What was going to be a clandestine union meeting ended with a mediatic judicial process and the 'Carabanchel ten' in jail as a living symbol of Franco's repression. Fifty years ago, on Saint John's Day 1972, most of the leadership of the Workers' Commissions was arrested by the Francoist police. The order of the Social Political Brigade against the labor movement gave rise to the so-called Process 1001, a trial that focused on the harshness of Francoism on essential freedoms in most countries. The regime, in its last throes and which sought to give a certain image of moderation, imposed very high penalties on the union leaders who contributed to dismantle that mirage. Not only within the country, but also abroad, with an increase in solidarity with the union mobilization in Spain.
"1972 was a year of repression," recalled Cristina Almeida, a labor lawyer who was part of the defense of the CCOO union leadership in this episode. Only two women participated: she and the lawyer Francisca ('Paca') Sauquillo, who spoke this Friday at the tribute to the trial against the labor movement held in Madrid.
"1972 was a year of repression," which they saw in their offices and even in their homes, where they received numerous cases of reprisals of workers and other citizens, such as people from the LGTBI collective, Paca Sauquillo warned. But many did not know it, or not to what extent. Both inside the country, but also outside. Until Process 1001 arrived.
This began with the arrest of most of the clandestine leadership of the CCOO, those who would go down in history as 'the Carabanchel ten', due to their imprisonment in the Madrid neighborhood prison: Marcelino Camacho, Nicolás Sartorius, Francisco García Salve , Juan Muñiz Zapico, Francisco Acosta, Fernando Soto, Eduardo Saborido, Miguel Ángel Zamora, Pedro Santiesteban and Luis Fernández Costilla.
The arrest was the starting signal for a case that gained repercussion, inside and outside the country, due to the high penalties requested by the Prosecutor's Office and that the Francoist Court of Public Order also finally agreed.
"Here they asked for 20 years in prison. They were sentences that were not even imposed on those who killed the king, because the Penal Code almost ended with those sentences," Cristina Almeida recalled with a laugh, with her usual humor, in the homage of the judicial process. Up to 20 years in prison and one day for union leaders, as Marcelino Camacho, and a minimum of 12 years in prison for others like Acosta and Santisteban. "As if they were the worst criminals in the world," said the labor activist.
"The request for sentences was really unusual and inappropriate for that time and for the Court of Public Order. After all, they were accused of leading a trade union organization, no matter how illegal it was," recall José Antonio Pérez and Mayka Muñoz Ruiz in the book Process 1001. The Franco regime against Workers' Commissions, which Catarata has just published with the Fundación 1 de Mayo for the 50th anniversary of the event.
The position of the Prosecutor's Office turned into a black-on-white conviction, with hefty prison sentences for all of them, in a trial marked by a decisive event: the murder of Carrero Blanco by ETA on the same day that the oral hearing began, on December 20, 1973. "They were punished by charging them with a crime that in the countries of the European environment was nothing more than the exercise of democratic rights, such as freedom of association and assembly," the two historians collect in the book.
The ETA attack contributed, but it was not the only reason for the hefty sentences, the protagonists of the process point out. "Many times we have wondered why this cruelty," said Nicolás Sartorius, president of the Advisory Council of the Fundación Alternativas at present and one of 'the ten of Carabanchel', who spoke this Friday in Madrid on behalf of those condemned , some already deceased. "It can only be explained in the context of the growing mobilization of workers, in multiple places in Spain", of men and women "risking their work, freedom and life, against a dictatorship that refused to disappear".
For those convicted, the Franco regime "intended to give a lesson that would weaken the social movements in the face of what might happen in the future," said Nicolás Sartoruis. An end to the regime and the passage to a democratic system that "was already foreseen". "The blow was hard, it must be recognized, but they were unable to stop the social struggles or what they called subversion. This continued to grow until the conquest of democracy," Sartorius celebrated.
Lawyers Almeida and Sauquillo actually warned of the opposite effect of the judicial process. The 'ten of Carabanchel' became a symbol of repression and gained "a lot of solidarity" inside and outside the borders, with international mobilizations that pointed to Spain for restricting basic rights.
Their faces and names multiplied in brochures and acts of protest. With an important focus on France, trade unionists, but also intellectuals and artists from Europe and the United States mobilized in favor of those locked up in Carabanchel, collects the book of the Fundación 1 de Mayo. From the 'Solidarity Bulletin', printed in French and Spanish in a basement near the Sorbonne University (Paris), to the publication of personalized booklets on each of the imprisoned protagonists and the 'Six hours for Spain' initiative, with acts starring artists such as the writer Jean Cassou, the singer and actress Juliette Greco, the composer Mikis Theodorakis and the poet Marcos Ana, among others.
"There are moments in the history of countries that, when you take perspective, you realize that they change lives. They are like doors that make that country pass from one room to another. This event made this country change," stressed the Professor and President of the Economic and Social Council (CES), Antón Costas, at the tribute ceremony, which was held at the House of Social Dialogue at the state level.
The Workers' Commissions led this inaugural act of the 50th anniversary, but hand in hand with the Government and the CES, with the desire to celebrate the memory not only "of the union and for the union", but also to broaden its scope so that "the institutions recognize the role of workers in the democratic history of this country", highlighted Unai Sordo, Secretary General of the CCOO.
Discover the Process 1001 to the post-Franco generations to understand its importance not only within the labor movement and specifically the union, but also to know its role in the rhythms of the Transition, which left behind a four-decade dictatorial regime.
"We were not liberated by any army, neither foreign nor national, as happened in Europe after Nazism. We had to liberate ourselves," claimed Nicolás Sartorius, who highlighted the role of various social movements, of workers but also others such as students, to end the dictatorship. "Democracy did not come to Spain after the dictator's death," Sartorius recalled. "There were decisive years in the history of Spain, in which we played the future of this country. We had to fight a lot until we achieved the 1978 Constitution, of which we consider ourselves a constituent part," he claimed.
Unai Sordo also highlighted the need to recover the role of workers in the history of democratic restoration. "A sweetened, biased and partial historiography of the Transition has been made," he criticized. Recognizing the central role of political parties in the opposition with "more innovative" sectors of the Franco regime aware that the dictatorship was coming to an end, "it is a fundamental part of understanding the changes that have taken place, the social mobilization, particularly of workers, who precipitated those changes and aborted the first transition model of the Franco regime without Franco that Airas Navarro embodied as President of the Government," claimed Sordo.