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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


The Lorca CentrePosted by Simon Sat, January 20, 2018 18:41:35

La Caixa, once a savings bank for the Catalan working class, today Spain's third largest financial institution, is claiming its stake in the Lorca legacy, an invaluable collection of thousands of documents and manuscripts that bear direct witness to the poet’s life, times and works.

Their claimed share in the legacy is in exchange, it seems, for the part they played in filling the financial hole left by the Juan Tomás affair {, 5 Feb 2017}, thus making the transfer of the legacy to Granada possible. It includes the right to display the company logo in the Centre’s foyer and on its webpage, as well as to figure as sponsor to various events it may organise. The presence of La Caixa in the cultural activities of the Centre is supposed to be low-key, and it will be maintained for ten years.

Exactly what low-key is supposed to mean is not entirely clear as details of the agreement between the financial institution and the Lorca Foundation have not been made public. It’s a private agreement, explains the Foundation’s new, honest secretary (Juan Tomás’s replacement and previously director of the Reina Sofía Museum), and it also covers things that don’t have anything to do with the Centre or the legacy. - I wonder what they are? I ask myself suspiciously - “But,” we are reassuringly assured, “all the involved parties have been fully informed of that part of the agreement that does have to do with the Centre”. Nevertheless, the exact nature of the participation of La Caixa in future activities has been left open, and besides, it is La Caixa’s policy, we are told, never to give details of its collaboration agreements. This I somehow find less than reassuring.

2018 is the ninetieth anniversary of Lorca’s poetic masterpiece Romancero Gitano and to celebrate the event I am half expecting a new commemorative edition to come out: The La Caixa Gypsy Ballad Book

THE LORCA LEGACY – brought to you by ...
Acknowledgement: What you have here is my interpretation of facts I read in G. Cappa’s article in Granada Hoy, 17 January 2018 El emblema de La Caixa respaldará el Centro Lorca durante una década

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Gibson's "Assassination of Lorca": update

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted 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 // 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: // - #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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legacy - agreement signed and sealed

The Lorca CentrePosted by Simon Fri, January 05, 2018 16:30:35
An agreement between the parties involved in financing the Lorca Centre has been signed and sealed and the invaluable archive containing the poet's legacy will be delivered into its purpose built iron clad strong room before the end of June 2018.

But before you get too excited, read on.

The first time I blogged about the Lorca Centre, situated in Granada’s Plaza de la Romanilla, just a stone’s throw from the Cathedral, was in October 2010. The Centre had been due to open by December, but earlier in the year a shortfall of 4.5 million euros in the estimated costs had come to light, leading to wrangling among the participating financial backers as to who should pay what. The opening was put back to an unspecified date ‘early’ in the following year. [//]

The setback was not unprecedented. In March 2007 it had been falsely announced that the Centre, due to start operations in the course of 2007, would open its doors to the public before the end of 2008. The project went back to at least 2003 when it was declared that there was a unanimous agreement and a political will shared by all the financial backers of the Lorca Foundation to build the Centre, on which work was actually started in 2005, and which was to be an important cultural landmark and tourist attraction in the city, housing the poet's legacy, an archive of documents consisting of over 2,000 sheets of original manuscripts, thousands of other documents, original drawings, musical scores and photographs, all of them relating to the poet’s work and life, which until then had been kept at the Residencia de Estudiantes in Madrid.

"Look out for news on the opening dates!" was my excited and overoptimistic conclusion to that #post4 of October 2010. In view of my knowledge and experience of Lorca’s Granada, the Granada of contemplation, dreams, and inertia, of grand projects that are rarely fully realised, I should have refrained from such boldness. By January 2011 it was clear that the much anticipated grand inauguration scheduled for the celebration of the 113th anniversary of the Lorca’s birth on June 5 that year was not going to come off. “It’s unbelievable," lamented Laura García-Lorca (President of the Garcia Lorca Foundation). "The Lorca Centre should never have been a problem.” But it was, and now she was doubtful as to whether the Centre would be operational by the end of 2011. Nor were there any guarantees for 2012! Worst of all, the ambitious inauguration programme that so much work had gone into had to be scrapped. [//]

In July 2011, the official opening was rescheduled for March 2012, but that didn't happen, either. Then: October 2013. The workmen have moved in! To finish the job! It's actually happening. [//]
"Work is being resumed on the Lorca Centre and it will be finished by June," I blogged then. "This time - it’s true!"

It wasn't of course. But even Laura García-Lorca, who had reason enough sceptical if anybody did, was quite confident that the Centre would be opened in time for the 116th anniversary of the poet’s birth on 5 June 2014. "I am totally convinced (this time),” she said, “that the problem of financing the Lorca Centre has been resolved and that we will soon see it open for business”.

I was in London during these years and it was easy for me to take my eye off the latest developments in this pathetic saga: there weren't any. The problem continued to be the 4.5 million euro hole that the original budget had not accounted for.

It turned out that this 4.5 million euro deficit more or less corresponded to the amount that was embezzled by the Lorca Foundation’s secretary Juan Tomás Martín, who had been entrusted to handle the Foundation finances. When we were assured that the legacy archive would be transferred from Madrid to the purpose-built Lorca Centre in time for the 119th anniversary of the poet’s birth on 5 June 2017 (it wasn't), I couldn't help wondering if this was such a good move in view of local corruPSOE petty crooks like Juan Tomás, constantly on the lookout for any opportunity to line their own pockets. [//]

In the meantime, the Centre had been inauspiciously opened in the summer of 2015. It was a low-key affair, without pomp, without ceremony, and, of course, without the legacy.

A little short of two years later, Laura García-Lorca was at the Centre on the occasion of the Lorca Poetry Prize award ceremony. It seems that in the meantime she had fled Granada for Madrid and had not shown her face at the Centre since the Juan Tomás affair. The latest auditing of the Foundation's post-Juan Tomás accounts had been approved, she declared (triumphantly?), and now no obstacle stood in the way of the transfer of the archive. Only technical questions, formalities, remained to be dealt with. "My presence here is to show how advanced the project is and how near we are to realising it, as and how it was initially conceived." And once again she expressed her 100% conviction that it would all be done and dusted by the end of the year, 2017.

Actually, the Residencia de Estudiantes shared Ms García-Lorca's conviction for in June 2017 an exhibition was held there to commemorate the poet's time at the Residencia and to mark the imminent transfer of the legacy it had kept safely for the past 30-odd years to Granada (tierra del chavico/tuppence ha'penny land).

So now, weighing up the evidence so far, tell me: how certain do you feel that the legacy will be in Granada by the end of June 2018? Has the last bridge really been crossed; the last i been dotted?

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Leonard, Lorca, and the Little Viennese Walz

Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Sat, December 09, 2017 14:57:13


Leonard Cohen was a poet and some of his greatest inspiration he says he found in the works of Federico García Lorca. So great was his admiration, he actually called his daughter Lorca. But, as he said in his Fundación Principe de Asturias prize acceptance speech1, he developed his own voice; he knew he could never copy Lorca: he wouldn’t dare, so he never tried. On another occasion, he describes how he stumbled on Lorca’s universe of imagery- dawn throwing fistfuls of ants in his face, or thighs that slipped away like shoals of silver minnows’. He did not simply copy these images, he explains2; rather, they made it possible for him to find his own voice, which he defines as a sort of unique poetic ‘self’.

Cohen visited Lorca's birthplace in 1986

‘Take this Walz’ is, everybody knows, a homage to Lorca, and if it is a translation of ‘Pequeño vals vienés, it is quite a free one, where Leonard’s voice deviates significantly from Federico’s. To compare the works of the two poets, I will turn to a set of schemata that contrasts a classical approach to art with a baroque one, not in any historical sense, but as a general tendency applicable at any point of time. Here, ‘classical’ is used to talk about a style that is simpler and more restrained, aspiring to formal harmony and clarity via the balanced proportions of its parts. A baroque approach, by way of contrast, is formally less straightforward, with a more elaborate provision of detail, allowing a greater degree of emotional expression and conveying a richer sense of drama and movement. Within the framework of these schemata, which is explained in the Encyclopaedia Britannica3, I find Lorca’s poetry as more classically inclined, Cohen’s as more baroque.

To demonstrate my point, let’s compare the first stanza and refrain from the Spanish poem and the Canadian song (see below). Revealingly, Lorca uses 46 words to cover this ground; Cohen 67, half as many again. Cohen’s style is wordier, then: Cohen spells things out for us, in more detail, whereas Lorca is less condescending to his reader/listener. There are more discourse devices in Cohen, to help us follow his argument. ‘There’s’ occurs five times, with obvious, almost laboured parallel repetitiveness. In this repetitiveness we also hear the insistent rhythm of the walz in Cohen’s song, unrestrained, almost exuberant. The Canadian draws us in with ‘Now...’, making it sound more confidential (this is between you and me). Lorca itches straight in with ‘En Viena ...’ and ‘hay’ occurs just three times, to indicate (with one minor exception) a new simple sentence, and while his ‘y’ is used to link three noun phrases in one of the sentences, Cohen uses ‘and’ to link two clauses. So, in the six lines of the first stanza, Cohen uses as many as nine clauses to Lorca’s four: the three ‘hay’s plus ‘donde solloza la muerte’. Clauses, built round a verb, are necessarily more dynamic than noun phrases.

In Lorca, there is in fact only one action verb: ‘solloza’; whereas Cohen gives us six: ‘comes to cry/ goes to die/ was torn/ hangs’. There is much more movement, more drama, more telling here; Lorca’s walz is static by comparison. It is restrained and relies on a simpler, barely embellished structure. Cohen’s version more deliberately tugs on the emotions.

For Lorca ‘En Viena hay diez muchachas’ and he doesn’t tell us if they are ‘pretty women’ or not. Cohen’s song is more poetic in conventional terms. He gives us more detail, fills things in for us, is more visual. ‘A tree where doves go to die’ is easier to see than ‘un bosque de palomas disecadas’. Even 900 (windows) comes across as more precise, concrete than 1000 (ventanas), which appears to be more of a neat rough estimate than verifiable tangible fact. Finally, in the refrain, Cohen gives us the unexpected and visually powerful ‘with a clamp on its jaw’ for Lorca’s simple ‘con la boca cerrada’. Clamp = ‘abrazadera’, ‘grapa’, or ‘cepo’, something restricting by force and not simply closed. This is bold poetic translator’s license and lays bare a relationship that is not revealed in Lorca.

The great Leonard with the great Enrique Morente.

In the end, both poem and song offer us the same five images, rather startling in their juxtaposition; only in Lorca’s version, stripped down to the essentials, they make more of an impact: 1) ten girls, 2) a shoulder where Death sobs, 3) a wood of desiccated doves, 4) a fragment of the morning in the gallery of frost, and 5) a hall with a thousand windows. What are we to make of this? Fistfuls of ants thrown in our face! Lorca offers us little help.

So even in this little homage, Cohen takes care to maintain his own distinct voice. He knows that to copy would be fatal. Lorca’s verse, and his startling imagery, is rather a catalyst for Cohen. Cohen is giving us his view, while Lorca leaves more work for his reader/listener to do: his ‘self’ is harder to locate. And this observation is, I believe, generally valid for the poetic works of the two men.

But I may be wrong.

The official photographer at the casa museo in Fuente Vaqueros told me that Cohen asked him to leave the room where Lorca was born while he meditated in the youga lotus position. This photo is not in the room where Lorca was born and it is not the lotus position, though it is clearly in Fuente Vaqueros.





These are the lyrics I refer to:

Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, ay, ay, ay
Take this waltz, take this walz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws

En Viena hay diez muchachas,
un hombro donde solloza la muerte
y un bosque de palomas disecadas.
Hay un fragmento de la mañana
en el museo de la escarcha.
Hay un salón con mil ventanas.
¡Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Toma este vals con la boca cerrada.

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otherPosted by Simon Sat, November 11, 2017 10:33:05

Lorca biographer Ian Gibson declares himself finished with his lifetime project and does not intend to revise or update what he has up to now written and published aboutthe poet-playwright’s life, times and works. Time for me then, after eight successive blog posts on the theme, to take a page out of his book and turn my attention to the present day. And in present-day Spain the big issue of course is Catalan independence, its defiance of the Spanish state. ‘What the Generalitat (autonomous Catalan government) has done is a terrible mistake’ is Gibson’s view. It is not mine.

In his view, what they, the independistas, have done is illegal. Gibson is a self-declared Sanchista, that is, a supporter of Pedro Sánchez, on the more progressive wing of the PSOE (Spanish social democratic party) and now party leader. ‘We are the Left,’ declares Sánchez, a tad defiantly. As social democrats, that means they are committed to act ‘progressively’, but within the parameters of capitalist society and so of the Spanish state.

The illegality of Catalan independence that Gibson speaks of relates to the Spanish Constitution of 1978, a central tenet of which is the ‘indivisibility’ of Spain, - with its long history of resisting moves to self-determination, especially in Catalonia and the Basque Country. The Constitution of 1978 was written, it needs to be said, with the generals of the Franco regime looking over the shoulder of the politicians to make sure their concerns were taken into consideration. And one of the main concerns of the old nationalist right was to uphold the ‘sacred and eternal’ integrity of the nation state. We might say that the Constitution of 1978 was shaped under the ominous shadow of the then recently deceased Generalisimo Francisco Franco.

So, as long as the Constitution stands, goes the legalists’ argument, any declaration of independence of any part of Spain is technically illegal. Before Catalan independence can be considered, the Constitution must be amended accordingly. That is the law which Catalan separatists are flouting.

However, and although it may sound almost self-contradictory, laws are not in fact ‘written in stone’. Laws are made to meet particular social needs at a particular time and may grow outdated and be amended. Very often laws come about as a result of popular demands, pressure, and struggle. Let’s just take the question of universal suffrage, which was a right that had to be hard fought for in many countries, and in the United Kingdom culminated in the illegal direct actions of the suffragette movement. These illegal actions were vindicated by history and are now understood as a legitimate response to unjust and outdated laws.

This brings us to the question of whether Catalonia’s declaration of independence is politically legitimate. The principle of the right to self-determination is simply that a people has the right to freely determine its own destiny. This was the purpose of the referendum held on 1 October and violently aborted by the force of the Spanish state. It is a basic democratic principle, one that is indeed enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

The question may be raised whether Catalans make up an independent people, distinct from the Spanish people as a whole. The legitimacy of Catalonia’s declaration of independence stems from the conviction that Catalonia is a region which is culturally and linguistically distinguishable from the rest of Spain and also has a long political history that defines it as a recognisable entity within the Spanish state.

Catalan cuture: sardanas and castellers. Spanish culture: bullfights and sevillanas.

However, what is immediately at stake is not so much Catalan independence, but the right of the Catalan people to self determination. When the referendum of 1 October, asking the Catalan people to decide if they were for or against the constitution of an independent republic, was wrecked, sabotaged, and declared illegal, the Catalan people were effectively denied their right to self determination.

Just as a claim to self-determination can be deemed legitimate or not, similarly the indivisibility of Spain requires political legitimacy. Such legitimacy depends on the support or at least acquiescence of all sections of society and cannot be imposed through a statute of law, willy-nilly. The surest way to achieve and demonstrate such political consensuated unity is by allowing sections, minorities, to freely secede if they no longer feel their interests adequately promoted in the greater union.

A common argument against Catalan separation from Spain, and one that Gibson endorses, is that that region has a higher standard of living than the Spanish average and enjoys privileges over and above other parts of the country.

I do not dispute that the Catalan bourgeoisie has done very well out of its union with Spain, being provided with a ready market for its products that might have fared less well in a broader less protected European or world market. Nor do I not doubt that sections of the Catalan bourgeoisie are now interested in a greater degree of autonomy in exploiting their own assets, including their ‘own’ workforce. These people may be using the demand for self determination as a tool to win a better position vis-à-vis the Spanish ruling class at the negotiating table. But in doing so, they have unleashed a demon: the popular sentiment of vast sections of the Catalan people, including the working class. For these people, the fight for self determination is an integral part of the fight against austerity imposed by the central government and at the same time embodies the aspiration for a fairer and more democratic society. This intervention of ‘the popular classes’ is what is alarming governments across Europe.

People across Spain should feel encouraged by any gains made by the Catalan people and try to emulate them, rather than envy and resent their real or imagined privileged position.

But this state of affairs is depressing Ian Gibson, who thinks such a fight for political and economic progress can be won by voting in PSOE (social democrats) and using a PSOE-led government to implement policies favourable to the great majority of Spanish people. This is classic reformism and has bound working people to their national exploiters time and time again. It is not exaggeration to say it is the same logic that turned masses of working people against each other in defence of their national blocks in 1914 at the start of World War One.

It is evident that Ian Gibson adores many aspects of Spain, rejecting its narrow antidemocratic nationalism in favour, as he says, of a federal republic of Spain, or better still, he says, an Iberian federal republic, from the Algarve to the Pyrenees! (With its two languages, he adds in a traitorous self-giveaway.)

But in denying the Catalans the democratic right to determine their own destiny, he is accepting the logic of nationalism, where the rights of the nation supersede the rights of its parts and would make his federal republic a pipedream. If Spain is indivisible it must be so by the consensus of all its parts. And it must demonstrate its indivisibility by giving the Catalan people a free choice of being part of it, or not.

Ian Gibson’s opinions reproduced here are from:

Pedro Blasco. 28.10.2017 Vox Populi: Política

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Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Thu, November 09, 2017 13:42:37


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 // 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 pú

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Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Tue, October 31, 2017 08:34:04


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.

Gobierno Civil/Civil goverment building 5.11.07 Fernando Guijarro Arcas

'The Colony'/Villa Concha 09.06.13 EUROPA PRESS | GRANADA

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Federico Garcia LorcaPosted by Simon Mon, October 23, 2017 17:49:53


Part 2: Angelina Cordobilla.

The testimony of Angelina Cordobilla, Concha’s (Lorca’s sister’s) maid, on which Gibson relies heavily, is a stumbling block for the 'thirteen hour' theory. I made this point six years ago [//] and it still seems to be problematic when it comes to unravelling the course of events leading up to Lorca's death. If Caballero is right, then Angelina’s testimony has to be disproved, or discarded.

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. Angelina reports seeing Lorca in a sparsely furnished room, with no bed, but, curiously, one with a table and writing materials. ‘Master Federico was hoarse and very tense. His good humour had left him completely. (...) The next day I took him his food 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, then, points to Lorca being held for two nights before being moved to Viznar. Or 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?

On discovering Lorca’s absence, she went to the prison where she left the basket of food and other supplies, hoping it would get to him somehow. Two witnesses, Antonio Pérez Funes and Cesar Torres Martínez, said they saw the basket which stayed there unclaimed all day. The question is: Which day? Antonio Pérez said somebody asked him ‘the day after the arrest’ if Lorca was there (in prison). He said ‘no’ and they passed the message on to his family. Could he be talking about Angelina? The day after the arrest was of course the 17th, whereas Angelina’s testimony indicates she went there on the 19th. The testimony of Pérez Funes and Torres Martínez about seeing the basket lends some credibility to Angelina’s evidence, but there is no way we can be sure about the exact date of these events. Did Angelina see Lorca only once, as she first recalled in her interview with Penón, and go to the prison on the 18th, the day after the news of Lorca’s arrest became common knowledge?

If Angelina really did get in to see Lorca at the Civil Government, how did she get past the guards on the door? In an attempt to ridicule her testimony, Francisco Valdés Escóbar asserts that ‘there was a continuous guard on the door and they didn’t let anyone through’. On the other hand, Julián Fernández Amigo describes the situation rather differently: ‘There was very little control. There were guards on the door, there were the old Assault Guards, who acted very decently in Granada; then there were the new ones... as well as those militia men...’. By ‘old Assault Guards’, he means those who had been recruited to serve the Republic, whereas the new ones, and the militia men, supported the rebels and the uprising. It is supposed that Angelina encountered a couple of guards who acted decently.Photo: ayuntamiento de durcal

There is also the story of Enrique García Palacios, a cousin of Federico’s, telling Manuel Angeles Ortiz, an old friend of the poet, in Buenos Aires that Lorca was kept prisoner ‘for a week’ and that a cousin of his, the priest Enrique Palacios from Asquerosa (Valderrubio), went to see him every day, as did the Montesinos’s maid (Angelina) who took him his meals. How many steps there were between the actual events and their being reported to Ortiz thus resulting in an increase in the chances of the message getting distorted along the way is hard to say. Unfortunately, Enrique Palacios does not seem to have left any direct testimony about his supposed visits to Lorca in the Civil Government. Let’s take ‘for a week’ with a piece of salt. This evidence may have been based on hearsay, but at least it was contemporary hearsay, and not reminiscences thirty years after the event.

If Lorca was held for two days, or even one, in a small room, on the first floor of the Civil government building (possibly overlooking the Botanical Gardens), there is remarkably little evidence for it. There are two possibilities: one, he had been disappeared, so his captivity was kept secret; or two, he was never there.

Was Angelina’s memory playing tricks? Those who reject her evidence say she was unwell, senile, implying she was 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.

There are, besides, in Angelina’s favour, witnesses who claim to have seen Lorca in the Civil Government building after nightfall. Joaquín López-Mateos Matres, on guard duty at the Civil Government that night, says he saw the poet sitting in a small room on the first floor ‘hour after hour’, ‘all evening and part of the night’. Another witness, Emilio Muñoz Medina, saw Lorca ‘in the room they kept for prisoners’ while on duty on the first floor of the Civil Government building. ‘He offered me a cigarette saying “What a life! What a life!” We smoked without speaking. All the time I was on duty, Lorca remained alone in that room.’

We know that up to 10.30, Lorca received a number of visits, including the one by José Rosales, probably the last. Mrs Rosales sent a boy with supplies, maybe blankets, which suggests she had reason to believe that he was going to be detained for some time. The previously quoted police officer, Julián Fernández Amigo, persuaded the decent guards to let him in and spend fifteen minutes with the poet, this according to Molina Fajardo himself.

But the evidence of both López-Mateos and Muñoz Medina suggests that the poet was being held there on his own, incommunicado, ‘hour after hour’, ‘all the time I was on duty’ as Muñoz says, well into the night. Can ‘all evening and part of the night’ be made to fit in with Caballero’s time scale? Certainly if their testimony is to be credited and if they are talking about the time after José Rosales’s visit, it seems hardly possible that Lorca could have been taken away as early as 22.00 - 22.30 on 16 August, as Caballero would have it, arguing that the nationalist authorities moved so quickly because there were elements among them very keen to be rid of the prisoner and they were in a position to act.

Another in itself quite minor discrepancy lies in the fact that Lorca left the Rosales’ house wearing a white shirt (as Miguel López Escribano testifies). Yet all 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 Angelina brought him a change of clothes, and 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 faced the firing squad on the morning of the 17th.

Notes. Agustín Penón. “Angelina.” Miedo, olvido y fantasía. Edición de Marta Osorio.

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