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Ángel Pestaña

Ángel Pestaña

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Ángel Pestaña Nuñez was a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labour movement. The word syndicalism comes from the French word syndicat which means trade union , from the Latin word syndicus which in turn comes from the Greek word σύνδικος which means caretaker of an issue...

 and later Syndicalist
Syndicalism is a type of economic system proposed as a replacement for capitalism and an alternative to state socialism, which uses federations of collectivised trade unions or industrial unions...


Early life

He came from an impoverished background, being forced to earn a living from a very early age and trained as a clockmaker
A clockmaker is an artisan who makes and repairs clocks. Since almost all clocks are now factory-made, most modern clockmakers only repair clocks. Modern clockmakers may be employed by jewellers, antique shops, and places devoted strictly to repairing clocks and watches...

. He was imprisoned for fifteen years in Sestao
Sestao is a town and municipality of 30,000 inhabitants located in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, northern Spain...

, Spain, following his participation in a political rally.

After travels in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Pestaña settled in Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, and became active in local anarchist
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 politics. He took part in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
Confederación Nacional del Trabajo
The Confederación Nacional del Trabajo is a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions affiliated with the International Workers Association . When working with the latter group it is also known as CNT-AIT...

(CNT) Congress of 1918, being unanimously elected editor-in-chief of the group's newspaper Solidaridad Obrera
Solidaridad Obrera (periodical)
Solidaridad Obrera is a newspaper, published by the Catalonian/Balearic regional section of the anarchist labor union Confederación Nacional del Trabajo , and mouthpiece of the CNT in Spain....

. Under his direction, the paper mounted a violent campaign against the local police force, accusing its leader of being a hireling of Imperial Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...


In April 1919, after Catalonia was shaken by the Canadenca protests, Pestaña was arrested and detained, and the paper banned. He left for Bolshevist Russia
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

 in 1920, in order to be present at the 2nd Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 Congress and the preliminary sessions of the Profintern
The Red International of Labor Unions , commonly known as the Profintern, was an international body established by the Communist International with the aim of coordinating Communist activities within trade unions...

 - he met Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

, Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

, Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Zinoviev
Grigory Yevseevich Zinoviev , born Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky Apfelbaum , was a Bolshevik revolutionary and a Soviet Communist politician...

, and other Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 leaders. Upon his return, he was yet again detained.

Conflicts with the government and the anarchists

Together with his mentor Salvador Seguí
Salvador Seguí
Salvador Seguí , known as El noi del sucre for his habit of eating the sugar cubes served him with his coffee, was a Catalan anarcho-syndicalist in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo , a Spanish confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions active in Catalonia.Together with Ángel Pestaña,...

, Pestaña opposed the paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 and terrorist actions advocated and carried out by other members of the CNT. In August 1922, he was the victim of an assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 attempt while giving a speech in Manresa
Manresa is the capital of the Comarca of Bages, located in the geographic centre of Catalonia, Spain, and crossed by the river Cardener. It is an industrial area with textile, metallurgical, and glass industries. The houses of Manresa are arranged around the basilica of Santa María de la Seo....

, as part of the violent repression measures taken by the Spanish authorities. The indignation caused throughout Spain by news of this act brought the dismissal of several government officials, as well as an end to legislation that had made allowed for the murder of trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...


After Seguí fell victim to an assassination, Pestaña remained the main figure of the moderate CNT. This position allowed him to oppose, together with Joan Peiró
Joan Peiró
Joan Peiró i Belis was a Catalan anarchist activist, writer, editor of the anarchist newspaper Solidaridad Obrera, two-time Secretary General of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo and Minister of Industry of the Spanish government during the Spanish Civil War.-Life:Though he was born in the...

, all attempts by the 1927-founded Federación Anarquista Ibérica
Federación Anarquista Ibérica
The Federación Anarquista Ibérica is a Spanish organization of anarchist militants active within affinity groups inside the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo trade union. It is often abbreviated as CNT-FAI because of the close relationship between the two organizations...

(FAI) at assuming control of the CNT during the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera
Miguel Primo de Rivera
Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja, 2nd Marquis of Estella, 22nd Count of Sobremonte, Knight of Calatrava was a Spanish dictator, aristocrat, and a military official who was appointed Prime Minister by the King and who for seven years was a dictator, ending the turno system of alternating...


Split with the CNT

After the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 in 1931, the conflict between Pestaña's group and FAI deepened: Pestaña initiated the issue of Manifiesto de los Treinta/Manifest dels Trenta ("Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

 of the Thirty"), a clear condemnation of the Federación's tactics, one which got him expelled from the CNT in August. He went on to found his own Syndicalist Party
Syndicalist Party
Syndicalist Party was a left-wing political party in Spain, formed by Ángel Pestaña in 1932. Pestaña, a leading member of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo trade union, formed the party in response to the growing influence of the Iberian Anarchist Federation over the CNT...

 in the closing months of 1932.

The Party adhered to the Popular Front
Popular Front (Spain)
The Popular Front in Spain's Second Republic was an electoral coalition and pact signed in January 1936 by various left-wing political organisations, instigated by Manuel Azaña for the purpose of contesting that year's election....

, and Pestaña was elected to the Cortes
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

 on a Front platform in 1936, as one of the two Party representatives (he had won a seat in Cádiz
Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

). In October, with the start of the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, he was appointed general subcommisioner for War, but had to resign due to bad health in December. He died soon after, and the Syndicalist Party did not survive the end of the conflict.

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