Thursday, 31 May 2007

Of Trees and Parking Lots.

Tree stump. Miramar, Montjuic. February 2007.

I don't know how many trees have been cut down in the Park of
Montjuic during the current frenzy to make it "accessible" for tourists.

But it's a lot.

Owl Landing. Hugo Bruce.
Bronze and iron. 59 x 48 x 17 cm.

For the moment the birds still have somewhere to land.

Homeless Bird. Digital study for sculpture. Hugo Bruce.

But this may not last.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Eduardo Pons Prades

Eduardo Pons Prades.

Barcelona 27th December 1920 - Barcelona 28th May 2007.

"The names of the wars change, the cause of freedom is always the same."

"Each piece of freedom that you take in your life is always accompanied by an identical piece of unrelinquishable responsiblity."

A word: Love.

A passion: Reading.

A vice: Reading.

A dream: A free and fraternal world.

In loving memory.

Photo: Eduardo Pons Prades (centre) at the homage to Durruti, Ascaso and Ferrer i Guardia. Montjuic cemetery. 2004

Manuel Muñoz Diez

Less Politics, More Work Serving the Public.

Manuel Munoz Diez, representative of the CNT, joined Barcelona City Council in October 1936 when the anarchists, against the better judgment of many, agreed to participate in formal government.

As head of Public Works and Urban Planning, he inherited the unenviable task of providing air raid shelters for a population of around 1,000,000, practically as the bombs began to fall.

Honest, professional, tireless in his efforts to protect the most defenceless, he was hardly the bomb-throwing individual capitalist history prefers you envisage at the mere mention of the word "anarchist."

In the preface to the manual on how to build air raid shelters, published by his department in 1937, he criticized the inertia and irresponsibility of his predecessors for their failure to start an effective programme of civil defence. "If there had been less politics and more work serving the public" innocent lives already lost in the raids might have been saved.

Why, you might wonder, have I used a photo of an uprooted palm tree to illustrate the post?

Partly, and regrettably, I have no photo of this man but mainly to offer a comparison.

In the winter of 1936 he issued a press release threatening those who "confuse liberty with licentiousness" with arrest.

He was referring to members of the public who were sneaking out at night to cut down the city's trees for firewood.

Current municipal representatives, in the throes of terminal real estate speculation, show neither similar respect nor sufficient intelligence to realize that replacing the few green areas which remain in the city with buildings, singular or not, and concrete parks is not the best option for the future.

Last year the palm tree was uprooted with five others from the privileged ecosystem it formed part of in the park of Montjuic. Everything else was razed to the ground.

The palm trees were, in fact, replanted with military precision and in single file in the redesigned park.

The one in the picture is now dead.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Sons and daughters

Poster by Rafael Perez Contel
For the Alliance of Intellectuals in Defence of Culture. Valencia

In July 1932, the Society of Nations, precursor of the UN, issued a declaration totally prohibiting the aerial bombardment of civilian populations. Advances in aviation technology since the end of World War I, when this new and totally devastating method of warfare had first been used, led many to fear the consequences for the future.

But the Military have never shown much interest in civilian consequences.

Nor much respect for the opinions of the UN.

Both Italy and Germany, aware they could never compete with British domination of the seas, had been investing heavily in aeronautical research and development. Both were to come into the Spanish Civil War to support Franco and the fascist cause. In spite of the Non-Intervention Agreement.

But, especially, they came to test the potential of this new weapon.

In the summer of '36, when the Civil War began, most countries in Europe, had already started to take measures to protect civilians from possible air attack.

But Spain had done very little.

On the 29th October a bombing campaign, with strong participation of German Junker and Italian Savoia planes began on Madrid. It lasted, intermittently throughout November.

Some of the victims are shown above.

It would be only 9 years to Hiroshima.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Like Brothers and Sisters

Manuel Monléon Burgos.
Valencia 1905 -Mislata 1976


Mujeres Libres was a libertarian women´s movement that
existed from April 1936 till February 1939

"During it's short two year existence Mujeres Libres came to number 30,000 women and achieved much throughout republican Spain. A major focus was on education. In Barcelona they set up the Casa de La Dona, a major women's college, in 1937. By December 1938 the Casa was taking in 600-800 women per day. They ran numerous schools and courses to train women to enter industry in both Madrid and Barcelona. As well as technical training they urged trainees to fight for full equality within the workplace.

They also undertook military training, setting up a shooting range in Madrid. They opened maternity hospitals in Terrasa and Barcelona, and many schools for young children. These schools based themselves on the anarchist idea of education as a process of development and exploration rather then one of factual brainwashing.They also fought for and won legalised abortion, contraception and divorce and, locally, some rights to child care for women workers. As the war went on many members became increasingly involved in the housing and education of refugees...

It is clear that the revolution did bring some real gains for women. It is also clear from the events of the Spanish revolution that women's freedom cannot be ignored or side-lined by revolutionaries. It cannot be left until after the revolution or to "the women's section." A struggle which does not, from the beginning, aim to win freedom and equality for all does not deserve the name revolution."

Conor McLoughlin.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

In Memory of Du'a Khalil Aswad.

Mujeres Libres.

Free Women.

Last month, a 17-year-old Kurdish girl was dragged from a house
and stoned to death in northern Iraq, reportedly by male members
of her own family, for the "dishonour" of having fallen in love with a
Sunni boy.

The murder was witnessed by a large crowd of men.

And filmed.

On mobile phones

And posted on U-Tube.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

They Had A Dream

The Telefònica building, plaça Catalunya


On the 3rd of May 1937 the chief of police (a communist)
attempted to take control of the headquarters of the Barcelona
Telephone Company from the CNT FAI.

The previous day, an anarchist operator had allegedly interrupted
a conversation between the President of the Republic and the
President of the Generalitat (the Catalonian government) saying
they needed the lines for more important things.

Depending on the nature of their conversation, this may, of course,
have been true.

The communists had been waiting for an excuse to supplant the
anarchists' powerful position. But the libertarians had no intention
of giving up the ground they had gained, their opportunity for a social

Land and freedom.

Fighting began and the barricades went up again all over the city.

Four days' fighting with hundreds dead and over a thousand injured.

The communist purge of the anarchists and especially of the
anti-Stalinist POUM had begun.

One coincidence: ITT, the International Telegraph and Telephone
Company, owned the Spanish telephone system before the war.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

How To Build Air Raid Shelters

Apart from helpfully citing the municipal archive (Arxiu
Administratiu) where he had found the information about civil
defence, Estanislau Roca also published the cover of this little
manual, a copy of which I found soon after in a second-hand
book shop.

DIY instructions on how to build your own collective air raid shelter.

Two things are significant:

First: the excellent publication was issued by the Department of
Urban Planning and Public Works, in the able hands of the Anarcho-
Syndicalist Trades Union, the CNT.

Second: the date of publication is May 1937.