Salvador Segui – El Noi de la Sucre

    Salvador Segui also known as El Noi de la Sucre (The Sugar Boy) from his habit of eating a sugarcube before drinking his coffee, was a Catalan Spanish anarcho-syndicalist in the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT). He played a leading role in making the CNT a mass movement . Together with Ángel Pestaña, Seguí opposed the paramilitary and terrorist actions advocated and carried out by other members of the CNT.

    On March 10, 1923, while completing preparations to promote the idea of emancipation as a form of social empowerment among workers, he was shot and killed on the corner of Carrer de la Cadena, in El Raval by gunmen working for the Catalan employers’ organisation under protection of Catalonia’s Civil Governor, Martínez Anido. Another anarcho-syndicalist, Francesc Comes, known as Perones, was wounded and died several days later.

    His death allowed more radical sectors to take over the CNT.

    According to Red City, Blue Period: Social Movements in Picasso’s Barcelona

    Because Segui and Pestaña were able to bring syndicalists and federalist republicans together, they represented a special threat to conservatives. Concern was particularly acute regarding Seguí and his attempts to win supporters away from a policy of armed confrontation and toward the construction of big unions. The potentially broad appeal of the moderate peacemaker was far more threatening than the violence of those who wanted to pursue a politics of revenge. Whether or not there were actual contracts out on the two men’s lives, Pestaña narrowly avoided an assassination attempt while on an organizing trip to Manresa in August 1922, whereas the pistoleros finally succeeded in hunting down and murdering Salvador Seguí in March 1923.

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    Seguí’s daily habits kept him in his own neighborhood, the Parallel. Almost every day he stopped by the Saint Simplicimus Street building that housed four unions and served as a hangout for anarcho-syndicalists; he then usually spent some time at the Tostadero Café on his way home. A few weeks before his assassination, Seguí, his pregnant companion, Dolores Rubinat, and their seven-year-old son had been followed home, and Seguí had narrowly escaped with his life. Yet he refused to change his habits or accept a guard. On March 10, 1923, he and his friend Francisco Comas Pagés had gone to a labor meeting and stopped at the Tostadero, where Seguí played billiards with Companys. Comas and Seguí left together and walked down a street in the old industrial hub of Barcelona. This time the gangsters from the Free Unions hit their mark. As Seguí and Comas stopped for a light, the killers shot at them, killing Seguí and fatally wounding Comas. Outrage swept he community, not only because Seguí was a beloved figure and a voice of reason among anarcho-syndicalists and republicans, but also because his death was yet another example of how unsafe daily life in the old neighborhoods had become.

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    The public response to the deaths of Seguí and Comas reflected community fury at the monarchy, which, unable to control the employers and their hired killers, permitted virtual civil war to reign in Barcelona. The anarcho-syndicalists called for a mass protest meeting at the Plaza of Catalunya followed by a march. They also wanted to declare a general strike. The workers proclaimed that the governor had attempted to extinguish “the civic spirit of the citizens of Barcelona, who have not risen up en masse against these brutal attacks on the lives of workers. . . . But our voice, the voice of workers and citizens who repudiate this crime, will be heard.”

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    On the Sunday morning following Seguí’s death, a group of women laid flowers on the corner of Saint Rafael and Cadena streets, where he had been shot. Neither they, Seguí’s family, nor his union associates knew that the police would the next day secretly carry Seguí’s body from the morgue to the storage area of the cemetery without his wife, child, or cousin being present. The CNT protested to Civil Governor Salvador Raventós about both the killing and the removal of the body: the government had stolen Seguí’s body as the gangsters had stolen his life.[31]

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