Barcelona honors nightclub workers killed in 1978 state crime blamed on anarchists 

Historic marker placed in front of building that housed Scala on Consell de Cent street

Family members of the Scala nightclub fire victims at the unveiling of a commemorative marker in Barcelona
Family members of the Scala nightclub fire victims at the unveiling of a commemorative marker in Barcelona / Blanca Blay
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 22, 2023 03:56 PM

February 22, 2023 06:01 PM

Scala, a nightclub at the intersection of Barcelona's Consell de Cent street and Passeig de Sant Joan boulevard, burned down on the afternoon of January 15, 1978. Four workers died after several individuals threw Molotov cocktails into the building. 

Now, 45 years later, the city council has honored these men by installing a lectern explaining the state crime that led to the death of Bernabé Bravo, Ramón Egea, Juan Manuel López, and Diego Montoro.

The fire started after a 15,000-people-strong demonstration organized by the Confederación Nacional de Trabajo (CNT) confederation of anarcho-syndicalist labor unions against the Moncloa agreements

These were agreements between the major Spanish political parties and several unions during the country's transition to democracy following dictator Francisco Franco's death in 1975. Moncloa refers to the name of the palace that houses the Spanish government headquarters in Madrid.

The death of the four workers was initially considered a work accident. But, years later, investigative journalism was able to prove that the death of the four employees, who were also affiliated with the CNT, was a state crime.

A confidential informant, under the orders of Spanish police officers, orchestrated the crime. The findings of the report were published after the Scala court case was closed with many questions unanswered.

The city council now says that "anarcho-syndicalism was criminalized" at the time and that the four men's families were institutionally forgotten for 20 years until 1998 when they were recognized as terrorism victims. The court case was never reopened.

"It was an attack orchestrated by the Spanish government to build up a democracy that started off poorly and these victims were forgotten for many decades," Jordi Rabassa, Barcelona's councilor for democratic memory, said during the unveiling of the historic marker.

"They are people that, because of the unlucky attack, are already a part of our city's history, lest we forget. We want all residents to know that the Scala nightclub was on this corner," Rabassa said.

Mercè Bravo, the daughter of one of the victims, regretted that some of the men's widows could not see the homage.

"We hope that as many years don't have to go by again for the victims of a terrorist attack to get the recognition they deserve," she said.


Antonio Egea, the son of one of the victims, however, stressed that the people who carried out the attack were affiliated with the CNT.

Scala was one of the most popular nightclubs in Barcelona after opening its doors in the early 1970s.