The Spanish Holocaust
) where the faithful protected their churches from elements intent on profaning them. Later in May, when the provisional government decreed an end to obligatory religious education, there were many petitions in protest. 26
    While most of Spain remained peaceful, from the earliest days of the Republic an atmosphere of undeclared civil war festered in the latifundio zones of the south and in other areas dominated by the CNT. Miguel Maura claimed that, in the five months from mid-May 1931 until his resignation in October, he had to deal with 508 revolutionary strikes. The CNT accused him of causing 108 deaths with his repressive measures. 27 This was demonstrated most graphically by the bloody conclusion to a period of anarchist agitation in Seville. As the culmination of a series of revolutionary strikes, the anarchist union called a general stoppage on 18 July 1931. This was directed not just at the local employers but also at the CNT’s local rivals in the Socialist Unión General Trabajadores. There were violent clashes between anarchist and Communist strikers on the one hand and blacklegs and the Civil Guard on the other. At the cabinet meeting of 21 July, the Socialist Minister of Labour, Francisco Largo Caballero, demanded that Miguel Maura take firm action to end the disorders which were damaging the Republic’s image. When the Prime Minister, Niceto Alcalá Zamora, asked if everyone was agreed that energetic measures against the CNT were called for, the cabinet assented unanimously. Maura told Azaña that he would order artillery to demolish a house from which anarchists had fired against the forces of order. 28
    Meanwhile, on the night of 22–23 July 1931, extreme rightists were permitted to take part in the repression of the strikes in Seville. Believing that the forces of order were inadequate to deal with the problem, José Bastos Ansart, the Civil Governor, invited the landowners’ clubs, the Círculo de Labradores and the Unión Comercial, to form a paramilitary group to be known as the ‘Guardia Cívica’. This invitation was eagerly accepted by the most prominent rightists of the city, Javier Parladé Ybarra, Pedro Parias González, a retired lieutenant colonel of the cavalry and a substantial landowner, and José García Carranza, a famous bullfighter who fought as ‘Pepe el Algabeño’. Arms were collected, and the Guardia Cívica was led by a brutal Africanista, Captain Manuel DíazCriado, known as ‘Criadillas’ (Bull’s Balls). On the night of 22 July, in the Parque de María Luisa, they shot four prisoners. On the following afternoon, the Casa Cornelio, a workers’ café in the neighbourhood of La Macarena, was, as Maura had promised Azaña, destroyed by artillery fire. Elsewhere in the province, particularly in three small towns to the south of the capital, Coria del Río, Utrera and Dos Hermanas, strikes were repressed with exceptional violence by the Civil Guard. In Dos Hermanas, after some stones had been thrown at the telephone exchange, a lorryload of Civil Guards arrived from Seville. With the local market in full swing, they opened fire, wounding several, two of whom died later. In total, seventeen people were killed in clashes in the province. 29
    Azaña’s immediate reaction was that the events in the park ‘looked like the use of the ley de fugas ’ (the pretence that prisoners were shot while trying to escape) and he blamed Maura, commenting that ‘he shoots first and then he aims’. Azaña’s reaction was influenced by the fact that Maura had recently hit him for accusing him of revealing cabinet secrets to the press. Two weeks later, he learned that the cold-blooded application of the ley de fugas was nothing to do with Maura but had been carried out by the Guardia Cívica on the orders of Díaz Criado. 30 The murders in the Parque de María Luisa and the shelling of the Casa Cornelio were the first in a chain of events leading to the savagery of 1936. Díaz Criado and the

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