ecuador blog

THE FIRST EXHIBITION WITH THE RESOURCES OF THE “LORCA LEGACY”The Lorca Centre

Posted 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 Tomás Martín.

Finally, 11 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”.

Desde el 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.

Without going 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 exhibition.Blog image

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 administrators.

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

https://www.granadahoy.com/granada/Centro-Lorca-estrena-legado-muestra_0_1290471191.html



A TALE OF TWO AVESAVE (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. Blog image

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, or Seville.

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. Blog image

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

https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/10/11/album/1539274689_799339.html#foto_gal_1











Winner #14 2017The Lorca Prize

Posted 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. Blog image

The 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.Blog image

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.

The 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.

Another 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.

The 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’.

Predictably, 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.

All 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.



Killing a poet, 4Lorca disappearing and death

Posted 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.



KILLING A POET. 3Lorca disappearing and death

Posted 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,Blog image 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.







KILLING A POET. 2.Lorca disappearing and death

Posted 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.Blog image

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.Blog image

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.



KILLING A POET. 1.Lorca disappearing and death

Posted 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.Blog image

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.



3 YEARS WAITING FOR A TRAINAVE (High Speed Train)

Posted by Simon Wed, May 02, 2018 17:36:55

Granada has 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.

When 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.

I first 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.)

For a 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.

In 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 2018.)

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.)

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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.