To the Editors:

The political situation in Spain today requires no elaborate explanation for anyone who has been a newspaper reader within the last thirty years. The basic facts of Spanish political life have remained the same since the Republic was defeated in 1939—no authentic political parties and no meaningful dissent. The wonder is that after a generation of repression and police terror there are still thousands of men and women willing to risk fines, imprisonment, and even torture to voice their outrage at the continued military occupation of their own country. The latest demonstration of this outrage comes from 300 Catalan professionals, intellectuals and artists, who for three days last December assembled at the Monastery of Montserrat outside Barcelona in order to protest the Summary Court Martial imposed on sixteen Basque activists.

There have been other protests before in Spain—student and worker demonstrations, strikes, and even marches through the streets of Barcelona by priests—but the Assembly of Montserrat marks a new departure. The Assembly has not simply issued another manifesto, which we are reproducing below, but has formed itself into a permanent organization committed to working publicly and openly for the goals outlined in the Manifesto. They are determined to confront as a united group all forms of police repression which may fall upon them or any other group in Spain.

Needless to say this repression has already begun. Most of the 300 members of the Assembly have been fined in amounts ranging from $200 to $1,000 each. Most of them have thus far refused to pay these fines and can expect more severe reprisals in the immediate future. Given the impoverished condition of most intellectuals and workers in Spain, there is an urgent need for funds so that the Assembly can carry on its struggle and extend its protest to other parts of the country. They are asking us to share in this struggle.

Readers who wish to contribute may do so in the following way:

(1) Purchase from your local bank a “New York Draft” for the amount you wish to contribute,

(2) Have the draft made out to: Josep Benet, Account No. 60-24736-6,

(3) Send the draft by registered airmail (receipt requested) to:

Banco Popular Español

Paseo de Gracia, 17

Barcelona, Spain

William Watson

Noam Chomsky

MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Assembly of Montserrat Manifesto

As Catalan intellectuals gathered in the Abbey of Montserrat in a permanent assembly, we believe it our duty to declare our opinion about the very serious political and social situation created by the Court-Martial against sixteen militants of the organization ETA, accused of fighting for socialism and for the rights of the Basque People. In the present state of affairs, we declare that:

1) The repressive legislation begun over thirty years ago in Spain, during the Civil War, is still in force against all democratic opinion and action.

2) Under the present regime, the political and social activities which in any democratic state are considered legitimate and even constitute the elemental rights of all citizens are converted into offenses.

3) Physical and moral torture, well-known and continuously denounced, are still practiced by the police.

4) The rights of the communities and nations which today form the Spanish State are ignored and repressed in the name of a mythical Spanish Unity; this is an essential principle of the constitutional law of the Spanish State.

Considering these facts, we cannot accept the application of the extremely severe verdict demanded by the Court-Martial in Burgos.

We denounce the information channels of the Government—Radio Nacional de España, Televisión Española, and Cifra Agency—who systematically conceal and distort the information. Since there is no freedom of expression, we are forced to manifest our opinion by means of this document.

Together with the civil lawyers of the defense, we reject the trial of Burgos and, at the same time, we manifest our solidarity with the movements of protest which are taking place at home and abroad.

Secondly, we demand that the following measures be immediately taken:

1) That none of the decisions taken by the Court-Martial of Burgos be carried out.

2) A general amnesty for all those in prison or in exile for political reasons.

3) The abolition of the “Terrorism and Banditry Law” and other extraordinary jurisdictional courts.

4) The abolition of the death penalty.

5) The founding of a truly representative state, which guarantees democratic freedoms and rights, including the right of self-determination of the communities and nations which are under the Spanish State.

Finally, we manifest our solidarity and fraternity with the Basque People and their aspirations, which are ours.

Montserrat, December 13, 1970

This Issue

July 22, 1971