Francesc Sabaté i Llopart, "Quico"
SABATÉ LLOPART, Francisco (angles)
SABATÉ LLOPART, Francisco
Hospitalet de Llobregat 1915-San Celoni 1960. Died in a clash with the Somatén and the Civil Guard.
At the age of seven, his parents put him in the Durán home in Barcelona, from which he escaped and made his way home. He worked in a plumber’s supply workshop and joined the CNT in his home town before the republic was proclaimed. Around 1932 he began his sometimes blurred oscillation between crime and idealism, joining the Los Novatos action group and joining the FAI: he was involved in the uprising in December 1933. The following year he was sent to prison. In 1935 he was declared a draft-dodger and was involved in a bank robbery to bolster prisoner defence funds. In August 1936 he served on the Aragon front with the Los Aguiluchos column, fought in the ranks of the Ascaso Division and with the 25th Division: he was involved in clashes with the Communists and was obliged to desert in Teruel and flee to Barcelona where he helped free some anarchist prisoners; arrested in connection with the death of the Stalinist Ariño, he was jailed in Barcelona and later in Vich from where he shot his way free of the Carabineros; he joined the 26th Division and served with it up until the end of the civil war. In February he crossed the border into France and wound up in the Vernet camp; in December he was sent to a gunpowder factory in Angoulême and, after the Germans overran France, to a gas plant. He was active with the anti-Nazi guerrillas and in 1943 was living in the Perpignan area (and may have visited Barcelona), studying the border and working in the countryside. After the CNT’s 1945 congress, Sabaté was one of the people who responded with most alacrity to the CNT’s call for the fight against Franco to be stepped up: in 1945 he carried out robberies with Parés, moving weapons and releasing prisoners in Catalonia, along with setting up a sprawling support network. In 1948 he was sentenced in France (in absentia) to a three year jail term for smuggling arms; in 1949 he made contact with the Los Maños group in Barcelona and together they prepared a (failed) attempt on the life of Quintela. Together with Facerías’s group he launched an intensive campaign in the lead-up to Franco’s visit to Barcelona. In June 1949 he was arrested in France and served nearly a year in prison (in Montpellier), during which time Franco’s police dismantled the network he had established in Catalonia. At the start of 1955 he launched the Grupos Anarcosindicalistas (which were disowned by the CNT-in-exile) and fought in Barcelona with weapons and propaganda materials; in 1956-57, these groups were smashed (with 42 arrests made in Catalonia) and Sabaté wound up in jail in Montpellier (for eight months). He returned to Spain in 1959 with Miracle, Conesa, Madrigal and Ruiz, but they were ambushed on the border and the wounded Sabaté escaped, but was gunned down in San Celoni on 5 January 1960.
Sabaté is, without doubt, the most famous of the anti-Franco urban guerrillas. Generally, he was acting in conformity with the CNT’s rules, except for 1955-56 when he came in for harsh criticism. Strictly a man of action, he carried on with the struggle even when he knew that things were hopeless.
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