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Put a real hero on the square

More than 100 trade unionists swoop into Plaza de Margaret Thatcher to call for a name change

BRITISH socialists swooped on controversial site Plaza de Margaret Thatcher in Madrid last night, staging a snap protest to demand that International Brigades hero Jack Jones is honoured instead.

More than 100 trades unionists and anti-fascist activists descended on the square in posh Salamanca district.

They symbolically renamed the square by covering street signs bearing the hated Tory’s name with their “Plaza de Jack Jones” banner.

The stunt was the latest protest since the square was opened last September by politicians from the right-wing Popular Party — founded by a minister in dictator General Franco’s government.

Just 24 hours after its unveiling, street signs were plastered with Hillsborough Justice Campaign stickers by angry British visitors.

Unemployed Spanish youths, who joined in, replacingthe signs with new ones saying “Plaza de la Juventud Exiliada” (Exiled Youth.)

Now campaigners are calling for Thatcher’s name to be scrubbed off Madrid’s street map permanently.

They want the square to be re-named Plaza de Jack Jones to remember the famed trade unionist and his fellow British socialists who fought Franco’s fascists in the 1936 Spanish civil war.

The Liverpool-born docker was seriously wounded while serving with the International Brigade, and went on to become the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union in 1968.

Terry Craven, who took part in the protest, said: “Jack Jones is a name we’re proud to remember. Thatcher is one we’d like to forget, frankly.”

Mr Craven is a member of the Unite union’s Casa community branch, a centre established in Liverpool to celebrate British volunteers of the brigade.

“Jack was a true working-class hero,” added Mr Craven.

“He worked all his life to help the underdog, fighting against poverty, unemployment, inequality and repression. Thatcher did none of those things.”

Socialists and trade union members living in Madrid were among the group that seized the square last night.

Most travelled from Britain to take part in the International Bridade’s Memorial Trust’s annual commemoration of the battle of Jarama.

The bloody clash, which began on February 11 1937, saw 150 British volunteers killed.

The heroics of the International Brigade stopped Franco’s 40,000-strong force surrounding Madrid in the early days of the civil war.

IBMT secretary Jim Jump called on Madrid politicians to honour the men who defended their city by renaming Plaza de Margaret Thatcher.

He told the Star: “It’s very insensitive of the Madrid authorities to name a square after someone who was an admirer of General Pinochet.

“He modelled himself on Spanish dictator General Franco, whose military coup and brutal dictatorship was responsible for the death, murder and execution of tens of thousands of Spaniards.

“The Madrid authorities should remember the heroism of the International Brigades rather than someone who was a friend of Franco.”

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