Marcelino Camacho: "Prisoner, but with the same optimism as always" | Culture


"Here I am, prisoner, but with the moral and optimism of always". So he often headed the letters to his family the historic union leader Marcelino Camacho in the almost 14 years that, in various stages of his life, he spent confined in internment camps and prisons. They were days in which Camacho (1918, La Rasa, Soria-2010, Madrid), in a notebooks of pictures in which he took advantage of paper to the limit by the scarcity of jails, recorded and analyzed the political and economic situation of Franco's Spain . That testimony in his handwriting is made up of more than 7,000 documents: about 1,000 missives, 2,500 handwritten notes, 900 prison documents, press clippings, books, photographs, objects ... Her widow has died, Josefina Samper, a year ago, his two sons, Marcelo and Yénia, will deliver this valuable legacy to the Documentary Center of Historical Memory (CDMH) in Salamanca, in Salamanca, after agreement that they have reached with the Ministry of Culture. "We have the task of spreading to the young people fundamental stories for their collective identity, messages such as the struggle for freedom", highlights Yénia Camacho at the signing ceremony, on January 21.

In his house in Madrid, Marcelo Camacho shows letters of which his father made a copy on tracing paper in case the censor apparatus of the jail on duty kept them. "He was always sending requests, requests ... which reflected his strong willpower, like the complaint he sent to the Public Order Court, being in the jail of Carabanchel, because the political prisoners of Alcalá de Henares, after a hunger strike, they had been locked in punishment cells, "says his son.

That rebellious spirit, "was like a rock", manifested in Camacho from a very young age. The reason, "he could not study because his material conditions did not allow him, so he had to be a self-taught", adds his son. Marcelino Camacho is that young man from the black and white photos to which his near ones remember bailón, of wide smile, that poses proud with his companions of the service of the telegraph of the train station of Burgo de Osma (Soria).

Testimonies of that indomitable character follow one another in the neat handwriting of these notebooks "that have not been seen before," says Marcelo: "On the 29th the inmates Marcelino Camacho Abad and others abstained from taking the midday meal […] when individually they were asked the reason of that position, they did it as a protest for the request of last punishment to another inmate, tried in the War Council in Burgos […]"

Camacho had joined the Communist Party of Spain in 1935. He enlisted in the Republican Army after the 1936 coup and fought on the fronts of Madrid and Toledo in the Civil War. When the war was over, he was sentenced and spent four years between one of the capital's prisons and several labor camps: Reus -of whom he writes in a letter: "I could not have continued more than three months." A bucket of water and two or three pieces of pumpkin were the menu of meals "-, Rentería, Peñaranda de Bracamonte, Toledo and Cuesta Colorada, in Morocco, from which he escaped to Oran (Algeria). In another of his prison notebooks he writes in capital letters a reflection on the protagonism of the workers in the war: "The most important revolutionary national fact of our peoples […] for history there remains, after the UGT-CNT alliance pact of March 1938, the heroic process and the almost culmination of a revolutionary mass trade union center based on the scientific principles of the workers' movement. "

After a pardon in 1957, Camacho returned to Spain and began working in an engine company in which he fought for the rights of workers, which earned him the return to prison in 1967. He spent nine more years between jails in Carabanchel , Soria and Segovia. His family recalls his intervention, in 1969, before the judge of the court who, after condemning him, ordered him to shut up: "And I am forced to denounce a court in the service of a dictatorship that is sinking!" However, six years went by until the end of the regime, with which Camacho went from deputy to deputy in the first parliamentary term of Parliament.

However, his greatest activity continued in the labor movement. He was the founder of Comisiones Obreras -his family keeps his ID with the number 1 of the union- and his first general secretary between 1976 and 1987. Camacho played a key role in the inclusion of the labor movement in the Transition and continued to write down his steps conscientiously: discussions in the elaboration of the Statute of the Workers, the meetings ... Of him also personal objects are conserved, like his camera Konica, his machine of shaving or one of his famous sweaters with pockets and high neck with zipper, the acquaintances marcelinos. Memories of a man who used to proclaim as an ideology: "I am one of those who have not tamed or bent, who has not allowed himself to be domesticated, nor who pushes him to the mountain".

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