Popular Executive Committee of Valencia
Comitè Executiu Popular de València
Autonomous entity of  Spain
1936–1937

CapitalValencia
DemonymValencian
valencià, -ana (va)

valenciano, -na (es)
Government
 • TypeCouncil republic
President 
• July 22 - October 1936
Ernesto Arín Prado
• October 1936 - January 8, 1937
Ricardo Zabaltza Elorga
LegislatureGeneralitat Valenciana
Historical eraSpanish Civil War
• Established
July 22, 1936
• Disestablished
January 8, 1937
March 30, 1939
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Second Spanish Republic
Second Spanish Republic
Today part of Spain
  Valencia

The Popular Executive Committee of Valencia was a revolutionary autonomous entity created on July 22, to confront the Spanish coup of July 1936 which started the Spanish Civil War. It was made up of the political forces of the Popular Front and the trade union forces of the National Confederation of Labor (Spanish: Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, CNT) and General Union of Workers (Unión General de Trabajadores, UGT). Based in Valencia, it covered most of Valencia province and part of Castellón and Alicante.

History

Background

A few weeks before the attempted coup, on July 11, a group of Falangists stormed the station of Unión Radio Valencia, announcing through their microphones an imminent "national syndicalist revolution".[1] The person designated by Emilio Mola to lead the uprising in Valencia was Manuel González Carrasco, who arrived there from Madrid a day before the date indicated for the uprising. But when the moment came, González Carrasco, who had to change his address to avoid being detained by the police, had doubts and backed down. He proclaimed his loyalty to the government and pledged not to form the contingent of fighters he had promised to the military.[2]

In the early hours of the morning, an important labor mobilization was taking place in the city (the CNT and UGT had called for a General Strike as of July 19) [1] accompanied by the deployment of the Assault Guard, and the officers loyal to the republican government. The officers of the Spanish Military Union were confronted by the pro-republican officers of the UMRA, in a decisive action. Martínez Monje ordered the execution of the nationalist troops while awaiting news from Madrid or Barcelona.[3] The news of the military's surrender in Barcelona at the end of the day was decisive for the nationalist impulse to be deactivated. The next day, Monday, July 20, the UGT and CNT mobilized and created the Confederal militias of the Levante to control the nerve centers of the city and the surroundings of the barracks in anticipation of a possible escalation; the Strike Committees were unified under the leadership of Francisco Gómez (CNT) and Guillén (UGT) in the Unified Revolutionary Committee (or Unified Strike Committee). To counter the nascent alternative workers power of the Unified Revolutionary Committee on the street, the government of José Giral sent Diego Martínez Barrio to Valencia at the head of a Delegate Board of the Levantine Government, whose main mission was to reestablish the authority of the republican government in the region.

Establishment

Two days later, on Wednesday July 22, 1936, the Unified Revolutionary Committee formed the self-proclaimed Popular Executive Committee (Spanish: Comité Ejecutivo Popular, CEP),[1] made up of the two main trade unions the UGT and CNT, as well as the Popular Front parties,[4] which seized power without formally dismissing the republican authorities.[2] The socialists and anarchists, for their part, maintained the Unified Revolutionary Committee in parallel to deal with the supply shortages that were beginning to be suffered in Valencia. At the same time, they ceded the leadership of the military struggle to the CEP, which commissioned the training of militias.[5] Meanwhile, the military officers Gonzalez Carrasco and Barba Hernández fled Valencia in secret.[6] On the other hand, when on Thursday, July 23, the Delegate Board announced the dissolution of the CEP (constituted the previous day). The CEP refused[7] and, in the face of the attempted uprising of the Paternal headquarters, close to the city, they launched the Levantine militias against the barracks, which were forcibly taken between the end of July and the beginning of August. On August 5, the Delegate Board, in the face of the failure of its management, officially recognized the Popular Executive Committee, which went on to direct all rearguard policy in Valencia, and left the city.[3] Around the same time, some militias left Valencia to participate in the Battle of Mallorca.[8]

The CEP was initially chaired by Ernesto Arín, who until then had been head of Recruitment and Mobilization.[9] After its recognition by the republican government on August 5, the Committee presidency was installed in the Palace of the Generalitat Valenciana. The CEP was made up of twelve delegates: two from the CNT, two from the UGT, one from PSOE, one from the PCE, one from the POUM, one from the Syndicalist Party, one from the Republican Left, one from the Republican Union, one from Valencian Left and one from the Partit Valencianista d'Esquerra.[10]

Development

Signposting for the entrance to an air raid shelter in Valencia.
Signposting for the entrance to an air raid shelter in Valencia.

During the first months of activity of this administration, 13% of cultivated land was seized and collectivized, forming 353 collectives, 264 directed by the CNT, 69 by the UGT, and 20 mixed CNT-UGT. Some of the CEP representatives at the time were Francisco Bosch Morata, delegate for Health and Social Assistance, José Antonio Uribes, head of the CEP Militia Delegation, Manuel Pérez Feliu, and José Benedito Lleó, the delegate for War.[11]

On September 16, the Popular Anti-fascist Guard (Spanish: Guardia Popular Antifascista GPA) was created to take charge of public order. It would come to replace the Assault Guard in the city. It was made up of sections, each made up of 14 people from anti-fascist parties and unions. Every 4 sections was commanded by a military man. The GPA as a whole was commanded by the secretary of Public Order of the CEP, the socialist Gonzalo Navacerrada.[11]

In September the revolutionaries of the Iron Column assaulted the courts to destroy the judicial records, the City Council destroyed the property records and assaulted the Monastery of San Miguel de los Reyes where they released the prisoners that were held there. Also in search of weapons, the GPA guards, who had rifles and machine guns, were being disarmed and becoming police officers.

At the end of October 1936, the CEP presidency passed into the hands of Ricardo Zabaltza Elorga, who was also appointed Civil Governor of Valencia by Largo Caballero.

Unified Levantine Council for Agricultural Export (CLUEA)

One of the CEP's main developments was the Unified Levantine Council for Agricultural Export (Spanish: Consejo Levantino Unificado de Exportación Agrícola, CLUEA), created on October 7, 1936, by representatives of the Valencian CNT and UGT. It was an organization dedicated to managing orange exports to other European countries.[12] Posterists like Arturo Ballester and the monthly magazine La voz del CLUEA were available to spread the organization's activities.[13]

Oranges were one of the main Valencian export products. In the context of the civil war, the orange market was a very important income from foreign exchange, for those who managed to control it. For this reason, the central government was not in favor of collectivization, since it meant leaving a large number of currencies in the hands of the unions, but rather favored following the usual path of an export controlled by individual companies, coordinated only by international markets. Thus, the Republican parties, the Government, and the Communist Party defended the maintenance of freedom of export under certain government control. In contrast, the UGT and CNT were in favor of collectivizing all exports, in order to avoid the flight of foreign currency.

CLUEA's management was always surrounded by controversy and confrontation, since although the UGT militants agreed with the collectivization, the leaders of the PSOE did not. Among the leaders opposed to collectivization was Largo Caballero himself. In that year, an overproduction crisis occurred in the European market. The European market was saturated with Palestinian oranges, Spanish production had extra competition. Overall, it appeared that the citrus campaign contributed between half and two thirds the amount of the previous foreign exchange campaign.[14] This foreign exchange would be about 200 million pesetas for about 700,000 tons of exported oranges.[15]

This decrease in income caused harsh attacks from its detractors, the government prevailed and decided to dissolve the CLUEA. It was replaced by the Citrus Export Commission, under the Ministry of Economy. The commission was created by decree of the Government of Juan Negrín on September 6, 1937. Its objective was to control orange exports in order to obtain foreign currency with which to sustain the war effort. With the end of the war, the company was liquidated by the republican government in exile.

The October Events

On October 29, 1936 the GPA killed the anarchist Tiburcio Ariza in a raid, after he had refused to be handcuffed. At the funeral organized by the anarchist Torres-Benedito, Iron and CNT 13 columns, they passed near the heavily armed Civilian Government, awaiting a possible attack. When they reached the Plaza de Tetuán, the local headquarters of the Communist Party of Spain, they saw that the communists had organized an armed battalion in the plaza. A young communist protesting against the anarchists' demonstration approached the head of the procession and fired into the crowd. This shot was quickly followed by many others, including machine gun fire, creating chaos in the plaza. The combat lasted half an hour and caused numerous injuries (56 injuries were registered, of which 49 were from the CNT). There were a total of about 30 dead. The CEP issued a proclamation on November 1 calling for the cessation of the brawls.

The immediate reaction was to bring the anarchist forces of Teruel down on Valencia. The communists had that battalion, the GPA, and about 300 young men in military practice. But the CNT committee avoided this situation by rebuking those responsible for the anarchist columns. The last thing the CNT leaders wanted at the time were problems with the PCE, just as the details were being finalized to join the Largo Caballero government.

Program

On November 2, 1936, shortly before the republican government's move from Madrid to Valencia, Zabaltza approved a series of resolutions that meant a change in the CEP's program of actions, formally subordinating itself to the central government of Largo Caballero, and suggesting the autonomist route as a future solution. Among the numerous resolutions was the formation of an Economic Council within the CEP. Point 14 of the resolutions of November 2 said:

The political and trade union organizations that make up the Popular Executive Committee declare that, along with the other regions of Spain, they consider that the Valencian region should be granted the right to self-determination, founding its own bodies to govern freely, as well as in concert with the other Iberian regions.
Yes, the Republic will be federal, or it will be nothing. All centralism is a fascist concept, and therefore we must oppose the product of that mentality with our feeling of freedom, which is not "disintegrating", but will produce a true union, based on brotherhood and mutual respect.[16]

Dissolution

Bombing of the Northern Station of Valencia, carried out by Italian planes in 1937.
Bombing of the Northern Station of Valencia, carried out by Italian planes in 1937.

On November 6, the republican government of Largo Caballero moved to Valencia, as tensions between the two administrations are intensifying. In any case, the context was favorable for the approval of a Statute of Autonomy; the CNT presented their "Basis for the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Country" in December 1936,[17] while the Valencian Left presented a "Preliminary Draft of the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Region" in February 1937 [18] and the Republican Union proposed their own "Draft Statute of Autonomy for the Valencian Country", in March 1937,.[19]

In December 1936, the Levantine militias tried to take Teruel, without success. Finally, the CEP voluntarily dissolved itself on January 8, 1937, being relieved by the Valencia Provincial Council. In the words of Franz Borkenau, a contemporary observer of events:

The arrival of the Government has caused reforms; There has been a strengthening of centralism [...] The days in which the Popular Executive Committee ruled the city with total independence from the central Government have passed.[20] The Executive Committee has been officially dissolved, but it continues to exist and collaborate with the Government without there being more disagreements among them than usual. The November crisis was also crucial for Valencia. It brought the government and provoked an armed confrontation between communists and anarchists that ended in the defeat of the latter. But political views lean to the left quite a bit, compared not only with present-day Barcelona, but even with Valencia in August. At the time, the city had been governed by what amounted to almost a Soviet system, although under the guise of the revolutionary regime it had remained wholly petty-bourgeois and anti-revolutionary. Now with the headquarters of the entire socialist and communist organization within its walls, it is tinged with a much more sincere socialism. Expropriations have continued. Most hotels, restaurants, and movie theaters are now either worker-controlled or directly managed by them. The orange industry is controlled by the two unions. There are still workers armed in civilian clothes who watch the streets and make night guards.[21]

The nationalists occupied Castellón de la Plana on June 13, 1938. In the Final offensive of the Spanish Civil War, the nationalist faction occupied Valencia and Alicante on March 30, 1939.

The Socialized Economy Regulatory Council (CRES)

Subsequently, in Villena, the Socialized Economy Regulatory Council (CRES) was jointly founded by CEP remnants from the UGT and the CNT, in response to the economic and social conditions in place during the Spanish Civil War. It was created on April 22, 1937 in order to socialize the city's economy, after a massive expropriation of industry and agriculture. Its main objectives were to increase production, collaborate in the acquisition of raw materials, distribute and sell manufactured products, and provide financial assistance to workers and families. Its founding act entered the Ministry of Economy and Labor of Alicante on April 27.[22]

Casa del Pueblo de Villena, meeting place for the CNT and UGT.
Casa del Pueblo de Villena, meeting place for the CNT and UGT.

The council was formed by all the capital and possessions of the thirteen socialized industrial branches in Villena: Retail, Footwear, Oil, Salt, Wines and Alcohols, Flour, Agriculture, Plaster, Metallurgy, Textiles, Clothing, Furniture and Building Materials. The workshops were mainly in Villena, although there were also some in Yecla, Caudete, Sax and Biar, among others. It was structured by a president, a secretary and a treasurer together with the thirteen directors from each of the thirteen sections. These directors were in turn the chairmen of the Board of Directors of each of the industries, making it easy to check the total daily balance of cash and dedicate it to the industry that needed it the most, or what greatest benefits it could obtain for the good of the general community.

As the year 1937 progressed, the task of obtaining raw materials and selling manufactured products became more difficult. However, the CRES made it possible to reactivate some productive sectors, open new markets, increase production and create numerous jobs, contrary to what happened in other localities where industries were still in private hands. The joint production of the companies that made up the CRES, before 1936, gave a monthly average of 535,000 pesetas, while at the end of 1937 the monthly production was 1,897,000 pesetas on average, with 194.7% more employees than the previous period. The only sectors that did not grow were flour, plaster, construction materials and retail. Due to the increase in the prices of basic necessities and the freezing of wages, the creation of a consumer cooperative was proposed, which was established on August 26, 1937, although it did not open its doors on May 3, 1938. It distributed basic necessities at cost price to the workers of the CRES companies.[23]

In mid-1938 the Textile industry had to close due to a lack of cotton, so some employees were relocated to other industries and the others continued to earn 4 days a week, leading to an administrative crisis, since the other industiras were less and less willing to cover the deficit of this one. In the different discussions that took place on various topics, there were constant disputes between the UGT and CNT, which finally resulted in an agreement to divide the workers of the CRES into two groups according to their union.

The war forced more and more managers to join the ranks of the employees, making the state of the Council critical. From January 1939, it was waiting for better economic circumstances that didn't come, since at the end of the war, the Francoist administration was in charge of dissolving the CRES and integrating it into the Vertical Union.

Composition

Palace of the Generalitat Valenciana, the seat of the committee's presidency over the Valencian Community.
Palace of the Generalitat Valenciana, the seat of the committee's presidency over the Valencian Community.

The delegations that constituted the Popular Executive Committee were established on September 17, 1936, as follows:[11]

Cabinet Position Office Holder Political Party or Trade Union
Public Order Gonzalo Navacerrada PSOE
Propaganda, Press and Communications Juan López Sánchez CNT
Transport José Prost CNT
Economy & Supplies Pérez Carretero UGT
Work and Work Stoppage Vicente Romero UGT
Treasury Juan Tejón PSOE
War José Benedito Lleó EV
Militias José Antonio Uribes PCE
Agriculture Antonio Sánchez UR
Health Francisco Bosch Morata PVE
Justice Sánchez Requena PS
Movement control Francisco Ravenat POUM
Relations Miguel San Andrés IR

References

  1. ^ a b c "The 15 longest days in Valencia". Levante-EMV. July 18, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Furió, Antoni (1995). History of the Valencian Country (in Catalan). Valencia: Edicions Alfons el Magnànim. pp. 597–598. ISBN 84-7822-159X.
  3. ^ a b Girona, Albert (1988). "Valencian politics and society during the Civil War". In Manuel Cerdá (ed.). History of the Valencian People. Valencia: Levante. pp. 869–873. ISBN 84-404-3763-3.
  4. ^ Aragó Carrión, Lucila; Azkárraga Testor, Jose Mª; Salazar Bonet, Juan (28 November 2011). Urban Guide. Valencia 1931-1939, (2nd ed.): The city in the 2nd Republic (in Spanish). ISBN 9788437085937.
  5. ^ "Presentan un libro que recupera la memoria del rescate del tesoro de la Catedral de Valencia en 1936" (in Spanish). La Información. May 16, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  6. ^ Aróstegui, Julio (2006). The Civil War. Myth and memory. pp. 86–87.
  7. ^ Girona, Albert (July 23, 2006). "Valencia, 18 de julio" (PDF). Levante-EMV.
  8. ^ Cover of the newspaper La Correspondencia de Valencia, August 1936.
  9. ^ Historia general de España y América, Aviva Aviv, 1990
  10. ^ Cucó Giner, Alfons (1972). "L'anarcosindicalisme i l'estatut d'autonomia del País Valencià". Recerques : Història, Economica, Cultura (in Valencian). Recerques: Història, economia i cultura (2): 209. ISSN 0210-380X.
  11. ^ a b c "The Valencian body of defense". La Vanguardia. 17 September 1936. p. 5. Retrieved April 25, 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Quilis Tauriz, Fernando (1992). Revolución y guerra civil. The workers' collectivities in the province of Alicante 1936-1939 (in Spanish). Alicante: Instituto de Cultura «Juan Gil-Albert». p. 81. ISBN 84-7784-994-7.CS1 maint: ignored ISBN errors (link)
  13. ^ "La Voz del CLUEA". Ministry of Culture (in Spanish).
  14. ^ Frank Mintz. "Self-management in Revolutionary Spain". Traffickers of Dreams, 2004.
  15. ^ "The Human adventure in the Mediterranean". Educational Culture (in Spanish). p. 18. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  16. ^ Newspaper La Vanguardia , Sunday edition, November 15, 1936
  17. ^ Basis for the Statute of Autonomy of the Valencian Country, on Wikisource.
  18. ^ Preliminary Draft Statute of Autonomy for the Valencian Region, on Wikisource.
  19. ^ Draft Statute of Autonomy for the Valencian Country, on Wikisource.
  20. ^ The Civil War in the Valencian Community. 3 (The fight for power in the rearguard). Grupo Unidad Editorial SA. 2006. ISBN 84-87502-70-9.
  21. ^ Borkenau, Franz (2001). El reñidero español (in Spanish). Ediciones Peninsula. p. 225. ISBN 84-8307-395-1.
  22. ^ Martínez Puche, Antonio (2009). "The development of the footwear industry in Villena (Alicante). A complement to the evolution and origin of footwear in the Vinalopó Corridor (1823-1936)" (PDF). Investigaciones Geográficas (21): 141–167. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  23. ^ Costa Vidal, Fernando (1997). Villena during the Civil War (1936-1939). Instituto de Cultura "Juan Gil-Albert", Excma. Diputación Provincial de Alicante y M.I. Ayuntamiento de Villena.