Lucio Urtubia could be described as a modern day Robin Hood, a man who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Lucio, a 76-year old Spanish anarchist and retired bricklayer carried out bank robberies, forgeries and endless actions against capitalism. His actions helped to fund liberation movements in Europe, the
Outspoken and charismatic, Lucio speaks like a true anarchist. When asked what it means to be an anarchist, Lucio refutes the misperception of the terrorist, "The anarchist is a person who is good at heart, responsible." Yet he makes no apologies for the need to destroy the current social order, "it’s good to destroy certain things, because you build things to replace them."
Lucio has old friends in the Southern Cone. Funds from the forgery operatives helped hundreds from revolutionary organizations exile and finance clandestine actions against the bloody dictatorships which disappeared ten thousands of activists, students and workers during the 1970′s throughout
During his recent visit to South America, Lucio stayed at the worker run BAUEN Hotel in
Lucio explains that his anarchism is based in his poor childhood in fascist
Lucio exiled to
During his early years in
It was then that Lucio began participating in bank robberies. "There are no bigger crooks than the banks," says Lucio in the defense of expropriation. "[This was the] only means the anarchist had, without funding from industry or government representatives to fund them. The money was sent to those suffering from Franco’s regime." Student organizations and worker organizations received the funds to carry out grass roots organizing. In other cases the money was used for the guerilla actions against Franco’s regime, such as campaigns for the release of political prisoners in the nationalist jails.
To save the lives of exiles, Lucio thought of a master plan to falsify passports so Spanish nationals could travel. "Passports for a refugee means being able to escape the country and lead safe lives elsewhere," he explains. Not only in Europe but in the
In 1977, Lucio’s group began forging checks as a direct form to finance resistance. Lucio was essentially the "boss" of the operation—he made, distributed and cashed the checks. The checks were harder to falsify than counterfeit bills. Lucio thought they should target the largest banking institution in the world, National City Bank. The distribution of the checks went to different subversive groups who used the funds to finance solidarity actions. Lucio explains that "no one got rich" from the checks. Most of the funds went to the cause. All over
Lucio’s master plan cost City Bank tens of millions of dollars in forged travelers’ checks. But many say a much larger sum was expropriated. City Bank was at the mercy of the forger, who had cost so much that the bank had to suspend travelers checks, ruining the holiday for thousands of tourists. At the time, people did not use check cards or credit cards. Lucio was arrested in 1980 and found with a suitcase full of the forged checks. In the meantime during Lucio’s arrest, Citibank continued to receive false travelers’ checks.
Citbank became worried. Representatives from the bank agreed to negotiate. Lucio would be released if he handed over the printing plates for the forged checks. The exchange was made, and Lucio became a legend for his mastermind plan. Although his life as a forger ended at 50-years-of-age, his life as an anarchist continued.
Lucio had always worked as a bricklayer. "What’s helped me the most is my work, Anarchists were always workers." Lucio-bricklayer, anarchist, forger and expropriator has left a legacy like his predecessors. "People like Loise Michel, Sabate, Durruti, all the expropriators taught me how to expropriate, but not for personal gain, but how to use those riches for change." At 76-years-of-age he does not apologize for his actions. "I’ve expropriated, which according to the Christian religion is a sin. For me expropriations are necessary. As the revolutionaries say, robbing and expropriation is a revolutionary act as long as one doesn’t benefit from it."
Marie Trigona is a writer, radio producer and filmmaker based in