This is the third part of my critical analysis of Ian Gibson’s re-working of El Asesinato de García Lorca, a book originally published in France in 1971 and updated for republication in April 2018. Parts One and Two deal with the Lorca’s detention while staying with the Rosales family and the time he was subsequently held in the Gobierno Civil building, before being transferred to Víznar, where he was taken to be shot.
PART THREE:Arrival at Viznar
Basing his evidence on what Captain José María Nestares Cuéllar, the man in charge, reported, Miguel Caballero (Últimas13 horas...) says Lorca arrived in Víznar shortly before midnight, on the 16th. Pedro Cuesta Hernández, who was one of the regular guards at the Villa Concha, improvised prison for the condemned, testifies that Lorca was brought there between 10.30 and 11pm on one of the nights between 17 and 20 August, though elsewhere he says about 10pm on 16 -18 August.
We have previously ruled out the likelihood that Lorca was transferred to Víznar on the same night as his detention. All the evidence indicates that Lorca was brought to Víznar on the night of 17/18th August. Depending on whose evidence you accept, it was before midnight, or after 3.30am. See Part 2 for the reasoning behind this.
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.
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.