West SHC

West SHC MAP (created by Ian Maloney)

Affiliated Organizations

  1. Acción Demócrata Española, Crockett, California
  2. Acción Demócrata Española, Pittsburg, California
  3. Acción Demócrata Española, Sacramento, California
  4. Acción Democrática Española, San Francisco, California
  5. Club Demócrata Español, San Leandro, California
  6. Club Demócrata, Stockton, California
  7. Club Ibérico Benéfico, San Leandro, California
  8. Club Recreativo Español de San Pedro y Wilmington, California
  9. Comité de Fresno, Fresno, California.
  10. Compañeros Antifascistas, Bryte, California
  11. El Grupo Libertario, San Francisco, California
  12. Grupo Liberal Demócrata Español, Loomis, California
  13. Leales Españoles, Los Angeles, California
  14. Sociedad Española de Beneficencia Mutua, Los Angeles, California
  15. Sociedades Hispanas Aliadas, San Francisco, California.
  16. Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista, Winters, California
  17. Grupo Amantes de la Libertad, Miami, Arizona

SHC tours to the West Coast helped collect funds for refugees and victims and encouraged the creation of new associations. The West SHC digital exhibit explores the antifascist culture and activism of about 14 of these organizations. There were also numerous western subscribers to the SHC periodicals (Frente Popular 1936-1939 and España Libre 1939-1977). Organizations and subscribers sent funds for solidarity and participated with essays to the periodicals. Along with workers, professors and public figures joined these activities.

SHC's antifascist culture and activism built on historical, radical, and global migration networks, and members belong to several of these organizations. For example, the SHC worked with Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista (SIA) to raise awareness about the fascist war in Spain, supporting its bi-monthly Antifascista. Portavoz de los antifascistas en la costa del Pacífico y Oeste de EE.UU (1937–1943) in Los Angeles. In turn, the Antifascista donated to support Frente Popular

On Sept. 10, 1938, the California Sociedades Hispanas Aliadas organized a fundraiser in San Francisco honoring Dr. Leo Eloesser, Frida Kahlo’s medical advisor and friend. He served in the Spanish Civil War with the Lincoln Battalion at the Ebro front with his Mobile Surgical Hospital. SHC founder Jesús Arenas and author Antonio Ruiz Vilaplana spoke as part of their California tour at this event about his book Doy Fe (1937), which documented Burgos's political repression and court law. This book has been instrumental in locating mass graves today in Spain. Ruiz Vilaplana started his tour at a fundraiser in Madison Square Garden in New York on July 19, 1938. He later wrote Destierro en Manhattan: refugiados españoles en Norteamérica (1945).

SHC California Tour, OCT. 1938.

To grow in the West, SHC organized a two-week tour to the Californian cities of San Francisco, Pittsburg, Crockett, Vacaville, Los Angeles, San Pedro, Wilmington, Fenix, and as Miami, Arizona, and Reno, Nevada. The Touring Committee included SHC founders and regular performers: Daniel Alonso, Mariquita Flores, Zoila Luz Furniz, Maria Cordellat, and Jeronimo Villarino.

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Félix Martí Ibáñez's Tours and periodical Ariel

Félix Martí Ibáñez (Cartagena, 1911–New York, 1972) was a regular contributor to the Spanish anarchist press and general director of Public Health and Social Services in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War. in August 1938, Félix Martí Ibáñez arrived in New York in the representation of the anarchist group Solidaridad Internacional Antifascista to raise awareness about the fascist war in Spain at the Second World Youth Congress held in Vassar. One of Vassar’s graduates (1932), anarchist Nancy Mcdonald, founded another relief organization for Spanish refugees in France, Spanish Refugee Aid (1953-2006).

After the war, Martí Ibáñez returned to New York and published the short-lived antifascist literary magazine Ariel, Revista de Hechos e Ideas (Sept., Oct., Nov. 1939) in Los Angeles. Ariel was born with the promise to continue the legacy of the Estudios magazine “estrangulada en Valencia por la bestia fascista.” Estudios, published in Valencia, was a cultural magazine with a significant international presence and influence in the USA.

Review of Ariel.


There were many active SHC members in the West Coast fundraising and writing. The life and work of Félix Lunar (1878 - 1965) encompass the worker knowledge of the Confederadas. Lunar usually reported for España Libre on the activities of the SHC-affiliated organization Leales Españoles of Los Angeles. His book, A cielo abierto (Open-pit Mining, 1953), was one of the books sold and distributed by España Libre. Alfonso Camín, a poet commonly featured in the U.S. anarchist press, wrote the prologue. Lunar described himself as the son of “humble field workers” who had his first pair of shoes on his eighth birthday. His father saw it as an investment because with new shoes Lunar could start working in the fields (A cielo abierto 17, 34). A field worker and miner in Spain and the United States, Lunar alleged to have suffered “He sufrido todas las injusticias de que no he podido librarme. Nunca acepte ninguna" (A cielo abierto 181). Despite his defenseless childhood, Lunar taught himself to read and organized two workers’ societies that provided access to health care and education to its members (A cielo abierto 55 -111). While in Spain, he published two workers’ newspapers La Frontera and Via Libre before exiling to the United States to protect himself from prosecution for his labor leadership (A cielo abierto 98-169). His book jacket wished that the book would be a model for new generations as they learn how their predecessors fought “a cielo abierto,” which in Spanish has connotations beyond open-pit mining, but being out in the cold, having only the sky/heaven as your home, for instance.  

University of California professor José Rubia Barcia and author Ramón J. Sender often attended the Leales Españoles’s events and published opinion articles in España Libre. Rubia Barcia was accused of being a communist agent after he challenged Franco’s official reports in these periodicals, and U.S. authorities tried to deport him. In one 1962 event, Rubia Barcia introduced Sender. The writer talked about anarchism, socialism, liberalism, humanism, and the divine, which was well-attended and applauded. The reviewer, Zacarias Dominguez, quotes someone in the event denying that “anarchy is no government” in praxis; “anarchy is governed by free will and service to society.” Another attendee noted that Leales was not partisan; everyone was free to have their thoughts, and collectively Leales believed in humanitarian service, solidarity, and fraternity (España Libre, May 4, 1962).

Although there were numerous individual subscribers to the periodicals, SHC western tours helped collect funds for refugees, survivors, and victims of fascism and encouraged the creation of new antifascist associations. Patterns of migration, exile, and radicalism brought together workers, U.S. Hispanic performers, students, and university professors to fight against fascism in participatory and engaging activism. Periodicals, organizations, and mutual aid kept these intersecting networks rich in antifascist culture and activism. The SHC West exhibit is an open source that makes these collective antifascist efforts available from workers’ perspectives, still relevant today and often left out from the historical record.