A brief history of the armed struggle of GRAPO in Spain

A brief history of the armed struggle of GRAPO in Spain

GRAPO members arrested in 2007

The First of October Anti-fascist Resistance Groups (GRAPO) were formed in the summer of 1975. At that time twenty members of the Communist Party of Spain (reconstituted) -PCE(r)-, underground party formed five months before, carried out their first armed action against the fascist security forces. On 2nd August 1975 a couple of Civil Guard members (a repressive military police force) were shot in the centre of Madrid. One of them was dead and another one seriously injured. It was the first strike back of GRAPO against the wave of fascist-inspired terror known as the summer of terror.

The PCE(r) had its own technique section created to carry out bank expropriations to support the revolutionary struggle and punishing police informers; from the core of this section it emerged the GRAPO.

On 1st October 1975 five different GRAPO commandos executed four policemen and seriously injured another one in Madrid. It was the answer to the assassinations of five anti-fascists (2 ETA members and 3 militants of FRAP -an extinct organization-) killed by police firing squads on 27th September in application of death penalties ordered by the military authorities.

GRAPO didn’t claim responsibility for all these actions till 18th July 1976 when 60 bombs blasted fascist targets throughout the country. It was the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War (1936-39) won by the fascists.

In January 1977 the police arrested 40 PCE(r) and GRAPO members in Madrid and Barcelona and succeeded in freeing Lieutenant-General Villaescusa and the Spanish oligarch Oriol, who had been kept prisoners by GRAPO commands for 60 days to exchange them for political prisoners in order to force the government to apply an amnesty. Some days before two GRAPO commands have executed two policemen and one civil guard in Madrid and left injured three more civil guards in two separate attacks on the fascist repressive forces as a reaction against the killing of five leftist lawyers by a paramilitary gang acting under Civil Guard orders.

On 4th June two civil guards were shot dead in Barcelona, it was the very day of the first general elections since 1936 and the reformist farce was going on. This action was a clear sign that showed that the revolutionary organizations will no accept the renewal of fascism under any democratic mask.

On 27th September the captain of the National Police, Herguedas, was shot dead by a GRAPO command in Madrid. He had been one of the fascist volunteers who executed five anti-fascists just two years before.

In 1977 and 1978 GRAPO actions went on, mainly bombs against police and military buildings and also against government facilities. But some selective annihilations were also carried out. On 22 March 1978 the Manager General of Prison, Jesus Haddad, was shot dead near his house in Madrid. He was responsible for the killing of one anarchist prisoner in Carabanchel Prison, beaten to death by the wardens that tried to take information from him. about a escape plan of GRAPO and PCE(r) prisoners.

1979 was the year in which GRAPO carried out more actions: on 9th January a Judge from the Supreme Court was shot dead in Madrid; on 5th March an Army General was executed when his car came under fire from a GRAPO team in a centric street of Madrid; on 6th April a chief of the anti-terrorist Brigade of the National Police (NP) was executed in Seville; totally, 20 members of the fascist police were executed that year in a combination of actions of urban guerrilla throughout the country; many bombs blasted that year, too.

On the other hand GRAPO and PCE(r) militants paid a high price for it: 100 people were jailed accused of membership to those organizations (police claimed that both PCE(r) and GRAPO were the same thing and many PCE(r) militants were arrested without any evidence against them -this revolutionary communist Party remained prosecuted as under Franco’s dictatorship-). Seven members of PCE(r) and GRAPO were killed by the police that year: on 28th June Martin Eizaguirre and Fernandez Cario were assassinated by a special team of the Spanish military secret service in Paris. They were members of the Foreign Relations Committee of the PCE(r) and were exiled. Martin Eizaguirre was also a member of the Central Committee of the PCE(r).

On 20th April Juan Carlos Delgado de Codes, a member of the Central Committee of the PCE(r) was shot dead by the secret police in Madrid, he was unarmed and didn’t belong to the guerrilla. Only between April and May GRAPO carried out 30 armed actions in response to the killing of Delgado de Codes. This was criticized later by the PCE(r) as falling into a blind militaristic tactics. From that moment on GRAPO addressed all its efforts to maintain the armed struggle and to give it a protracted character, assuming that it is not only possible but also necessary to follow a Protracted People’s War strategy and that it is possible to develop this strategy in an European developed capitalist country.

The repression launched against the PCE(r) dismantled its mass organizations as ODEA, Pueblo y Cultura, UJA, etc. Many of their members and supporters were arrested and most of them also were jailed. ODEA (Organización Democrática de Estudiantes Antifascistas), meaning Democratic Organization of Anti-fascist Students; Pueblo y Cultura (People and Culture), the organization of the anti-fascist and communist intellectuals; UJA (Union de Juventudes Antifascistas), the anti-fascist youth union, etc… all those mass organizations were dismantled by repression and most of their members had to choose between giving up the struggle or going underground.

On 17th December 1979 five GRAPO leaders escaped from Zamora Prison using a tunnel dug for months by GRAPO and PCE(r) prisoners (some of them were miners). It was a strong shock for the government, that tried to recapture them at any cost. Three of them were finally killed by the police (in 1980, 1981 and 1982) and the other two ones were recaptured soon because all of them joined again the struggle.

In 1980 and 1981 GRAPO was a weak organization due to the repression launched against its supporters. In those years GRAPO carried out eight executions, including two Army Generals and one Colonel, to denounce the role played by the Army in the dirty war and counterinsurgency. Some policemen and civil guards were also executed. GRAPO, as an organization that aims to become the core of the future People’s Army has never targeted innocent civilians nor use dangerous tactics for civilians in its military actions and sabotages.

In 1980-81 nine GRAPO members were killed by the police in a clear shoot-to-kill policy. The PCE(r) militant, Jose España Vivas, died while he was being tortured on 6th September 1980. On 19th June 1981 Kepa Crespo Galende, PCE(r) prisoner, died in his 94th day on hunger strike against the policy of torture, isolation and annihilation of the political prisoners. The government was forced to reunify the prisoners and allow them to keep Communes in the jails. (The Karl Marx Commune -80 male prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO- in Soria Prison lasted till 1989 when the socialfascist (PSOE) government dismantled it. The female prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO maintained the Carmen Lopez Commune in Yeserias (Madrid) Prison till 1989).

In October 1982 the PSOE (socialfascists) arrived to the government. The PSOE began killing Juan Martin Luna, leader of GRAPO, shot dead six times in Barcelona in a cover-operation. He was unarmed, some years later three policemen were charged with murder, but in practice, they were acquitted. On the eve of the general elections (28th October), GRAPO had planted 30 bombs in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and other twelve different parts of the country; the blasts were aimed to promote boycott and to denounce the electoral farce.

In 1983 and 1984 GRAPO recovered from its previous weakness and carried out many armed actions. In those years they planted about 70 bombs against police targets, in support of the workers strikes, in support of revolutionaries from other countries, etc. and also against the reactionary and bourgeois mass media (e.g.. blast in the German consulate in Barcelona in support of the RAF prisoners, bomb against the Employers Association, etc.)

In those years GRAPO also carried out some executions: in April 1983 a lieutenant of the National Police and a civil guard were executed in Valencia and Coruña, the first one with a blast in his car and the second one being shot dead. Those actions were carried out in support of the shipyards workers who were on strike and were being savagely repressed by the police forces.

On 2nd January 1984 two policemen were shot dead in Madrid. Throughout that year GRAPO made frantic efforts to support the proletarian struggles all over the country (46 bombs blasted that year), to strike back the repressive forces and to collect the revolutionary tax needed to keep the struggle alive (about one hundred Spanish businessmen paid the revolutionary tax that year).

On 5th September three different GRAPO commands launched an offensive to force the exploiters to pay the revolutionary tax. In Madrid a businessman who had refused to pay was shot dead; in Seville another GRAPO team executed Manual de la Padura, well-known exploiter and chairman of the Employers’ Association; and, finally, in Coruña the responsible of the Spanish National Radio broadcasting (state-controlled radio) was seriously injured in retaliation for his counter-revolutionary propaganda. It was a warning for the reactionary mass media who continually discredit the revolutionary struggle. One of the GRAPO militants who had carried out the action in Coruña was killed by the police some hours later and another one was injured and captured when the GEO-Squad (NP special assault squad) raided the house where they were hidden.

The repression launched against GRAPO and the PCE(r) that year was very hard. In June Manuel Perez Martinez comrade Arenas, Secretary General of the PCE(r), left prison after having been jailed since 1977 accused of unlawful association (the legal expression used by the fascist Spanish state to prosecute revolutionaries when they don’t have evidences against them -the PCE(r) is banned-). Arenas, as many other former prisoners of PCE(r) had to go underground again as the only way of developing the struggle out of the police control. Since the 70s part of the PCE(r) and GRAPO leadership and clandestine organization has been based in France, the Spanish police has never been able to destroy it.

On l9th January 1985 the Spanish political police succeeded in capturing most of the GRAPO militants in Spain: 19 of them were captured in nine different provinces, the police discovered 17 flats, lots of weapons and ammunition and money collected through the revolutionary tax. This disaster was possible due to the breaking of many security and clandestine rules by the GRAPO in its aim at carrying too many actions in support of the proletarian struggles. The strict compartmentalization within the Organization had been broken and this allowed the police to deal this strong strike in only 48 hours.

The reorganization of GRAPO was slow and difficult, in 1985 it had almost ceased to exist but the spirit of sacrifice of the new militants, most of them without any previous guerrilla experience, allowed to go on with the struggle. In 1985 and 1986 they carried out some bank expropriations, some went wrong and seven GRAPO members were captured. Money had become the main problem since they were not strong enough to collect the revolutionary tax; GRAPO needed secure flats, cars and every kind of facilities to develop urban guerrilla successfully from the underground. Weapons-were also desperately needed.

1987 was a small turning point, in that year they carried out six armed actions according to police sources. There were some successful bank expropriations and a Station of the Local Police was assaulted in Malaga to seize arms: a GRAPO command raided the police station, disarmed three constables and tied them up. (They were not executed since they were not considered proper targets, Local Police is mainly concerned with traffic and plays no special repressive rote). In another operation a GRAPO command tried to raid a National Police station in Valencia to seize blank identity cards, there was a shooting and a policeman was seriously injured.

In 1988 GRAPO carried out some armed actions to collect the revolutionary tax again. On 27th May Claudio Sanmartín, President of the Bank of Galicia was shot dead in his house in Coruña. He had refused to pay alerting the police about GRAPO activity and was also a well-known exploiter who had empoverished many people (specially pour peasants) with credit loans. He was also responsible for the closing of many factories due to banking speculation. Two months later another businessman who had refused to pay the revolutionary tax was seriously wounded in Coruña.

On 4th October GRAPO succeeded in seizing 800 blank identity cards from a police station in the centre of Madrid. During the raid one policeman was shot dead and his gun was seized (most of GRAPO weapons came from its actions against the police and security guards).

On 10th March 1989 GRAPO executed two civil guards in Santiago the same day that the TREVI group was holding a meeting in Madrid (TREVI was at that time the visible head of repression in Western Europe). In July 1989 GRAPO solved its economical problems expropriating 148 million pesetas (one million dollars) from a bank in Castellón.

In November the political prisoners of GRAPO and PCE(r) started an indefinite hunger strike asking for the end of isolation and their Reunification in a single jail. (The Communnes of political prisoners had been dismantled by the PSOE government in 1987). To support the struggle of the prisoners GRAPO launched an urban guerrilla offensive in December: On 13th an Army Commander was shot in Madrid, he was seriously injured; on 15th, a HQ Army Colonel was shot in Valencia, he was shot three times and became handicapped; on 18th, a member of the secret police was shot dead near Barcelona and, finally, on 28th two civil guards were executed in Gijón while they were guarding an official building. The government responded arresting two members of the PCE(r), jailing them and trying to involve them in these armed actions. (One of the lies spread by the reactionary mass media says that GRAPO members are only recruited from the ranks of the PCE(r); trying to present this clandestine communist Party as the GRAPO political branch).

As the hunger strike went on many prisoners were moved to hospitals where they were tied to their beds, disturbed by police and forced to undergo forced nourishment in a desperate and torturing measure of the government to avoid the deaths of these revolutionaries at that very moment (the Govt. preferred to annihilate them slowly and silently in the prisons).

On 27th March 1990 a GRAPO command executed doctor Muñoz in Saragossa. In their statement assuming this action GRAPO called him. a torturer ready to follow the Govt. instructions and policies to submit the prisoners by pain to the agony and torture of the so-called forced nourishment. He had refused orders from a judge to stop this kind of torture and was a firm supporter of the governmental. plans of extermination (casually he was the cousin of the Spanish General Attorney). As a consequence of the forced nourishment the hunger strike became very long. On 25th May 1990, the prisoner Jose Manuel Sevillano died after 177 days on hunger strike, he was a member of GRAPO and had been imprisoned since 1987. GRAPO decided to avoid entering a tit-for-tat tactics because this only could benefit the already alerted security forces and after a retaliation action (the execution of an Army Colonel in Valladolid on 15th June), GRAPO centred themselves on carrying out an offensive to take the initiative again in next September.

In September 1990 GRAPO planted six bombs in Madrid, Tarragona, Barcelona and Gijón. On 6th three bombs exploded in Madrid: one in the Stock Exchange building, another one in the Supreme Court and the last one in the Ministry of Economy). In none of these actions were any civilian casualties. On 8th September a bomb blasted petrol facilities in Tarragona causing the monopolist company Repsol damages valued at 400 million pesetas (3 million dollars); on 10th the PSOE central office in Barcelona was bombed causing damages valued at 100,000 dollars. That month ended with a GRAPO action in Gijón on 28th when a commando raided an official building seizing one thousand blank driving licenses and then planted a bomb that blasted the facilities. In November 1990 two more bombs blasted two official buildings in Barcelona.

In 1991 and 1992 GRAPO continued with the bombing campaign against official buildings and monopolist facilities: sixteen bombs exploded in those years causing important damages. In February 1991 a GRAPO bomb cut for six hours the military NATO pipeline that feeds the US air bases in Spain. This action was intended to sabotage this pipeline which was being used by the US military aircraft that devastated Irakian cities during the Gulf War. In April 1992 GRAPO bombed the National Institute of Industry and the Ministry of Employment in Madrid, two civil guards were injured. Some bank expropriations were also carried out in those years.

On 7th April 1993 three GRAPO militants died in Saragossa in an attack against an armoured van that was blasted with explosives to expropriate the funds that it contained. One security guard also died and two more were seriously wounded. In 1993 a total of seven bombs exploded in official buildings in Madrid: in the Employers’ Association, PSOE offices, and other offices involved in the industrial restructuring which had fired thousands of workers in the last years.

In 1994 GRAPO actions were intended to seize funds that were desperately needed. Some bank expropriations were carried out. In January two bombs exploded in Madrid on the eve of a general strike: a Tax Office and an Unemployment Office were blasted. In July and December two armoured vans were assaulted using explosives in Vitoria (Basque Country) and Barcelona and some money and guns were expropriated (about half million dollars).

In 1995 GRAPO carried out one of the most important and decisive actions of the last years. On 27th June GRAPO kidnapped Publio Cordón in Saragossa; Cordón is a wealthy businessman, president of the insurance company PREVIASA; he was freed on 17th August in Barcelona after paying 400 million pesetas (about three million dollars). He had to pay other 800 million pesetas to GRAPO after his liberation and he preferred to fly away (his business are no very clean, he was also consul of Guatemala and has important business in that country. In November the police arrested three GRAPO members in Barcelona and Valencia but they could no recover the money.

On 9th January 1996 the political prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO started an indefinite hunger strike to ask for their Reunification in a single jail, the release of the sick prisoners and of all the prisoners who having served their sentences still continue imprisoned. The prisoners stopped their protest on 1st February after having received promises by the government in order to stop isolation and releasing the sick prisoners but all of this proved to be a mere trick to force the prisoners to abandon the struggle which was taking place in the middle of the general elections. The hunger strike was started again on 15th February after realizing that the government has no any real intention to negotiate. It concluded on 21st March due to the aggravated health of most of the prisoners and after having received favourable informs for the release of the sick prisoners.

Nowadays it seems that GRAPO is undergoing a new reorganization and there is one clear thing: the fascist Spanish state has lest the battle in the sense that it has no been able to annihilate the armed organization nor the revolutionary party, the PCE(r).

Along those 21 years 3,000 people have been arrested in relation to GRAPO and the PCE(r), from whom 1.400 have been jailed. Nowadays there are 54 prisoners of PCE(r) and GRAPO in Spanish jails.

From 1975 to 1995 GRAPO have carried out about 60 executions, more than 300 bombs have been planted and the armed actions carried out are about 3,000 (the Spanish government officially recognizes 545).

20 GRAPO militants have died by police action or as consequence of blasts. Seven PCE(r) militants have been killed by the police and the paramilitary gangs. According to police sources about 100 GRAPO and PCE(r) members are in the underground.

We hope you like this brief history of the armed struggle of GRAPO, unique one in Western Europe due to the Protracted People’s War strategy followed by the PCE(r) and GRAPO.

A brief history of the armed struggle of GRAPO in Spain