Biography of José Giral y Pereira (1879-1962)

Politician and Spanish statesman, born in Santiago de Cuba in 1879 and died in exile in 1962. He/She completed university studies in chemistry and Pharmacy and in 1905 obtained the Chair of inorganic chemistry in the University of Salamanca. In 1928 he/she moved to Madrid to occupy the Chair in biological chemistry from Central College. During his student days he/she was one of the most prominent members of the Group of the noucentista of the Union school, which had the sympathy of as relevant as Unamuno or Giner of the Ríoscharacters. Masona and his Republican activism led him first to the prison in 1917, due to its activity in favour of the general strike. He/She would return to jail three other times during the dictatorships of Primo de Rivera and Berenguer, for his support of the Republican ideas.

Giral, who became close friend of Manuel Azaña, participated along with this in the creation of the Republican Action Party. After the proclamation of the second Republic on April 14, 1931, Giral occupied the posts of Counsellor of State and Chancellor of the University of Madrid. He/She was Minister of the Navy in all Governments presided over by Azaña, both which was October 1931 until September of 1933, and that left the victory of the Popular Front in February 1936. As an MEP by Cáceres, he/she represented in the Parliament action Republican first and then to left Republican. It followed up the portfolio of Marina when, in May 1936, he/she formed Government Casares Quiroga. Knowing the preparation of a military uprising against the Republic, Giral, as Minister of the Navy, was responsible for, in the days prior to the uprising of July 1936, the prohibition of naval maneuvers planned in the Canary Islands and Moroccan coasts. Settled in the radiotelegraph stations, especially in Madrid's Ciudad Lineal, operators of its absolute confidence, in order to monitor any movement of military rebels.

On July 18, 1936, after the rise of the fittings of the protectorate of Morocco, he/she ordered the destroyers Lepanto, Sánchez event and Almirante Valdés, moored in Melilla, as well as the destroyer Churruca and cañonero Dato, close to the coast of Ceuta, to open fire on camps, regular detachments, military facilities or any grouping of forces suspected of support the rebellion. The commanders of the ships did not meet the order. Facing the failure of measures taken by the Government, the President of the Republic, Manuel Azaña, Giral commissioned the formation of a new Cabinet. Decided to give entry into the Government to more moderate sectors of republicanism. Giral continued to hold the portfolio of Marina, in addition to assuming the Presidency of the Government.

As a first step of his Cabinet, Giral decided to arm the masses of workers and unions, to avoid that the revolt spread without resistance. This measure was unpopular among the political caste, even among members of his own Government. Another of its provisions, this entirely fruitless, was to order the immediate dissolution of the rebel army. Giral hastened to request the help of France against the advance of fascism. He/She later made the same request to the Soviet Union. His following performances were aimed at normalizing the libertarian revolution that was taking place in many parts of the Republican zone through the confiscation and expropriation of land and industries. He/She dismissed all public officials suspected of supporting the uprising and replaced Civil Guard with the National Republican Guard.

The critical situation of the war finally provoked the resignation of Giral as Prime Minister, 5 September 1936. Replacing him was the ruling Socialist Largo Caballero. In the two cabinets that formed this last, Giral participated as Minister without portfolio. During the Government of Juan Negrín (1937-1938), Giral directed the Ministry of State and later participated in the Council of Ministers without portfolio defined. He/She also took part in the Commission of Republican representatives who negotiated the prisoner exchange with the rebel Government of Burgos. These conversations gave just fruit due to the stubborn refusal of the rebels.

In 1939, Giral accompanied Manuel Azaña into French exile. Both sought refuge in the Spanish Embassy in Paris. Shortly thereafter, Giral, moved to Mexico, a country where he/she resided until his death. There he/she taught Biochemistry at the College of Mexico, in the Polytechnic Institute and the National Autonomous University. On September 18, 1945 he/she held the Presidency of the Republican government in exile, with the only recognition of the Mexican Government. It did not give input in this cabinet the exiled Communists, supported mostly by Republicans, moderate Socialists and some representatives of the anarchist Union CNT. This made the movement of the Spanish exiles were divided and faced. Giral didn't intend to resume a new internecine struggle, but thinking about the support of the allied States to overthrow Franco, left out the Communist totalitarian. In 1947 he/she left the Presidency of the Republican government. The death came in his Mexican exile in 1962.


JACKSON, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the civil war (1931-1939). Madrid, 1986

VILAR, Pierre. The Spanish civil war. Madrid, 1988