The Lorca CentrePosted by Simon Mon, October 15, 2018 20:39:41
We may recall
that the official inauguration of the Lorca Centre went off half-cock in the
course of 2015, without pomp, without ceremony, and without the invaluable
resources of the long-awaited Lorca legacy, following the enforced abandonment
of the ambitious opening programme planned for the summer of 2011, thanks
largely to the fraudulent actions of the Foundation’s corrupt secretary, Juan
October 2018, we could visit the first exhibition made up exclusively with ítems from the
“Lorca Legacy” (the collection of thousands of documents and manuscripts as
well as literary, critical, and artistic works that bear direct witness to the
poet’s life, times and creative activity), now that they have at last been
safely stored in the Centre’s purpose-built, iron-clad strong room. It has been
a long and arduous path to get here, remarked Laura García-Lorca, president of
the Lorca Foundation, somewhat ruefully I’d say, at the brief and low-key
opening ceremony on Thursday evening. It is to be hoped that this exhibition
will mark the beginning of the “normalization” of the relationship between the
Poet and his City. It hardly needs saying this relationship has been over the
years anything but “normal”.
Centro: Federico García Lorca y Granada is an exhibition that has obviously been put
together with a lot of sensitivity, love and care by Ms García-Lorca herself
and a “small but extraordinary team”. It would be unfair to make a comparison
with the 1998 exhibition, Federico García
Lorca y Granada, at the Centro Cultural Gran Capitán, organised by the
special centenary national committee, with access to the widest possible
variety of sources. If I have sneakily made such a comparison it is absolutely
and categorically more to remind myself of the splendours of that one than to
belittle this one.
into detail, but recommending a visit to anyone who can make it – it closes on
30 November -, Desde el Centro (From the Centre) lays bare the “intense
and complex” relationship of the poet with the city, what I prefer to call a
love-hate relationship. The city attracted and repelled him throughout his
life, with his love for its unique beauty and brilliant Moorish past battling
in his heart with a hate of its provincial narrow-mindedness and bourgeois
present. This is my interpretation of “intense and complex” and was not
expressed in this way in the inauguration speeches; but it is there in the
A reference in
the speeches was made to this exhibition being put together rather hurriedly,
which I suppose is an indirect reference to an unforeseen hitch in the
preparation of Amor (con alas y flechas) [Love (with wings and arrows],
an exhibition, commissioned by University of Boston Professor and Lorca expert
Christopher Maurer, which was supposed to have kicked off the Centre’s regular
programme of legacy events but has been silently removed from the calendar. So
it looks as if another undesired improvisation has been forced on the Centre’s
The Centro Lorca has become from this moment
the centre of attraction of the city’s autumn cultural programme, announced the
Councillor for Culture, proudly (defiantly?). And the Mayor described the
occasion as a further step in the “permanent commitment” of the City with the
Lorca Centre. I won’t explain how that is a political swipe of the social
democratic mayor at his conservative predecessor(s).
Although I was
present at the inauguration, for much of this post, I am indebted to Belén
Rico, Granada Hoy, 12 October, 2018
AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Sat, October 13, 2018 11:48:16
One of the major international projects ever undertaken
by Spanish enterprise, the High-Speed Train (AVE) between Medina and Mecca in
Saudi Arabia, began its regular passenger service on Thursday 11 October 2018,
only a year and a half behind schedule.
Originally, Granada expected to be
connected to the Spanish high-speed rail network in 2007, the same year as
Malaga. In fact, since April 2015, when the train service between Granada and
Antequera was “temporarily” interrupted while essential work on the AVE rail link
was being carried out, there have been no trains at all to Madrid, Barcelona,
The very first journey on the Saudi
Arabian AVE was actually made on 25 September, but only the King and a few
other Saudi VIPs were on it. But Thursday’s trip was open to all pilgrims and
travellers who could afford the luxury. There were very few empty seats. (In spite of the apparrent evidence of the picture above.)
Since April 2015, passengers have had
to be bussed the 100 kilometres between Granada and Antequera, where they can
connect to the national and AVE rail network. (Pictured below is the new 14.00 connection to Barcelona.) Work on the line itself is
finished, they say. Testing began in December 2017 and training in May 2018. In
the meantime “complementary tasks”, including the complete enclosure of the line and anti-erosion work, are still being carried out.
In all, a total of 35 trains capable
of speeds up to 300kph will cover the 450 kilometres between the two Saudi
cities in two hours. However, the service will not be fully operational until
September 2019, when there will be 12 daily departures, seven days a week.
No date has been set for the start of
the high-speed train service into or out of Granada. Although the Government initially promised to issue monthly progress
reports, they have stopped doing so, and they have repeatedly refused to make any
concrete commitment to a specific time frame for the completion of the project.
In the meantime, RENFE, the national rail company, has extended its contracts
with the bus replacement companies to February 2019.
Saudi Arabia Source: BANDAR ALDANDANI AFP, El País, 10 October 2018
The Lorca PrizePosted by Simon Tue, August 28, 2018 19:25:06
I have posted seven times on the Lorca Poetry
Prize and I must say I’m getting a little bit bored with the subject. I last
wrote about it in June 2017, but before that I had omitted to mention Rafael
Cadenas, the 2015 winner, and indeed this year’s prize-giving, to the Catalan
poet, Pere Gimferrer, took place several months ago. Isabel Vargas reported in
Granada Hoy (15 Mayo, 2018 https://www.granadahoy.com/ocio/Granada-BPere-GimferrerB-Lorca-erudito_0_1245475487.html) that Gimferrer made his first of a
number of public appearances in Granada as 2017 prize-winner on 14 May 2018. He
proved to be one of the winners with the funniest sense of humour, she said.
Not sure if that was a swipe at the rest or not.
main problem with the prize is that it is not very exciting: no risks are taken
when choosing the poet to be honoured; there can really be no surprises.
From its initial concept, the purpose of the
Prize, The International City of Granada-García Lorca Poetry Prize to give it
its full-blown official title, has been to allow the city of Granada to bask in
the aura contributed by its annual prize-winner, courtesy in turn of the status
of its greatest son. In this way, prize-giver and prize-winner will be mutually
benefitted, as the glory of the winning poet is reflected in and enhanced by
the glory of our city of dreams and poetry, and vice versa.
The physical presence of the prize-winning poet to bestow his or her
aura on the city is so essential that when the third winner, the Peruvian
Blanca Varela, was too unwell to attend the function, with the consequent loss
of much of her cultural magnetic pull, the organisers decided henceforth to
withhold the then quite considerable prize money in the case of the winner not
being present to collect it.
Over the years, the value of the award has been
reduced from 50,000 to 20.000 euros. That’s austerity - and the law of
diminishing returns - at work.
Lorca Prize is awarded in recognition of a poet’s life’s work, and although
Lorca himself produced his extraordinary life’s work in a period of some twenty
years, a consequence of that stipulation is that the fourteen prize winners to
date have an average age of 81 years and between them had clocked up well over
1000 years by the time of their award.
Age is the
first factor that contributes to the predictability of the award. One has to be
sure they have accrued sufficient kudos in their field. A second factor is the
careful cautious distribution of the prize between Iberian and Latin American
writers. Seven have been from Spain; and seven from the Americas.
factor is that any poet worthy of the Lorca will almost certainly hold other
important awards. No poet will ever be ‘discovered’ by the Lorca Prize
selection process. The majority of the winners also won the Reina Sofia; either
before or afterwards.
conservative nature of the selection process also gives rise to a gender bias
that reflects recent and contemporary society. Just four of the fourteen
winners have been lady poets: three Latinas and one Andaluza.
So this time
it was Pere Gimferrer’s turn to come out on top of the formulaic approval
process. Born in Barcelona, Gimferrer is a many-faceted man of letters who
writes in Castilian and Catalan. His birth date shows that he is just twenty
days younger than me (b.2.6.1945), so at 72 rather on the young side to be a
Lorca winner. On the other hand, he’s been winning national and international
poetry prizes since 1966, among them the Reina Sofía (in 2000), and this
compensates for his relative ‘youth’.
Mayor Francisco Cuenca underlined the edge his city gained by being able to
include in its honours list such a paramount figure of contemporary Spanish
poetry; and, what’s more, one with a demonstrated familiarity with and
commitment to the work of Granada’s great poet-playwright, having overseen, in
1978, the first issues of the previously unpublished plays El público y Comedia sin título.
this makes Gimferrer an ideal and well-deserved recipient of Granada’s
prestigious poetry prize.
Nevertheless, as hinted at above and without wanting to detract from the
achievements and the talents of any of the prize-winners, I find the annual
rigmarole a bit on the dull side.
The greatest poets are by their nature non-conformists,
anti-establishment, even dissidents. Are they not? They do not go with the
flow; on the contrary they swim against the current. Think of Lorca in the
first decade of his literary life, struggling to establish himself as a
creative writer and win economic independence to pursue his chosen vocation. A
little formal recognition in the form of an even modest pecuniary reward then
would have helped him on his way and relieved him of some years’ anxiety. A
more modest Poetry Prize awarded in this spirit would be more fitting for the
memory of our highly venerated local-universal poet is what I think.
The City of Granada International Poetry Prize is of course not that
kind of award. More’s the pity. Only well established poets who already have a
long list of published and recognised works to their name can come into
consideration for it. Thus poets who may have forged their way against the
established grain are harnessed to what are basically conservative and
manifestly un-poetic ends. That’s what I think.
Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Mon, June 25, 2018 09:26:26
This is the fourth and final part of my
reappraisal of the events relating to the killing of the great twentieth
century Spanish poet, written in the light of the reissuing of Ian Gibson’s El
asesinato de García Lorca to include the latest and up-to-date evidence. Part
One considered the detention at the house of the Rosales family. Part Two dealt
with the time that the poet was held in the Civil Government building in la
calle Duquesa. Part Three was about Lorca’s arrival in Viznar, and this final
part will talk about the actual cold-blooded shooting.
PART FOUR: The Killing
(Las 13 últimas horas...) calls into question the evidence of Manuel Castilla,
‘Manolo the Communist’, the gravedigger who led first Penón and later Gibson to
the spot close to where the monolith in memory of Lorca and all the victims of
the nationalist repression stands today. The seventeen-year-old Manuel Castilla
Blanco, who apparently only narrowly escaped the firing squad himself thanks to
his appointment as gravedigger, claimed to have been one of those who buried
the poet. There is much in his evidence that is very credible, such as the fact
that as a young political activist, he said he recognised the two anarchist
bullfighters he buried, but not Lorca, who had been absent from Granada for
long periods in the years prior to his death, and was not anyway a political
activist. But when an attempted exhumation in 2009 revealed that Lorca’s corpse
was not and never could have been in that spot, the veracity of his evidence
was put in doubt.
signed a sworn declaration, presumably under duress, that he had not been
present at the burial of the poet, not having started his gravedigging duties
at Víznar until 21 August (Gibson page 220), but we know that
Nestares, embarrassed by questions about the events of that particular moonless
August night, events that were classified as top secret, gathered his team
together to school them on the ‘facts’, as Emilio Moreno Olmedo reported to
Fajardo Molina, to make sure nobody strayed from ‘the truth’. See //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post71, dated 9 November 2017. His
official paperwork relating to the events of that night also shows signs of
having been doctored, with the observation of three people being brought from
Granada (Lorca, Gadalí and Cabezas) amended to ‘five’, to include a couple of
petty communist-criminals and possibly a villain nicknamed ‘el Terrible’.
So when, in a recorded interview on 24 August 1978 (page 390), Castilla insists
that the people buried that night were ‘the teacher from Pulianas’, Galadí,
Cabezas, and Lorca, and nobody else
apart from these four’ (page 219), he is deliberately contradicting Nestares’s
clumsy attempt at falsifying the evidence, clearly less inhibited now that
Franco and Nestares are dead, democracy restored, and the new Spanish
constitution in the throes of being born.
the other hand, Gibson quotes Gabriel Pozo as hearing from Manolo himself that
he tricked both Penón and Gibson, having arrived after the killing. (Page 299.)
Caballero goes as far as to say it was well into September when he started his
grave-digging duties. Elsewhere, it is claimed that Castilla was recorded by
Gibson himself as giving himself away saying ‘this is where they say he was
buried’. However, Gibson, in his latest work, does not mention this.
the Communist lie, to take advantage of the foreign investigators, or did he
make a mistake? It was twenty years after the event that he, apparently
fearfully and with some reluctance, led Agustín Penón to the supposed site of
the crime, in 1956. If he was mistaken then, it would have been easy for him to
repeat the mistake with Gibson, and with growing conviction, ten years later.
In a similar way to Angelina Cordobilla’s increasingly confident account of her
second visit to the Gobierno Civil that we now think did not take place.
Anyway, physically present or not on the night of the atrocity, Castill’a
evidence has a great deal of truth value for his gravedigging experience and
his proximity in place and time to the event.
When did the killing take place, and who took part?
Caballero’s argument that the killing took place not later than 4am on
the 17th loses its force once
we accept the evidence that Lorca in fact arrived in Víznar on the night of the
17/18th and was shot at dawn. At 4.45 according to Wikipedia.
Gibson doesn’t have much to say about the actual composition of the
firing squad and refers us to Caballero’s investigation. (Page 218/389.) In
this respect, the Falangist guard Pedro Cuesta Hernández, who had to take part
in the killing, is an important witness and seems to be fairly reliable. His
list of participants includes Juan Luis Trecastro, the Security Guard Antonio
González Villegas, who later extorted money out of the poet’s father (page
233), and his fellow Black Squad member ‘the Baker’ (Eduardo López Peso), as
well as Antonio Benavides Benavides, the man who Caballero demonstrates bore a
grudge against the victim and who was to boast of his part in the murder. ‘I
fired two bullets into the poet’s fat head,’ he was reported to have boasted to
his like-minded circle of friends, an expression mimicked with an even cruder
twist by Juan Luis Trecastro’s ‘I fired a bullet into the homo’s fat arse’. See
//blog.granadalabella.eu/#post66, dated 9 October 2017
Trecastro played a prominent role in the detention of the poet and was
an intimate associate of Ramón Ruiz Alonso, who we know drew up the charges
that led to Lorca’s arrest. He had a reputation as a braggart and his
involvement with the black squads was common knowledge in certain circles.
Although he toned down his boastings later on, he was for a while proud to be
seen as an active member of the firing squad that eliminated the privileged red
homo poet. Gibson, at least, is convinced he was physically there. (Page 229.)
of Lorca’s last moments comes from José Navarro Pardo who tells how he learnt
from the driver who had brought Lorca to Viznar’ (a man called Arenas) that the
victim survived the first salvo of shots. (Page 218.) Elsewhere, this account
is confirmed by Manuel López-Banús, who
says Cuesta himself related how, after the initial salvo, Lorca got to his
knees and said ‘I’m still alive’ and had to be put out of his misery with a
fresh barrage of shots. This may well be the occasion on which Antonio
Benavides fired two bullets into the victim’s head.
Below: 1. Lorca Memorial Park on the road between Víznar and Alfacar; 2. The pine grove and the acequia running from Aynadamar, opposite the Memorial Park
So, by way of conclusion, what do I think happened?
detention proceeded more or less as described by Miguel Rosales with Lorca
being taken to the Civil Government in the late afternoon of the 16th. But he
was kept in custody until Valdés was able to get the go-ahead for the killing
from Queipo de Llano. On the night of the 17/18th he was transferred
to Víznar along with the anarchist bullfighters Gadalí and Cabezas, and
possibly schoolmaster Diáscoro Galindo. Then all four were held in the the
improvised prison known as ‘The Colony’, until the official firing squad and an
unknown number of black squad members arrived from Granada. Then the killing
went off more or less as Cuesta described it, plus Benavides´s credible
was a whole constellation of interrelated causes which contributed to the
killing of Granada’s outstanding poet. Some of those involved had personal
reasons to pursue Lorca to his death, while others did not, but they all went
about it with a similar and shared zeal and commitment to the reactionary
nationalist cause, aiming to stamp out the freedoms and opportunities opened up
by liberal republican democracy. Even the localised inter-family and
internecine disputes and rivalries that Caballero points out had been festering
for half a century and which for him are the main factors leading to the
killing were in fact grounded in the heightened political conflicts of the day.
Those disputes and rivalries contributed to and fed on the political conflicts
in equal measure. Ultimately, I go with Gibson and Lorca’s brother Francisco,
who said: ‘The atmosphere immediately preceding the Civil War had politicised
all of Spain in one direction or the other. You had to take a stand and my
brother Federico's, standpoint was very clear’, and he lists the evidence of
Lorca’s commitment to the aims and ideas of the liberal Republic, which we also
find listed in Gibson’s first chapter.
Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Wed, May 30, 2018 22:58:42
This is the
third part of my critical analysis of Ian Gibson’s re-working of El Asesinato de García Lorca, a book
originally published in France in 1971 and updated for republication in April
2018. Parts One and Two deal with the Lorca’s detention while staying with the
Rosales family and the time he was subsequently held in the Gobierno Civil building, before being
transferred to Víznar, where he was taken to be shot.
THREE:Arrival at Viznar
evidence on what Captain José María Nestares Cuéllar, the man in charge,
reported, Miguel Caballero (Últimas13
horas...) says Lorca arrived in Víznar shortly before midnight, on the
16th. Pedro Cuesta Hernández, who was one of the regular guards at the Villa Concha, improvised prison for the
condemned, testifies that Lorca was brought there between 10.30 and 11pm on one
of the nights between 17 and 20 August, though elsewhere he says about 10pm on
16 -18 August.
previously ruled out the likelihood that Lorca was transferred to Víznar on the
same night as his detention. All the evidence indicates that Lorca was brought
to Víznar on the night of 17/18th August. Depending on whose
evidence you accept, it was before midnight, or after 3.30am. See Part 2 for
the reasoning behind this.
citing Fajardo, says that Nestares was disturbed in his sleep in the middle of
the night by the arrival of Lorca, suggesting the later time. But, before the
firing squad arrived to do its work, it seems certain that Lorca was held
alongside his three fellow victims, Dióscoro Galindo González, Juan Arcoyas
Cabezas and Francisco Galadí Melgar at the villa known as Las Colonias (Villa Concha).
The testimony of José Jover Tripaldi,
gave Agustín Penón such a hard time in the 1950s, colourful and attractive
though his evidence is, might not be a reliable witness, as Caballero argues
strongly. Most of what he says could have been picked up in village gossip or
in the cafés of Granada, and even the picturesque anecdote about Lorca’s
last-minute improvised confession seems to have been in certain quarters part
of contemporary street folklore. Caballero insists that documentary evidence
indicates that Tripaldi was not around at the time of Lorca’s disappearance.
makes a point of emphasising that his evidence is based on contemporary police
reports and civil and military documentation rather than on unreliable oral
testimonies, as Gibson’s was. This is little more than point-scoring, for of
course the sort of oral evidence that Gibson collected could never have been
recorded by official reports and documentation and anyway these in turn could
have been falsified by a regime whose legitimacy was questionable and which did
not necessarily want the truth, the whole truth, to be revealed. Besides,
Caballero’s faith in the written word must strike us as a bit naïve,
considering the nature of the regime that had taken control of Granada, and the
chaos that existed in those early days of the Civil War. Such records
themselves are often written reports of spoken declarations and their veracity
may be legitimately questioned, Lorca’s death certificate itself being an
illustrative example. (Page 234.)
any case, chooses to disregard Caballero’s objections and go along with
Tripaldi’s account. (Page 213.) For me, the poet’s possible last-minute
confession is merely anecdotal evidence, with limited truth value.
also, I feel, some inconsistency in Gibson’s accepting on the one hand Ricardo
Rodríguez Jiménez’s evidence – that Lorca was taken away on what must have been
his second night at the Gobierno Civil after
3am – and on the other Tripaldi’s narrative – that he offered ‘pastoral’
assistance to the victims in the hours they were held in Las Colonias while waiting for the arrival of the firing squad.
Tripaldi’s evidence of a longish waiting period after Lorca’s transfer from the
Gobierno Civil to Víznar is at odds
with Gibson’s account of the transfer taking place after three in the morning
(see Part 2).
Regardless of Tripaldi’s testament, the earlier
arrival time (before midnight) seems to me more plausible, otherwise the
killing must have followed on from the arrival almost immediately and hardly
required the victims to be held in Las
Colonias until the firing squad arrived from Granada at around 4 in the
1. The acequia (water canal) ran through the Villa Concha and drove a mill. 2. Restoration work was carried out some years ago: these steps led up to the first floor of the Villa. 3. This is the view from the first floor after restoration. 4. Viznar is upper right; Alfacar slightly lower to the left; in the foreground, the munitions factory at El Fargue. 5. A sneaked view of the palace gardens. 6. The village square, with the church on the left and the archbishop's palace on the right, ceded to the Falange during the Civil War.
forthcoming fourth post will consider the actual killing, including a
discussion of Manolo el communista
claimed participation as the digger of Lorca’s grave, a claim which has been
put in doubt since the first publication of Gibson’s work.
Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Mon, May 21, 2018 16:08:19
I was very
keen to read Ian Gibson’s re-working of El
Asesinato de García Lorca when it came out in April 2018 and I immediately
set about analyzing the chapters 8, El
poeta en el Gobierno Civil de Granada, and 9, Aynadamar, ‘La Fuente de las Lágrimas’ covering the events from
Lorca’s detention at the Rosales’s house to his death by firing squad on the
road between Víznar and Alfacar, a few kilometres to the north of Granada. This
part deals with evidence about Lorca’s time held in the Gobierno Civil
So, when was Lorca taken from the Gobierno Civil?
It is here,
when it comes to the moment of the actual disappearing of the poet itself that
the trail gets hard to follow and Gibson’s and Caballero’s accounts of what
might have happened seriously diverge. Miguel Caballero argues that Lorca was
taken away to Víznar to face the firing squad as early as 10 – 10.30 on the
night of his arrest.
leave much time for the serious confrontation that certainly took place between
Civil Governor Valdés and José Rosales, after which Rosales got to speak, if
briefly, with the poet. (Page 187.) In fact, Vila San-Juan in his García Lorca, asesinado: toda la verdad
puts the time of José Rosales’s audience with Valdés at 10.30, so they would
have had to have acted with lightning speed for Caballero’s time scale to be
maintained. Caballero’s main argument in support of the credibility of this
rapid action was his conviction that those who wanted Lorca dead were afraid
that the great influence of his father would thwart their plans again, as so
often had happened in the past, something well documented in Caballero’s
there is overwhelming evidence that speaks against Caballero’s thesis. For one
thing, it seems certain that José Rosales was not the last person who got to
see Lorca at the Civil Government. One who most certainly did was Angelina
Cordobilla, Fernández-Montesino’s (Lorca’s brother-in-law’s) maid, sent with a
basket of provisions for the detained poet.
Angelina Cordobilla’s Evidence.
At first, in
her interview with Agustín Penón in 1955, Angelina insisted that she had seen
Lorca only once at the Civil Government building but then, in relating the events,
she seemed to remember seeing him twice on consecutive days. That would have
been on the mornings of the 17th and 18th. This narrative then becomes the
narrative that she repeats again and again, over the years. (Page 199.)
convincing ‘new’ evidence, from 2005, provided by Manuel Titos Martínez, which
places Lorca before the firing squad at dawn on the 18th, has become
the consensus to the extent it actually appears in Wikipedia as definitive
reliable is Angelina’s narrative?
reject her evidence imply that she was unwell, senile; unsound in body and
mind. When Gibson interviewed her in 1966, she was getting on, yet he found her
lucid and had absolute confidence in her evidence. This same woman, who Penón
interviewed in 1955 and who he judged to be around sixty-five, was physically
active, neither senile nor unwell.
reports seeing Lorca on the morning of the 17th, the day after the
arrest. ‘The next day I took him his food,’ she relates, ‘and a packet of Camel.
He hadn’t touched the food I had taken the day before, but he had smoked the
cigarettes.’ Her vivid testimony makes a strong case for Lorca being held
overnight before being moved to Viznar. Could it be that on this second
morning, when she noticed the food had not been touched, Lorca himself was not
present, that she last saw him on the 17th, and that she was
mistaken only about the second morning, the 18th?
Angelina’s evidence, Gibson lists a number of witnesses who saw or claim to have
seen Lorca in the Gobierno Civil building after 10.30 on the 16th:
Julián Fernández Amigo, Carlos Jiménez Vílchez, Emilio Muñoz Medina, Joaquín
López-Mateos Matres, Vicente Lara Jiménez, and Francisco Benedicto Domínguez
Aceitero, ‘el Bene’. (Page 191.) The weight of evidence indicates Lorca was
still there long after the Rosales-Valdés confrontation and apparently until
the following morning.
itself quite minor discrepancy lies in the fact that Lorca left the Rosales’
house wearing a white shirt, as Miguel López Escribano, for example, testifies.
(Page 181.) Yet later testimonies speak of him wearing a pyjama top; for
example, Agustín Soler Bonor claims to have seen him leaving the Civil
Goverment wearing ‘a pyjama jacket, not a shirt‘, and later, at Víznar, Manuel
Martínez Bueso, who accompanied Lorca’s car from the Falangists’ Viznar
Headquarters to Villa Concha, the improvised prison for the disappeared,
reported to his superior, José María Nestares, that he was wearing a pyjama
top. If Lorca left the Rosales wearing a shirt and arrived at Viznar wearing a
pyjama top, it is reasonable to suppose that someone had brought him a change
of clothes. Indeed, Angelina told Penón specifically that pyjamas were among
the supplies she carried the last time she went on her distressing errand.
Last but not
least, there is the testimony of Antonio Galindo Monge, son of Dióscoro Galindo
González, another victim who we know was shot alongside Lorca. Antonio says his
father was taken away at 2am on the 18th and he went to the military command a
few hours later in the hope of getting him released but was told his father had
already been put to death. The son’s evidence is backed up in this case by an
official death certificate. Galindo’s and Angelina’s evidence combined make for
a strong argument against Lorca having already faced the firing squad on the
morning of the 17th, as Caballero will have it.
Two conflicting reports on when Lorca was taken from the Gobierno Civil to
disappearing of the poet-playwright García Lorca happened effectively just
after José Rosales got to speak to him at around 10.30pm on the night of 16
August. Evidence of what happened after that has been clearly concealed and/or
tampered with. We know he was then taken to Víznar to be shot. But, did it
happen immediately after Rosales’ visit, or was Lorca held at the Civil
Government for 24 hours, and if so, why?
witness and one who could be used to corroborate Caballero’s theory is Agustín
Soler Bonor. He claims to have seen Lorca being taken away from the Civil
Government without being able to verify the exact date:
‘One night in the month of August at
about 10.30pm I arrived at the Civil Government (...) At the door a car was
waiting (...) Inside there were two prisoners, villager-types (...) Going up to
the first floor I met Lorca coming down, escorted by two Assault Guards.’
doesn’t include any information on this supposed eye-witness account. If it is
true, the two ‘villager-types’ could have been the anarchists Juan Arcoyas
Cabezas and Francisco Galadí Melgar who are known to have been shot alongside
the poet. Gibson quotes Molina Fajardo in saying that the two had been picked
up from the police station just round the corner from the Gobierno Civil and
brought to Víznar with the poet.
continues: ‘He was handcuffed and looked despondent and showed no sign of
likelihood of this August night being the 16th, and just moments
after the poet’s brief conversation with the respected and influential
Falangist, José Rosales, seems pretty remote, in view of the evidence of
Antonio Galindo, Angelina Cordobilla, Manuel Titos Martínez, etcetera.
supposing this is the 17th and the man Soler describes is not one
who was simply dispirited, but one who had been locked up and held incommunicado
for several hours, maybe 24, maybe even tortured? He seems to be oblivious to
his surroundings and fails to notice the presence of the witness. How long
would it take to get to this state of resignation and apathy? Could he have
lost heart so quickly, and so completely, if this incident happened moments
after Rosales’s visit?
evidence does not tie in very neatly with the evidence of Diáscoro Galindo
being taken from his home at 2am on the 18th, several hours later.
Galindo, I suggest, was possibly picked up later and taken to Víznar
contradiction to the evidence given by Soler Bonor, which Gibson for some
(undoubtedly well-founded) reason chooses to ignore in his latest overhaul of
relevant events, Ricardo Rodríguez Jiménez gives a colourful account of how
Lorca was taken from the Civil Goverment, and this Gibson does quote:
‘Each night I used to go to the
police station to hear Queipo de Llano’s last bulletin, which was broadcast
around 3a.m. (...) That night I left the station at 3.15am. Suddenly I heard
someone call my name. I turned around. ‘Federico!’ He threw an arm over my
shoulder. His right arm was handcuffed to that of a schoolmaster from La Zubia
with white hair. ‘Where are they taking you?’ ‘I don’t know.’ He was coming out
of the civil government building, surrounded by guards and Falangists belonging
to the ‘Black Squad’ (...) Someone stuck a gun in my chest. I screamed:
‘Murderers! (...) They locked me up for two hours and then they let me go.’ By
then, of course, it was too late to do anything.
Queipo de Llano was of course commander of the Nationalist Army of the South
and so the supreme authority of the uprising in Andalusia. The white-haired
schoolmaster ‘from La Zubia’ is easy enough to identify as Diáscoro Galindo,
though he was actually from Pulianas. If Galindo was taken away at 2am, as his
son said, it is quite possible that he had been brought to the Civil Government
prior to being transferred to Víznar, on the morning of the 18th.
can be made to fit in with the evidence of Joaquín López-Mateos Matres,
previously mentioned, who says that while on guard at the Civil Government on
the evening and night of the 16th he saw Lorca sitting alone, buried in his
thoughts and anxieties, ‘all evening and part of the night’ without witnessing
him being taken away at any point. ‘Part of the night’ can hardly only refer to
until 10.30pm, which is really not that long after nightfall, but to my mind it
fits in better with Rodríguez Jiménez’s declaration. What it does not fit in
with, though, is the bulk of the evidence about Lorca’s arrival in Víznar,
which points to a much earlier time of night.
Why was he held overnight in the Gobierno Civil?
Gibson’s ‘dale café’ (give him coffee) thesis is well-known and convincing.
Valdés realised that Lorca was a Big Fish and he wanted backing from a higher
authority before sending him off to face the firing squad. The higher authority
was Queipo de Llano. (Page 200.) Queipo del Llano’s go-ahead could easily have
been given by telephone, as the line between Granada and Seville had been
re-established that same day, the 17th. In fact, it seems likely
that ‘the supreme authority’ called back to make sure his orders had been
carried out. (Page 201.)
If we are to
accept Caballero’s thesis that Lorca was taken to Víznar before midnight of the
16th, it would mean disregarding or finding an alternative explanation for the
‘give him coffee’ exchange as well as for evidence provided by Diáscoro
Galindo’s son and Angelina Cordobilla, and also for Titos Martínez’s
2005 findings. Once
again, Caballero’s main argument in favour of his 16th August thesis
is that his enemies wanted Lorca dispatched before his highly respected and
influential father had time to intervene to protect him.
Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Mon, May 21, 2018 15:53:18
re-working of El Asesinato de García
, originally published in France in 1971, came out in April 2018 and I
immediately devoured the bits I had been waiting for: primarily Chapter 8, El poeta en el Gobierno Civil de Granada
and Chapter 9, Aynadamar, ‘La Fuente de
. They cover the events from Lorca’s detention at the
Rosales’s house to his death by firing squad on the road between Víznar and
Alfacar, a few kilometres to the north of Granada.
decision to re-publish this work was, I am convinced, prompted by Miguel
Caballero Pérez’s 2011 publication Las trece últimas horas en la vida de
García Lorca. Caballero’s work is a
deliberate and polemic challenge to Gibson’s original findings.
that convinces me of this is the trouble Gibson goes to to stress the political
aspect of Lorca’s social status, downplayed by Caballero, who prefers to see
Lorca’s murder in terms of personal vengeance and family rivalries. Indeed,
Caballero implies that Gibson is swayed in his judgements by his own political
sympathies. Be that as it may, Gibson dedicates his first of ten chapters, plus
a lengthy appendix of 35 pages, to demonstrate Lorca’s conscious political
in reducing the time scale between Lorca’s arrest and his death to thirteen
hours as stated in his book title, Caballero is demonstratively refuting
Gibson’s originally much longer time frame. For me, the evidence indicates that
Lorca was held in the Gobierno Civil
building overnight; that Caballero’s timescale is unconvincing; that Gibson is
closer to the truth.
contradictions between the two investigations open up once the poet has been
disappeared, the facts about the detention of the poet at the Rosales’ house
are relatively straightforward. Caballero places the arrest with some
confidence between 1 and 1.30pm, although he is a bit vague about how events
subsequently played out over the afternoon. Gibson also, in this updated
version, tends to avoid specific time references. One of the very few is given
in José Rodríguez Contreras’s much quoted description of the exaggerated police
operation around the Rosales’s house deemed necessary to carry out the
detention: It must have been about one o’clock, he says, because ‘it wasn’t
every day you got released from prison!’ (Page 179. All page references to
there is general agreement that the detention itself was held up for some time
because Esperanza Camacho (‘Mrs Rosales’) refused to let Lorca be taken away
without one of her sons being present, and it was Miguel Rosales who was first
located, at the nearby Falange Headquarters in the Monastery of San Jerónimo.
It was about 4.30, according to one version I read, when Ramón Ruiz Alonso, the
man with the arrest warrant, brought him back to the house. Then Lorca needed
time to get dressed, bid his farewells, which included saying a prayer with Aunt
Luisa (page 181), so it wasn’t until maybe 6 or 7pm that they arrived at the
Civil Government building. In his declaration to Ian Gibson in 1967, Ramón Ruiz
Alonso says it could have been 5, or 6, or 7pm, he doesn’t know. (Page 349.)
Another witness, Miguel López Escribano, a teenager at the time, says it would
have been 3.30pm when he saw Lorca leaving the house. But, as I said, Gibson
refrains from giving specific time references in this latest version of his
chronicle, admitting only the evidence of Eduardo Carretero, who reckoned that,
judging by the quality of the daylight, it must have been some time in the
afternoon. (Page 180.)
So Lorca may
have arrived at the Civil Government as early as 4pm or as late as 7pm. What is
beyond a doubt, however, is that Civil Governor José Valdés Guzmán was away all
day on the 16th and didn’t return to Granada until 9.45.
AVE (High Speed Train)Posted by Simon Wed, May 02, 2018 17:36:55
been almost completely cut off from the national rail network for three years.
The last train to arrive in Granada from Madrid, Barcelona, or Seville was on 7
April 2015. Since then, if you wanted to travel to Granada overland by public
transport, you would have to complete your journey by coach.
the train service between Granada and Antequera, some 100 kilometres to the
west, was interrupted over three years ago, they said it would be for a period
of between four and six months while work on the ‘first phase’ of the
high-speed rail link was being completed.
discussed the problematic execution of the high-speed rail link to Granada five
years ago in February 2013 (#post 29) under the title ‘Low-speed AVE’, AVE
being short for ‘alta velocidad’
(high-speed) at the same time as having the meaning of ‘bird’: a train that
‘flies’ like a bird, get it? The post referred to proposed compromises being
imposed by austerity measures which would increase the journey time by up to 45
minutes and thus compromise the whole purpose of the project.
My last two posts bore the heading
‘No-Speed AVE’ and date from January and February 2017 (#post 54 & 56). The
heading refers to the abandonment of any concrete commitment by the central
government to completing the work at all within a specific time frame.
On Sunday 8
April some 5000 people took to the streets in the rain to mark the unfortunate
third anniversary and to make a fresh demand for a commitment from the
government with concrete dates regarding the inauguration of the AVE service to
Granada. The main points of contention are the trajectory of a short-ish
stretch of line through Loja, a town fifty kilometres west of Granada, and the
last few kilometres into the city, via the western Chana suburb. A prompt
conclusion of the speed trials through Loja was called for, as well as an
underpass to avoid splitting the Chana neighbourhood in two. (Source: Javier
Morales, Ideal newspaper, Monday 9 April 2018.)
tourist destination such as Granada is, the three-year hiatus in train services
has of course been fairly catastrophic. The Provincial
Government of Granada reckons losses of around 400 million euros in terms of
lost income from tourists who would have visited Granada if there had been a
decent high-speed train service, or, indeed, any sort of train service. In
fact, the number of visitors to Granada has by and large maintained its 2014
level, because people have continued wanting to come here in spite of all the
odds, and inconvenience.
2014 a total of 647,000 passengers passed through the station. In 2017 this
figure had fallen to 321,393, a loss of 51%. The night train to Barcelona, it is
reckoned, has lost 77% of its passengers: from 100,000 in 2014 to barely 19,000
in 2016, recovering slightly to 22,000 in 2017. The Madrid connection is almost
as badly affected, with a loss of 40% of its passengers, from 157,000 in 2014
to 94,000 in 2017. The accumulated loss of passengers over the three years has
been calculated at around 850,000, adding up to a huge loss of income for
RENFE, the state railway company, on top of the 7.3 million euros that the
government has had to pay on substitute coaches to freight passengers between
Granada and Antequera. (Source: M. V. Cobo, Ideal newspaper, Sunday 8 April
A major stumbling block to the completion of the long awaited high-speed
connection has been the San Francisco tunnel in Loja. The nineteenth century
tunnel is only a couple of hundred metres long, but it is curved, and leaves
only a space of some 70 centimetres between the train and the tunnel wall. This
is safe for conventional trains travelling at 30 or 50 kph, but surely less so,
in spite of the train line’s assurances to the contrary, for an AVE whooshing
through at around 300. Anyway, trials are being carried out, though nobody is
willing to give any details about how far these have progressed, or how much
longer they are likely to last, or when they are likely to be finished.
(Source: M. V. Cobo again, as above.)
Work on the track itself is finished, they say, but there are still
‘complementary activities’ to be carried out, such as the gentrification of the
station area in Granada, completing the enclosure of the whole length of the
line, and anti-erosion work on the embankments. At the same time, something
called structural tests are being carried out. These should be completed in
May. Only then can the training of train drivers (no pun) be started as this
has to be done over the new trajectory itself so the drivers can familiarise
themselves with its unique characteristics.
Although the Government initially promised to issue monthly reports on
the progress of work on the line, they have had nothing to say since October
2017. In the meantime, RENFE has extended its contracts with the bus companies
to October 2018.