The SHC’s Opposition to Spanish Fascism
At the turn of the twentieth century, Spanish workers arrived in the United States already imbued with radical traditions rooted in the socialism or anarchism of their homeland. These radicals would play a critical role in the broader antifascist political efforts of the coming years during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and the Francisco Franco dictatorship (1939–1975). About two hundred workers’ and immigrant associations came together under the Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas (Confederation of Hispanic Societies, SHC) and published the bilingual periodical España Libre (Free Spain) in New York from 1939 to 1977, when democratic elections were held again in Spain. The confederation grew to 65,000 members at its height. Mainly composed by workers, the Confederadas understood Spanish fascism as a complex and adapting interlocking of fascist, extreme-right, and capitalist values. Franco fascistized Spain with a culture of National Catholicism and cult of military power that enforced social cleansing of dissenters and terrorized the population. España Libre continued an antifascist, progressive, and radical political and cultural legacy in the United States while Franco intended to destroy it in Spain. It constituted an alternative progressive path to modernity, albeit an exiled one.
Keywords: Anarchism, antifascist workers, España Libre, fascist Spain, grassroots’ solidarity, political protest, radical networks, socialism, Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas, Spanish Civil War exile
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