The veteran former leader of the Spanish Communist Party, Santiago Carrillo, was stripped of all leadership posts in the party today by his youthful successors.
The ouster of Carrillo, who has been a key figure in the postwar communist movement in Western Europe, is viewed by analysts as an example of a growing generational division within the movement.
In the Spanish context, the development amounted to the most far-reaching purge to date within the party, and it has divided the Communist movement in Spain into two hostile camps.
At issue is the conflict between those who insist on strict adherence to Moscow and to the roots of international communism and those, including the present Communist leadership in Spain, who back a shift toward a broader based left that embraces opponents of the arms race and of the military blocs and draws inspiration from the West German Greens party.
Carrillo, who led the Spanish Communist Party from 1960 to 1982, was removed from his posts on the Central Committee and on the executive committee of the party in a dispute with his successor as secretary general, Gerardo Iglesias, over Carrillo's wish to mend fences with dissident pro-Soviet Communists.
Iglesias, 39 and a former coal miner from northern Asturias Province, had given Carrillo a two-week deadline to adhere to party discipline following repeated public criticisms of his leadership by Carrillo.
Fourteen other top Spanish Communists, among them senior members of the party's powerful labor union, also were removed from the 110-member Central Committee and from the 27-member executive committee, for expressing their support for the former leader.
Earlier this week, Carrillo, who is an elected member of parliament, was dismissed from his role as spokesman of the Communist Party's four-member group within the 350-member Congress of Deputies.
Carrillo has been active in public life since the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, when, as a leader of the Communist youth movement, he was put in charge of "public safety" in Madrid. Carrillo consistently has denied conservative allegations that he was directly responsible for mass shootings of imprisoned supporters of Generalissimo Francisco Franco at the start of the civil war.
His chief contribution to Spanish communism was his clandestine reorganization of the party in the latter years of the Franco government and his contribution to national political consensus after the dictator died in 1975. He lived mostly in Paris after the Spanish Civil War and returned to Spain in 1976 shortly before the Francoist bans on the Communist Party were lifted.
In the wider, European, context Carrillo cosponsored, together with the late Italian leader Enrico Berlinguer, the theory of "Eurocommunism," meaning independence from Moscow and acceptance of democratic elections.
"Eurocommunism" was a fashionable left-wing stand in the 1970s, and Carrillo enjoyed a considerable reputation as a theoretician of the new policy. The policy failed, however, in Spain, where the Communist Party was unable to make an electoral impact. Carrillo resigned as secretary general when the Spanish Communists were routed in general elections in 1982.
In the past decade, however, through successive stormy party conventions, Carrillo has undergone several ideological mutations and has returned to the hard-line policies that he himself had helped to undermine