José Antonio Labordeta (1935 – 2010)

José Antonio Labordeta, the famous Spanish poet and politician, has died this morning aged 75, it has been confirmed by Chunta Aragnesista (CHA), the political party to which he was a representative.

He had been a long-sufferer of cancer.

Labordeta will be remembered as one of the voices committed to democracy at the end of the Franco regime.

Feliz Romeo, a friend of José Antonio’s, in an article from RTVE, the radio station of the Spanish broadcaster, noted that “To be a poet was then a way to escape the Franco regime”.

As well as writing hundreds of poems in the fifties he also brought poetry to other areas of life which mattered to him; in his music where he sang the word of socialism, freedom and anti-fascism; to his students as a professor, and to politics where he once read a poem in parliament opposing the participation of Spanish forces in the war on Iraq.

In his later life, he went from being – in his own words – a “rookie” member of parliament to become a significant character of the political scene (his nickname, which he eventually came to appreciate – was “El Abuelo” or the Grandfather).

While the old school republican made many friends among allies and opposition alike, he was also made enemy of for the things he did. Fiercely anti-war, a congressional record notes that Labordeta shouted “fuck you” and “to hell” during a parliementary debate – which made him notorious in Spanish media outlets.

But his notoriety should only demonstrate his passion, and as Julio Castro has written about the man she was close to, Labordeta should be an example to a new generation who are passionate about politics for the sake of the struggle for equality and the defense of others.

He spent eight years in congress in the Zaragoza constituency. His party CHA – which campaigns for greater financial resources for the autonomous region of Aragon, located in northwest Spain – won 1 seat for Labordeta in the 2000 and 2004 parliamentary elections.

The folk-singer – described by the Great Aragonese Encyclopedia as the most important Aragonese singer-songwriter – has been forever inscribed in Spanish poetry and music as a voice of freedom, and his passion should be highly estimated by those pursuing freedom worldwide.

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