Santiago Carrillo

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Santiago Carrillo
Santiago Carrillo firmando en la Feria del Libro de Madrid en 2006.jpg
Santiago Carrillo in 2006.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain
In office
3 July 1960 – 10 December 1982
Preceded by Dolores Ibárruri
Succeeded by Gerardo Iglesias
Personal details
Born Santiago José Carrillo Solares
(1915-01-18)18 January 1915
Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Died 18 September 2012(2012-09-18) (aged 97)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Political party Communist Party of Spain
Spouse(s) Carmen Menéndez Menéndez
Children Aurora, Santiago, José, Jorge

Santiago José Carrillo Solares (18 January 1915 – 18 September 2012) was a Spanish politician who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) from 1960 to 1982. He later came to embrace Eurocommunism and democratic socialism.

Childhood and early youth[edit]

Born in Gijón, Asturias province, Carrillo was the son of the prominent Socialist leader Wenceslao Carrillo and wife María Rosalía Solares Martínez. When he was six years old, his family moved to Madrid. After attending school, he began to work in El Socialista, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) newspaper at the age of 13. At the same time, he joined the Socialist Union, the Workers' General Union and the Socialist Youth.

Second Republic and Civil War[edit]

In 1932, he joined the Executive Commission of the Socialist Youth and became editor of its newspaper, Renovación. Carrillo was on the left wing of the organisation.[1] In 1933, as the Socialist Youth was becoming more radical, Carrillo was elected as General Secretary. From October 1934 to February 1936 he was jailed, due to his participation in the failed 1934 leftist coup (Carrillo was a member of the National Revolutionary Committee).[2]

After his release, in March 1936, Carrillo and the executive of the Socialist Youth travelled to Moscow to meet the leaders of the Young Communist International and prepare the unification of Socialist and Communist youth leagues. The outcome of the process was the creation of the Unified Socialist Youth (Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas).[3]

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he decided to join the Communist Party and did so on the day the government left Madrid in November. During the war, he showed an intense pro-Soviet approach. On 7 November 1936 Carrillo was elected Councillor for Public Order in the Defence Council of Madrid, which was given supreme power in besieged Madrid, after the government left the city.

During his term, several thousand military and civilian prisoners, including many women and children, were killed by communist groups in the Paracuellos massacres at Paracuellos del Jarama and Torrejón de Ardoz (the biggest mass killings by the Republican side during the Civil War). The dead were buried in common graves.[4][5] Carrillo denied any knowledge of the massacres in his memoirs but some historians like César Vidal or Pío Moa still maintain that Carrillo was involved.[6] In an interview with the historian Ian Gibson, Carrillo set out his version of events concerning the massacre.[7]

In March 1939 Madrid surrendered after an internal coup against the Negrín administration and its close supporter, the Communist Party, which wished to continue the resistance until the expected outbreak of the World War. Carrillo's father, Wenceslao, a member of the PSOE, was among those who led the coup and was a member of Casado's Junta. Some weeks before, Carrillo's mother had died. Carrillo then wrote an open letter to his father describing the coup as counter-revolutionary and as a betrayal, reproaching him for his anti-communism, and renouncing any further communication with him. In his memoirs, Carrillo states that the letter was written on 7 March.[8] However, journalist and historian Carlos Fernández published the letter in 1983, as it had been published in Correspondance International; it was dated 15 May.[9]

After the military collapse of the Republican Government, he fled to Paris and tried to reorganise the party. Carrillo spent 38 years in exile, most of the time in France, but also in the USSR and other countries.

Exile[edit]

In 1944 Carrillo led the retreat of the communist guerrillas from the Aran Valley.[10]

According to the conservative historian Ricardo de la Cierva, in 1945 Carrillo ordered the execution of fellow communist party member Gabriel León Trilla and helped the Francoist forces to detain the fellow communist Jesús Monzón.[11] According to Enrique Líster and de la Cierva, Carrillo also ordered in 1949 the execution of fellow communist Joan Comorera, who was saved by the precautions he took.[12] In 2005 Carrillo said "yo he tenido que eliminar a alguna persona" (I have had to eliminate someone) [13]

In August 1948, Carrillo met Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.[14]

Carrillo became the General Secretary of the PCE in 1960, replacing Dolores Ibárruri (La Pasionaria), who was given the post of Party President. Carrillo's policies were aimed at strengthening the party's position among the working class and intellectual groups[citation needed], and survived opposition from Marxist-Leninist, Stalinist and social democratic factions. In 1968, when Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, Carrillo began to distance the party from Moscow.

Spanish Transition and Eurocommunism[edit]

Carrillo returned secretly to Spain in 1976 after the death of long-time Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco. Arrested by the police, he was released within days. Together with communist comrades Georges Marchais of France and Enrico Berlinguer of Italy, he launched the Eurocommunist movement in a meeting held in Madrid on March 2, 1977.

Carrillo was elected to the Spanish Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados), the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes Generales, representing Madrid district in the first democratic elections in 1977, shortly after the legalization of the PCE (9 April 1977) by the government of Adolfo Suárez. Throughout the Transition, Carrillo's authority and leadership were decisive in securing peaceful evolution towards a democratic system, a constructive approach based on dialogue with opponents, and a healing of the wounds from the Civil War (the "Reconciliation" policy). It is widely acknowledged that this policy played a key role in making possible a peaceful transition to democracy.

Carrillo was re-elected in 1979, but the failed coup d'état attempt on 23 February 1981 reduced support for the PCE, as Spanish society was still recovering from the trauma of the Civil War and subsequent repression and dictatorship. His own courageous personal behaviour during the failed coup d'état was remarkable − he was, together with outgoing prime minister Suárez and defence minister Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, one of the three MPs not to obey the rebels' orders to lie down, choosing to sit and have a cigarette (as shown in the surviving TV footage of that day). Fear of another military uprising increased support for moderate left wing forces in the 1982 elections, in which Carrillo held his parliamentary seat. He was forced to leave his post as party leader on 6 November 1982, owing to the party's poor electoral performance. The new General Secretary, the much younger Gerardo Iglesias, a member of the "renovators" wing, had been at odds with him from the beginning of his tenure.

Leaving the Spanish Communist Party[edit]

On 15 April 1985, Carrillo and his followers were expelled from the PCE, and in 1986 they formed their own political group, the Workers Party of Spain-Communist Unity (PTE-UC). This tiny leftist party was unable to attract enough voters, so on 27 October 1991, Carrillo announced that it would be disbanded. Subsequently, the PTE-UC merged into the ruling PSOE, but Carrillo declined PSOE membership considering his many years as a communist member.

Retirement and death[edit]

Santiago Carrillo speaking to the VI Congress of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in 1963.

On 20 October 2005, Carrillo was granted an honorary doctorate by the Autonomous University of Madrid. The action of the university was strongly criticized by right-wing commentators. Carrillo, however, was no longer a communist having "moved to the right through Eurocommunism to social democracy."[15] He was quoted in September 1991: "the Communist movement as such has completed its historical cycle and it makes no sense trying to prolong it."[citation needed] Carrillo had retired from public life at the time of his death at his home in Madrid at the age of 97 on 18 September 2012. He was cremated in Madrid on 20 September.[16]

List of works[edit]

  • "¿Adónde va el Partido Socialista? (Prieto contra los socialistas del interior)" (1959)
  • "Después de Franco, ¿qué?" (1965)
  • "Problems of Socialism Today" (1970)
  • "Eurocomunismo y Estado" Editorial Critica (1977) ISBN 84-7423-015-2 ; English edition: Eurocommunism and the State, Lawrence and Wishart, 1977, ISBN 0-85315-408-2
  • "El año de la Constitución" (1978)
  • "Memoria de la transición: la vida política española y el PCE" (1983)
  • "Problemas de la transición: las condiciones de la revolución socialista" (1985)
  • "El año de la peluca" (1987)
  • "Problemas del Partido: el centralismo democrático" (1988)
  • "Memorias" (1993)
  • "La gran transición: ¿cómo reconstruir la izquierda?" (1995)
  • "Un joven del 36" (1996)
  • "Juez y parte: 15 retratos españoles" (1998)
  • "La Segunda República: recuerdos y reflexiones" (1999)
  • "¿Ha muerto el comunismo?: ayer y hoy de un movimiento clave para entender la convulsa historia del siglo XX" (2000)
  • "La memoria en retazos: recuerdos de nuestra historia más reciente" (2004)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Santiago Carrillo (1993). "3. El bienio republicano socialista". Memorias. Barcelona: Planeta. ISBN 84-08-01049-2. 
  2. ^ Santiago Carrillo (1993). "4. El movimiento insurreccional contra la CEDA de 1934". Memorias. Barcelona: Planeta. ISBN 84-08-01049-2. 
  3. ^ Santiago Carrillo (1993). "6. De las elecciones a la guerra civil". Memorias. Barcelona: Planeta. ISBN 84-08-01049-2. 
  4. ^ Knut Ahnlund, Rethinking the Spanish Civil War[dead link]
  5. ^ Preston, Paul, "A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War". 1996, Fontana Press London.
  6. ^ Vidal, Cesar, "Paracuellos-Katyn: Un ensayo sobre el genocidio de la izquierda". 2005, Libroslibres ISBN 84-96088-32-4
  7. ^ Ian Gibson, "Paracuellos. Cómo fue". 1983, Plaza y Janés. Barcelona.
  8. ^ Santiago Carrillo (1993). Memorias. Barcelona: Planeta. p. 300. ISBN 84-08-01049-2. 
  9. ^ Carlos Fernández (1983). Paracuellos del Jarama ¿Carrillo culpable?. Barcelona: Arcos Vergara. pp. 188–192. ISBN 84-7178-530-7. 
  10. ^ Carrillo miente, 156 documentos contra 103 falsedades, Ricardo de la Cierva, pages 288-291
  11. ^ Carrillo miente, 156 documentos contra 103 falsedades, Ricardo de la Cierva, pages 298-303
  12. ^ Carrillo miente, 156 documentos contra 103 falsedades, Ricardo de la Cierva, page 316
  13. ^ Un resistente de la política, interview with Santiago Carrillo. El País
  14. ^ Carrillo miente, 156 documentos contra 103 falsedades, Ricardo de la Cierva, page 312
  15. ^ Hudson, Kate. European Communism since 1989. New York: St Martin's Press, 2000
  16. ^ "Tributes paid to Santiago Carrillo, a key figure in the democratic transition". El Pais. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
Preceded by
Dolores Ibárruri
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain
1960-1982
Succeeded by
Gerardo Iglesias