ecuador blog

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 //, 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 //, 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.


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.)

Blog image

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.

bizarre bag of bonesLorca disappearing and death

Posted 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!]Blog image

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).

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!?!

Job vacancies (2)The Lorca Centre

Posted by Simon Wed, March 14, 2018 17:41:49

Job vacancies at the Lorca Centre, we announced in #post 77 (21.01.2018). So far, views of the Lorca Centre always give the impression of a big empty space with little human activity. Hopefully, this will change when the Centre receives the legacy it was set up for and starts to be truly operative. The arrival of the complete legacy at the Lorca Centre they say (G. Cappa Granada Hoy, 14 March, 2018) will create the need for around 15 employees, first and foremost curators and archivists, and:

· a manager, to be selected by a public tendering process

· a programme co-ordinator,

· two librarians,

· a receptionist,

· three or four maintenance personnel (possibly outsourced)

· an accountant,

· and at least three or four office administration staff

Get your applications in now!

Blog image

Dalí's contribution to the Lorca legacyThe Lorca Centre

Posted by Simon Wed, March 14, 2018 17:34:20

How much is Lorca worth today? we asked in #post78 (24.01.2018).

Well an insurance of 12 million Euros has been arranged to cover the transfer of the first part of the Lorca ´legacy’ from the Residencia de Estudiantes to the Lorca Centre in Plaza Romanilla on the occasion of the Una habitación propia (A room of his own)-exhibition, which is to open on 22 March.

Mind you, more than a couple of million of this insured value are accounted for by two works of Salvador Dalí that the painter gave the poet to mark their close friendship while at the Residencia in the early 20s. The decidedly most valuable part of the exhibition is the still life, also known as ‘Siphon and bottle of rum’, painted in 1924 in the painter’s brief cubist period, a painting which had pride of place in Lorca’s room at the Residencia. [See images.] The exhibition will also include the correspondence between Lorca and Dalí, as well as the poet’s correspondence with his parents. It was on at the Residencia until last October to mark the departure of the legacy which was supposed to have happened last year.

G. Cappa Granada Hoy, 14 Marzo, 2018