Santiago Carrillo
Santiago Carrillo Solares (born January 18, 1915) is a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 politician who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) from 1960 to 1982.

Childhood and early youth

Born in Gijón
Gijón , officially Gijón / Xixón, is a coastal industrial city and a municipality in the autonomous community of Asturias in Spain. Early mediaeval texts mention it as "Gigia". It was an important regional Roman city, although the area has been settled since earliest history...

, Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

 province, Carrillo
House of Carrillo
The House of Carrillo is a Spanish noble house that traces its origins from the ancient Kingdom of Castile. There are several branches that exist such as Carrillo de Albornoz, Carrillo de Mendoza, Carrillo de Figueroa, Carrillo de Toledo and Carrillo Tablas among others. There are also several...

 is the son of the prominent Socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 leader Wenceslao Carrillo
Wenceslao Carrillo
Wenceslao Carrillo was a prominent Spanish Socialist leader, father of Santiago Carrillo. He belonged to the "Caballerist" faction of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party....

. When he was six-year old, his family moved to Madrid. After attending school, he began to work in El Socialista, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party is a social-democratic political party in Spain. Its political position is Centre-left. The PSOE is the former ruling party of Spain, until beaten in the elections of November 2011 and the second oldest, exceeded only by the Partido Carlista, founded in...

 (PSOE) newspaper when he was 13 years old. At the same time, he joined the Socialist Union, the Workers' General Union and the Socialist Youth
Socialist Youth of Spain
Socialist Youth of Spain is the youth organisation of the Spanish social democratic party Partido Socialista Obrero Español .-External links:*...


Second Republic and Civil War

In 1932, he accessed the Executive Commission of the Socialist Youth and became editor of Renovación, the newspaper of the Socialist Youth. Carrillo was one of the members of the left-wing of the youth organization. In 1933, as the Socialist Youth was becoming more radical, Santiago Carrillo was elected General Secretary of the youth organization. From October 1934 to February 1936 he was jailed, due to his participation in the failed 1934 leftist coup (Carrillo was a member of the National Revolutionary Committee).

After his release, in March 1936, Carrillo and the executive of the Socialist Youth traveled to Moscow to meet the leaders of the Young Communist International
Young Communist International
The Young Communist International was the parallel international youth organization affiliated with the Communist International .-International socialist youth organization before World War I:...

 and prepare the unification of Socialist and Communist youth leagues. The outcome of the process was the creation of the Unified Socialist Youth
Unified Socialist Youth
Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas - Unified Socialist Youth was a youth organization formed in the spring of 1936 in Spain through the amalgamation of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and Communist Party of Spain youth groups...

 (Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas).

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, he decided to join the Communist Party. The formal joining happened the same day the government left Madrid in November. During the war, he showed an intense pro-Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 approach. On November 7, 1936, Carrillo was elected Councillor for Public Order in the Defense Council of Madrid, who was given supreme power in besieged Madrid, after the government left the city.

During his term, several thousand imprisoned people, military and civilians, including many women and children, were murdered by communist groups in the Paracuellos massacre
Paracuellos massacre
The Paracuellos massacre were a series of mass killings of suspected civilian and military supporters of the military coup led by Francisco Franco and his Nationalist Army during the Spanish Civil War by the Republicans. It took place during the Battle for Madrid during the early stages of the war...

 at Paracuellos del Jarama
Paracuellos del Jarama
Paracuellos del Jarama is a small town in the urban area of Madrid, Spain. It is located Northeast from Madrid and very close to Barajas International Airport....

 and Torrejón de Ardoz
Torrejón de Ardoz
Torrejón de Ardoz is a town in the urban area of Madrid, Spain that has about 110,000 inhabitants.It is a town 20 km east of Madrid on the NII highway . It is essentially a dormitory town, mostly consisting of apartments. It can be reached by bus from Av...

 (the biggest massacre performed in the Republican sector during the Spanish Civil War), where the dead were buried in common graves. Carrillo has always strongly denied any knowledge or involvement in the massacres according to his memoirs but reliable evidence shows involvement in the massacre committed by communist elements. Some right-wing historians like Cesar Vidal or Pio Moa maintain today the thesis of Carrillo's involvement In an interview with the historian Ian Gibson
Ian Gibson (author)
Ian Gibson is an Irish author and Hispanist known for his biographies of Antonio Machado, Salvador Dalí, Henry Spencer Ashbee, and particularly his work on Federico García Lorca, for which he won several awards, including the 1989 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography...

, Carrillo explained once again the details of his version of events concerning the massacre.

In March 1939 Madrid surrendered after an internal coup against the Negrín
Juan Negrín
Juan Negrín y López was a Spanish politician and physician.-Early years:Born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Negrín came from a religious middle-class family...

 administration and its close supporter, the Communist Party, which wished to continue the resistance until the foreseeable outbreak of the World War. Carrillo's father, Wenceslao, member of PSOE, was among those who led the coup and was a member of Casado's Junta. Some weeks before, Carrillo's mother had died. Carrillo then wrote a public letter to his father describing the coup as counter-revolutionary and as a betrayal, reproaching him for his anti-communism, and renouncing any further communication with him. In his memoirs, Carrillo states that the letter was written on March 7. However, journalist and historian Carlos Fernández published the letter in 1983, as it had been published in Correspondance International; it was dated on May 15.

After the military collapse of the Republican Government
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

, he fled to Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and tried to reorganize the party. Carrillo spent 38 years in exile, most of the time in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, but also in the USSR and other countries.


In 1944 Carrillo led the retreat of the communist guerrillas from the Aran Valley.

According to Ricardo de la Cierva, in 1945 Carrillo ordered the execution of fellow communist party member Gabriel León Trilla and helped the Francoist forces to detain the fellow communist Jesús Monzón. According to Enrique Líster and Ricardo de la Cierva, Carrillo also ordered in 1949 the execution of fellow communist Joan Comorera, who was saved by the precautions he took. In 2005 Carrillo said "yo he tenido que eliminar a alguna persona" (I have had to eliminate someone)

In August 1948, Carrillo met Soviet premier Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...


Carrillo became the General Secretary of the PCE in 1960, replacing Dolores Ibárruri
Dolores Ibárruri
Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez , known more famously as "La Pasionaria" was a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War and communist politician of Basque origin...

 (Pasionaria), who was given the post of Party President. Carrillo's policies were meant to strengthen the party's position among the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 and intellectual groups , and averted several attempts of removal instigated by the Marxist-Leninist
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

, Stalinist
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and pro-democracy factions. In 1968, when Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia
Prague Spring
The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II...

, Carrillo began to distance the party from Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...


Spanish Transition and Eurocommunism

Carrillo returned secretly to Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in 1976 after the death of long-time Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

. Arrested by the police, he was released within days. Together with communist comrades Georges Marchais
Georges Marchais
Georges René Louis Marchais was the head of the French Communist Party from 1972 to 1994, and a candidate in the French presidential elections of 1981 - in which he managed to garner only 15.34% of the vote, which was considered at the time a major setback for the party.-Early life:Born into a...

 of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and Enrico Berlinguer
Enrico Berlinguer
Enrico Berlinguer was an Italian politician; he was national secretary of the Italian Communist Party from 1972 until his death.-Early career:...

 of Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, he launched the Eurocommunist
Eurocommunism was a trend in the 1970s and 1980s within various Western European communist parties to develop a theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant in a Western European democracy and less aligned to the influence or control of the Communist Party of the Soviet...

 movement in a meeting held in Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 on March 2, 1977.

Carrillo was elected to the Spanish Congress of Deputies
Spanish Congress of Deputies
The Spanish Congress of Deputies is the lower house of the Cortes Generales, Spain's legislative branch. It has 350 members, elected by popular vote on block lists by proportional representation in constituencies matching the Spanish provinces using the D'Hondt method. Deputies serve four-year terms...

 (Congreso de los Diputados), the lower house of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes Generales
Cortes Generales
The Cortes Generales is the legislature of Spain. It is a bicameral parliament, composed of the Congress of Deputies and the Senate . The Cortes has power to enact any law and to amend the constitution...

, representing Madrid district
Madrid (Spanish Congress Electoral District)
Madrid is one of the 52 electoral districts used for the Spanish Congress of Deputies - the lower chamber of the Spanish Parliament, the Cortes Generales. It has the largest electorate of all the 52 districts. Madrid is the largest city...

 in the first democratic elections in 1977, shortly after the legalization of the PCE (April 9, 1977) by the government of Adolfo Suárez
Adolfo Suárez
Adolfo Suárez y González, 1st Duke of Suárez, Grandee of Spain, KOGF is a Spanish lawyer and politician. Suárez was Spain's first democratically elected prime minister after the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and the key figure in the country's transition to democracy.-Parents:He is a son of...

. Throughout the Transition, Carrillo's authority and leadership were decisive in securing peaceful evolution towards a democratic system, a constructive approach based on dialogue with opponents, and a healing of the wounds from the Civil War (the "Reconciliation" policy). Carrillo was re-elected in 1979 and 1982, but was forced to leave his post as party leader on November 6, 1982, owing to the poor party performance in the ballots. The failed coup d'état attempt on 23 February 1981 played a critical role against Carrillo's PCE, as Spanish society was still recovering from the trauma of the Civil War and subsequent repression and dictatorship. Fear of another military uprising propelled the most moderate left wing forces in the next elections. However, it is widely acknowledged that Carrillo's Reconciliation policy (see above) played a key role in making possible a peaceful transition to democracy. His own courageous personal behaviour during the failed coup d'état is also very remarkable −he was, together with outgoing PM Suarez and Minister of Defence Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado
Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado
Manuel Gutiérrez Mellado, 1st Marquis of Gutiérrez Mellado was a Spanish general and government minister. Appointed Chief of Staff of the Spanish Army in June 1976, Gutiérrez Mellado served as Deputy Prime Minister of Spain from September 21, 1976 to February 26, 1981, holding the Defence...

, one of the three MPs not to obey the rebels' orders to lie down choosing to sit and have a cigarette (as shown in the surviving TV footage of that day). The new General Secretary, the much younger Gerardo Iglesias, a member of the "renovators" wing, was at odds with him from the start.

Leaving the Spanish Communist Party

On April 15, 1985, Carrillo and his followers were expelled from the PCE and the next year, in 1986, they formed their own political group, called the Workers Party of Spain-Communist Unity
Workers Party of Spain-Communist Unity
Workers' Party of Spain-Communist Unity was a communist political party in Spain, founded by Santiago Carrillo and his followers after their expulsion from the Communist Party of Spain in October 1985.Initially, the party was known as Communist Party of Spain Workers' Party of Spain-Communist...

 (PTE-UC). This tiny, leftist party was unable to attract enough voters, so on October 27, 1991, Carrillo announced that it would be disbanded. Subsequently, the PTE-UC merged into the ruling PSOE, but Carrillo declined PSOE membership considering his many years as a communist member.


On October 20, 2005, Carrillo was granted an honorary doctorate by the Autonomous University of Madrid
Autonomous University of Madrid
The Autonomous University of Madrid is one of the top university of Spain and commonly known by its Spanish initials UAM or as "la Autónoma"...

. The action of the university was strongly criticized by right-wing commentators. Carrillo, however, is no longer a communist having "moved to the right through Eurocommunism to social democracy." He was quoted in September 1991: "the Communist movement as such has completed its historical cycle and it makes no sense trying to prolong it."

List of works

  • "¿Adónde va el Partido Socialista? (Prieto contra los socialistas del interior)" (1959)
  • "Después de Franco, ¿qué?" (1965)
  • "Problems of Socialism Today" (1970)
  • "Eurocomunismo y Estado" Editorial Critica (1977) ISBN 8474230152 ; English edition: Eurocommunism and the State, Lawrence and Wishart, 1977, ISBN 0-85315-408-2
  • "El año de la Constitución" (1978)
  • "Memoria de la transición: la vida política española y el PCE" (1983)
  • "Problemas de la transición: las condiciones de la revolución socialista" (1985)
  • "El año de la peluca" (1987)
  • "Problemas del Partido: el centralismo democrático" (1988)
  • "Memorias" (1993)
  • "La gran transición: ¿cómo reconstruir la izquierda?" (1995)
  • "Un joven del 36" (1996)
  • "Juez y parte: 15 retratos españoles" (1998)
  • "La Segunda República: recuerdos y reflexiones" (1999)
  • "¿Ha muerto el comunismo?: ayer y hoy de un movimiento clave para entender la convulsa historia del siglo XX" (2000)
  • "La memoria en retazos: recuerdos de nuestra historia más reciente" (2004)

See also

  • Jorge Semprún
    Jorge Semprún
    Jorge Semprún Maura was a Spanish writer and politician who lived in France most of his life and wrote primarily in French. From 1953 to 1962, during the era of Francisco Franco, Semprún lived clandestinely in Spain working as an organizer for the exiled Communist Party of Spain, but was expelled...

  • Eurocommunism
    Eurocommunism was a trend in the 1970s and 1980s within various Western European communist parties to develop a theory and practice of social transformation that was more relevant in a Western European democracy and less aligned to the influence or control of the Communist Party of the Soviet...

  • History of Spain
    History of Spain
    The history of Spain involves all the other peoples and nations within the Iberian peninsula formerly known as Hispania, and includes still today the nations of Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain...

  • Politics of Spain
    Politics of Spain
    The politics of Spain take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy, whereby the Monarch is the Head of State and the President of the Government is the head of government in a multi-party system. Executive power is vested in the government...

  • Prime Minister of Spain
    Prime Minister of Spain
    The President of the Government of Spain , sometimes known in English as the Prime Minister of Spain, is the head of Government of Spain. The current office is established under the Constitution of 1978...

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