Alberto “Pocho” Mechoso, anarchist and expropriator
argentina / uruguay / paraguay |
history of anarchism |
Monday July 30, 2012 22:45 by Juan Carlos Mechoso - FAU
Extract from the book “Acción Directa Anarquista - Una Historia de FAU”
Founder of the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU), an especifista anarchist organisation, Alberto "Pocho" Mechoso was also a unionist in the Meat Workers Federation and an active militant of the Organización Popular Revolucionario Orientales – 33 (OPR-33), the armed wing of the FAU that supported strikes and conducted kidnappings and expropriations of employers to finance the struggle.
In his later years, "Pocho" was active in the Popular Party for Victory (PVP), an organisation that dissolved the FAU within it. "Pocho" remained together with other comrades of the FAU within the PVP with the intention of re-establishing the especifista organisation.
Arrested in Buenos Aires on September 26, 1976, his body was found with seven others on the seabed, in barrels filled with cement, on May 23, 2012. We remember this comrade who, even without having known him, is very dear to us. His example will be present in our militant struggle, today and forever.
Liberty or death!
Adapted and translated from: Alberto “Pocho” Mechoso presente by Bruno, OASL
Neither forget nor forgive!
Arriba los que luchan!
Alberto “Pocho” Mechoso – extract from the book “Acción Directa Anarquista - Una Historia de FAU”
Alberto “Pocho” Mechoso was born in Trinidad, in the department of Flores. He did his first two years of school there, continuing later in Montevideo. He did not mange to finish primary school. Coming from a family of workers who had insufficient income, he learned to share the difficulties with his four brothers.
The family, tired of a situation that did not offer any possibility of improvement, emigrated to Montevideo. It was a matter of trying one’s luck, like so many neighbours who had already embarked on this adventure. Ansina street, in the neighbourhood of Palermo, was where he made his first Montevidean friendships and immediately formed a group of friends. The eaves of the school on Gaboto street were witness to some of the punishments he suffered for responding to the teachers. He was acute and quick to inquire about things he considered wrong.
La Teja and Cerro were the neighbourhoods that saw him grow up. Three brothers became anarchists and in his house libertarian[ism] became an every day topic. He asked questions, was sympathetic – his rebellious spirit approximated this ideology that demanded justice for the poor and did not ask for it from one’s knees.
Later he worked in the meat industry and during a long strike ended up being sacked. For a time he was then a market vendor with some of his brothers. The FAU still didn’t exist yet, but there was the Cerro-La Teja Anarchist Grouping and the Ateneu Livre, also in Cerro-La Teja. He began to militate in the Ateneu.
It was already more than half way into the 1950s, and at this time work was scarce. The economic crisis was already beginning to hit hard in workers’ households. With a group of young people like him, friends with each other and almost all libertarian sympathisers, he began talking about finances to set up a work co-operative and give a part to the nascent FAU. Finally, they decided to expropriate the Bank of Paso del Molino: La Caja Obrera.
It was a careful job, studied in detail. They found a greater quantity of money than they had expected. They made the donation and left the rest for the agreed purpose. This was, incidentally, the first bank expropriated in Uruguay.
A year later he was arrested in relation to this episode.
He spent six years in detention: in Miguelete and Punta Carretas. He read a lot in prison, for example: "Nationalism and Culture" by Rocker, "Life and ideas of Malatesta" by Luiggi Fabbri, "The Revolution" by Landeur, novels etc. He received at least one book weekly, in a package.
"How are these guerrillas, will they see it through?", he asked in a visit in mid-1959. He followed the Cuban process with great interest.
He left prison more politically educated and immediately made contact with the FAU. They began conversations to define his position of militancy. Mauricio (Gatti) was the first to think that they would have to incorporate him into activities of the armed kind.
Pocho had quick reflexes, he had good conduct to accommodate people, was jovial, rebellious and determined – all this made him a natural person. He liked jokes, playing with serious issues, he made jokes about himself and engaged in militancy. But this was accompanied by a deep faith in what he did and true respect for work. He was good in the operations but did not underestimate anything, and always wanted to analyse the details well.
Finally, in the formation of OPR, he was a key part of all organisational work and also in encouraging confidence in comrades who were starting out. Here he poured out his experience and his decisions. He joined the first operational team, at the head, when it was decided to face armed activity specifically and continuously. In the beginning, with his predecessor team, he carried out bank expropriations decided by the Organisation and which were vital to the development of ongoing projects. After that he served in various operations, including the holding [to ransom – translator] of the bourgeoisie.
He formed part of Aguilar and his experience and determination were invaluable contributions to this body that was responsible for the armed action of the Organisation.
He was arrested, savagely tortured, resisted with unusual integrity and on his own staged a spectacular escape from a barracks. He recovered from cuts on the hands and broken ribs, and by decision of the FAU moved to Argentina. There he was immediately reinstated into activity.
He was captured and again suffered torture in the Pozo de Orletti [clandestine prison]. Today he is one of the comrades considered to be desaparecido (missing). Pocho, his public nickname, or Martin, his battle name, always maintained his customs, his culture as a good man of the people. A neighbourhood boy, he liked spending time on the streets, was self-taught, a reader, modest and with a deep sense of belonging to those at the bottom. He left an indelible mark.
We know that he shared this completely. It is not people alone that produce the development and permanence of an organisation. It is a number of efforts, of many people that produces something fruitful. It is in this context that we point to this militant contribution. But it is certain that in the mark of this vital group there are comrades with outstanding contributions. Pocho and Santa Romero, no doubt, exemplified this.
Alberto “Pocho” Mechoso – Fragmento tomado del libro “Acción Directa Anarquista: Una historia de FAU”
Translation: Jonathan – ZACF