1923: Jesus Saleta and Pascal Aguirre, Terrassa anarchists

Add comment September 23rd, 2015 Headsman

On this date in 1923, two anarchists were garroted in the Catalan city of Terrassa.

Terrassa was unwillingly under new management, having been occupied by the Captain-General of Catalonia Miguel Primo de Rivera* upon the latter’s coup just days prior to the events in this post.

In historical periodization, Primo de Rivera’s six-year dictatorship marks a last stage of the Restoration, a decades-long social struggle bridging the span between Spain’s twilight years in the imperial-powers club and the onset of the Spanish Civil War.

Spain and especially the notoriously insurrectionary Catalonia had been riven by conflict in the first years of the 1920s. One of our principals for this day’s execution, Jesus Saleta, had been a leader of the intermittently outlawed anarchist trade union CNT,* whose gunmen fought ferocious street battles with police and company enforcers.

He was not averse to dirtying his own hands. In 1922, Saleta had stood trial (he was acquitted both times) for running a bomb factory and for orchestrating an attack on businessman Joan Bayes. After the murder of CNT executive Salvador Segui early in 1923, Saleta helped organize the reprisals. Tension and bloodshed rose throughout the year.

On September 18, he committed the crime for which he would die less than a week later: together with Pascual Aguirre and several other anarchists, he robbed a bank to finance his underground operations; a man was shot dead in the process. Saleta, Aguirre, and a third collaborator, Joaquin Marco, were arrested in the ensuing chase.

Marco was acquitted — he had not been identified clearly enough — but both Saleta and Aguirre were condemned to the firing squad, a sentence the military unilaterally amended to the garrote on the grounds that shooting was too honorable a death for these terrorists.

Both went boldly to the scaffold on this date. (There’s a full narration of proceedings in a Spanish newspaper (pdf) here, and a plain-text equivalent here) “This is the way anarchists die!” a proud Saleta exclaimed to the executioner as he was seated.**

The cry “Viva anarchy!” was the last thing each man uttered as the metal ring wrung the life from his throat.

* We’ve already met Primo de Rivera’s Falangist son in these pages.

** The two were garroted by longtime executioner Gregorio Mayoral Sendino, assisted by Rogelio Perez Vicario [or Cicario]. The latter was assassinated in revenge by Barcelona anarchists on May 7, 1924.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,Garrote,History,Martyrs,Murder,Revolutionaries,Spain,Strangled,Terrorists

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1942: Joan Peiro i Belis, Catalan anarchist

2 comments July 24th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1942, anarchist, trade unionist and anti-fascist Joan Peiro was shot with six others at Paterna, Spain.

Joan (or Juan) Peiro (English Wikipedia page | Spanish) was a Barcelona glassworker of anarcho-syndicalist politics.

As Secretary General of the Confederacion National del Trabajo (CNT) and editor of the anarchist rag Solidaridad Obrera, Peiro mixed it up in the rough-and-tumble interwar political scene, eventually becoming Minister of Industry for Republican Spain — an untoward position to more orthodox anarchists.

When the Spanish Republic lost the Civil War, Peiro fled to France, where he was nabbed and extradited.

The nationalist general Emilio Mola had said before the war’s conclusion,

Whoever is, openly or secretly, a supporter of the Popular Front, must be shot … we must sow terror … eliminating without scruple or hesitation those who do not think as we do. (Source)

In practice, reprisals weren’t that vicious (maybe because Mola himself had died in a plane crash and wasn’t managing them) — but the leadership and intelligentsia who could rally an anti-Franco political bloc were purged ruthlessly.

The imprisoned Peiro was offered — repeatedly — a sellout package to oversee Franco’s house unions, and he repeatedly refused.

He earned martyrdom for his troubles, and after Franco’s death re-entered the public sphere as the sort of bloke to name streets after. (As an anti-Stalinist, Peiro had had all the right enemies.)


Placa Joan Peiro, a major square in Barcelona.

The Spanish judiciary, however, has thus far declined (Spanish link) to overturn his sentence.

Peiro is saluted in Catalan here.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,Hanged,History,Intellectuals,Martyrs,Mass Executions,Murder,Politicians,Power,Shot,Spain,Treason,Wartime Executions

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