José Castilla Morales
José Castilla Morales (Huelva, Spain, 1893–New York, 1961) migrated to Cienfuegos, Cuba, in 1909 to avoid “serving the king” (possible conscription for the Melilla War in 1909). Staff writer for El Sembrador, El Progreso, and Tierra. They fled the Gerardo Machado administration’s political repression and arrived in New York with anarchists Avelino Iglesias and Paulino Díez. Staff writer for the anarchist newspaper Solidaridad Obrera (Mexico, 1918–1930) and assistant director of La Voz (New York, 1939).
SHC founder, leader, playwright, editor, and satirist for España Libre. Worked as a Spanish advertising manager for a chemical laboratory in New York. Castilla Morales infused the periodical with humor and connections to anarchist and Hispanic associations in the United States. From March 1938 to 1943, the SHC broadcast thirty minutes of radio programming daily. José Castilla Morales was the director and presenter of the daily radio program “La voz de Sociedades Hispanas Confederadas.” It was broadcast over several radio stations: WBBC (Brooklyn Broadcasting Corporation), WARD, WEVD (New York, NY, Debs Memorial Radio Fund), WLTH, and WVFV. He wrote numerous humorous texts for the periodical and 15 original antifascist plays.
Castilla Morales's plays continued the anarchist tradition of using drama to disseminate anarchist perspectives and organize mutual aid. As was customary in other anarchist exile communities in France and Latin America, antifascist productions were more than fundraisers; they functioned as spaces of activism and community support in the dissociative experience of exile in the United States. His didactic and political playwriting fulfilled multiple roles: it provided a meeting place for workers, satisfying their social needs, and functioned as a catalyst for political consciousness. Rather than a commodity for cultural consumption, Castilla Morales’s plays were participatory political protests that deconstructed Spanish fascism and its consequences for the antifascist audience.
Like Aurelio Pego, another SHC founder and satirist, Castilla Morles wrote humorous chronicles for the SHC periodicals but under several pen names. While Pego’s chronicles uncovered the characteristics of Spanish fascism and alerted readers of the fascist thread for democracy, Castilla Morales’s humorous writing unearths the lives of US fascists and antifascists. He also published poetry and short stories.