Biography of Ángel Pestaña Núñez (1886-1937)

Angel tab.

Spanish trade unionist. One of the most outstanding figures of Spanish trade unionism, formed part of the large group of labor leaders who, in the first decades of the 20th century, exceeded the Catalan which came to acquire wide projection throughout the Spanish territory.

Born on February 14, 1886 in Santa María de las Ollas (Ponferrada, León), the political career of Ángel tab took him soon to occupy a relevant position in the development of the central trade union FOD (National Confederation of labour). In 1909, he/she ended up in Algiers, after having traveled much of the North of Spain and the South of France, in search of a way of life, having been orphaned early. It was in that city and through the Catalan anarchist press, which learned about the events in Barcelona in July 1909 (tragic week). These facts influenced decisive Ángel tab, marking the start of its links with the field of libertarian publications. Newspaper "Tierra y Libertad" hosted in its pages his first articles by these dates.

His first appearances took place in 1914, already installed in Barcelona with the trade of watchmaker, who would not abandon, as a speaker at the premises of the trade union sphere. Delegate in Congress--clandestine, given the illegality of the anarchist workers organization in that period-in El Ferrol in 1915, Member of the Valencia regional plenary in 1916, was soon as a prominent activist. The revolutionary alliance which, in 1916, joined the two strongest confederations of the era, FOD and U.G.T., counted among the coordinators of the joint actions with Ángel tab: in Zaragoza, in fact, in the month of July of that year, tab, Salvador Seguí and Ángel Lacort by FOD met with Largo Caballero and Julián Besteiro representating the U.G.T.

Solidaridad Obrera", organ of the FOD who from 1916 became daily, press tab featured several times as one of its directors. From the pages of this publication it started a campaign of denunciation which demonstrate the complicity between the Catalan police authorities and the terrorist gangs hired by employers who acted against the CNT in 1919. The anarchist attacks, which increased significantly at the end of that year, ran parallel to the murders of activists and leaders of the libertarian Trade Union, in which the own tab was on the verge of losing their lives. Seriously injured in Manresa in 1922 by gunmen at the service of Catalan businessmen, saved life for little. The attack on tab, denounced in the Parliament by Socialist Deputy Indalecio Prieto and the Madrid press by the also Socialist Gabriel Alomar, led to the dismissal of the general Arlegui, Chief of police of Barcelona, and Martínez Anido, Governor military of Catalonia, putting an end to the sinister act of leaking. Tab and others, however, flatly opposed the terrorist actions of some anarchists, to the point of agreeing in their Union not to help through the Pro-Presos Committee to any involved in such acts. The debate in the media libertarians around the practice of the attacks, as well as failures in various strikes raised with revolutionary character, would prefer to tab towards more moderate positions.

In June 1920 Ángel tab was sent to Moscow by the FOD to inform about the Soviet revolutionary process, as well as to comply with the resolution of the Congress of 1919 (Madrid, Teatro de la Comedia) in which the FOD acceded provisionally to the third international. While were named for this mission delegates, given the difficulties of the journey in the context of the confederal illegality and the European anti-Soviet Alliance, only tab came to Moscow. There, and in the framework of the second Congress of the Comintern, he/she met Lenin, Trostki and other prominent leaders of international communism. His interview with Kropotkin outside the sessions of the Congress was however much closer to their ideological convictions. The authoritarian practices of the early Soviet State led him to write a negative report of the Russian Revolution, which would be decisive in the subsequent rectification of the FOD Thus, in the Congress of Zaragoza from 1922, the Spanish Trade Union Confederation withdrew membership to the third international. The tab report, written in November of 21 on his return and from Barcelona jail (as it was arrested upon arrival) was extended in a 1924 book titled seventy days in Russia.

During the dictatorship of general Primo de Rivera (1923-1929), Ángel tab became the main leader of the FOD, in part due to the murder of Salvador Seguí, fallen under the bullets of the pistolerismo employers. Opposite the "purist" line marked by the F.A.I. (Iberian anarchist Federation) and its leaders (Durruti, Ascaso, García Oliver), who opposed any participation in "support Councils" primoriveristas, tab was enrolled in the moderate trend faced radical theories of those new activists and supported to take advantage of the channels of participation offered within the law, by meagre these were. "Proletarian solidarity" was from 1924 publication that served as a means of trade unionist review for tab and others.

After the signing of the "manifesto of the thirty", the draft document was the author, the confrontation between "treintistas" and "faistas" reached its highest levels. Finally, decision to tab not to sign the Declaration of a general strike, agreed from the criterion faista sector of FOD, triggered his expulsion from the National Committee. As a correlative inevitable and in the same year (1932), he/she was also expelled from their own Union. Tab, faced already even to those who were partners in the treintismo, he/she then founded the Unionist Party, along with Ricardo Fornels, Josep Robusté, Natividad Adalia and others, inspired by the English labour. He/She participated also as a leader in the Constitution of the libertarian syndicalist Federation, grouping called "unions of opposition" (1933), which reached a certain implementation in Levant and some cities of the Barcelona industrial belt. In its proposals, tab defended a flexible strategy that included both electoral politics and direct action, without renouncing his anarchist convictions. Formed in the French trade unionist tradition, tab was convinced of the need to securely organize trade union activity, leaving for later the revolutionary goal, being this last issue its essential connection with the treintismo.

In 1934, during the revolutionary general strike of Asturias, he/she was detained for 28 days. On the occasion of the general elections of February 1936, thanks to the joint candidacy of the Popular Front, which joined his party, it won two seats in the Parliament, being tab elected Deputy for Cadiz. After the military uprising that resulted in the Civil war in July 1936, was arrested in Barcelona. Released by anarchist militants to get these with the surrender of the rebels, tab was integrated back into the anarcho-syndicalist organization. His prestige among the masses of the FOD however did not return to reach the level of the past.It remained, however, and until his death, from the pages of the newspaper "tomorrow" that founded and directed in Barcelona, the conviction of the need for an organization that was the political expression of the FOD

Ángel Pestaña died on 11 December 1937 of a bronchial asthma attack. The bullet that went through her lung, contribuuyo no doubt to their premature demise in the attack he/she suffered in 1922.


Bacells, Albert. Syndicalism in Barcelona, 1916-1923. Barcelona, 1968.

Peirats, José. Figures of the Spanish libertarian movement. Barcelona, 1978.

Tab, Ángel. Trade unionist career. Madrid, 1974.