There are certain events that might alter the course of history, and there are heroes and villains who often inspire these events.
Just over seven months after Jose Rizal’s execution in Manila, on August 8, 1897, the prime minister of Spain was assassinated.
Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times front page edition on August 10.
MURDER OF CANOVAS
Golli says it was to avenge the Barcelona Anarchists and Don Rizal.
He confessed that he killed Senor Canovas to avenge the Barcelona anarchists, and the insurgent leader, Don Jose Rizal, who was executed at Manila, Philippine Islands, on Dec. 30 last, as an instigator of the Philippine rebellion. Dr Rizal denied that he was a rebel leader, but he admitted that he had drawn up the statutes of the Philippine League (Aug 10, 1897)
In June 1896, a bomb was thrown at the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona. The anarchist group was blamed and hundreds of alleged revolutionaries were jailed at the Montjuic Fortress. Prime Minister Canovas ordered the cruel repression and torture. Many prisoners died, but some survivors might have shared time with Jose Rizal when he was held at Montjuic by Spanish authorities. Governor General Eulogio Dispujol of Barcelona paid Rizal a visit. Dispujol was the same Spanish military governor who sent Rizal to Dapitan and was now the military governor of Cataluña. He was arrested on his way to Cuba where he was volunteering as an Army doctor. His request was initiated by Governor Blanco and signed by the Spanish War Minister, Azcarraga. He was briefly imprisoned at the Montjuic Castle and brought back to a ship bound for Manila, where he faced the court martial. Governor General Polavieja succeeded Blanco on Dec 13 and oversaw the military trial and Rizal execution on Dec 30, 1896. In another news report, Golli expressed regret that he did not kill Polavieja, for having caused the murder of Rizal.
Just recently, Rizal was honored with the inauguration of the “Sala Jose Rizal” room the famous Montjuich Castle, atop a hill in Barcelona, which served as military prison. It was part of Rizal’s sesquicentennial celebration this year around the world. It is interesting that an Ilocano patriot and another Mason, Isabelo de los Reyes, suspected of revolutionary activities was imprisoned in Bilibid on January 1897. His writing similar to Rizal that revolution could wait by exposing friar and corruption. The arrival of a new governor in Manila replacing the ruthless Governor-General Polavieja saved his execution but deported him to Spain. He was imprisoned at the Montjuic where he later wrote:
I repeat that the so-called anarchists, nihilists, or as they say nowadays, Bolsheviks, are the true saviours and disinterested defenders of justice and universal brotherhood…. I took advantage of the occasion to put into practice the good ideas I had learned from the anarchists of Barcelona, who were imprisoned with me in the infamous Castle of Montjuich.
The harsh treatment of the Montjuic prisoners might have unleashed the uprising against the Spanish monarchy. The reason for the assassination of Canovas by the Golli might be on the advice of another doctor, Dr Ramon Betances. Just like Rizal, Betances was also was familiar with martial arts, gun, and fencing. He might have provided the training to the assassin and mentioned Rizal on his discussions with Golli. The assassin’s original targets were the members of the Spanish royal family, but upon the advice of Dr Betances, Canovas was assassinated instead. Betances coordinated support for the pro-independence movement in the Philippines while in Paris but there was no record of meeting Rizal. He might have obtained a copy of Rizal’s valedictory poem of Ultimo Adios from his Mason friend in Hongkong. He provided Rizal’s final masterpiece to the Puerto Rican insurgents’ propaganda movement against Spain.
Antonio Canova was immediately replaced in interim by Marcelo Azcarraga, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law graduate just like Isabelo De Los Reyes. Azacarraga is not only Filipino by definition of the original term being born in Manila but his mother has Bikol blood. He was the thirteenth Prime minister of Spain following the restoration of the Spanish monarchy. The loss of Canovas upon the Conservative Party became speculation among the Spanish press but General Azcarraga has acquired great popularity through his skill in organizing the country’s resources for Cuba and Philippine campaign. The Liberal Spanish faction prevailed over the conservative after Canova’s assassination. Sagastas recalled Gov Weyler and replaced the Cuban butcher with Governor Blanco. Ironically, Blanco was the governor who tried to save Rizal from the Canovas’s administration heavily influenced by the cleric in Manila. The same Weyler expelled the Rizal family from the farm in Calamba that the Dominican friars wanted out. This was Madrid’s desperate move to save the Spanish empire from growing insular unrest and the impending signs of the little splendid war coined by John Hay.
US President Wm McKinley sent condolence to Madrid through his ambassador to London, John Hay. On September 6, 1901 he suffered the same faith when he was shot in Buffalo, NY by Leon Csologosz, an anarchist. By that time John Hay was already the Secretary of State having successfully negotiated the Treaty of Paris. The former Lincoln’s White House intern would be involved in the three famous assassinations in history. Mckinley died of his gunshot wound, and John Hay would inform Theodore Roosevelt on a telegraph on September 14. The American empire only accelerated to the 20th century
On the 20th of August 1897, the Italian assassin, Michelle Angiolillos, the avenger of Rizal’s death was summarily sentenced to death. Having at no time during his trial nor during the days leading up to his execution shown any sign of remorse, Angiolillo then walked calmly to his execution by strangulation at the garrote.
Several days later, at a New York celebration of Michele Angiolillo’s heroic actions, the Italian anarchist Salvatore Pallavencini emphatically declared the anarchist position thus: “The man who killed Cánovas was a martyr to the cause of humanity and progress. Anarchists think it is better to kill a ruler who is a tyrant than to have a revolution in which thousands have to die because of his acts.”
My estimation why Dr Rizal might not be in favor of a bloody revolution.