Guillermo Rovirosa 50 Years On

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Fifty years on from his death, Guillermo Rovirosa still accompanies us in our fight for justice for the poor of the Earth. He began his activism in favour of the poor in the 1940s, in a post-war Spain plagued by poverty. Working-class organisations had been politically exhausted and crushed.

Disillusioned and without hope for the future, many Marxist and anarco-syndicalists were influenced by Rovirosa’s testimony and converted to Christianity.

Rovirosa was the first militant and the driving force behind the HOAC. With the repression or destruction of many left-wing groups, working-class Christian activists were the only ones standing up against Franco’s dictatorship, seeking justice for the poor at the risk of losing their freedom, jobs, or respect.

His Christian radicalism was based on baptism and he believed that the emancipation of the poor would only come from their own struggle. Many disagreements within the Church followed as a result. He thought leaders or hierarchies were absurd, and criticised the ‘well-intentioned’ society of bourgeois and pietistic Christianity promoted by societal elites. He became poor himself and spread hope among the most exploited people in his country.

The activists created free publishing houses, workers’ buffets, and co-operatives made up of thousands of workers. They promoted political realities such as the law of Anonymous Labour Societies.

As a scientist, Rovirosa didn’t allow inventions to be put into practice if that meant jobs would be lost, as he saw the pain of an unemployed worker as much worse than losing a scientific advance. Meanwhile, in spite of his love for the Church, he was persecuted and slandered from within its ranks. He was also expelled from the National Commission of the HOAC.

His revolutionary economic ideas and new paths towards liberation were all dedicated to the vast majority of humans living in poverty or conditions of exploitation. The Christian Cultural Movement today takes strength from his spirit and the path he lay out with his poverty, humility, and sacrifice. In the monstrous system of imperialist economic savagery under which we live today, the need for the working-class militancy encouraged by Rovirosa is more apparent than ever. This system must be defeated, but the movement to defeat it must be led by the oppressed themselves.

Publishing house of Self-management magazine