Anarchism In Latin America

El Anarquismo En America Latina

(prologue and chronology: Angel J. Cappelletti;
Selection and notes: Carlos M.Rama and A.Capelletti),
Caracas, Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1990. 490 pages.

Finally, after several editorial mishaps that delayed its appearance, this work qualified without exaggeration as a fundamental milestone in latin american anarchist bibliography is out there. Even though the print indicates November 1990, it was barely in June 1993 that it came out for sale in Caracas, in an otherwise restricted form due to its size and high cost, reduced printing (1500 in a hard cover edition and 1500 in paperback) besides being published by a statist agency with the classic attributes of a tropical bureaucracy, which translates into it being complicated for those interested in this country to have access to the work through the normal channels (bookstore purchase or library borrowing) and that it will be problematic or inexistent its distribution abroad. In spite of it all, the publication of this book is a tribute to the efforts of a person without whose enthusiastic will and erudition is not possible to undertake a task of such magnitude and so many difficulties: Dr. Angel J. Cappelletti, who took into his hands and carried to completion a project that had remained suspended after the death in 1982 of the person that had conceived and initiated it, the uruguayan sociologist and historian Carlos Rama.

Cappelletti not only finalized the planned compilation of texts, but also undertook the writing of an extensive essay on the historical, social and cultural keys that marked country by country the presence of libertarian socialism in our subcontinent, mandatory preamble to the documentary compilation that encompasses 18 individual and 6 collective authors from 7 countries, a collection of written testimonies of continental anarchism never before attempted, taken from the most diverse sources - at times bibliographic rarities- and that by date and motivation span from a combative workers manifesto from Paraguay dated 1892, to the conceptual criticism of democracy by an intellectual militant from Uruguay (Luce Fabbri) in 1983.

Other names could be added to those presented in this anthology (such as the greco-mexican P. Rhodokanaty, the cuban E. Roig San Martin or the chilean IWW) but no doubt that those included fully deserve it, whether outstanding individuals like the mexican Ricardo Flores Magon, the peruvian Manuel Gonzalez Prada, the spanish-argentinian Diego Abad de Santillan and the brasilian Jose Oiticica, or grassroot collectives such as the Federacion Obrera Regional Argentina and the Partido Liberal Mexicano.

In the Prologue, Cappelletti worked with the investigative thoroughness characteristic of his wide and esteemed intellectual labor, culminating that which to us is the sharpest and most exhaustive contemporary exam of what's been written on this subject, worthy of a description higher than that of "simple sketch" that the author modestly attributes to it, and not only because of the more than 200 pages written with passion, amenity and rigor, but also because it forms a solid basis for the rescue of a history as diverse and significant as ignored or distorted. Of course there is room for detailed observations from more precise studies about the anarchist presence in particular social processes ( for example, the recently published investigations on Colombia by the comrades from Proyecto Cultural Alas de Xue, unknown to Cappelletti when he wrote about this item); but this more than a deficiency constitutes a challenge by the Prologue as it opens up so many paths of information, analysis and reflection.

The Prologue as well as the Text Selection make central reference to the period between the end of the XIX century and the first decades of the XX.

In fact, the chronology Cappelletti prepared for the book goes from 1861 to 1940, because within this period anarchosyndicalism as a social movement and anarchist thought as cultural reference achieved undeniable relevance in Latin America, being one of the book's basic merits the description of that reality for each country of the area, in a multiplicity of expressions and linkages that are hardly known by the new generation that today attempts to push the libertarian renaissance between Rio Grande and Tierra del Fuego.

For us the conscious recovery of this vast and unexplored heritage must be an inmediate task, not out of nostalgic sentimentalism nor to consacrate yet another historical mythology with which to face liberal or marxist dogma, but to rescue the living meaning that this past has for the present and the future of the social struggles in the continent

. It is in this spirit that we may read and debate EL ANARQUISMO EN AMERICA LATINA among those who aspire to build roads of freedom with equality for our peoples.


(CORREO@ #24, p.18; october 1993)