he signed the "Republican Intelligencia" manifesto and received much interal criticism which led him to withdraw his signature. He defended industrial federations up to the 1931 CNT Congress in Madrid where he won mass support against the FAI theses.

     At this Congress he supported the presentation of the "Position of the CNT Towards the Constituent Cortez" proposal which defended the idea that the proclamation of a republic could mean an advance for the working class. The proposal was adopted with some modifications despite the opposition of some FAI sectors who saw it as support for bourgeois political machinations. Also in 1931, along with 29 other prominant CNTistas among them Angel Pestaña, he signed the Treintista Manifesto which analyzed the social and economic situation of Spain and criticized both the republican government and the more radical sectors of the CNT.

     The reaction to this led to the expulsion of Pestaña from his position on the national committee of the norganization and the schism of the Sabadell unions. These later gathered others who formed a bloc called the "Opposition Unions". Although Peiró participated in this split he had no outstanding responsibility, and he tried to build bridges to avoid the final rupture.

     Reunification occured in 1936. After the fascist military rising Peiró served as vicepresident of the Antifascist Committee of Mataró, sending his sons to the front. He defended the entry of the CNT into the governments of Catalonia and Spain and proposed a state form of a federal social republic when the war ended. Along with Garcia Oliver, Federica Monteny and Juan Lopez he was one of the four "anarchist" (my emphasis-mm) ministers in the government of Largo Caballero where he was Minister of Industry.

     In this position he drafted the decree of expropriation and intervention in industry and designed an Industrial Credit Bank. Many of these projects were annuled or diluted by Negrin. With the fall of the Caballero government he returned to Mataró and the Glass Cooperative. He also dedicated himself to giving lectures on his steps in government and publishing hard articles against the PCE for its actions against the POUM.

     In 1938 he re-entered the government now headed by Negrin although not with the rank of Minister but rather as Comissioner of Electric Energy. He upheld an "anti-defeatist" attitude and proposed a certain revision of anarchosyndicalism in light of the development of the revolution and the war. He crossed the French border on February 5, 1939, and was briefly held in Perpignon from where he went to Narbonne to reunite withy his family. Later he moved to Paris to represent the CNT on the Coalition for Spanish Refugees with a mission to free Spanish CNTistas fromFrench concentration camps and facilitate their transfer to México.

     He tried to flee after the Nazi invasion but was arrested when he went to Narbonne. e was returned to Paris where the French authorities issued a deportation order so as to remove him from Gestapo action and thereby go to the unoccupied zone and from there to México. He was, however, arrested again by nazi troops and taken to Trier (Germany). In January of 1941 the Francoist Ministry of Foreign Affairs  requested his extradition. This happened on February 19 of the same year in Irún, violating French and international law. He was transfered to the custody of the Security General in Madrid where he was interrogated and suffered maltreatment (he lost some teeth).

     The start of the trial was exceptionally delayed, and he was transfered to Valencia in April 1941. In December of that year a summary trial opened at which Peiró had statements in his favour from institutions and people of the new regime (military, falangists, clergy, judges, prison officials, businesmen, rightists and even a future minister under Franco, Francisco Ruiz Jarabo).

     Even so his repeated refusal of the government proposal to be head of the Francoist unions determined his sentence. In May of 1942 the prosecuter presented his charges. A month later Peiró was assigned a defence lawyer by the military. On July 21 the death sentence was pronounced. On July 24, 1942 he was shot along with six other CNTistas at the firing range of Paterna. Some of his published works include The Path of the National Confederation of Labour (1925), Ideas About Syndicalism and Anarchism (1930), Danger in the Rearguard (1936) and From The Glass Factory of Mataró To The Minister Of Industry (1937) and Problemas y Cintarazos (1938).




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Spanish Syndicalism (1) CGT Strike in Unipost


      The following is a translation from a Spanish language article at Rojo y Negro, the organ of the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist union the CGT. I have had to rather "freely translate" as the particulars of Spanish labour practices are quite different from here in the Anglosphere. Any mistakes are my own responsibility.


     The stoppages will be for 24 hours (from 00:00 to 24:00) and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays are not included. The schedule is as follows: December 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 27 and 30 and the 2 and 3 of January 2014. If the dispute is not settled we reserve the right to call further stoppages which will be conducted according to applicable legal provisions.

     There are two principle objectives of this strike. On the one hand the breaches of agreement on the part of management, salary cuts and non-payment of summer bonuses. (Such bonuses are a regular part of Spanish labour On the other hand an end to layoffs.

     Thus the CGT, having consulted both general assemblies and workshop assemblies, has decided to carry out the strike to show important solidarity with the workers to carry it out.

     We want to thank those who have expressed their support in favour of your decision and we want, secondarily, to encourage the rest because everyone together will have more force and power to achieve the objective marked out.

     We also inform you of the suspension of the December 2 hearing by the High Court about the pay cut that we applied for in August 2013. It was going to address three charges of non-compliance and misappliance, one of them not cited by the works council, on procedural grounds. To avoid a full trial it was decided to postpone the hearing until January 28, 2014. On that day the hearing will hear the complaint of unpaid summer bonuses. At the same time some unions have been in negotiations with the company and have reached a possible agreement to agree to the suspension (of the This is something the CGT does not agree with given the negotiating intransigence of the company.


Monday, December 02, 2013


Teresa Mañe Miravent - Mother of Federica Montseny

     The following is a translation from Spanish. The Spanish original is available at the Biografias anarquistas section of the website of the CNT Puerto Real. Any errors of translation are entirely my responsibility.

     Born on November 29 1865 in Cubelles (Garraf, Catalonia) - until recently believed to be in Vilanova  i la Geltrú- the educator, activist and anarchist propagandist Teresa Mañe Miravent, better known under her pseudonym Soledad Gustavo. Her wealthy family ran the Garden Hotel in Vilanova i la Geltrú, known as the "Three Girls Hotel" as the three daughters of the family were busy attending to customers. Her father was a staunch supporter of federal republicanism and was proud of the relationship he maintained with Pi i Maragall. Teresa began studying teaching in 1883 in Barcelona and in 1886, with the help of the freethinker Bartomeu Gabarro of the Federalist Democratic Centre, opened the first secular school in Vilanova. She was a member of the Confederation of Lay Teachers of Catalonia. During this period she collaborated in El Vendaval with the federalist republican tendency. Through contacts with freethinkers she met José Pujals Lunas, Teresa Claramunt, Tarrida del Mármol, Pere Esteve and other leading anarchist militants. She participated in propaganda tours and public events and collaborated on the libertarian publications they edited (La Tramontana, El Productor, La Tormenta, etc.). In 1889 she won a prize at the Second Socialist Contest in Barcelona for her work 'Free Love' and became a spokeswoman for anarchist ideas along with Ricardo Mella, Anselmo Lorenzo and others. Through a poetry reading at a secular funeral she met Juan Montseny whom she later married in a civil ceremony on March 19, 1891, shortly after such marriages were legalized.

     The couple settled in Reus where Montseny came from, and they opened a coeducational secular school and both became teachers. Teresa's sister Carmen also lived with them in Reus, sharing all the difficulties of their anarchist activism until her death. Montseny wrote a pamphlet in defence of prisoner Paulino Pallas who had been arrested in connection with the September 24, 1893 bombing of the Cambios Nuevos in Barcelona. Montseny was arrested for this, and Mañe began a campaign for his release. Once released, however, he was rearrested in 1896 as part of the 'Trial of Montjuic'. From his cell in Montjuic Montseny wrote letters to the press, with various pseudonyms, proclaiming the innocence of the accused. Mañe was responsible for taking these letters from prison and mailing them to the press. She also made the necessary arrangements to achieve the release of all detainees. It was from one of his signatures to these letters that Juan Montseny became Federico Urales. Montseny was released but was exiled to London, along with Teresa Claramunt and Tarrida del Mármol. Mañe joined him in 1897 and found work as an embroiderer. In order to reopen their case they returned clandestinely on November 28, 1897. Montseny lived in Madrid and Mañe in Vilanova. In a short while she, along with her parents, Lorenzo and Antonia, and her sister Carmen they also moved to Madrid. While they lived there her parents died, and her daughter Federica Montseny was born in 1905.

     While in Madrid the couple edited La Revista Blanca (1898-1905) and later Tierra Y Libertad (1902-1905). Mañe performed the function of administrator even though this was not legally permitted to women at the time. In 1901 she spoke, along with Azorín and Urales in a series of conferences at the Madrid Ateneo on "The Future Society" in relation to anarchist ideas. In addition she actively participated in campaigns for the defendants in the Juarez Trials and the Mano Negro case. She participated in a tour of Andalucia in this defence camaign, staying at the home of Rosa Sanchez. The couple also actively assisted in the defence of Francisco Ferrer i Guardia wrongly accused of responsibility for the events of La Semana Trágica. When a legal conflict with Arturo Soria, the creator of the 'Ciudad Lineal of Madrid whom they accused of fraud and deception, broke out they left for Catalonia in 1912. Their intention was to found an academy in Barcelona's Horta district, but the boycott of local reactionaries led them to devote themselves to living on a farm in Cerdanyola. There Mañe did a lot of translations (Louise Michel, Cornelissen, Labriola, De la Hire, Mirabeau, Praycourt, Sorel, Marguey, Lichtenberg, Lavrov, Donnay, etc.) and copied texts for theatre companies.

     In Catalonia they once more edited La Revista Blanca and Tierra Y Libertad. They also set up various other publishing projects: 'La Novela Ideal'  which published two novels, eventually 600 in  total with a circulation of 50,000 copies; 'La Novela Libre' with more extensive stories and a circulation of 30,000 copies, the monthly 'El Munda al Dia' and a new journal 'El Luchador' which lasted until the civil war. Mañe was responsible for managing these journals while Montseny and her daughter wrote articles, novels, memoirs, etc.. Little by little the leadership of Federica became evident, and Mañe faded into the background. During the Civil War colon cancer began to undermine her life. In 1939 the family crossed the border into exile in France where they parted from each other. Mañe, ill, broke her leg and was taken by ambulance to the hospital of St. Louis of Perpiñán (northern Catalonia) where she died alone of cancer on February 5, 1939.

     Teresa Mañe published numerous articles in La Revista Blanca and in its supplements and extras. Her contributions may also be found in other anarchist periodicals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: 'El Corsario', 'Los Dominical del Libre Pensamiento','El Obrero', 'Redención', 'El Cosmipolita', 'Justicia y Libertad', 'El Trabajo', 'La Tramontana', etc.. Of her works we can highlight 'The Future Society' (1889), 'Las Preocupaciones de los Despreocupados' (1891 with Urales), 'Dos Cartas' (1891), 'A Las Proletarias' (1896), 'El Amore Libre' (1904), 'Los Diosas de la Vida' (1904), and 'El Sindicalismo y la Anarquía: Politica y Sociologica' (1932) among others.