Carrillo Solares, Santiago

Carrillo Solares, Santiago
b. 1915, Gijón (Asturias)
   Politician
   Carrillo is without any doubt the most significant figure in the history of Spanish communism. He joined the PCE (Spanish Communist Party) at the beginning of the Civil War, became a major influence in the organization during the 1950s, and was appointed Secretary General in 1960, a post he was to hold for the next 22 years. His outlook, like that of the party, followed a tortuous path from hard Stalinism to acceptance of liberal democracy, driven by political opportunism and ideological pragmatism. During his long years in exile he devised various plans to bring down the Francoist system, which, though unsuccessful, helped to keep alive the struggle against the dictatorship and thereby enhance the image of his party.
   Carrillo returned to Spain surreptitiously at the beginning of 1976. By then he had distanced himself from the USSR and had become a different type of communist. Already in 1968 he had denounced the Soviet invasion of Czechoslo-vakia, and later he was to shed his adherence to Marxist-Leninist dogma, and to proclaim his and his party's acceptance of the basic principles of liberal democracy. All these transformations were encapsulated in a simple formula: Eurocommunism, of which Carrillo was, at the time, a main exponent.
   With his reputation as a long-standing opponent of the dictatorship, and with his new image as a democratic communist, Carrillo was able to play an influential role in the transition to democracy in Spain. His main contribution was perhaps his success in convincing Suárez's government and all the other major political forces in the country that democracy would not be possible without the legalization of the PCE. The PCE was legalized in the spring of 1977, but from that moment Carrillo had to face two very difficult challenges: parliamentary elections, and strong demands from within for democratization of the party structures. The outcome was unfavourable to him on both fronts.
   Although Carrillo himself won a seat in the first three general elections, the PCE's results were disappointing, particularly as they found themselves a long way behind their main left-wing rivals, the PSOE (Socialist Workers" Party). Partly as a consequence of this, at the beginning of the 1980s Carrillo's authoritarian style of leadership began to be questioned by a new generation of party activists. After the electoral débâcle of 1982 he was forced to resign as Secretary General, and three years later he had to leave the party he had led for so long. In the 1990s, he moved closer to the Socialists, and spoke in favour of their policies without actually joining the party.
   Further reading
   - Alba, V. (1986) El Partido Comunista de España, Barcelona: Planeta (a rather hostile history of the PCE with Carrillo as one of its main characters).
   - Claudín, F. (1983) Santiago Carrillo. Crónica de un secretario general, Barcelona: Planeta (a critical assessment of Carrillo's political career by a disillusioned communist intellectual).
   JOSÉ AMODIA

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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