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News and comments and events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible, Granada, 'la bella y la bestia, and Federico Garcia Lorca's complicated love-hate relationship with the city, etc

Killing a poet, 4

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

Miguel Caballero (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.

Manolo 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.

On 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.

Did Manolo 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.)

Testimony 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

POSTSCRIPT: So, by way of conclusion, what do I think happened?

The 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 addendum.”

There 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.



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KILLING A POET. 3

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.

PART THREE:Arrival at Viznar

Basing his 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.

We have 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.

Gibson, 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,

Tripaldi, who 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.

Caballero 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.)

Gibson, in 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.

There is 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 morning.

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.

A forthcoming fourth post will consider the actual killing, including a discussion of Manolo el communista’s 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.







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KILLING A POET. 2.

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 building.

PART TWO: 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.

This doesn’t 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 investigation.

Even so, 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.)

However, 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 fact.

So, how reliable is Angelina’s narrative?

Those who 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.

Angelina 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?

Backing up 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.

Another in 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 Víznar.

The 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?

An important 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.’

Gibson 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.

Soler continues: ‘He was handcuffed and looked despondent and showed no sign of recognising me.’

The 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.

But 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?

This 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 separately?

In total 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.

Gonzalo 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.

This account 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?

Here 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.



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KILLING A POET. 1.

Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Mon, May 21, 2018 15:53:18
Ian Gibson’s re-working of El Asesinato de García Lorca, 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 las Lágrimas’. 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.

Gibson’s 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.

One thing 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 leftwing posture.

Otherwise, 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.

PART ONE: The Detention.

While major 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 Gibson’s Asesinato.)

Even so, 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.



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bizarre bag of bones

Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Tue, April 17, 2018 12:46:48
Bizarre? Or what?

Among the many theories and anecdotes related to the various unsuccessful attempts to localise the remains of the murdered poet and his three fellow victims, there is one that has been going around for a number of years that always sounded to me so preposterous and absurd that I could not take it seriously. This is it:

In 1986 when they were constructing the park (the García Lorca Park in Alfacar) in memory of Lorca and all the victims of the nationalist repression, situated near the Spring of Aynadamar on the road from Víznar, they dug up some bones, the detailed examination of which they were afraid would hold up the completion of the park, so they put them in a plastic fertilizer bag and re-buried them.

Not only did they find bones, they also found a crutch, a very simple crutch made of wood, with a broad leather strap.

!!!

Maybe I need to remind you here that one of the men who faced the firing squad alongside Lorca was the lame republican schoolteacher Dióscoro Galindo.

According to José Antonio Rodríguez Salas, who was a guard at the park at the time of its inauguration, there was not only the crutch, but also four craniums!!! Into the plastic bag they went! So as not to delay the important and, for the local politicians, prestigious opening of the commemorative park. Could this happen anywhere else but in Granada?

The burial place of this bag of bones was carefully recorded. It turns out to be directly underneath where the massive stone fountain stands today, the fountain inscribed with Antonio Machado’s famous verses dedicated to the death of the poet:

Labrad, amigos,
de piedra y sueño en el Alhambra,
un túmulo al poeta,
sobre una fuente donde llore el agua,
y eternamente diga:
el crimen fue en Granada, ¡en su Granada!

[Construct, friends, from stone and dreams in the Alhambra, a sepulchre for the poet, over a spring where the water weeps and eternally repeats: the crime was in Granada, in his Granada!]

All the above so far is from Gibson’s updated version of his El Asesinato de García Lorca just published. At the time of writing, says Gibson, that was February 2018, Luis Avial had begun examining the base of the fountain with GPR (ground-penetrating radar).

Luis Avial has built up quite a reputation for himself with his GPR studies. He claims, among many other achievements, to have discovered the tombs of Cervantes in Madrid and of Boabdil, the Moorish Kingdom of Granada’s last ruler, in Fez (Morocco). He is motivated in this case, he says, because he himself is the grandson of a civil war victim. His investigations in Víznar go back to 2009, when he carried out a preliminary survey in the García Lorca Park in Alfacar, and prompted by Víctor Fernández, local journalist and avid Lorca-researcher, he actually examined the base of the fountain, and while noticing some anomaly in the geological structure that could possibly indicate some outside interference, the signal from his GPR did not suggest anything like a common grave with human remains. So he discarded his findings as irrevelant. How wrong he was (he says now: Granada Hoy, 16/04-2018). http://www.granadahoy.com/granada/Ladran-luego-cabalgamos_0_1236776888.html

It was ‘stubborn and tenacious’ journalist Víctor Fernández who refused to give up on his theory and kept on at Avial to help him with his search for evidence. Fernández insisted that it was not a common grave they were looking for, but a bag of bones, and that persuaded Avial to go back to the x-rays he took in 2009, and yes, there was undeniable evidence that something like a bag of bones and rubble could be there, beneath the monumental fountain.

Fernández’ tenacity has clearly a lot to do with the eye-witnesses he has interviewed, including workmen involved in the alleged infraction in 1986. (Follow link below.) As Avial concludes, the supposed osteological material might not be human, but animal; and it might not even be bones. But it’s a hypothesis that ought to be tested, if only for it to be eliminated it once and for all.

Which surely it must!?!

https://www.larazon.es/cultura/la-ultima-pista-sobre-lorca-la-fuente-de-alfacar-HK18039394

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Gibson's "Assassination of Lorca": update

Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Mon, January 08, 2018 19:16:33

It’s funny that just two months ago I could quote Ian Gibson as saying "I’m finished with Lorca and I don’t intend to revise or update what I have written and published about him up to now", while today in the first month of 2018 I can gladly announce that he is in fact working on an updated version of his book El asesinato de García Lorca, first published in France in 1971, translated to English in 1979.

The explanation of this contradiction included in my //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post72 is that Gibson tells Manuel Vincent in El País, 6 January 2018, that he started thinking about the compelling need to update this particular work about six months ago, whereas my November quote is from Maria Serrano, originally published in El Público on 27 February 2017. Gibson changed his mind soon after that interview. I’m happy to say.

Most of us know that Lorca biographer Ian Gibson has dedicated much of his life to digging up the facts and details about Lorca’s life, times, works, and his untimely death. His book about the killing of the poet had to be published in France because it was impossible to publish it in Spain. He was a pioneer in the field of Lorca research. Since then, things have changed.

For one thing, Eduardo Molina Fajardo’s widow was allowed, or possibly encouraged, to publish her husband’s research posthumously under the title of Los últimos días de García Lorca in 1983. Franco had gone, the conspiracy of silence around Lorca’s murder was being broken down (Gibson had played his part in this), and as a Falangist, Molina Fajardo had access to sources that were not so easily available to Gibson. These sources were given particular prominence by Miguel Caballero in his 2011 publication Las trece últimas horas en la vida de García Lorca, which leaves behind the last days of Lorca’s life referenced by Fajardo to concentrate on his last hours: Las trece últimas horas. Caballero’s findings were at the centre of my attention for several months on my return to Granada at the end of the summer 2017 and were the subject of eight posts in all: //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post64 - #post71. There is no doubt in my mind that Caballero is the catalyst for Gibson finally deciding to take a new look at his 1971 conclusions.

Pictures: Lorca researchers Molina Fajardo, Gibson, and Caballero Pérez

Gibson’s updated work will be out in April! Molina Fajardo’s and Miguel Caballero’s findings will be taken into consideration, of course, as will new facts contributed by other researchers over the years. Gibson promises to review all the theories about Lorca’s last steps as well as analyse all the searches for the poet’s remains that have been undertaken to date, but to no avail.

Nobody is anywhere near as well equipped for the task as Gibson. Nobody has his overview, combined with his in-depth knowledge of Granada in 1936 and the assassination of the city’s greatest poet.



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CABALLERO VS GIBSON 4

Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Thu, November 09, 2017 13:42:37

CABALLERO VERSUS GIBSON: 13 HOURS, OR TWO AND A HALF DAYS?

Part 4: The Killing

There are, as we have seen, two different theories about the exact time that Lorca faced the firing squad, one night in August 1936 on the road between Víznar and Alfacar. At 4:45 on the morning of the 18th has been the consensus until now and is what it says in Wikipedia. When I began this analysis of the evidence, I did not realise that this date had been close to verified by a letter dated 18 August 1936 and discovered by chance by Manuel Titos Martínez*, in which José María Bérriz revealed that he had just heard from reliable sources that Lorca had been killed that same night. Of course, this evidence is not entirely conclusive, for Lorca had been disappeared and who knows how long it might have taken for the news to reach the public domain? However, one of Bérriz’s informants was his brother-in-law, Manuel Rodríguez-Acosta, a nationalist related by marriage to and on intimate terms with Nicolás Velasco Simarro, acting Civil Governor on the day of Lorca’s disappearance. (This man’s role in the persecution of the poet is discussed in //blog.granadalabella.eu/#post65 Who...? Why ...? And where ...? a critical review of Miguel Caballero’s Las trece últimas horas en la vida de García Lorca.)

Caballero, meanwhile, places the killing as not later than 4am on the 17th. He gives two arguments to substantiate his claim. One is that José María Nestares Cuéllar was removed from his position of command at Víznar for two days, 18 and 19 August, so he would not have been present to register Lorca’s arrival if he had been brought there on one of those days. But if Lorca arrived in Víznar on the 17th, and was shot before dawn on the 18th, then the question of Nestares´s removal from command for these two days becomes irrelevant. Secondly, Lieutenant Rafael Martínez Fajardo, who was encharged with bringing Lorca to Víznar to face the firing squad, was member of a column that captured the village of Huétor Tájar on 17 August, an operation that lasted twelve hours leaving Granada at five in the morning. If, as Caballero argues, the killing was carried out on the morning of the 17th, it had to leave Martínez with enough time to join his column at 5am. But, once again, if Lorca was brought to Víznar on the night of the 17th and shot in the early morning, this argument also loses its force.

The Falangist guard Pedro Cuesta Hernández is an important witness and seems to be fairly reliable: ‘The firing squad was organised before dawn, at around 4am, and it was made up of the same men who had come from Granada’ and he lists J.L.Trecastro, the Security Guards Ayllón, Correa, Villegas, whom he describes as belonging to the same ‘Black Squad’ as ‘the Pugnose of Plaza Nueva’ and ‘the Baker’, and Benavides, the man who we have seen bore a grudge against the victim and who was to boast of his part in the murder. He also includes in the squad one ‘Blanco’, and ‘the Baker’ himself. Plus Arenas, the driver. And, less willingly, by his own account, Cuesta himself.

Correo, Caballero names as Fernando Correa Carrasco. According to Caballero, however, Cuesta was mistaken about Antonio Ayllón Fernández’s participation, as he did not in fact take over as head of the firing squad until 22 August, replacing Mariano Ajenjo Moreno, who would have been the man in charge. Caballero also denies Juan Luis Trecastro’s participation in the killing. I am inclined to agree, partly due to his cocky copycat claim of firing two bullets into the victim’s arse, obviously minted on his friend Antonio Benavides’s abhorrent bragging. Even so, the possibility of a sort of ‘guest appearance’ cannot be totally ruled out. Although his proximity to the black squads was common knowledge in certain circles, Trecastro himself was too prominent a member of the respectable local bourgeoisie to appear in Nestares´s paperwork. (See below.)

It seems to me pretty likely that ‘the Baker’ was involved in the killing. Francisco Murillo Gámiz, taxi-driver and once Lorca family chauffeur, said he knew that the Black Squad that killed Lorca was made up of the Assault Guard Villegas, the Baker and the Pugnose, and he relates how on ‘the day they shot Federico’ the Baker approached him: ‘Have a Lucky (Strike). We took them off Lorca’s body after we shot him this morning.’ Bravado? Maybe. There were plenty of people in Granada who wanted to be associated with this abominable crime; Trecastro being, of course, one of the most prominent.

Nestares recalls the Black Squad that ‘the Baker’ belonged to. ‘They were really paid killers. They were organised by Julio Romero Funes (Valdés’s right-hand man at the Civil Government: there was no love lost between Nestares and Valdés), although on some occasions they acted on their own account.’ José Rosales says he knew the Baker from before the Uprising and names him tentatively as Eduardo López Peso. ‘We would give him a few pesetas to carry out reprisals.’ I presume by ‘we’ he means himself and his closest Falangist associates and by ‘reprisals’ he means acts of violence against leftwing opponents.

In the early days, Lorca’s death used to be talked about as being at the hands of these black squads, a name that has a frightening ring about it, presenting them as gangs of uncontrollable psychopathic thugs taking advantage of a situation of chaos and social breakdown. Luis García-Alix Fernández: ‘From the first days of the Movement, diverse elements, among them Ramón Ruiz Alonso, organised groups that, sometimes with the knowledge of the Civil governor and at other times without it, went round dragging out of the houses or the places where they were hiding those people they considered dangerous. And they met every night in the central cafe La Granja, to draw up the lists of executions they were going to carry out.’

In fact, Caballero’s account reveals that there were no clear lines between the official firing squads and the black squads, which were anyway by April 1937 fully integrated into the process of systemic state terror. Such is the case of Salvio Rodríguez García, mentioned by Caballero as one of Lorca’s killers, who was a black squad member up to April 1937, when all still existing unofficial murder squads were formalised. Until then, black squad members would sometimes support the official ones and gradually be absorbed by them. Antonio González Villegas, for example, was a black squad member in the first two weeks of the Uprising and was then incorporated into the assault guards, while evidently maintaining his links to his unregulated associates, the Baker and Pugnose. To me, it seems the term ‘black squad’ came to be used to distract attention from the state-sponsored elimination of oppositional forces, whereas in fact these murder squads were well organised and already, just four weeks into the uprising, pretty much under the control of the Civil Government authorities.

Both Valdés and Nestares seem to have been quite meticulous in recording their respective roles in consolidating the nationalist hold over Granada. Valdés was so meticulous in recording how he executed his savage repression that he kept well-ordered and detailed files, the one labelled ‘File 8: Re García Lorca’, significantly, found to be empty, though. Nestares, who was effectively in control of a battle front, needed to keep accurate records, in particular of movements between Granada and Víznar, but also to cover his back with regard to the unofficial executions that were taking place in his area of command.

Caballero expresses his great satisfaction with the testimony of Nestares, especially in the way it ties in so neatly with that given by his ‘assistant and friend’, Martínez Bueso, a factor which he thinks gives it particular credibility. Yet we know that Nestares was with some frequency questioned about the events of that moonless night, events that were classified as top secret. And we know that he gathered his team to school them on the facts, as Emilio Moreno Olmedo reported to Fajardo Molina, to make sure nobody strayed from ‘the truth’. His official paperwork relating to the events of that night 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’. When Manuel Castilla, Manolo el comunista, says the people buried that night were ‘the teacher from Pulianas, Galadí, Cabezas, and him, Lorca; nobody else’ he is referring to this clumsy effort on the part of Nestares to falsify the evidence. Elsewhere, Nestares reports that Funes gave the order to Martínez Fajardo to bring Lorca plus Galadí, Cabezas, and ‘the Terrible’ to Víznar; but I have found no other trace of or reference to this latter individual. I mention it here as an example of Nestares’s occasionally creative record keeping

Testimony of Lorca’s last moments comes from two sources: José Navarro Pardo and Manuel López Banús. From the former we hear how ‘the driver who had brought Lorca to Viznar’ (Arenas, supposedly) told him how the victim survived the first salvo of shots, an account confirmed by the latter, 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 that Antonio Benavides fired two bullets into the victim’s head.

Photos: the drawing is a version of Goya’s ‘2 May 1808’ celebrating the people of Madrid’s resistance to the Napoleonic invasion, slightly amended to suggest Lorca’s facial features in the figure of the martyr. The painting is in the Prado of course and I think I got the drawing from an article about Lorca in the ABC newspaper, twenty years ago.

Note:*Titos Martínez, Manuel (2005). Verano del 36 en Granada. Un testimonio inédito sobre el comienzo de la guerra civil y la muerte de García Lorca. Granada.


So, by way of conclusion, what do I think happened?

The detention proceeded more or less as described by Miguel Rosales with Lorca being taken to the Civil Government in the late or mid 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 17th he was transferred to Víznar along with the anarchist bullfighters Gadalí and Cabezas. Schoolmaster Diáscoro Galindo joined them in the improvised prison known as ‘The Colony’, until Martínez Fajardo arrived from Granada with the official firing squad and an unknown number of black squad members. Then the killing went off more or less as Cuesta described it, plus Benavides´s credible addendum.

Does it matter?

Does it matter? Whether it was the 17th or 18th? The time he was ‘disappeared’ from the Civil Government? Who was ‘ultimately’ responsible? To what extent was Horacio Roldán able to pull strings and influence events? Did Queipo de Llano have the last word? Was Ruiz Alonso manipulated by Juan Luis Trecastro or was he motivated by his petty grievances vis-à-vis the Falange? Should we blame Valdés’s stomach ulcer and his consequent bad humour? Or maybe the offence taken by Velasco at Lorca’s anti-Guardia Civil poems? And the million-dollar question: the location of the poet’s remains.

It shouldn’t matter, but somehow it does. To some extent I share Ian Gibson’s exasperation at not knowing what happened to Lorca’s bodily remains. ‘If we don’t find them,’ Gibson complains, ‘the unanswered questions, the theories, the arguments – and the lies – will go on forever’+. (Personally, I am not convinced that the locating of Lorca’s remains will tie up the loose ends. Frankly, I feel it might throw up as many questions as it answers!)

After five decades, Gibson declares himself finished with his Lorca project. ‘I do not intend to revise my books nor write any new ones.’+

Perhaps it is time for me to take a page out of Gibson’s book and turn my attention to other matters, matters that are more pressing in the present than unpicking the tangle of testimonies, facts and fictions, lies and half-truths, arguments and counterarguments that lie eighty years in the past. Then again, they dug up Richard III in a Leicester car park after more than 500 years, so ...

Note: +María Serrano. 27/02/2017 público.es



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CABALLERO VERSUS GIBSON 3

Lorca disappearing and deathPosted by Simon Tue, October 31, 2017 08:34:04

CABALLERO VERSUS GIBSON: 13 HOURS, OR TWO AND A HALF DAYS?

Part 3: The disappearing

The 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. For me the date and the time of the transfer to Víznar are still unresolved questions. Did it happen immediately after Rosales’ visit, or was Lorca held at the Civil Government for 24 or even 48 hours?

An important 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.’
Civil Government building, calle Duquesa; today part of Faculty of Law; behind Botanical Gardens:

If this 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. The only problem with this is that it contradicts testimony saying they were captured in a cave outside Granada and then taken directly to Víznar. However, Galadí’s family are convinced he was captured in Granada, at the Fuente del Avellano.

Soler continues: ‘He was handcuffed and looked despondent and showed no sign of recognising me.’

This could have been just moments after the poet’s brief conversation with the respected and influential Falangist, José Rosales. Feeling rather optimistic on account of Rosales’s promise to make an official intervention with higher authorities on his behalf, Lorca’s high hopes are then dashed when immediately afterwards he is handcuffed and led away. Maybe he has heard that he is being taken to Víznar and knows it can mean only one thing...

A second possibility occurs to me. Was the man Soler describes one who was simply dispirited, or one who had been locked up and held incommunicado for several hours, maybe since the day before, 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?

In total contradiction to the evidence given by Soler Bonor, Ricardo Rodríguez Jiménez gives a colourful account of how Lorca was taken from the Civil Goverment: ‘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.

Gonzalo 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 supposedly Diáscoro Galindo, though he was actually from Pulianas. If Galindo was taken away at 2am, as his son said, it is not impossible that he had been brought to the civil Government prior to being transferred to Víznar, though this of course would have been on the morning of the 18th, not the 17th.

This account can be made to fit in with the evidence of Joaquín López-Mateos Matres, previously cited, 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. ‘Part of the night’ might possibly 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.

Basing his evidence on what Nestares reported, Caballero 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. [This is an old photo of Villa Concha. It was demolished not long after these events.]

The general consensus is that Lorca arrived in Víznar after nightfall, after the gravediggers had been locked in, otherwise somebody would have recognised him, the gravediggers being mainly composed of liberal university professors, politicians, professionals, and the like: people who would definitely know the famous poet and dramatist by sight. At nightfall they were locked in on the upstairs floor.

The testimony of José Jover Tripaldi, who gave Agustín Penón such a hard time in the 1950s, colourful and attractive though it is, must be discarded as unreliable. 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 was 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.

Finally, last but not least, there are the well known ‘Give him coffee’ instructions that Valdés received from Queipo de Llano which is supposed to have given the go-ahead to have the poet eliminated. Valdés was used to consulting with his superior over cases of exceptional importance and for the express purpose of such consultations a radio had been installed at the Civil Government. We have it from people close to the civil governor that Valdés, every night after Queipo’s speech on Radio Seville, would consult the General about the day’s events and it was after one such consultation that Lorca was dispatched. In one version Germán Fernández Ramos, a drinking companion of Valdés’s, claims he heard Valdés phone Queipo twice before sealing the poet’s fate. The Ideal newspaper, incidentally, reported the re-establishment of telephone communications between Granada and Seville on 17 August.

If the exchange really took place after Queipo de Llano’s radio broadcast, it must have been late at night. The earliest this consultation could have taken place of course is after Valdés’s return to Granada at 9.45 on the 16th, and in all events Valdés would have to have moved very fast and it hardly seems possible that he could have had this conversation and then got Lorca sent off to Viznar to arrive there shortly before midnight. Against that, Ruiz Alonso always insisted that Valdés himself had told him on the morning of the 17th that Lorca had been shot, on orders received from Seville, i.e. from Queipo de Llano. To complicate matters further, the radio broadcast theory fits in rather nicely with the dramatic testimony of Rodríguez Jiménez.

In any case, if we are to accept the evidence that points to Lorca being 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. Once again, Caballero’s main argument in favour of this thesis is that his enemies wanted Lorca dispatched before his highly respected and influential father had time to intervene to protect his son.

Photos:
Gobierno Civil/Civil goverment building https://letralia.com/175/fgl05.jpg 5.11.07 Fernando Guijarro Arcas

'The Colony'/Villa Concha http://www.ideal.es/granada/20130609/local/granada/viznar-pide-junta-cesion-201306091138.html 09.06.13 EUROPA PRESS | GRANADA



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