Volunteers discussed at talk on Spanish republicanism

Post date: 23/05/2022

Members of the IBMT and the Basque Children of '37 Association were among the speakers at an event exploring the history of Spanish republicanism and ideas around democracy for nations and regions, held at the Methodist Central Hall in Manchester on 23 April.

Titled ‘The Spanish Republic, Past and Future’, the meeting was organised by the PCE Exterior en Gran Bretaña, the external branch of the Spanish Communist Party based in Britain. It coincided with the PCE’s support for an unofficial poll across Europe on whether Spain should be a monarchy or republic, with members of the party from across England, Wales and Scotland gathering in central Manchester for the event.

Talks explored historic Spanish republic events and legacy issues, recent developments in Spain and Britain and future options for republican and federal systems. 

Dolores Long speaking about the International Brigades in the legacy of Spanish republicanism.

Dolores Long, IBMT Trustee and Secretary of the affiliated North West International Brigade Memorial Group, highlighted the remarkable achievements, contributions and ethos of the International Brigade, despite the many huge obstacles it faced in the 1930s. In an era long before the invention of mobile phones and the internet, it mobilised thousands of volunteer fighters, nurses and others from across the world to defend democracy and fight fascism in Europe.

Simon Martinez of the Basque Children of '37 Association spoke about events and repression in Bilbao and the Basque country during the civil war and under Franco's long dictatorship. The talk included his own family's experiences and history, and the story of the Basque children who were offered shelter in the UK. Regarding modern Spanish society and state institutions, he emphasised the vital need to acknowledge past atrocities and wrongs of the Franco years to build a better future.

From left: Robert MacDonald, Julio Romero, Dolores Long, Simon Martinez and Africa Moreno were the speakers at the PCE event in Manchester.

PCE speakers Julio Romero and Africa Moreno spoke about Spain's Republican periods of the past and then considered democratic and pluri-national issues in the present and proposals for the future. 

Africa described contemporary Spain as an outcome of the so-called transition, which meant an amnesty for those in power during Franco's dictatorship and little change in key areas such as the military and judicial system, the economy and wealth distribution.

Constitutional issues, such as arrangements for Catalonia and the Basque country, had been historically addressed by creating tension and mistrust between peoples and the state using repression and force rather than democratic solutions.

Posted on 23 May 2022.

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