To the Editors:
Ten Spanish labor leaders are in jail in Carabanchel, near Madrid, since last June for “illegal association.” They face a total of 162 years in prison. Their “crime” is trying to organize their fellow workers. They are accused of being members of the National Co-ordinating Committee of the Workers’ Commissions.
The Workers’ Commissions represent the combined efforts of Spanish workers from many different political groups—Catholic, Socialist, Communist, and Christian Democrat—to bring a democratic form of unionization to Spain, and thus bring Spain into the twentieth century. Despite the government ban on any form of unionization, Spain during this past year has had a pattern of more severe strikes than any other European country. Spanish workers have become the cheap labor force for Europe and the United States. This issue is of concern to Americans because of our continued direct economic backing of industry in Spain. When Ford Motor Company installs its new plant in Spain we also will be using nonunionized workers in the service of American automobile interests.
Among this group, known as the Carabanchel Ten, is the famous labor leader Marcelino Camacho Abad. Camacho, a metal worker, was repeatedly elected to syndicate posts at Perkins S.A. until his imprisonment in March, 1967. He was visited in Carabanchel prison in March, 1969, by Paul Ruegger, president of the Fact-Finding Commission of the International Labor Office, Geneva. He was released from prison on March 10, 1972, and imprisoned three months later. He now risks being sentenced to twenty years and one day.
Among the group of lawyers representing the workers are Joaquin Ruiz Gimenez and Gil Robles, both of whom were formerly top members of Franco’s government and who are typical of the increasingly broad-based nature of the opposition to the mounting repressiveness of the Spanish government. These opponents of oppression in Spain consider this trial to be even more important than the Burgos Trials of 1970 in which the group of Basques sentenced to death later had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment following world protest.
To date the American press has not reported this trial and despite wide international protest, the only prominent labor leader who seems to have spoken up is Leonard Woodcock of the UAW. Somehow this trial and its implications for Spain and for America must be brought to the attention of the American public. We are convinced that when these facts are known Americans will join Europeans and others in world-wide protests which are the only hope of easing oppression in Spain and preventing the continued imprisonment of men and women whose only offense is their commitment to a democratic Spain.
Those who want to make their voices heard on this question can send protests to: The Spanish Minister of Justice, San Bernardo 45, Madrid; The Spanish Ambassador to the US, Mr. Angel Sagaz Zubelzus, 2700 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009; or, to The US State Department, Washington, DC. A committee for the Carabanchel Ten has been formed in the US by Erich Schmidt and can be contacted at 9 East 40th Street, New York, New York.
Barbara Probst Solomon
New York City