Aragonés on Antifascist Resistance


Globo Terráqueo


How to cite: Montse Feu. "Aragonés on Antifascist Resistance." Fighting Fascist Spain --The Exhibits. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections. Accessed [DATE].

Equally important, Aragonés’s art dignified the voice of the antifascist resistance undercover and in exile. Upon the news of the long prison terms for Francisco Calle, José Cases, and Mariano Pascual, underground anarchist union and Labor Union Alliance leaders in Franco’s Spain in 1964, Aragonés recreated this transnational proletarian identity by drawing a worker, whose head is an earth globe, shedding a tear. The image is reminiscent of Popeye the Sailor Man or Rosie the Riveter for its iconic potential and reveals how Aragonés’s artistry was nurtured in his transnational experiences.

Despite the political and economic help that unions such as UAW sent to the resistance via SHC, clandestine groups remained vulnerable under the brutal state repression in fascist Spain. For instance, Franco's intelligence network intercepted a phone call between the ASO and SHC member, Gabriel Javsicas, who was visiting Spain at the time.

Colindres reads the Exhibit Aragonés on Antifascist Resistance


Año 1964


To exiles abroad and the underground readers in Spain, the cartoon conceptualized revolution. Aragonés’s visual wit transforms subjection into rebellion in this caricature. The subjection of a population requires constant surveillance, and the cartoon claims that the resistance is ready for that moment when that surveillance fails. Most importantly, the infant in this cartoon signifies the new generation of freedom fighters; the protagonist has lost the iconic 1930s virile masculinity and menacing antifascist fist. In 1964, revolution was nonviolent, rather joyous, and almost imperceptible in its action (symbolized by the tiptoeing of the child). The nurturing aspects of the new revolutionary movements are emphasized by the warmth of the baby’s blanket, which invokes the solidarity necessary for social change. Therefore, the cartoon visually translates the belief in a new free world as the result of effective solidarity with others. Also, the cartoon explores the threshold where freedom happens: when an inquisitive and playful attitude to life interrogates power and authority, central tenets of the antifascist culture in which Aragonés grew up.


España Libre, staff member José Nieto Ruiz (1937– ), received SHC’s solidarity. In 1959, Nieto Ruiz was detained and tortured in Barcelona for distributing CNT flyers. Anarchist networks helped him cross the Pyrenees. Spanish, Canadian, and Cuban anarchists facilitated his safe arrival in New York. Once in the United States, however, he was ordered deported because he did not have a visa. Thanks to España Libre’s campaign, José Nieto Ruiz’s trial and deportation case reached the mainstream press and brought attention to the humanitarian mission of the SHC. España Libre’s cartoonist Sergio Aragonés Domenech dedicated one of his editorial strips to highlighting the discrepancy in welcoming Cubans but not Spaniards to the United States—despite the fact that dissidents from both countries advocated for democracy. Several countries offered Nieto Ruiz political asylum, including Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Mexico, and France. Ernest Fleischman, who took up the case as he had taken so many others for the SHC, would ultimately succeed in obtaining a visa for Nieto Ruiz, even sponsoring and inviting Nieto Ruiz to live with him until his case was settled. Nieto Ruiz was lucky—it was uncommon for the U.S. government to issue such visas. More often, Spanish refugees were forced to settle in whichever Latin American countries accepted them.

Carlos García Santa Cecilia y Montse Feu, “José Nieto, último exiliado del franquismo, militante de la CNT, hizo de Nueva York su refugio” fronterad, Semana del 20 al 26 febrero 2015.

Feu, “José Nieto, Last Exile from the Francisco Franco Dictatorship, CNT Militant, Found Refuge in New York.” fronterad, Semana del 20 al 26 febrero 2015.

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Mineros: Franco cannot sleep scared of the miners affiliated with the Labor Union Alliance.

Flautista: One of the miners from the Asturias strike is depicted as a Pied Piper of Hamelin (the Legendary character). Spanish intellectuals, students, and workers might follow his tune.

Cuerda floja: Francisco Franco walks on a tightrope and he is about to fall. The rope is branded "Asturias."

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During the Franco years, España Libre published news about collaborations with the undercover resistance members, shielding identities, and donations for prisoners, which were mainly channeled to their dispossessed families. Demonstrations and rallies were held across the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. Protests started in Spain in the late 1950s.

Apretón de mano.

The names of the two Spanish labor unions, UGT and CNT, are written on the sleeves of two shaking hands, which are also strangling Francisco Franco.

14 de abril y Franco.

The date that commemorates the Second Republic, April 14, has been painted on a street wall. Francisco Franco is alarmed at the growing assertiveness of the antifascist resistance.

14 de abril

A student is holding a torch and a sign that announces students' support for the Republic and asks for freedom of association.

Abajo Franco.

While priests are helping workers in their protests against Franco's dictatorship, bishops support the Francoist elite and the army.


Workers and intellectuals are painting their demonstration banners. Franco is hiding behind a tree and wearing a swastika on his arm. He is observing the scene and sweating it out.

Andrea Orellana responds to this editorial caricature and reminds us of the fragility of civil rights.


People are peacefully demonstrating for freedom and the Civil guards use violence against demonstrators.


Three different demonstrations come together at the front of the cartoon. Demonstrators are drawn in white. In front of them, a row of armed Civil Guards is drawn in black.

Guardia Civil.

A Civil Guard is chasing the poets, the intellectuals, and the teachers of Spain.

1 de mayo.

Two panels contrast people celebrating labor day during the Second Spanish Republic with demonstrations for civil rights during Francisco Franco Dictatorship.


Priests chase a bishop who runs in front of them. They ask for reforms in the Spanish Catholic Church. The bishop drops a banner that says "Spain is different."


Workers and intellectuals are demonstrating in Spain for civil rights, and a Civil Guard is shocked to see the number of demonstrations grow.

Aragonés Domenech, Sergio
Aragonés on Antifascist Resistance