… the very first issue of Arm The Spirit covered GRAPO as did the very last issue and a bunch of issues in between …
… a work in progress … so far: 1) GRAPO: The Resistance That Never Ends (1985), 2) Letter from a GRAPO Prisoner, 1989, 3) A Brief History Of The Armed Struggle Of GRAPO In Spain, 1999, 4) Two Lines: Text From The Karl Marx Commune, Soria Prison, 1987, 5) Interview with Spanish Political Prisoner Francisco Brotons: A PCE(r) Prisoner for 22 Years, 2000, 6) GRAPO Communique, April 12, 1999 … more to come …
GRAPO: THE RESISTANCE THAT NEVER ENDS
from Area Critica, 1985
The Groups of Anti-Fascist Resistance, First of October (GRAPO) is not the first leftist organization that has taken up arms to confront the regime under which we live. We must remember that since the insurrection of Asturias in 1934, going into the civil war and the guerrilla war of the 1940’s and 50’s, as a practical matter, armed struggle has not ceased in Spain. Or, as the expert “informer” and vice president of Group 16, Alesandro Munoz Alonso says: “Francoism had to deal with terrorist manifestations from the first moment.” As this phenomenon is nothing new, GRAPO declares that they are “the inheritors of that anti-fascist armed struggle in the new economic, political, and social conditions in Spain”, and have become an enemy especially feared and persecuted by the powers that be.
GRAPO made its appearance in a crucial moment of Spanish political life: in 1975, when the fascist regime was going through one of the most serious crises of its history. Faced with the bankruptcy of its “opening” policy (which were the first steps to adapt the state apparatus to new conditions under which fascist methods were being shown to be inefficient), its social isolation, the boycott and the workers struggles breaking out everywhere, the oligarchy resorted to even more unrestrained state terrorism. Throughout the summer of that year, known as the “summer of terror”, the repression cost several lives, it produced numerous round-ups and detentions, the first “anti-terrorist” law was put into operation (which would be maintained and developed by the UCD and PSOE governments), and initiated a whole series of very summary processes. On September 27, in the middle of the wave of protest demonstrations running throughout Europe, 5 anti-fascist patriots were shot with the objective of stopping the mass movement as well as showing that the regime was invulnerable and that any resistance was futile. But four days later, on October 1st, when Franco and his followers were celebrating the shootings in Plaza De Oriente, four policemen were shot to death by various commandos in different parts of Madrid. The executors of these actions were the Groups of Anti-Fascist Resistance who took the name of that first of October and whose first militants had come from the ranks of the PCE(r) – Communist Party of Spain, Reconstituted.
The actions on that October 1st made the regime retreat, it was made to stop its terrorist escalation (more than 20, summary processes with death penalty petitions were suspended) and it changed the orientation of its “opening” process.
On July 3, 1976, Adolfo Suarez, is named president of government, assuring in a speech that “the feeling of the reform (initiated by Arias Navarro) will not change but the manner of putting it into practice will change.” But Suarez’s intentions would find that on July 18, which continued to be the regime’s official day of celebration, GRAPO detonated over 30 bombs in fascist monuments, places, and institutions all across the the territorial state. A few days later after this wave of explosions, another attack against similar objectives was launched. In one of these attacks the first two deaths of GRAPO militants occurred when the bomb they were going to place in the Palace of Justice in Seville exploded prematurely. The militants of this organization would later say: “The resistance has not only not been liquidated by the new manoeuvres of the monopolies’ regime, but from this moment on, it will increase”.
And that is, in fact, what happened with the continual “disarticulations” which were GRAPO’s objectives. The regime found that with each step that it took in its political manoeuvres (or as its official spokesman would say, “progress on the path to democratization”), these would be dynamited once and again and “exposed in their significance of covering and strengthening fascism” by GRAPO. The kidnapping of the President of the Council of State Orial y Urquiso, and of the President of the Supreme Council of Military Justice, Lt. General Villecusa, carried out in December 1976 and January 1977 respectively, had special importance. GRAPO gave these actions the name “Operation Chrome” and carried them out with the objective of “the liberation of political prisoners and the denunciation of the ‘reforms’ to institutionalize and legalize fascism”.
The noted fact that their actions always coincided with key political situations was thus explained by GRAPO: “A guerrilla organization which wants to win the heart and active support of its people cannot simply limit itself to striking, it should also know when, where, and how to strike. Because of that our military operations have responded in each moment to the political necessities of the mass movement: responding to fascist crimes, denouncing the electoral masquerade and the permanence of fascism, to encourage and support the masses in their resistance struggle against the monopolies’ exploitation and oppression…” Thus, for example, the action carried out in the last weeks of January 1977 against various policemen and civil guards was done “in response to the murders of pro-amnesty demonstrators Arturo Ruiz and Mari Luz Najera, and to the Atocha street massacre of labour lawyers in Madrid.”
In 1977 with “Operation Chrome” and later in the summer many important militants of the organization fell. Along with the relentless police repression, the media orchestrated an entire symphony of silence and incredible interpretations “to destroy the image of the terrorist’s organization and with that make very difficult its implantation among the working classes”, according to Juan Tomas De Salas, president of Group 16. But, despite all that, GRAPO continued to carry out all kinds of actions, among which can be mentioned for its repercussions, the action carried out in an armoury in which 500 kilos of explosives were expropriated on September 27 and which cost the life of police captain Florentino Herquedas, who had directed one of the execution platoons in the firing squads of September 27, 1975; or the bombing actions done in solidarity with the imprisoned Red Army Fraction militants of West Germany, or the imprisoned ETA militants in France.
A Tactic Of Armed Struggle For An Anti-Fascist Strategy
In 1978, GRAPO analyzed its experiences and published a booklet called “Experiences of Three Years of Struggle”, in which they cover their objectives as well as the tactical and strategic principles which orient and guide their activity.
For GRAPO, “The guerrilla war by itself, separated from the resistance movement, or above it, if it is not led by the working class would strike blindly and eventually be annihilated”. According to GRAPO, “The working class with its party in the vanguard is the leading and directing force of our revolution, it is the firmest and clearest sector and as such it is the one called on to lead and direct the revolution; the unity of the resistance includes the guerrilla”. For GRAPO, this is a strategic principle and on it they base their political relationship with the PCE(r), which helps them in their analysis and in their ideological orientation. On their part, the PCE(r), through the presence and political work of the communists who have integrated themselves into the armed organization – organically both organizations are totally independent – give it a class base and direction and ensure its proletarian political and ideological direction “for the correct development of the guerrilla’s activities”.
For GRAPO, “Because of the existence of fascism along with the consequent lack of real liberties and the super-exploitation that we have seen and still see the proletariat and the wide popular masses submitted to, the main contradiction operating in the Spanish state is that which confronts the people against fascism and the monopolies.” This contradiction determines GRAPO’s strategic program, which has an anti-fascist, anti-monopolist, and anti-imperialist character.
To achieve these objectives GRAPO has elaborated a strategy of prolonged people’s war “adapted to the economic, social and political conditions of Spain”. For GRAPO, given the characteristics of the Spanish state, in which they consider it to be impossible to organize and educate the masses within the bounds of legality, this accumulation of revolutionary forces can only be realized “through the popular resistance movement which combines the political struggle of the masses, strikes, demonstration, etc., with the armed guerrilla struggle practised by small groups”.
According to GRAPO, the popular forces now find themselves in a strategic defensive phase as the monopolist state can count on a strong centralized repressive apparatus with relatively powerful means and considerable imperialist support, while the popular forces are relatively weak. That is from where the resistance movement is speaking. This occurs on a general or strategic level. “OK now”, explains GRAPO, “on a tactical level it is the popular forces, in reality, the guerrilla, which have the initiative and hit the reactionaries where, when, and how it wants. That is how the popular forces transform their strategic disadvantage into a tactical advantage.”
A Step Backwards
1978 marks the changing point of the “transition to democracy”. The ruling powers, sunken in uncertainty and in a profound weakness carry out the “transition” with the establishment of a constitution. That was the year the strike movement reached its highest point, producing very radicalized demonstrations in Galicia, Adalucia, and above all, in Euskadi; there was even an attempt to assault a barracks of the armed police in San Sebastian. The crisis which had been dragging the regime down since the last days of Franco was deepening. The “Suarista” policy was sinking, and taking with it the reformists.
Not withstanding that situation, GRAPO foresaw a period of ebbing in the popular and workers movement which together with the fact that they had become the main objective of police (and journalistic) repression, would take them to analyze the new conditions in which they would have to continue the struggle. Thus in “Three Years of Experience of Struggle”, they said: “But the situation is not only changing for the better, aside from that we must take into account a less favourable aspect for us; that the enemy has learned and has more knowledge about us than when we started. That makes it necessary to analyze that experience, but it can be said that for a long time we will have to move under conditions which will be favourable from a political viewpoint but which will be relatively unfavourable from the aspect of organizing our movement”. These were the conditions which GRAPO foresaw characterizing the period between 1979 and 1984.
Before the situation of political weakness in which the regime found itself, and in the face of the first symptoms of ebbing in the workers movement, GRAPO and with the PCR(r) and other organizations proposed a program to rekindle the fire, known as the “Five Point Program, in which they picked out the democratic aspirations most felt by the popular masses. This program contained the following: 1) complete and general amnesty for all political prisoners and exiles. Repeal of anti-terrorist law and other repressive laws; 2) a purge of fascist elements from the repressive groups, judiciary and other state institutions; 3) political and union liberties with no restriction; 4) rejection of integration into NATO and dismantling of foreign military bases; 5) dissolution of the current parliament and the convening of truly free elections and liberty for all parties and social groups to campaign and freely defend, with no obstacles, their ideals and political programs.
This program was an apparent step backwards for GRAPO in relation to their strategic objectives, but it was a step back which in the future would allow them to take two steps forward. In the first place it would allow for the polarizing of positions (either with the regime or with the resistance) of a sector becoming more numerous in our society and which demands real changes in the state, and, secondly, it allowed for the possibility of achieving a series of political gains which would facilitate later advances by the popular resistance movement.
In GRAPO’s conception, the 5 Point Program was not merely a propaganda program, but was first and foremost a flexible tactical program to be utilized at its basic level; in that while it did not modify the capitalist nature of the system, it did not abandon the resistance struggle and the other struggles firmly and decisively behind it. Because of this, all actions during 1979-1984 were directed towards the implementation of this program. In a communique announcing a wave of sabotage carried out in the early hours of September 29, 1982 they said: “All of these actions (…) are firmly fixed within the struggle for achieving the Five Point Program”. And effectively starting at the end of 1978, GRAPO would have periods of maximum activity to impose this program, but would also receive heavy blows. 1979 would have both these extremes.
The first part of the year would be marked by a spate of guerrilla activity unknown since the civil war. Among the many actions of all kinds carried out by GRAPO were some as significant as the assassination attempt against General Agustia Munoz Vazques, the military leader who negotiated Spain’s integration into NATO, the assassination of Rodrigues Roman, Director General of the DGS when in March 1976 the police in Vitoria machine-gunned a worker’s demonstration; the attack on the police commissar Beltan who was known in Seville as the torturer of anti-fascist workers; the blowing up of the Police Commissar for the central district of Madrid, or the failed attempt against the Director General of Penal Institutions, Garcia Valdes.
By contrast, in the second half of 1979, GRAPO received one of the heaviest setbacks of its history, with over 30 militants captured and the dismantling of laboratories and workshops for the manufacture of explosives and other tools needed by the organization. The government believed that with these captures it had finished GRAPO, but a little later, on December 17, five leaders of the organization escaped from Zamora prison. In a little more than 6 months GRAPO once again had its workshops operating and its commandos operating throughout the state territory.
In 1982, the government of Valvo Sotelo was obligated, because of GRAPO’s activities which impeded its ability to rule, to give the first steps to a negotiated solution which would save the regime from the ruin threatening it. These steps lengthened until the summer of 1983 when the PSOE government closed any avenues of negotiation with its repressive policies and “repentance” policy. The regime believed that with 10 million votes behind it the regime could avoid having to make concessions and could so isolate and liquidate the armed popular organizations.
In 1984, the PSOEist government made its pro-monopolist and imperialist policy very clear and it launched itself on a program of state terrorism aimed at the extermination of all resistance. Realizing that “the last reformist illusions of the masses have disappeared, that the sold out parties and unions are in total bankruptcy, that the worker and popular movements are ascending and applying truly radical and revolutionary means of struggle…, and that definitely the conditions that motivated and made possible the 5 Point Program have disappeared”, GRAPO considered that era to be closed, feeling that continuing to insist on negotiation of the Program did not respond to real conditions and would only feed false illusions and objectively slow down the popular resistance movement.
According to GRAPO, this resistance movement finds itself now able to continue combat on a higher level and for more elevated goals. That is why they no longer struggle “for some improvements (…) but for the overthrow of the state of monopolies of the fascist regime and for the installation of a regime of liberty in which power resides in the people and they are the ones who exercise it.” Thus GRAPO again put their strategic program on the first level.
In relation to these objectives GRAPO renewed their activities with a view not focused on the short term, as in the last period, but with the goal of overcoming this prolonged defensive strategy phase. Thus, for example, one of the immediate tasks they set out on and began to put into practice is that of gaining a qualitative leap in their self-financing, and doing so by means of charging a revolutionary tax. Another significant task they set out to realize was that of consolidating and developing the guerrilla; not just maintaining it, but establishing it as a central activity in supporting, building, and developing the popular resistance movement; to make it grow and at the same time grow with it. They believe that to overthrow a modern capitalist state, such as the Spanish regime, “a strong communist party, well rooted in the proletariat, a broad mass movement with a revolutionary character and a guerrilla army of the people are needed”.
Sidebar: 15 dead casualties in the organization since 1976.80 militants in prison. 2,000 sympathizers, approximately, have been detained and released without charges in the last 10 years. 3,000 armed actions. Some 100 dead victims, more than a dozen kidnappings, 1,700 bombings, over 1,000 expropriations. 100 businessmen and industrialists paid the revolutionary tax in 1984, the year it was initiated.
(Translators Note: This article first appeared in “Area Critica” in 1985.)
LETTER FROM A GRAPO PRISONER
from Red Dragon, 1989
…it is with great interest that we have received news of the publishing of Red Dragon, which interests us because of its objective of internationalizing our struggles. We have great interest in learning about what occurs in your country and also with to inform you of the struggle in these parts.
Our activity began at the end of the 60s. It was in the context of the struggle against Franco’s dictatorship and the international situation that the OMLE (Organization of Marxist-Leninists of Spain) was formed.
The OMLE was on the path of reconstructing the communist party, picking up its historic tradition of struggle and denouncing the revisionist degeneration which the Spanish CP has suffered. After an intense effort of seven years, the reconstitutive congress was celebrated in 1975, at that time forming what today is our party, the PCE(r), Communist Part of Spain (reconstituted).
The PCE(r) set as its immediate goals the frontal struggle against the reformist and revisionist politics and the unmasking of the “Democratic Reform” which was then beginning and which was nothing more than the retrenching of the Franco dictatorship with the slogan of “changing the unchangeable so that nothing changes.”
From its very first moments, the PCE(r) stimulated all forms of struggle including armed struggle, and in 1975, only a few months after its founding, the GRAPOs appeared (Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups, First of October), which took their name from the date on which four policemen were executed as a response to the shooting by firing squad of five anti-fascists on September 27, 1975.
After fourteen years of struggle and resistance, during which many times the very survival of our organization has been in question, we are today in a stage of reorganization which is already bearing fruit.
Today, the objectives of the Party, as well as of the guerrilla, are the accumulation of forces necessary to make the revolution. The political and social conditions in which our struggle develops and the development of our organizations makes us optimistic. In this sense, even though it is very hard work, and knowing we can’t have overnight results, we know it depends on the imagination, audacity and initiative we bring to our work.
The results are slowly seen in practice, and in this sense I’ll cite two recent acts which have a special importance for us. On one side, the plenum of the PCE(r) Central Committee was celebrated a few months ago (which we have not been able to do in the last ten years), and which is testimony to the organic development we have achieved and that we have overcome one of the hardest, if not the worst, stages through which our Party has passed.
On the other side is the expropriation of the Bank of Spain in the city of Santiago de Costela, in the course of which two policemen died. This action had a big political repercussion because of its timing and form, which confirms the solidity of the reorganization. A few days later an interview with GRAPO Central Command was published in Area Critica, a progressive magazine in our country, in which we set out the key objectives of the guerrilla in this stage.
In the prisons of our country there are comrade militants from various organizations who have been her for up to twelve years. In prison we have always practiced collective life and dignity. This has led to numerous struggles and hunger strikes, thanks to which we are Soria maintain an organized collective life in the form of the Karl Marx Commune of the PCE(r)’s political prisoners and those of GRAPO.
This current regimen of life was gained through the hunger strikes of 1980 – 1981; not only our regimen of life was at stake, but also our very survival. It was a very hard stage. We endured two years of total isolation; so hard that we found ourselves obliged to enter into a hunger strike and its ultimate consequences. In it, our beloved Juan Jose Crespo Galenda, ‘Kepo” died after ninety days on strike and many comrades suffered irreversible injuries from the hunger strike.
The demands of this regimen of dignified life is a result of our conception of prison as another battlefield onto which we continue to carry our small grain of sand for the revolutionary cause. Yes, we are prisoners, but we are not beaten. In this sense, we conduct manual labour, cultural and political activities, handicrafts, and write articles for progressive magazines, fanzines, free radio, etc, as well as other cultural work.
In any case, this regimen of life is something we must continually maintain as a base for struggle, given that the government is not disposed to accept it and each time with greater frequency tries to take it away from us. As it is, for the last two years we have been giving battle to a new campaign whose objective is to end this situation. This campaign began with the transfer of eighteen of our most militant comrades (seven of them women) to different prisons in the Spanish state, dispersing them throughout the whole country.
Today in the prison we maintain conditions of life that are or less “normal” even though we see the government’s political repression growing, and the possibility that this could change at any day, at any time.
… I am in agreement with you that for too long the revolutionary struggles in the world have been separated from each other with a lack of knowledge, as such, of the conditions and objectives of other developing struggles. But I don’t believe that distance is the major obstacle that causes this separation. It’s obvious that this is a difficulty, but the major problem is the well structured, planned strategy by the imperialists about revolutionary struggles, with the goal of isolating them as much as possible. Evidently, as revolutionaries, we have the duty and the obligation to break this imperialist encirclement and let our struggle be known as well as those revolutionary struggles developing in the rest of the world, on our country and abroad.
In this sense, our continued intent is to get to know the situation in different countries with greater depth, with the goal of getting a better idea of the world situation. The results of this work have been more or less effective. Evidently, there is a general tendency among revolutionaries around the world to overcome these barriers and to offer a more objective source of information to other people which contrasts with the imperialist disinformation. This is a task which revolutionaries must take on, both at the internal and international levels.
Love and Strength, Venceremos!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ARMED STRUGGLE OF GRAPO IN SPAIN
Association Of Relatives And Friends Of Political Prisoners (AFAPP), May 1999
The First of October Anti-Fascist Resistance Groups (GRAPO) were formed in the summer of 1975. At that time twenty members of the Re-Constituted Spanish Communist Party (PCE-r), an underground party formed five months before, carried out their first armed action against the fascist security forces. On August 2, 1975 two Guardia Civil (Civil Guard) members were shot in the centre of Madrid. One died and another was seriously injured. This was the first strike back of GRAPO against the wave of fascist-inspired terror known as “the summer of terror”.
The PCE(r) had its own “technical section” created to carry out expropriations of banks to support the revolutionary struggle and punish police informers. From the core of this section emerged GRAPO.
On October 1, 1975 five different GRAPO commandos executed four policemen and seriously injured another one in Madrid. This was their answer to the assassinations of five anti-fascists (two members of ETA and three members of the now defunct FRAP organization) killed on September 27, by police firing squads applying death penalties ordered by the military authorities.
GRAPO didn’t claim responsibility for these actions until July 8, 1976 when 60 bombs blasted fascist targets throughout the country. It was the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War won by the fascists.
In January 1977 the police arrested 40 PCE(r) and GRAPO members in Madrid and Barcelona and succeeded in freeing Lieutenant-General Villaescusa and a member of the Spanish oligarchy Oriol, who had been kept prisoner by GRAPO commandos for 60 days in order to exchange them for political prisoners and to force the government to apply an amnesty. A few days before two GRAPO commandos had executed two policemen and one Civil Guard in Madrid and injured three more Civil Guards in two separate attacks on the fascist forces as a reaction to the killings of five leftist lawyers by a paramilitary gang acting under Civil Guard orders.
On June 4, two Civil Guards were shot dead in Barcelona, this was the day of the first general election since 1936 and the reformist farce was going on. This action was a clear sign that showed that the revolutionary organizations would not accept the renewal of fascism under any “democratic” mask.
On September 27, 1977, Captain Herguedas, of the National Police was shot dead by a GRAPO commando in Madrid. He had been one of the fascist volunteers who executed five anti-fascists just two years earlier.
In 1977 and 1978 GRAPO actions continued, mainly bomb attacks against army and military quarters but also against government facilities. Some selective assassinations were also carried out. On March 22, 1978, the General Manager of Prisons was shot dead near his house in Madrid. He was responsible for the killing of a anarchist prisoner in Carabanchel Prison, who was beaten to death by guards who tried to get information from him about an escape plan of GRAPO and PCE(r) prisoners.
1979 was the year in which GRAPO carried out its most actions: on January 9 a judge from the Supreme Court was shot dead, on March 5 an Army General was executed when his car was attacked by a GRAPO team on a centre street of Madrid, and on April 6, a chief of the “Antiterrorist” Brigade of the National Police (NP) was executed in Seville. Altogether 20 members of the fascist police were executed that year in a combination of actions by the urban guerrilla throughout the country, and there were many bombs attacks that year as well.
On the other hand GRAPO and PCE(r) militants payed a high price for this: 100 people were jailed—accused of membership in these organizations. (Police claimed that the PCE(r) and GRAPO were the same thing and many PCE(r) militants were arrested without any evidence against them. The Party was banned again, just as it had been under the military dictatorship). Seven members of the PCE(r) and GRAPO were killed by the police that year. On June 28, Martin Eizaguirre and Fernandez Cario were assassinated by a special team of the Spanish military secret service in Paris. They were members of the Committee of Foreign Relations of the PCE(r) and were in exile. On April 20, Juan Carlos Delgado de Codes, a member of the Central Committee of the PCE(r) was shot dead by the police in Madrid—he was unarmed and didn’t belong to the guerrilla. Between April and May GRAPO carried out 30 armed actions in response to the killing of Delgado de Codes. This was later criticized by the Central Commando of GRAPO and the PCE(r) as a falling into blind militaristic tactics. From that moment on GRAPO aimed all its efforts at maintaining the armed struggle and giving it a protracted character, assuming that it is not only possible but also necessary to follow a Protracted People’s War strategy and that it is possible to develop this strategy in a developed European country.
On December 17, 1979 five prisoners of GRAPO escaped from Zamora jail through a tunnel dug for months by GRAPO and PCE(r) prisoners (some of them were miners). It was a real shock for the government, which tried to recapture them at any cost. Three of them were finally killed by the police (in 1980, 1981 and 1982) and the other two were recaptured shortly after they rejoined the struggle.
In 1980 and 1981 GRAPO was a weak organization due to the repression carried out against its supporters. In these years GRAPO carried out eight executions, including two Army Generals and one Colonel to denounce the role played by the army in the dirty war and counterinsurgency. A few policemen and civil guards were also executed. GRAPO, as an organization that aims at becoming the core of the future People’s Army has never targeted innocent civilians nor used dangerous devices against civilians in its military actions and sabotage. In 1980-81 nine members of GRAPO were killed by the police in a clear shoot-to-kill policy. One PCE(r) militant died as consequence of torture in 1980 and on June 19, 1981, Crespo Galende, PCE(r) prisoner, died in a hunger strike (he lasted 94 days) against the policy of torture, isolation and annihilation of the political prisoners. The government was forced to reunify the prisoners and allow them to keep their Communes in the jails. (The Karl Marx Commune—80 prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO—in Soria Prison lasted until 1989 when the social-fascist government dismantled it).
In October 1982 the PSOE (social-fascists) came to power. The PSOE began by killing Juan Martin Luna, leader of GRAPO, who was shot six times in Barcelona in an undercover-operation. He was unarmed, and some years later three policemen were charged with murder, but they were acquitted. On the eve of the elections, (October 28), GRAPO planted 30 bombs in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and twelve other parts of the country. The blasts were aimed at promoting a boycott and to denounce the electoral farce.
In 1983 and 1984 GRAPO recovered from its previous weakness and carried out many armed actions. During this time GRAPO carried out about 70 bomb attacks—aimed at police targets, in support of worker’s strikes, in support of other countries revolutionaries, etc., and also against the bourgeois mass media (eg., bomb attack against the German consulate in support of the RAF prisoners, bomb against the Employers organization)…
During this time GRAPO also carried out some executions. In April 1983, a Lieutenant of the National Police and a Civil Guard were executed in Valencia and Coruna, the first one by a bomb in his car and the second one was shot dead.
On January 2, 1984 two policemen were shot dead in Madrid. 1984 saw GRAPO make frantic efforts to support the proletarian struggles throughout the country (46 bombs attacks that year), to strike back against the repressive forces and to collect the revolutionary taxes needed to keep the struggle alive (100 businessmen paid the revolutionary tax that year). On September 5, three separate GRAPO commandos launched an offensive to force the exploiters to pay the revolutionary tax. In Madrid a businessman who had refused to pay was shot dead and in Seville another GRAPO team executed Manuel de la Padure, a well-known businessman and chairman of the Employer’s Association. In Coruna the head of the National Radio Broadcasting was seriously injured in retaliation for his counter-revolutionary propaganda. This was a warning to the reactionary mass media which continually discredits the revolutionary struggle. One of the GRAPO militants who had carried out the action in Coruna was killed by the police some hours later and another one was injured and captured when the GEO-Squad (NP special assault squad) raided the house where they were hidden.
The repression launched against GRAPO and the PCE(r) that year was very harsh. In June, Manuel Perez Martinez “comrade Arenas,” secretary general of the PCE(r) left prison after having been jailed since 1977 accused of “unlawful association”. He, as many other former prisoners of the PCE(r), had to go underground again as the only way of developing the struggle away from police control. Since the 70’s some of the PCE(r) and GRAPO leadership and clandestine organization has been based in France, and the Spanish police have never been able to destroy it.
On January 19, 1985, the Spanish political police succeeded in capturing most of the GRAPO militants in Spain: 19 of them were captured in nine different provinces, the police discovered 17 apartments, lots of weapons and ammunition and money collected through the revolutionary tax. This disaster was possible due to the breaking of many security and clandestine rules by GRAPO in its aim of carrying out too many actions in support of the people’s struggles. The strict compartmentalization within the organization had been broken and this allowed the police to carry out this strong strike in only forty-eight hours.
The reorganization of GRAPO was slow and difficult, in 1985 it almost ceased to exist but the spirit of sacrifice of the new militants, most of them without any previous guerrilla experience, allowed the struggle to continue. In 1985 and 1986 they carried out some bank expropriations, some went wrong and seven GRAPO members were captured. Money had become the main problem since they were not strong enough to collect the revolutionary tax—they needed apartments, cars, and facilities to develop the urban guerrilla successfully from the underground. Weapons were also desperately needed.
1987 was a small turning point. In that year they carried out six armed actions according to police sources. There were some successful bank expropriations (small ones) and a headquarters of the local police in Malaga was attacked to obtain weapons. Three constables were disarmed and tied up. (They were not executed as they were not considered proper targets. The local police are mainly concerned with motor vehicle traffic and play no special repressive role). In another operation, a GRAPO commando tried to attack a National Police station in Valence to seize blank identity cards—there was a shooting and a policeman was seriously injured.
In 1988 GRAPO carried out some armed actions to collect the revolutionary tax again. On May 27 the President of the Bank of Galicia was shot dead in his house; he had refused to pay the tax and had alerted the police about GRAPO activity. He was a well- known exploiter who had impoverished many people (especially poor farmers), and he was also responsible for the closing of many factories due to banking speculation. Two months later another businessman was shot and seriously wounded.
On October 4, GRAPO succeeded in seizing 800 blank identity cards from a police station in the centre of Madrid. A policeman was shot dead and his weapon seized. (Most of GRAPO’s weapons came from its actions against the police and security guards).
On March 10, 1989 GRAPO executed two Civil Guards in Santiago, the same day that the TREVI group was having a meeting in Madrid. (TREVI was then the visible head of repression in western Europe). In July 1989 GRAPO solved their money problems by expropriating 148 million pesetas (one million dollars) from a bank in Castellon.
In November the political prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO started an indefinite hunger strike demanding an end to isolation and their reunification in a single prison. (The political prisoner’s communes had been dismantled by the PSOE government in 1987). To support the struggle of the prisoners GRAPO launched an offensive in December. On the 13th an Army Commander was shot in Madrid and seriously injured; on the 15th an Army Colonel was shot three times and seriously injured in Valencia; on the 18th a member of the secret police was shot dead near Barcelona while he was leaving his house, and on the 28th two Civil Guards were executed in Gijon while they were guarding an official building. The government’s response was to arrest militants of the PCE(r), jail them and blame them for these armed actions. (One of the lies spread by the mass media is that GRAPO members are recruited only from among the militants of the PCE(r), so trying to present this clandestine revolutionary party as the “political branch” of GRAPO).
As the hunger strike went on many prisoners were moved to hospitals where they were chained to their beds, disturbed by police and forced to receive “forced feeding” in a desperate and torturous measure by the government to avoid the death of these revolutionaries at that very moment (preferring instead to annihilate them slowly and silently in the prisons).
On March 27, 1990, a GRAPO commando executed doctor Munoz in Zaragoza. In their statement GRAPO called him “a torturer” ready to follow the government’s instructions to submit the prisoners to the agony and torture of the forced feeding. He had refused orders from a judge to stop this kind of torture and was a firm supporter of the government plans of extermination. (As well, he was a cousin of the Spanish Attorney General). As a consequence of the force feeding the hunger strike became very prolonged. On May 25, Jose Manuel Sevillano Martin died after 177 days on hunger strike—he was a member of GRAPO and had been imprisoned since 1987. GRAPO decided to avoid entering into a tit-for-tat battle—because this could only benefit the already alert security forces and after a retaliation action (the execution of an Army Colonel on June 15 in Valladolid) centred themselves on carrying out an offensive to take the initiative again in September.
In September 1990 GRAPO planted six bombs in Madrid, Tarragona, Barcelona and Gijon. On the 6th three bombs went off in Madrid (one in the Stock Exchange, another one in the Supreme Court and the last one in the Ministry of Economy). None of these actions resulted in any civilian casualties. On September 8, a bomb blasted petrol facilities in Tarragona causing damage of 3 million dollars; and on the 10th the PSOE central office in Barcelona was bombed causing damages valued at 100,000 dollars. September ended with a GRAPO action in Gijon in which a commando raided an official building seizing one thousand blank driving licenses and then planted a bomb that blasted the facilities. In November 1990 two more bombs rocked two official buildings in Barcelona.
In 1991 and 1992 GRAPO continued with its bombing campaign against official buildings: in April 1992 GRAPO bombed the National Institute of Industry and the Ministry of Employment in Madrid, two Civil Guards were injured. One year earlier, in February 1991 a GRAPO bomb cut, for six hours, the military NATO pipeline that supplies the U.S. air bases in Spain. The intent was to sabotage this pipeline which was being used by the U.S. B-52 Superfortresses that had devastated Iraqi cities. There were also sabotage actions against the facilities of the energy monopolies in 1991 and 1992 as well as bank expropriations.
In 1993 three GRAPO militants died in Zaragoza in an attack on an armoured car that was blown up with explosives to expropriate the funds that it contained. One security guard died and two more were seriously injured. That year seven bombs exploded in official buildings in Madrid (in the Employers Association, PSOE offices, and other offices involved in the industrial reconversion which had laid off thousands of workers).
In 1994 GRAPO actions were intended to seize funds that were desperately needed. Some expropriations were carried out. In January two bombs exploded in Madrid on the eve of a general strike, a Tax office and an Unemployment office were bombed. In July and December two armoured cars were attacked and money was expropriated (about a half million dollars).
In 1995 GRAPO carried out one of the most important and decisive actions of the last few years. On June 27 they kidnapped Publio Cordon, wealthy businessman and president of the insurance company PREVIASA; he was freed on August 17 in Barcelona after paying 400 million pesetas (about three million dollars). He had to pay another 800 million pesetas after his liberation but he decided to flee (his businesses are not very clean, he was also consul of Guatemala and has important business in that country.) In November the police arrested three GRAPO members in Barcelona and Valencia but they could not recover the money.
Nowadays it seems that GRAPO is undergoing a new re- organization and one thing is very clear: the fascist Spanish state has lost the battle in the sense that it has not been able to annihilate the armed organization nor the revolutionary party, the PCE(r).
In the past 21 years, 3,000 people have been arrested by the police in relation to GRAPO and the PCE(r), of which 1,400 have been jailed. Nowadays there are 54 prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO in Spanish jails. From 1975 to 1995 GRAPO has carried out 60 executions, more than 300 bombs have been planted and over 3,000 armed actions have been carried out. (The Spanish government recognizes 545.)
Twenty GRAPO militants have died by police action or as a result of premature explosions. Seven PCE(r) militants have been killed by the police and paramilitary gangs. According to police sources there about 100 PCE(r) and GRAPO members in clandestinity.
We hope this brief history of the armed struggle of GRAPO – unique due to the Protracted People’s War strategy followed by the PCE(r) and GRAPO—has been useful and interesting.
Text from the Karl Marx Commune, Soria Prison (Spain) February 1987
It would be absurd to consider that the problem which the European revolutionary movement has, the existence of two divergent tendencies, is a mere question of Party ‘yes’ or Party ‘no’, a mere matter of joining or not a “fashion”, the reconstruction of the Communist Party, the Party of the working-class. Basically, it is a question of the existence of considerable divergencies in the appreciation of the character of the European revolution, the proletarian internationalism, the political organization of the masses, the role and objectives of the guerrilla armed struggle, the strategy and tactics,etc.
In this article we intend to examine these divergencies in the light of marxism; we intend to examine, as far as possible the economic roots and the class origins of the politics developed by the “anti-imperialists”, their main ideas and concepts, and finally, the relationship that their political “project”, their strategy and tactics have with the most recent events that have taken place in Europe, specially in their relationship with the working-class and communist movement.
This examination will allow us to prove that the “anti-imperialists” do not have a communist political program, that their tactics consists only of the “anti-imperialist” activity against the USA, against the NATO, and that their objectives and ideological positions, far from representing those of the working class, are nearer to the class positions maintained by important sectors of the petty-bourgeoisie. These sectors facing the advance of the monopolies of the multinational corporations and the extension of their domain to all the bourgeois sectors and social groups, have seen lessened all their old prerogatives and their influence in society, and frequently, they have been ruined and dispossessed which explains to a great extend their radicalism.
This is the already known phenomenon of the proletarianization of the lower layers of the petty-bourgeoisie which suffer in a very characteristic way a strong pressure of the monopolies. We cannot deny that this strongly radicalized leftish movement, which is basically reformist, keeps important ideological connections with these layers in a proletarianization process and that,if we have to be frank, their anti-imperialist proposal for unity and their concept of attacking the state against the leading sector of the monopolies and against the NATO, have much to do with that proletarianization process.
One of the most important achievements of the guerrilla movement appeared at the beginning of the 70’s in Europe, is to have broken the false bourgeois-reformist peace in the capitalist European institutions, managing to lead the masses attention towards the revolutionary perspective. But some groups blinded by the most outstanding successes that the guerrilla activity has allowed to achieve,continue as if nothing had changed since then. They do not consider that it is now unavoidable to undertake the revolutionary tasks that have been historically abandoned, inserting the guerrilla activity within a wide political, military and organizational movement which is being prepared and extended everywhere. It is true, as the very facts have proved, that in the period from the beginning of the 70’s to the 80’s was imposed, to a great extend, that way of armed activity as a means of making revolutionary politics in the imperialist countries.
But now the conditions are mature enough; that is why if we continued in the same way as before, we would be injustifyingly insisting on a unilateral and self-defeating practise for the European revolutionary movement. To solve this problem we need to reunify the revolutionary forces with regard to marxism-leninism, we need to start to elaborate a proletarian program for the socialist revolution and build a solid and ideologically united leninist Party. There is no doubt that, from a wider military and political view, from the proletarian class positions, and in front of the most immediate and also the long-term objectives set by the socialist revolution to the proletariat, our political and military tasks can be laid down more successfully. As the most immediate political task, shows up the strengthening of the Communist Party and the elaboration of the Minimum Program for the socialist revolution, the unmasking of the bourgeois policy and its reformist and revisionist policies, etc.
On a military plane we have to centre on the tasks concerned with the creation of a small army of proletarian fighters which have to learn to have a good knowledge of the protracted people’s war and the modern military technics, to synthesize in military tasks the political line of the political movement of resistance, etc. Although we are in the first stage of the revolutionary war, we should not forget that our long-term objectives are the people’s insurrection and the arming of the masses. Nowadays, given the current correlation of forces, the guerrilla leadership must select scrupulous and precisely their military activities in order to facilitate the accumulation of revolutionary forces and improve the achievement of the political tasks that have been entrusted to the organized forces of the resistance movement. To outline it, we could say that, broadly speaking, these last ones are the main objectives of the guerrilla, its military minimum program.
Till not so long ago, due to politic and historic conditions, we could admit that the revolutionary activity would be centred mainly on the military struggle. But nowadays, it is urgently needed -and any delay in this way is damaging- to undertake the tasks that we have described previously. The longer it will take us to understand and undertake these politic and military tasks, the more difficult and dangerous would become the way leading to the Socialist Revolution. To elaborate the program of the revolution is a task that requires a long time and the synthesis of many fighting experiences. But it is very damaging and an enormous mistake to refuse or reject its elaboration. Those who adopt this attitude show little or null interest to change in a real way the present society.
We want to attract the attention of the European revolutionaries on the important political process which is taking place nowadays all over Europe: the growing confluency of the communists with the most advanced sectors and elements of the proletariat. Our duty consists of making possible that this semi-spontaneous process would be accomplished consciously and take place in the most organized and guided way possible. The objective conditions to achieve it are favourable in a good proportion: ample sectors of the working-class, the most combative and advanced ones, need a proletarian and communist Organization to guide them and a revolutionary Program to fight for.
At the same time, the current economic capitalist depression, the cut down of the bourgeois social programs, the unemployment and poverty of vast popular sectors and the continuous dismissal of large numbers of workers due to the plans of monopolist re-structuration make thousands and thousands of workers join the struggle, ready to fight for the conquest of Socialism; these workers are more and more conscious of their historic responsibility and are identified with their class, ready to undergo the maximum sacrifices to step forwards the cause of the proletariat. The obstacles and reformist prejudices promoted by the “welfare” or “post-industrial” society have been left behind as old ideological relics of the postwar monopolism.
1. Our Internationalist Conception
Opposed to those who think that nowadays the practice of the proletarian internationalism consists of creating small supranational military organizations, futile poor imitations of the NATO, we defend that it is still valid the conception that for the communists it is a duty to persist on making the revolution in their own country and contribute to its triumph all over the world.
Taking into account the present conditions we think that each one’s contribution must be fundamentally based on the following points:
1) To participate with determination in the ideological discussion and in the debate on the principles, the strategy and tactics and on the most immediate tasks of the communists which is taking place everywhere. As far as our material conditions allow, we have been taking part in that discussion for a long time, contributing with our experiences, defending our positions of principles and criticizing fraternally the positions of the others. We have thus participated in the small debate about the internationalism, about the tasks we think are nowadays undelayable for the communists (such as the construction of the Party, and the denounce and unmasking of all types of opportunism). We have also given our opinion about which must be the role and the function of the guerrilla armed activity, which is the character of the current inter-imperialist contradictions, etc. writing several articles about it.
2) To support morally and materially the ideological and political struggle of our comrades in other countries. We think that the best way to give a moral support is through the frank and open criticism, through pointing out the weaknesses of the others and their origin, and through making ours their just defense of the communist positions, defending and backing up their struggle against the militarist and opportunist ones, and, in an outstanding way, to support the resolute and just combat against the bourgeoisie and its state, against imperialism notwithstanding that, in some cases, we do not completely share the pursued objectives.
The kind of internationalism we are referring to is above all the differences that exist between these two lines we are talking about, and it makes easier not only the relationships, but also the rapprochement, and the exchange of experiences and collaboration in general subjects, as well as the joint struggle against our common enemy: the bourgeois state and imperialism. Only by means of an open, frank and unreserved criticism, recognizing each other’s positions and accepting the just criticism, are we able to keep a collaboration and a productive mutual support.
This is the reason why, due to the situation that the European revolutionary movement is undergoing, we cannot avoid pointing out clearly and definitely the basic differences between these two lines; if this were done in a different way we would run the risk of being misinterpreted, with the prejudice that this brings about. Our motto is to advance resolutely in the building of the Party, the organization of the working class and the protracted people’s war; fighting through criticism the militarist tendency and the Pan-European militarism; fighting for the socialist revolution and the proletarian dictatorship in Europe, forging little by little the alliance and brotherhood of all the proletarians of the continent, based -in first place- on our own forces, on the immense forces of all the workers who combat capitalism daily.
Given the remarkable radical turn that the working strikes and fights are taking everywhere (opposed to the revitalization projects of the decadent capitalism), the revolutionary communist tendency of the movement is starting to find a great backing and support so that we can foresee its strengthening, influence and development. We can understand the great confusion which our approach and defense of the true internationalist positions and of the communist program of the working class, produces among the “anti-imperialists”; it couldn’t be other way when they lack an authentic classist, proletarian program.
Their proclamed “internationalism” of the “Front” is nothing but an obsolete Pan-Europeanism which has no other apparent aim than a denuclearized, demilitarized, green and NATOless Europe. This purpose is utopian and unattainable outside a entirely communist world, although it is the ideal and illusion of a prosper, humane and peaceful capitalist society. This tendency, if it were carried out till its last consequences, would be reactionary and conservative notwithstanding its hardened and combative anti-NATO disposition.
2. Marxism And Idealism
The components of the “anti-imperialist” tendency use to call themselves marxist, but their marxism has little to do with the main principles defended by Marx, Engels and Lenin, besides they do not take into account the historic and dialectical materialism. As far as we know, marxists start from an economic and social analysis of the struggling classes in our society, of the form of production and of the historic phase in order to elaborate a proletarian program and its communist strategy. To carry out this task, they distinguish between the so-called objective conditions (those that are imposed to the proletariat and to its leading vanguard) and the subjective ones (those in which the proletariat decides which are its strategy and tactics, etc.).
When we study the documents of the RAF we notice a lack of this kind of analysis. From the analysis of the RAF we want to point out particularly their mistakes in their concepts of proletarianization and international proletariat. They affirm, for instance, that the social classes cannot be defined by the “position that they occupy in the production process”. It is sufficient to remember that, for Marx and Engels, and specially for Lenin, in their analysis of the classes and of the class struggle in the capitalist society, that definition of the classes was always an impregnable fortress of marxism and materialism.
And, on many occasions, they warned that renouncing to it led to the marsh of idealism, opportunism and chauvinism. It is clear that behind the concepts of “militant proletarianization”, the “alienation and the process of becoming bourgeois of the workers”, the “processes in the base”, etc. lies the spoiling of marxism. In this way, the “anti-imperialists” proclaim that “the class” -in abstract- is formed by “the ones who have understood the destroying character of the system”, and that “this basis of the proletarianization is the cause that all people present in the base process, in the resistance, etc. come from all the layers of the people”. As we see it, the conceptions of the RAF move away from leninism, and it would be important to ask ourselves which circumstances have made possible the ideological stagnation of the “anti-imperialist” tendency.
We think that these are the following ones: first of all, the disorganization and confusion of the working class (at the moment when these groups appeared) due, mainly, to the revisionist theories born at the warmth of the 20th Congress of the SUCP (Soviet Union Communist Party) ; besides, we have to take into account, that all this takes place in a period of relative social peace and even in a period of capitalist prosperity. In the second place, the lack of true communist parties that would face the new situation, provoked the appearance of new revolutionary groups which were to a great extend ignorant of the traditions and revolutionary experiences of marxism-leninism.
These groups confront the State with the most efficient method which is, in principle, at their reach: the armed struggle, but completely unarmed ideologically. Since they lack a firm leninist spirit and since they do not understand the need of building a party capable of agglutinating, organizing, educating and leading the most advanced elements of the working class, they will turn sooner or later towards opportunist or bourgeois positions: the ideological conceptions which they end up assuming are closer to those of Proudhon or Bakunin than to those of Marxism.
Undoubtedly, this can be partly blamed on the advance and extension of the monopolies and trusts to all the economic sectors of the capitalist society, crushing or reducing the interests of the petty-bourgeoisie, which has provoked an important general discontent among these sectors. Although this is true, it cannot be accepted that these sectors, suddenly radicalized due to their special situation, are the ones that represent the interests of the proletariat, its objectives and its class positions. Only out of the workers, the most exploited and impoverished class of the capitalist society, will come the most advanced elements of the masses, the vigorous strength capable of overthrowing the power of the imperialist bourgeoisie. It is the duty of the communists to attract the layers which are in a proletarianization process to the proletariat program, in order to make them understand that there is no other way than the proletarian dictatorship and socialism, to criticize their desperation and opportunism, their lack of vision and their narrow-mindedness, etc. or at least to neutralize them.
On the other hand, and coherently with the characterization we have made of them, the “anti-imperialist” comrades, corroborating their positions of idealistic confussion, try to convince us that the main contradiction in the metropolies is the one between State and society. As far as we know, marxism has never spoken of a contradiction between State and society, but, starting from an analysis of the classes, it has proposed that the main contradiction is the one existing between the bourgeoisie and its State and the proletariat.
And it has always considered the State to be a machine of oppression of a class on the other; -in essence- an oppressive military machine organized and addressed against the oppressed and exploited class, the proletariat. The State is the most important organ which the bourgeoisie has in the power, as instrument of the class struggle against the proletariat. This the most essential part of the State. Hence, the proletariat concentrates its efforts on overthrowing the State of the bourgeoisie to replace it by another one, the proletarian State, the dictatorship of the proletariat. Confronting State and “society”, as the “anti-imperialists” do, means to place the State out of society, as a superior being above it; it means to deny the class character of the State.
It means, at the same time, to consider it as a malignous and superfluous being, so that the objective planned by the revolutionaries would be to destroy any trace of the State, as Bakunin proposed in his time. In this way, together with their predisposition against the State and the lack of a communist program, a class program, the “anti-imperialist” propose -in accordance with the contradiction State-society- an interclassist alliance to combat the State which in their view, is the one that causes all the problems of the capitalist “society”.
Although in one of their documents they say that their revolutionary policy in the metropoles “has nothing to do with a conception of the world”, we are seeing that this is not true. We believe that it is closer to the facts to admit that their conception of the world obeys to the situation of the petty-burgeoisie which crushed by the transnationals and finding no hope for the future, centres all its attacks on the imperialist State, specially on its military machinery and alliances. These attacks do not have other perspective than the fight itself that they carry out, and they are quite like the workers who broke the machines thinking that in this way the exploitation of the proletariat would finish: they were mainly the old ruined sectors of the craftsmen and small bussiness owners who were displaced by the wide mechanization.
The struggle of the reformists differs radically from that of the communists, in that the latter is aimed at organizing the working forces in the spirit of communism in the strategy of protracted people’s war, in the most immediate strategic objectives, etc. It cannot be other way when the “anti-imperialists” consider the proletariat not as an objective fact of the capitalist “society”, but as an act of conscience. They affirm that the subjective is the essential part and that it is “decisive to fight the imperialist centres” since, the imperialist centres “do not produce in a natural way -parting from the objective contradictions and from the existing conditions…- any revolutionary condition, but only destruction and putrefaction”. It is a great subjective mistake, characteristic of the wilfulness, to keep these positions, since in order to achieve the triumph of the revolution, concrete revolutionary conditions must be given, and these must be, on the first place, objectives; although the objective revolutionary conditions are not enough on their own to overthrow a regime or a government -since these do not fall if they are not kicked-, they are indispensable.
This is the reason why it is necessary to develop the subjective conditions with regard to the workers, the most numerous and exploited class and the most advanced, disciplined and resolute one in the capitalist society. For this it is necessary to create a mature, disciplined proletarian party, which is intimately linked to the revolutionary movement of the working and popular layers, which organizes them, raises their conscience and prepares them for the revolution.
But the “anti-imperialists” do not talk about this. For them the proletariat does not exist objectively. They come to say that only by means of an act of conscience, by means of the assumptions of the positions of the international proletariat, broadly speaking, will the individuals become proletarians. Marx, however, linked the concept of the proletariat to the very process of the production of goods under capitalism, to the extorsion that the worker suffers as a producer since he is expropriated from the goods he produces. This is really what interests the worker as a class, as it is written on his banner the motto expropriation of the expropriators. It is also this fact, this contradiction present in each productive cell of the capitalism, the germ where the proletarian conscience is born, the powerful combating force of the proletariat.
Something very different from what the RAF defends. If as revolutionaries that want to change the reality, we understand the circumstances of the backwardness of some sectors of the working class, the role of the working aristocracy against the vast mass of over-exploited workers, of semi-proletarians, unemployed, etc., then we must also understand that the only way of transforming the “class in itself” in “class to itself” is by means of a working party. The “class in itself” is the working class as it is present in the capitalist process of production disintegrated, disconnected, and without conscience of its situation. History has proved us several times that only by means of the proletarian party is it possible to organize and unite the working class so that it will intervene politically, as an independent force, in the class struggles of their country, conscious of its historic role and of the objectives of socialism and communism; this is the “class for itself”.
But against this we are talking about, the “anti-imperialists” unilaterally replace the politic and economic conditions of the country and the need of the Communist Party, by the subjectivist consideration of hatred and rage, which are also very important for the struggle against the bourgeoisie but insufficient. On this base -the one of hatred and anger- they say that “the revolutionary front is now developed in the centre”. Not on the shoulders of the proletariat called, as Marx and all the marxist affirmed, to overthrow the capitalist society, to be the gravediggers of the capitalist society !
For the “anti-imperialists” the proletariat “is constituted by those who combat imperialism”. In this context of militant combat the workers, confronted today with the capitalist over-exploitation plans, would not be, in their eyes, proletarian and would not deserve any interest unless the strikes in the companies “abandon the institutionalized and despicable field of the mere opposition”. Thus, we would be relegating to a very secondary place an important task of the communists which consists of joining the most advanced elements, organize them and take advantage of the real conflicts in the companies to educate them in the weapon of marxism and make them advance in the path of the revolution. However, the RAF seems to aim at exploiting the working struggles only when these come out the established flaw -something very common if we take into account the deep capitalist crisis- and turn them into a weapon against the NATO.
The communist do something very different, they try to turn each factory into a fortress of the proletariat party and the struggle against the NATO into another front in the struggle against capitalism, imperialism and for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The economic struggle of the workers, apart from being an inevitable conflict in capitalism, it is an essential weapon to improve their living conditions and, at the same time, is a very useful weapon of communism to fortify the revolutionary conscience, to spread the proletarian program, etc. The proletarian party must concentrate its activities on the big factories of the country, but not to build trade-unions or to describe the wickedness of imperialism and NATO, but to organize the workers in the principles of communism, to fortify the proletarian solidarity, to introduce the program of the socialist revolution, support their fights, etc.
It must combat wholeheartedly the revisionists and all kinds of opportunism and reformism, denounce the restructuring plans of the monopolies, forge in the struggle working organizations independent from the bourgeoisie and the reformists, extend the movement of popular support, the pickets, support the guerrilla struggle and promote the incorporation of the workers to the armed struggle. History has proved that the revolution has triumphed where the revolutionaries have based themselves on their own forces, developing the revolutionary struggle in their country. This, in our case, means to work for the strengthening of the working revolutionary movement and therefore, the tasks that we have mentioned above, should be carried out.
The other revolutionary countries, socialist and progressive in the world have always supported the country which is carrying out its revolution, but without the condition of relying on our own forces, there is nothing to do. And relying in our own forces in Europe means to rely on the powerful competitive capacity of the proletariat, the main and leading force of the revolution. The working class is the class that fights against capitalist society more resolutely and enthusiastically, therefore it is the only one that can overthrow it and build socialism. To think other way is to forget the ABCs of marxism.
3. Communist party or national liberation front ?
Which are the coincidences that exist, within the European revolutionary movement, between the anti-imperialist tendency and the communist one? Broadly speaking we could summarize these coincidences in the struggle against the bourgeoisie and imperialism and the defense of the armed struggle. The strategies, the way of conceiving the revolution, its objectives and the relationship of one tendency and the other with the revolutionary political struggle of the proletariat, are the aspects that differenciate us.
The anti-imperialist tendency is fundamentally centred on the preparation and execution of armed actions with different results, against the facilities of the Atlantic Treaty and the NATO. These actions are within the context of what they call “the strategy against their strategy” and the supranational “unity” of the revolutionary guerrilla organizations -a distorted interpretation of internationalism. Even in the cases in which their attacks were directed against notorious businessmen and politicians, these have been carried out due to their relation to the NATO, the arms race and the war. Can we talk of a strategy when theirs is subordinated to the imperialist one?
The armed actions carried out by the RAF and Action Directe lack a proletarian political program, are characterized by their spontaneism and do not have another political objective than the strictly military one. Taking into account the current situation of the European revolutionary movement, the positions maintained by the anti-imperialists create confusion in an important sector of the revolutionary forces, deviating it from its authentic objectives and delaying thus its necessary development.
Taking into account the fact that Germany is now the meeting point of two irreconcilable antagonistic fields, socialism and capitalism, we can observe there better than in any place, the role played in the present-day world by the military organizations of the anti-communist alliance. Then, it is easy to understand, due to the historic and politic conditions of Germany, that the revolutionary movement there has tended to insist more on the form of an anti-imperialist military alliance, than on its class contents; more on the external power of imperialism than in the tasks of organizing, clarifying and trying to lead the working class in order to be able to end not only with the imperialist alliances but also, and what is more important, with the classes and the method of production that makes them possible.
The “anti-imperialist” proposal of a West-European front is an inadequate transposition of the National Liberation Fronts of the colonies and semi-colonies. The RAF, which has always considered these movements to be a political model of universal validity, in spite of the fact that the difference between Europe and the Third World countries is evident, has always aspirated to become a similar movement. This simplistic and unilateral analysis was, sometime ago, maintained by the Jruchovists and hardly criticized by Mao Zedong, since it “tends to substitute subjectively all the contradictions that exist in the world by only one”.
It is unnecessary to say that we can achieve very little with a scheme like that in Europe. It is true that the peoples and the nations of the Third World have contributed with very rich experiences to the European proletarians. But wanting to reproduce or to copy the experiences of other peoples without any criticism has produced negative results throughout history. The supposed confrontation between imperialism and “liberation” is not correct. We would have to talk about a confrontation between capitalism and socialism, between the imperialist “national bourgeoisie” and the national revolutionary proletariat, between the State of the monopolist bourgeoisie and the proletariat that struggles to impose its dictatorship and its State.
The proposal of the “anti-imperialists” corresponds more to the revolutionary political strategy of other latitudes where, together with an exiguous proletariat exists a peasantry that constitutes the main force of the population, and also, a petty and medium national bourgeoisie. In Europe, however, the peasantry is, as a general rule, inferior to 10% while the proletariat is the one that constitutes the inmense majority of the population and there is a lack of a true national bourgeoisie which claims the revolution or could join it, among other things, because the time of the democratic-bourgeois revolution has been left behind long time ago in Europe.
In our time the communists in each country must consciously help the proletariat of their country to fight against their bourgeoisies, to unmask the bourgeois political line (the bourgeois opportunism) and its plans of exploitation and oppression, to organize the working class independently of the bourgeoisie and the corrupt trade-unions which are integrated into the system, to denounce the class collaboration of the reformist and revisionist parties and to struggle against them, etc.
Hence, the communists persist on forging a powerful marxist-leninist party able to lead the proletariat in its revolutionary struggle against the monopolist, finantial and land-owning oligarchy and its State.Without this proletarian party, the revolution is advocated to the most outstanding failure. Without this party, all the attempts at organizing the armed struggle for the achievement of communism would be void. Besides, the best support that we can give to the national liberation movements of the colonies and to the struggle against imperialism is to make the revolution in our own country, basing on the powerful forces of the proletariat and the people.
Text from the Karl Marx Commune, Soria Prison (Spain) February 1987
Interview With Spanish Political Prisoner Francisco Brotons,
A PCE(r) Prisoner For 22 Years
Question: Could you first tell us about your political development up until the point of your arrest?
I have always thought of myself as a communist. I think that the conditions under which I spent my childhood and my youth made it natural for me to have the thoughts and aims which directed my later steps in life. On the one hand, I witnessed the very difficult daily lives which my parents led, working 10-12 hours every day for minimal pay to feed and educate the kids. And on the other hand, I realized that my parents weren’t the only ones in such a situation. All the people in the working class neighborhood where we lived were in the same predicament. Later, when I grew older, I concluded that economic poverty was not the only suffering which the working families had to endure, rather there was also oppression, ignorance, and the lack of freedoms. Those who worked for a living were in difficulty, whereas the powerful were all rolling in money.
When I heard reports of wars and brutal repression from my parents and other families, I began to realize that there was a system behind this situation. I also understood that this suffering was not caused by some supernatural force, rather it was the product of a particular social system, namely capitalism, and that this system created and perpetuated this suffering. Because there are rich people, there must also be poor people: A handful of individuals enjoy privileges and freedoms, but the masses of workers who produce the wealth are denied these. I also realized that those in power could only maintain their power by means of repression, and for this they needed their army, their police, their judges, their lackeys in the press, their prisons, and, last but not least, their state.
Because of these realizations, I finally made up my mind to join together with others and struggle against this system. So I joined leftist organizations at a very young age. The struggles were not only directed against the state as the cause of oppression, rather also against the state’s allies within the working class, against all forms of reformism, against people who had sold themselves out to capitalism. In 1973, I joined the Organization of Marxist/Leninists in Spain (OMLE), which had taken up the task of re-founding the Communist Party in Spain which had been destroyed by the Carrillists. Since 1975, when a congress was held as the first step towards re-establishing the party, I have been a member of the PCE(r). In 1976, I joined other communists and anti-fascists in the armed organization GRAPO, in order to close the gaps which the repression had created in the guerrilla and to continue the struggle in an armed manner.
Question: You went into prison during the so-called “transition” dictatorship to democracy. What was the situation like at that time, both in the prisons and in the society? How much did your prison conditions change following your transfer to Herrera
de la Mancha?
It’s correct when you speak of a so-called “transition” period. Because in reality there was no real change, only the facade was changed in order to maintain the system of exploitation and oppression which we had struggled against for so many years. The
background to this manoeuvre by the fascist regime was the rise in the forces of the working class and the popular sectors all across the state. These mobilizations led, in the end, to some improvements, which we had to win from the capitalists with force: the right to strike, higher wages, and the right to organize workers. But these things threatened the continuation of the regime, so the fascists were forced to turn to the reformists of the Carillo Party, and, with economic aid from the German oligarchy, they created the Socialist
Workers Party of Spain (PSOE) out of thin air. They legalized this party and linked it with the workers movement in order to manipulate it and prevent further gains. That was the essence of the “transition”. Some people swallowed this bitter pill, people who, after so many years of open fascism, saw some opportunity to improve their own lot in this new situation.
But there were other people who continued to wage resistance, who took to the streets to continue the struggle. The police, the Guardia Civil, and the army, who were said now to be democrats, acted just as their predecessors had done, and did what they were paid to do: murder, spread terror among the people, and flatten anything which raised its head. During these prosperous years, youths, workers, anti-fascists, and communists were gunned down with democrat bullets. During that time, the economy was restructured and thousands of workers were tossed from their jobs, while at the same time the prisons began filling up with people whose only crime was to remain true to their class and to have struggled for a society without exploiters and the exploited.
Inside the prisons, conditions became increasingly harsh and repression increased. A wave of prison uprisings swept the country in 1977. Many prisoners were conscious of their situation and decided to fight for their rights. The political prisoners, who had led most of
the earlier prison struggles, intensified their struggles. The radicalization spread among the social prisoners as well, however. The foundation of the COPEL organization played an important role in advancing that development. As the resistance grew, so did the
repression. The head of the prisons at that time, Mr. Galavis, announced one day that he would build cement bunkers for prisoners, and he kept his word. In 1979, the first of a series of destruction prisons was opened, Herrera de la Mancha. These new prisons were
designed to crush the prison resistance. The prisoners kept there faced a brutal regime of continual beatings, long periods of isolation detention, and a lack of medical treatment.
All of this was cold-bloodedly calculated to bring their lives to an end. Herrera is a symbol of the “transition” period. It represents, on the one hand, those who refuse to give up their honor and who struggle for freedom and justice in the face of physical violence and psychological pressure, and, on the other hand, those who obey the new ruling democrats in return for breadcrumbs and who say that struggle leads only to misery. But things were not over yet. These new developments simply gave us new arguments for justice and showed the necessity of our struggle. It’s important to remember the long history of strikes, uprisings, and clashes in the prisons during all those years.
Question: The struggles against prison repression have a long and hard tradition. Can you briefly inform us about the major activities during the struggle for the re-groupment and the freedom of the prisoners, especially during the hunger-strikes of 1981 and 1989-91?
Yes, there is a long history of resistance in the prisons. In reality, it could hardly be otherwise, since prisons are a reflection of the society to which they belong. Where there is repression, there is also resistance. Our peoples have a long tradition of struggles, and the barbarity which they suffered daily at the hands of the ruling powers were never left unanswered. During my 22 years as a prisoner, I have participated in more than 20 hunger-strikes and countless protest actions. But it would be wrong to imagine that we revolutionary prisoners can only mobilize against directly experienced aggression. That means that our struggle is not just to improve our living conditions or to protest the repression which we face. All the strikes and struggles which I participated in were also in solidarity with those people on the outside who were struggling for their rights as well, or they were in support of the struggles by other prisoners, or they were in protest of the repressive and exploitative character of the regime in general.
Our political duty does not end or become less once we enter prison. Even in prison, we are part of our class, and we think that we are part of a broad front which is struggling against a common enemy. For that reason, much of our energy was always devoted to developing activities in order to participate in the struggles on the outside. In the years during which we were able to organize as a collective inside the prisons, we developed an intensive labor. Our activities included publishing articles, making handmade items, and developing relations with hundreds of groups and individuals all across the state and in other countries, in order to exchange experiences and to learn from various people.
This situation lasted until 1979, at which time the government began its policy of dispersing the political prisoners. The escape by five prisoners from Zamora was used as an excuse to take revenge. But the dispersals had already been planned and prepared before that. The main aim of this policy was to undo the activities which we as revolutionary militants had developed in the prisons. I stress this point, because it’s of vital importance and helps explain the dimension of our hard strikes for regroupment later on. The fascists were determined, on principle, not to back down. All these struggles for re-groupment were and still are based on our self-understanding as communist militants, and it is one aspect of our participation on the path to the destruction of the capitalist state and the progress of the people as a whole toward a just society.
Question: What was the situation like inside the prisons during the hunger-strikes? What sort of support did you receive, and from whom?
When we decided that it was now necessary to go all the way, in order to advance the push for re-groupment, we were aware of the fact that it was going to be an especially difficult hunger-strike. We were clear, however: We had to give our all, since the planned action was the most difficult and most risky one which we had ever undertaken. We also knew that our struggle in the prisons alone would not achieve much. Without the support of those outside, without a movement to support the strike, without a strong protest campaign to publicize our issue, and without broad social sectors standing up in opposition to fascism, our action would be a vain effort: determined and
courageous perhaps, but with little results. We figured that activities on the outside would develop in time, and this eventually proved correct. In addition to the actions by GRAPO in support of the hunger-strike, various organizations, including our party, developed a
strong campaign. We received messages of solidarity from all over.
In Euskadi, the organization ‘Gestoras pro Amnistia’ and other Basque groups in the MLNV were active in the campaign. The steady information work carried out by AFAPP all across the Spanish state raised awareness about our struggle. In Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, and in some parts of the Americas, demonstrations were held at Spanish embassies, and some were even occupied for several hours The Spanish state was being called upon to fulfill our demands. In Germany, the prisoners from the RAF started a chain hungerstrike to support us. At the international level, anti-fascist, anarchist, and communist groups gave us solidarity, as did other solidarity organizations, political groups, workers, and individuals.
Question: The hungerstrike which you all began in 1989 lasted for 435 days, more than a year and a half. Why did that struggle last so long, and what was the health condition of the prisoners like following that long and difficult struggle?
As I said before, we realized it was going to be a long and hard strike. But even we could not have imagined that we would be forced to strike for 435 days, our lives fading as we endured torture at the hands of the guards in the prisons and the police who kept watch at the hospitals where we were taken. But that’s how it ended up. The government tried a thousand ways to break us, they spread false information, mixed aggression with attempts to sway individuals with false promises of improvements if we would just end our strike. They tried to divide our unity, but they didn’t succeed. Because they were uneasy about our strike, and facing protest from all sides, their fascist character became increasingly clear to see. So finally they opted for forced feeding. Because they couldn’t break our resistance, they decided instead to physically break us: All that was to be left of us was a pile of bones, our vital organs destroyed, our bodies permanently damaged. They chained us to beds for weeks on end, they injected fluids into our bodies without our knowledge, and later, when we were out of immediate danger of dying, they would release the chains for a few weeks, only to repeat this entire procedure of forced feeding again. This is how things went until the end of the hunger-strike.
Question: What were the results of the hunger-strike?
It’s obvious that we did not achieve re-groupment, despite our efforts and the damage to our health which many of us suffered, and despite the death of Sevillano, and despite the broad campaign which was waged both here and abroad on our behalf. In the end, we had to end the struggle. But the conclusion from this experience should not be that we were defeated. The conclusion is that, when faced with such a brutal enemy, the movement in opposition to it must become broader and better organized. The conclusions is that, on the path to the destruction of the fascist capitalist state, it is sometimes possible to push it back and force some concessions from it. Because despite everything we did achieve some short-term goals which were very significant to us. On the one hand, we were able to stop the wave of repression against the prisoners. For a time, they left us alone, afraid that we might once again launch a strike. On the other hand, during the 435 days of the hunger-strike, we maintained a protest campaign which was supported by so many people whom we never knew before. Since then, we have built up many new, mutual ties, and cooperation has expanded in many areas. Although we didn’t achieve regroupment, we did manage an important political victory against the reactionaries, we exposed their true fascist character, and it was made clear that, despite absolute brutality, it is possible to make a front against it. Resistance and the advance of the organized forces of the people are possible under these conditions.
Question: In reference to the struggle against repressive prison conditions, the prisoners from GRAPO and the PCE(r) have expanded on their previous protest and resistance actions. For example, they took up the call against the FIES Conditions, and they supported the struggle for the transfer of Basque political prisoners to Euskal Herria. Does this represent a new quality of struggle? On the basis of what analysis did you take up these demands into your struggle and join in actions together with Basque and social prisoners?
I think I partially addressed this question already. Our activities in the prisons aren’t so different from those on the outside, with respect to the breadth of their goals. So during the years we have, on several occasions, acted to defend and support other collectives who are also fighting against Spanish fascism. That is the case with our solidarity with the Basque comrades, who are fighting for their right to self-determination and independence, and the social prisoners, who face daily repression in the prisons as they demand their right to be treated as human beings and defend their honor in the prisons. For example, during the prison uprisings in the summer of 1977, our imprisoned comrades fought on the front-lines alongside the members of the former COPEL organization. Later, when we were dispersed to various prisons, we got to know some of social prisoners
who had a fighting spirit better, and our comrades joined them in their struggles (for example, in Badajoz, Jaen, and Meco). The demand to abolish the FIES Conditions is no different from our previous stance, rather it is the logical continuation of it. Apart from that fact, we political prisoners are also considered FIES inmates, so we are also affected by the same brutality and harshness. Our position can be well understood by anyone who is struggling against the same enemy. Our conviction is to destroy fascism and advance to a free and just society based on solidarity. Every step on this path can only bring greater unity among the forces which have the same goals. Uniting forces, broadening resistance, and bringing a higher level of organizing is what we aim to do, and I am sure that we will meet many other people along the way who are seeking the same aims.
(Source: Die Linke Seite, translated by Arm The Spirit)
GRAPO COMMUNIQUE / APRIL 12, 1999
In the dawn of April 7th, an active commando of our organization, the First of October Antifascist Resistance Groups (GRAPO), has demolished by means of a powerful explosive charge the interior of the Valle de los Caidos Basilica, the funeral monument where the mortal remains of the main heads of the Spanish State are buried and which was inaugurated by the dictator Franco forty years ago. The Valle de los Caidos Basilica is one of the most clear examples of the persistence of the fascist regime and has always arisen the hatred of the masses since it represents the sweeping away of their democratic rights and liberties. The fascist regime is still standing and this is also proven by the fact that, after
more than twenty years of “democratic” reforms, the men and women that fought against it the most are still in the prisons. Many of them for more than twenty years – even when they have already served their sentences. It is also proven by the amnesty given to those who were responsible for the GAL [so-called Anti-Terrorist Groups of Liberation, in reality government death squads responsible for the killing of 27 Basques between 1983-87 – ed.] while at the same time it imprisoned the National Leadership of Herri Batasuna and continues the dirty war with their practice of torture and political assassinations such as that against ETA member Jose Luis Geresta Mujika.
This action against the Valle de los Caidos Basilica joins others recently carried out by our groups of which we highlight the following:
– Placement of explosive devices in the facilities of the Cope Radio Broadcast in Barcelona on August 5, 1998, in the Temporary Employment Agencies “Alta Gestion” in Vigo on November 6, 1998 and “Adecco” located in Marques de Vadillo in Madrid on November
– Bombing of the Temporary Employment Agency “Unitrab” located on Lerida street in Madrid on November 12, 1998, and the National Institute of Labour, Health and Security in Ciudad Lineal, Madrid on November 13, 1998.
– Bombing of the central offices of the Catalonian Employer’s Association in Barcelona and of the Young Businessman Association of Baix Llobregat in Cornella, both on December 30, 1998.
It is clear that under this regime, we, the workers, cannot expect a solution to the many problems that affect us directly and that the capitalist economic crisis is sharpening more and more each day. Neither can we expect the least economic, social
or political concessions of the Spanish oligarchy in a peaceful manner. The ones that have imposed themselves by means of arms and terror and are still maintaining themslves in power by arms, must be overthrown by arms. For this reason, we have to fight the
resolutely, uniting the popular masses and increasing the resistance everywhere.
There Is No Truce Against Fascism!
Join The Resistance!
Let’s Unite Our Forces!
Forward With The People’s Resistance Movement!
Central Command of the First of October Antifascist Resistance
April 12, 1999