Upcoming Events

International | Environment

no events match your query!

Blog Feeds

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights

offsite link Fijian women still face Human Rights violations Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49 | Human Rights

offsite link Saudi Human Rights Violation Fri Aug 09, 2019 20:41 | Human Rights

offsite link China?s LGBT Community Mon Apr 15, 2019 19:19 | Human Rights

offsite link Declaration of Human Rights at Sea Mon Apr 08, 2019 07:31 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Cedar Lounge
For lefties too stubborn to quit

offsite link Sunday and other Media Stupid Statements 10:13 Sun Sep 22, 2019 | guestposter

offsite link It?s Saturday evening?so there?s a poll 19:55 Sat Sep 21, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link The Uncivil War? 12:24 Sat Sep 21, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link Fairphone 3 11:24 Sat Sep 21, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

offsite link That space film? no not that one, the other one? 11:00 Sat Sep 21, 2019 | WorldbyStorm

Cedar Lounge >>

Dublin Opinion
Life should be full of strangeness, like a rich painting

offsite link Some Thoughts on the Brexit Joint Report 11:50 Sat Dec 09, 2017


offsite link Notes for a Book on Money and the Irish State - The Marshall Aid Program 15:10 Sat Apr 02, 2016

offsite link The Financial Crisis:What Have We Learnt? 19:58 Sat Aug 29, 2015

offsite link Money in 35,000 Words or Less 21:34 Sat Aug 22, 2015

Dublin Opinion >>

NAMA Wine Lake

offsite link Test ? 12 November 2018 Mon Nov 12, 2018 14:28 | namawinelake

offsite link Farewell from NWL Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Happy 70th Birthday, Michael Sun May 19, 2013 14:00 | namawinelake

offsite link Of the Week? Sat May 18, 2013 00:02 | namawinelake

offsite link Noonan denies IBRC legal fees loan approval to Paddy McKillen was in breach of E... Fri May 17, 2013 14:23 | namawinelake

NAMA Wine Lake >>

Remembering the dead in rural Catalunya

category international | environment | feature author Tuesday November 03, 2009 14:12author by 1 of imc Report this post to the editors

Commemorating the Battle of the Ebro in the Terra Alta

featured image
Windmills mark the line of the Great Retreats

Seventy years after the Battle of the Ebro the dead remain unburied and the ghosts of Franco's dictatorship still haunt the landscape. Indymedia investigates...

Human bones at the edge of a forest outside la Fatarella
There’s something of a feel of the backwoods in the northern hills of the Terra Alta, that part of Catalunya tucked into the mountains west of the Ebro. Here, the high ground to the north of the main valley is scored with crooked lines of olive and almond trees, stone-terraced into the hillsides between patches of parched scrubland and isolated wooded summits. An occasional ruin breaks the skyline or nudges into the side of a barranca but by Irish standards, the landscape is depopulated and abandoned. The area is of course extraordinarily beautiful, as we'd say in Ireland, unspoilt.

Most people from around here live in the small towns of la Fatarella, Vilalba dels Arcs or further west in Batea. Isolated farmhouses do hang on in decreasing numbers, some offering rough wine-tasting during the day, others a rustic bed and breakfast to souls needful of a particular quality of isolation. For here ruins remain ruins. There are no dilapidated fincas receiving the attentions of well-intentioned ex-pats, there are few enough Es Ven signs fixed to broken walls. Here the crumpled sun-dried placards advertising properties marketable in an earlier economy lie forgotten alongside the road, littered among rusting sherds of shrapnel and fragments of human bone.

The valley below carries the main road from Tarragonna west into Aragón. The ruined hilltop village of Corbera d’Ebre, its church spire proud and intact, dominates the eastern end of the valley and overshadows the new town straddling the road. Corbera was heavily bombed by the Nationalists over the course of the great Ebro offensive launched by the Republic in July 1938 and like Belchite to the west, it has been left to the elements and to the tourists, discomforting reminders of an unresolved conflict, the memory of which so-far has been successfully managed by the Catalan state.
The main road continues west to the town of Gandesa, the military focus of the battle, which though lasting just 115 days took over 130,000 lives. South of here are the Serra Cavalls which rise up into the serrated peaks of the Serra de Pàndols, their heights delineated by the pine tree line which occasionally obscures the ridge. Go further west through Calaceite and here the high ground recedes at either side. Beyond Alcañiz and further into Aragón the landscape opens onto a wide upland plateau ringed by distant mountains, with massive fields of winter wheat carpeting a rolling steppe extending onwards to a point just beyond eyeshot. On the road to Belchite an area of several square kilometres accommodates a sun farm, manifesting on the landscape as an army of flat-headed alien warriors arranged in tilted ranks, dwarfing a surprisingly flimsy fence.

All of these landscapes are central to the history of the XV International Brigade, from the initial storming of Belchite and Quinto but more crucially to what become known as the Great Retreats of March and April 1938, where Republican forces were progressively routed back towards and across the Ebro. Many Internationals caught behind the lines were summarily executed with others surviving the remainder of the war in concentration camps such as San Pedro de Cardeña outside Burgos. When the Brigade advanced back across the Ebro the following July, local people showed them the mass graves into which their comrades had been thrown, often after the quick executions they themselves had been forced to witness. In any event, the Brigade never succeeded in taking Gandesa and was withdrawn in September after 60 days in the line.

The Ebro offensive was the last throw of the dice for the Republican government and its initial success was something of an embarrassment for Franco who was again forced to call upon his German and Italian allies, just at the point where he was about to send them home. The nature of Franco’s defeat of the Republican government and the subsequent repression which lasted well into the 1970s was particularly felt in Catalunya, which apart from its separatist aspirations was the principal industrial base of the CNT, the main anarchist trade union. In the countryside, the repression was initially marked by the liquidation of anyone said to have actively opposed the coup, followed quickly by the banning of the Catalan language and a rationing system which was markedly more severe than in ostensibly ’loyal’ areas. Nationalist battlefield fatalities were recovered and buried in the combatants’ home localities. International causalities, with a few significant exceptions, were buried hurriedly in mass graves or, in more remote areas, piled into the barrancas and pine copses which bestow the hills their remarkable landscape and covered with cairns of stones.

Sun farm close to a rearguard position outside Belchite

Monument to the battle incorporating an ossuary at los Camposines
The roads in the Terra Alta are dark and untravelled at night time, the older ones, tarred-over dusty tracks, snake over the hills in tight curves around stepped orchards and dry stream beds. The main roads into Gandesa and Ascó are now being straightened to facilitate the construction of a large wind farm enveloping the hilltops in seemingly arbitrary patterns covering perhaps some 80km. The 6km between la Fatarella and Vilalba accommodates some 22 windmills, with bulldozers clearing stretches of land for associated access roads and ancillary structures. Driving along at night, their gigantic spines rear up on all sides, frozen shadows projected in random sequence against the verges, caught in the pulsing strobes from the derrick lights high above. Local environmentalists opposed to this section of the wind farm were not slow to recognise its route across a massive graveyard in their campaign to halt their development. One such opponent, Elies 115 (whose blog is worryingly subtitled Déu, Pàtria i Honor), graphically illustrated the human remains encountered on a walk through the hills near la Fatarella in July 2008 and the story was picked up all over Catalunya. Many subsequently voiced an opinion in the local media that had Roman remains been encountered, all works would have stopped to allow a thorough investigation.

What differentiates the remains recorded by Elies 115 from those emerging from other mass graves in the Spanish countryside is the fact that they most probably belong to members of the International Brigades. Although it is not suggested here that this has precluded a proper investigation of their remains, it is nonetheless of interest given the considerable body of literature associated with the Brigades when compared to their number relative to the republican army as a whole. For archaeological work engaging with Franco-era Spain has concentrated mostly on civilian mass grave sites. These hold the remains of the many thousands of socialists, communists, anarchists, schoolteachers and even liberals, executed for their beliefs, their resistance to the victors or simply by hearsay. Excavations have been undertaken under the auspices of the Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Histórica, a body established on a grassroots basis in 2000, which has calculated the existence of some 30,000 such sites throughout the country. In the Priorat region of Catalunya, on the far side of the Ebro from Terra Alta, the organisation No Jubilem La Memòria focuses more on commemoration and education with some significant attention being paid to the role of the International Brigades in the conflict. The excavations throughout Spain have now uncovered hundreds of burials, emphasising the oppression supposedly forgotten under the post-Franco pact of amnesia, where old wounds were let lie for the good of the fledging democracy. Politically, this is to the advantage of the Socialist PSOE and the enacting of the Ley de Memoria Histórica (Law of Historical Memory) in 2007 has undeniably given the excavations a legislative basis, irrespective of feelings on the Nationalist side. Often undertaken in the media spotlight with relatives of the deceased present standing along the baulks, the excavations provide harrowing testimony of the extent of the Nationalist repression.

Other more contentious issues have emerged: the muted enthusiasm of some families for the closure provided by the recovery of physical remains of their loved ones has contrasted with the discomfiture evident on the faces of the family of Federico García Lorca, who are at this moment awaiting the excavation of his remains after refusing for many years to have his grave disturbed. In Galicia and León former huídos, partisans who remained behind to continue the war from the mountains, have argued that the remains of their comrades should stay in the ground as incontrovertible and enduring evidence against Franco and his regime.

An archaeological investigation undertaken prior to the construction of another wind farm elsewhere in the Terra Alta made little of the human bones and battlefield détruis scattered along the terraces and in the scrub. The report made more of the trenches, the rude caves and refugios carved out of the sandy subsoil, lending thirsty shelter from the constant Nationalist bombardment; the physical manifestations of the battle which today survive on the landscape. Yet, despite the plethora of recent work on the period, both academic and commemorative, there has been little attempt made to contextualise the human remains, which as likely date to the Great Retreats as they do to the Ebro offensive. Moreover, there has been little discussion as to what should now be done with the bones, whether they should lie there in perpetual memory of the war or whether they should be systematically collected and placed in the monument at los Camposines which acts as a ossuary for human remains recovered from the surrounding fields and hillsides.

State-sponsored commemoration of the battle of the Ebro was prompted by last year’s 70th anniversary and has taken the form of a series of panels located at significant points on the landscape, all anchored to an interpretative centre in Corbera and notionally to the monument in los Camposines. Under the auspices of Memorial Democràtic the Catalan government has certainly made an effort to commemorate both sides of the conflict, the rusty orange signage and an accompanying series of information leaflets brands its commemoration for modern, all-embracing consumption. The souvenirs and tee shirts available at the 115 Days centre in Corbera are based on the graphic of a military helmet, one curiously more Republican than Nationalist in its typology. The interpretation within is dispassionate and uncontroversial; the centre, an anodyne exercise in contemporary architecture, was deserted the afternoon we visited.

The ruins of the old town of Corbera

Private museum at Corbera

Just up the street from the interpretative centre is a private museum, Exposició La Trinxera, which trades in bullets, guns and (mostly) republican uniforms draped over ‘70s shop window mannequins. Here a different experience is to be had: the exhibition confined to one large cluttered room, old-fashioned display cases line the space containing a mesmerising quantity of personal equipment and assorted militaria; the walls are covered with campaign maps, propaganda sheets and government proclamations. The floorspace is taken up with a full sized Republican command post along with various large weapons and a mule professionally fashioned from wire, carrying the obligatory ammunition boxes. The owner/curator has a large shed to the rear crammed with similar booty and takes particular pride that his Maxim machine gun is an original artefact, unlike that one displayed in another semi-private museum down the road in Gandesa. One returns to the sunlight with thirsty lungs, convinced that the patched, ragged costumes within have been taken from the dry bones lying out on the hills.

A different engagement with the memory of the battle can be experienced in the ruined village on the hilltop, itself a protected historical site. Here local artist Jesús Pedrola has for several years curated the Alphabet of Freedom, a collaborative project comprising large letters arranged throughout the ruined streetscape by visiting artists in a variety of media and styles. More recently a more formal entity, the Patronage del Poble Vell, has been set up by members of the community backed by the local council with the clear objective of ‘preserving and restoring’ the site. According to their website

'A lot of people visit the site and it concerns our own history. A history testified in the stones which we wish to restore and preserve, to leave in better condition for the younger generation. We don't wish the site to be lost or to deteriorate more.'

The inherent technical challenge of trying to preserve a site already in ruins has not however been addressed and it will be interesting to see how in the future Corbera will weigh up against Belchite, a less visited spot yet one which seems to diminish with each passing year.
One of the objectives of the Patronage is to create a photographic archive that will serve to preserve the memory of the village as it was, while at the same time providing an exhibition space for donated works from artists associated with the alphabet project. A semi-derelict house on the edge of the old village has been acquired and is about to undergo conservation works, funded by ANAV, the power company which operates the 40-year old nuclear plant on the Ebro at Ascó. The house stands directly beside the building Pedrola has been reconstructing over several years at his own cost, which functions as an information point for those visiting the ruined village. He is now under pressure from the town hall to close up the building, which provides him with a meagre income to protect the alphabet through the sale of books and posters. He worries how Corbera’s story will be presented in the new building and is suspicious of the input from ANAV, where the power plant is still seen as a legacy of the dictatorship.

Those supporting the construction of the wind farms point to the nuclear plant and its abysmal safety record. The most recent incident relates to a serious leak which occurred in November 2007: although radioactive particles were still being detected outdoors on 14 March 2008, the Spanish Nuclear Energy Authority was not informed of the incident until 4 April. Local groups were incensed that staff at the plant had allowed a school trip to go ahead just a day before the leak was made public. In August the Energy Authority announced penalties against the plant of up to €22.5 million for a series of breaches, including their failure to immediately report the leak. The Zapatero government has pledged to make Spain nuclear-free, but has not proposed a meaningful time frame. Meanwhile it’s hoped that the sun and the wind can provide an ever-increasing proportion of the country’s needs into the future.

Back up in the hills, the construction of the wind farm continues apace. With most of the windmills already erected, those opposed to their construction are admitting defeat. But what of the human remains that have been disturbed in their construction? On 17 June last the Catalan parliament passed legislation on the recovery and identification of those who disappeared during the Civil War and subsequent dictatorship. The new law places the onus on the Catalan state to locate the graves of missing persons, supporting the rights of their descendants to obtain information about their fate and, if appropriate, to excavate their remains. The law further supports the marking of such mass graves and their preservation as places of memory, to satisfy people’s right to know the truth of events during the period and the political circumstances in which the disappearances occurred.

As García Lorca’s descendants are about to discover, the science of DNA matching has advanced sufficiently to allow the identification (or otherwise) of remains from known burial sites. Attempting, however systematically, to recover individual lives and histories from disarticulated bones gathered from the hillsides is another story. Given that the remains are as likely to belong to volunteers from outside Spain renders the task all the more impossible. It perhaps serves a greater purpose that the bones should remain where they lie with their anonymity intact, a reminder for all of the sacrifices made in the attempt to defeat fascism in Spain. In an economy where ruined villages compete with private museums and interpretative centres, where international solidarity has been replaced by the globalised capital of the power companies, perhaps the only real experience left is to walk through the landscape yourself, your back to the windmills and your eyes to the ground against the sun.

Jesús Pedrola, curator of the Alphabet of Peace

Those interested in the issues raised here may want to attend a talk by Prof Ermengol Gassiot (University of Barcelona) entitled ‘The Politics of Memory: Unearthing Mass Graves from the Spanish Civil War’. It’s on Friday 13 November in Room C6002 in the Arts Block, TCD between 13.00-14.30.

Jesús's partner Anna fills us in on what's happening
Jesús's partner Anna fills us in on what's happening

Graffito opposing the windfarm in la Fatarella
Graffito opposing the windfarm in la Fatarella

author by iosafpublication date Thu Nov 05, 2009 16:53author address barcelonaauthor phone Report this post to the editors

The woods in la Faterella and Terra Alta can often be more than eerie. The photo above of the human bones is not a melodramatic illustration. As the trees grow and their roots move the soil, the bones and uniforms, equipment and effects of the dead are brought to light. It's a macabre walking trip which can offer the sight (such as I saw a few years back when making what I suppose is a "pigrimage") of dogs out for a walk having human bones taken from their jaws by their owners and the sight of memorabilia hunters with their metal detectors avoiding the bones to dig out helmets and insignia which support a constant trade on weekend market stalls next to the era's certificates, stamps & photos across the Spanish state.

The memory seems to be to not be sufficiently buried to suffer the indignity of those badly thought out laws supported by the PSOE state. I for one am slightly opposed to the manner in which the whole thing is being done and politicised. When Garzon anounced his plans to draw up a list of all mass graves, I took to UK Indymedia and wrote a piece against what I saw as another politicisation of the past, another attempt of a contemporary regime to co-opt the legitimacy of the republic. There are many other glaring legal problems still extant which have not been addressed.

Here I'd like to list a few issues as I see them as a local :-

Lluis Companys was the 123rd president of the Catalan Generalitat. He led it from 1934 and was indeed imprisoned a short time by the Republic in Madrid for his declaration of a Catalan republic within the Spanish republic. Upon the fall of the republic when Franco entered Barcelona (where the spanish republic had retreated from Madrid) Companys joned the hundreds of thousands who fled north over the Pyrennes into the French state, mostly settling in its Catalan speaking region which had been and is for some still "northern Catalonia". The French state of Vichy under Petain arrested Companys and handed him over to the Gestapo who in turn handed him to Franco. He was shot by firing squad at Montjuic castle/prison in Barcelona on October 14th 1940. He was the only legitimately elected head of a statelet or nation to be executed in World War 2. To this day despite the demands of the Catalan institutions of parliament and generalitat the charges against him have not been voided. It was only in the last years that moves were made to stop an annual gathering of the relict fascist Falange to celebrate his murder in Barcelona.

Throughout the Spanish state, one can still see the Falange housing plaques erected on building projects and houses confiscated by the Falange fascist party which were then alloted on controlled rents to the poor. Now it is a question for residents of those buildings whether or not they want those to remain. Some believe they ought go. Some others believe it is revisionism to remove them.
There doesn't seem to be much public debate on the question of returning confiscated property.
All to often we reduce the war in Spain, the first against fascism as the second world war to neat little numbers rounded off of dead. But as I've often written - it's not so simple. The republicans who lost not only lost their comrades, brothers, fathers, family members, wives, friends etc. They lost their property. Their houses were burnt or confiscated by the falange. Their children were denied education. They were denied employment. Much as occured with the holocaust, the full spectrum of their suffering was in fact the relentless and systematic accumulation of repression. I very mch doubt any modern PSOE party of liberal centre social democracy can or even wishes to heal those wrongs & correct the injustices which resulted from that repression.

Even if in recent years moves have been made to remove Franco's eagle shield Spanish crest from public buildings and replace it with the current shield and Bourbon fleur d' lys at centre - Franco's fascist crest is still to be seen in most prestigious military academy. The last equestrian statue in Madrid of Franco on a horse in triumph (there is a tradition of European sculpture qhich codifies the position and stance of horses and the generals on them) was removed in the early hours of St Patrick's day 2005 that was an official act justified by the PSOE government on not only ideological grounds but the infrastructural requirements of a new metro station and shaft. The last statue of Franco in Barcelona on a horse had been removed as part of an official act carried out by a small bunch of people their ropes and a very powerful truck in either 2002 or 2003 (I find it hard to remember now). Franco still stands on a plinth in the Spanish African enclaves. Indeed as I pointed out recently, Petain still sits on horse in triumph in northern France & if you look hard you will see Mussollini all over Italy and Hitler has only recently been removed from the honorary citizen lists of small German towns (one where the G8 met) and has still to be removed from the passport list.

As it happens, Garzon's much celebrated and much reported plans to collate all the dead and mvove to open all the graves met with opposition on all sides. Garzon indeed began to backtrack and his exhumation plans are now practically in ruins. I still hold the position I had when I wrote the piece "Bring out your Dead". http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/09/408060.html here's an extract so if interested you don't have to leave the site :-

"It is with peculiar irony that the first entity which has decided to co-operate is the "Xunta" or regional government of Galicia in the north west of the Iberian peninsula where Franco was born and his family still live in impunity in a castle. The Galician government has this afternoon brought out 3,588 of their dead. Their dead have already been our dead claimed by the literature and memories of times before we were born. Those 3,588 names are as much as ours Ernesto Che Guevera. As much as ours.

Super judge Garzon leaves no room for indifference. He is the man who put a writ on Pinochet whilst he was taking tea with Thatcher to international acclaim, praise, respect and the long term consequence of teaching tyrants and mass murderers to be more careful about their holiday arrangements. He is the man who oversaw the criminalisation of the Basque independence movement and the man who wrote letters for a time to sub-Cmdt Marcus in the mountains of Chiapas. He is the man who has consistently and without fail got up noses on on the left and right all his adult life. Nonetheless he is greatly admired. He polarises and that goes down a treat.

Already the lyrical symbol on a plinth and many a bronze statue of the bourgoise catharsis of what was lost to Franco's coup ; the poet Lorca - has been listed by his family members (if not descendents) as preferring the silence of the missing grave to the role call of politically opportunistic and ahistorical posturing. But the Lorca's are posh and not bound by the same passions as the rest of us.

The party of the right wing, the PP, the other Spain, the Spain that won the war and gave the salutes and clocked up its 200+ saints under Ratzinger for fighting the reds and anarchists, masons and anglophiles of Franco's lifelong obssessions, point to the constitution of the 70's and the decision to turn a blind eye to the past. Understandable there are many old murderers who went honourably daft and not too few who were laid to a rest in hallowed grounds with fresh flowers. And for some reason they and their descendents have been observed to vote PP.

The groups who wish to "reclaim historical memory" and campaign under that name are happy, of course they are - they haven't appeared to have learnt their lessons even now. The republic was legitimate but its legitimisation is in its memory as it stands not a memorial which can be constructed artificially next. Naturally they want to know which of their family were used as slave labour to hollow Franco's maesoleum out the mountain to build the "valle de los caidos" and then get buried in the concrete walls. They want to know which council or which church they should bring their DNA samples to verify which bones the rags of which have turned to dust and been woven again into our memory and flags.

Could we think of anything more noble?

But when I say the old folks nor their young have learnt their lessons it is because I know I don't remember that republic, its birth, its women offered birth control, its children offered shoes, its peasants offered land, its workers offered education. I don't remember its war. I've met many a veteran who helps remember for me. I live in the city where the republic died amongst communities which are now descended from both sides of the conflict and none. Moreover I remember what happened this June when the old geezer waved his flag like the heroic ex-political prisoner he was in the Spanish Congress and how a "socialist" minister scolded him. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/06/401145.html It was yet another confirmation in the long line of gestures which should be understood for what they mean. If there is a republic in the Spanish state it will be third in its own terms - not the moving of the goalposts which when you look at them closely are hewn from impervious mountain rock.

So perhaps we should leave the dead in the grave as the vocal witnesses to their murder.
Maybe they are safer there than on Garzon's witness stands mutely accusing their murderers - as both plaintiffs and defendents find the means to afford words & twist them to the purpose of the day and its politics of Zapatero's liberals versus the PP.

Not a family member I've spoken to who can look to the lost twigs or branches of their family trees and say Franco, or Hitler or whomever took them - think they can bring them back or have any doubt as to who took them away."

& so it would seem that there is much memory and even more politics.
& I hope I've pointed out some areas where one can quite clearly say the contemporary regime is selective in its memorial.

I reckon going to the lecture by Prof Ermengol Gassiot (University of Barcelona) entitled ‘The Politics of Memory: Unearthing Mass Graves from the Spanish Civil War’. on Friday 13 November in Room C6002 in the Arts Block, TCD between 13.00-14.30 could be very interesting.

author by iosaf mac diarmadapublication date Sat Dec 19, 2009 11:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The last line of the article above showed how constant one meme of the disappered and the death pits of the Spanish civil war was.

As García Lorca’s descendants are about to discover, the science of DNA matching has advanced sufficiently to allow the identification (or otherwise) of remains from known burial sites.

Well as is now global news we all know that digging up holes and sifting clay has advanced sufficiently to know that no body in the ground means no the ground is not a grave, nor poet's nor anyone's. The team of scientists have come back out from under the tents they had erected in Alcafar between the gnarly olive trees & told us all that the X which marked the spot did in fact mark nothing. There wasn't a scrap of clothing or shard of bone from either Lorca or the other two with whom he used to be remembered as being executed on the edge of their killing pit.

If Lorca is like Elvis and not only just a constant now proven false on the material level of DNA sampling and reburial á la pantheon then he might just deserve our momentary admiration for his little god powers to elude us yet again. But he was just a famous person who went missing and the story of his death and burial has been wound up with supposed serendipity in his writing and not but once been succfully filmed, staged, alluded to in opera & supported many series of TV edu-entertainment nature.

author by anarchaeologistpublication date Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The whole Lorca thing has been interesting for several reasons and I think comparisons can be drawn with the occasionally on-going attempts to recover the remains of those who were 'disappeared' by our own 'freedom fighters'.

Firstly though, on a technical note, reports from the excavation indicate that the bedrock was just underneath the soil cover, something which surely must have come to the attention of the archaeologists before they put a spade in the ground. It doesn't take days of (expensive) geo-physical prospecting to figure that this seemed like an unlikely spot to quickly bury the dramatist and the two anarchists who were dispatched with him and Ian Gibson cannot be blamed for not noticing this when brought to the spot all those years ago.

Having seen a recent BBC4 documentary narrated by Michael Portillo on the subject, I sympathised with Lorca's niece who reluctantly gave the family's permission for the excavation as well as the families of those said to share his grave. Although I didn't catch Ermengol Gassiot's lecture in Trinity, a paper circulated afterwards eloquently stated the political difficulties surrounding the exhumations and the barriers put in place, especially by the Catalan government, when it comes to literally raking up the past. I think again of the strident attempts of those who continued the fight against fascism from the sierras to keep their dead in the ground so that the evidence of the repression remains untainted by science and indeed by the efforts of the present government to gain political capital without really rocking the boat, which of course is exactly what is required...

Getting back to our own blighted island, one can't but wonder at the cack-handed attempts of the police and their contractors to locate those murdered for a united Ireland; I still wince at tv reports showing massive earth moving equipment operating amidst knots of armed branchers and other hangers on, while the families look on in horror and hope. With the best will in the world, it is impossible to locate and recover human remains in this fashion without mangling the skeletal residue (and indeed the forensic evidence) and having attended seminars on this in the past, the knowledge that such exercises are undertaken for show and to gain political capital has always left a bad taste in my mouth.

At least in Spain they appear to be trying to bring some element of decorum to the proceedings, including what appeared to be a successful media black-out in the Lorca case. It would be encouraging if Irish practitioners in this macabre pantomime would follow suit.

author by ghostpublication date Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For show, you say? To gain political capital? Would you have us believe that the Irish police and their British counterparts were using the genuine grief of families of those killed (can you be murdered if you're a combatant in a war?) to score cheap political points against those who they perceived as the enemies of their interests?

How could believe that anyone would go to all that trouble and expense to, in some cases, deliberately dig at the wrong spot, badly, so they could keep harping on about the "disappeared" and conducting fruitless "searches". It would mean that some of the politicians of this country and our neighbours were cynical and corrupt beyond belief.

Happy Christmas.

author by iosafpublication date Fri May 14, 2010 22:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

When this whole farce began, I wrote an article for Indymedia UK entitled "bring out your dead", in which I expressed my opinion that Garzon's attempt to investigate the 119,000 approx disappeared of the Spanish civil war would end in tears. I reiterated that opinion quite some time later in a comment up this page.

today Garzon has fallen foul of a law suit brought by the group "manos limpios" (="clean hands"), a front for the ultra right and Falange in its truest sense, that of those who are still alive and those who are the children of Franco's victorious henchmen and fascist idealogues.

The Spanish judiciary has decided unanimously to suspend him from duty whilst he now faces charges of exceeding his authority by attempting to investigate those crimes and those criminals whose very historicity falls under the total Amnesty with which supposedly began the Spanish state's transition to democracy.

It has been becoming clear that Garzón was facing huge problems and indeed his comeuppance from the worst corner of those who has long irked, for some time now. During which he has garnered the automatic support of the Spanish state's left wing intelligentsia and cultural figures. Even Almododar the most famous spanish film director took part in an occupation of a Madrid university to express support for both Garzon and the slogan "no Impunity for Francoism". Those events of the last weeks were accompanied by editorials in the New York Times, Guardian, Le Monde and whole gamut of liberal parliamentary left leaning commercial press whilst Argentina whose crimes Garzon once investigated from Spain has ironically opened cases of Genocide against Spain.

It ought thus not be surprising that Garzon is now offered (& is reported to be seriously considering accepting) a post on the International Criminal Court.

I just might write a full article to explain all of this, for anyone truly interested in justice, and not just show case trials or investigations really needs to be aware of the many factors and backgrounds to this story.

"Crusading Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon is suspended"

"Pinochet Judge Baltasar Garzón suspended over Franco investigation"

Franco & the founder of the Falange's tomb carved out of Madrid's mountain by slave labour.
Franco & the founder of the Falange's tomb carved out of Madrid's mountain by slave labour.

author by lee - TASpublication date Sun Mar 15, 2015 23:35author email antimatterinternet at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Regarding the Spanish Civil war...
I lived in La herradura, Andalucia for 3 years from 1993-1996. During that time, i learned so many hidden truths
from the locals about that region's culture, the people and the history of its dark past. At the time, i didn't
know anything about this amazing coast and i found It incredible immersing myself within everything that
was andalucian but now and then, i heard things that were really unusual and a bit scary. We created a
school there, that was unregistered and it became very popular very quickly amongst the elite. Little did we
know, we were unknowingly protected by the 'law'.
During break, the children had their playtime in the huge garden of the schoolhouse, they made a lot of noise,
as children do, which was very annoying for the rich neighbours. Some of these neighbours were politicians,
ex military, and just plain wealthy. For example, Segovia lived behind us and below was a german man whom
used to raise a flag with a swastika on it on Adolf Hitler's birthday amongst many others. So when we were denounced
to the Guardia civil, we were surprised to see that one of our students fathers made a call and the denuncia had
simply gone away. And so it was at that point that i realised the underbelly of political harmony relied heavily on
who you knew.
If you look closely, you can still see Franco's supporters are still there alive and well! From the motorway restaurants
to the coastal bars, Franco memorabilia on show for the world to see! I personally felt really intimidated by these places
and especially when i voiced my opinion on the subject i found people would become quite threatening. I remember
in a bar once on the same subject, a man put his cigarette out in my coffee. Anyway, there were two things i want to
mention for anybody who may me interested.
One: I was told about a certain cave in the sierra which was walled up to this day to hide the bodies of people from a local
village that were killed in there by Fascists. And when we went to check it out, the Guardia civil who were patrolling that area
told us to get lost. So quite difficult to get to.
Two: Archeological Moorish burial sites just cemented in and built on for tourism to avoid it becoming a protected area. And
another cemetery burial site on the main motorway just carved open and left to the elements. A friend of mine actually pulled
some artifacts from one tomb or so he told me. I saw part of the tomb still there the last time i visited southern spain but that site
won't last much longer.

Number of comments per page
© 2001-2019 Independent Media Centre Ireland. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Independent Media Centre Ireland. Disclaimer | Privacy