On March, 8, 1921, the President of Spain, Eduardo Dato, after approving in January 1921 a subterfuge law that permitted the killing of revolutionaries, was assesinated. Three young men; Pedro Mateu, Ramon Casanella and Nicolau Fort, shot him to death from an Indian motorcycle with a sidecar in Madrid’s Plaza de la Independencia. 4 Mausser automatic guns were emptied on the black Hudson that carried the President causing his fatal destiny.
Above, we can see the Indian surrounded by posing Guardia Civil after it was found in its hiding place. This Indian was purchased the 20th of February in Barcelona by Mateu, who was a skilled mechanic, for 5,100 pesetas, a fortune at the time. After some modifications were made to fit the Indian for their task, they hopped on the bike and rode to Madrid to encounter history. In the trip to Madrid they suffered an incident with another motorist in Muela, Zaragoza, ending airborne & off the road almost getting killed and seriously harming the sidecar, which had to be re-welded in a local blacksmith, rapidly fixed by Mateu. Once in Madrid, they rented a space in Arturio Soria to hide the bike and carefully studied Dato’s daily itinerary, from the Senate in Plaza de la Marina Española, to his home at the beginning of Serrano. They knew that the Hudson would lower its speed passing the Plaza de la Independencia, to merge left onto Serrano, there they would have the perfect opportunity for their hit and run.
At 19:14, Casanellas, who was a fast rider, on the handlebars of the Indian saw his objective ready and placed the Indian side by side with the President’s car. In this second, Fort who was riding on the rear seat and Mateu riding on the sidecar, stood up, looked over the window verifying the President’s position, shouted “Viva la Anarquia!”and emptied their chargers. Each of them was carrying one gun on each hand, resulting in more than 20 bullet holes on the Black Hudson and the inmediate death of Eduardo Dato. Rapidly the Indian with opened pipes (purposefully modified to confuse with the gunshots) scaled through Serrano’s traffic disappearing in a blink of an eye.
The three anarchists were part of an amnesty issued by King Alfonso XIII, and lived thereafter. Pedro Mateu ended up in France were he started a mechanic workshop. Nicolau Fort lost his life later on, on the Spanish Civil War, fighting on the Republican Army. Ramon Casanellas, fleed to the URSS to later return to Spain taking part in the organization of the Spanish Communist Party. Paradoxically, he died in a motorcycle crash in 1933, but that is another story…
This murdering along the killing of Canalejas were direct causes of the later outbreak of the Spanish Civil War that conmotioned the world because of its fratricide cruelty in 1936. It was a time when killers were killed by other killers using their same medicine. From ESMC we would like to plead our politicians to look back and realize what happens when greed takes over responsibility.
Pictures are snapshots taken from the book “Marin” which is an amazing anthology of photographs by the great Luis Ramon Marin. A groundbreaking artist with a keen eye for motorcycles whom we will be seeing more around here soon.
PS: Thanks to Adolfo Calles for his always inspiring storytelling.