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granada la bella blog

About this blog

Here you will find my personal view about selected events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible', Granada, 'la bella y la bestia', and particularly about the city's uneasy relationship with its greatest son, Federico Garcia Lorca, who alternatively loved and loathed it.

KILLING A POET. 2.

Lorca disappearing and death Posted on Mon, May 21, 2018 16:08:19

I was very
keen to read Ian Gibson’s re-working of El
Asesinato de García Lorca
when it came out in April 2018 and I immediately
set about analyzing the chapters 8, El
poeta en el Gobierno Civil de Granada
, and 9, Aynadamar, ‘La Fuente de las Lágrimas’ covering the events from
Lorca’s detention at the Rosales’s house to his death by firing squad on the
road between Víznar and Alfacar, a few kilometres to the north of Granada. This
part deals with evidence about Lorca’s time held in the Gobierno Civil
building.

PART TWO:
So, when was Lorca taken from the Gobierno Civil?

It is here,
when it comes to the moment of the actual disappearing of the poet itself that
the trail gets hard to follow and Gibson’s and Caballero’s accounts of what
might have happened seriously diverge. Miguel Caballero argues that Lorca was
taken away to Víznar to face the firing squad as early as 10 – 10.30 on the
night of his arrest.

This doesn’t
leave much time for the serious confrontation that certainly took place between
Civil Governor Valdés and José Rosales, after which Rosales got to speak, if
briefly, with the poet. (Page 187.) In fact, Vila San-Juan in his García Lorca, asesinado: toda la verdad
puts the time of José Rosales’s audience with Valdés at 10.30, so they would
have had to have acted with lightning speed for Caballero’s time scale to be
maintained. Caballero’s main argument in support of the credibility of this
rapid action was his conviction that those who wanted Lorca dead were afraid
that the great influence of his father would thwart their plans again, as so
often had happened in the past, something well documented in Caballero’s
investigation.

Even so,
there is overwhelming evidence that speaks against Caballero’s thesis. For one
thing, it seems certain that José Rosales was not the last person who got to
see Lorca at the Civil Government. One who most certainly did was Angelina
Cordobilla, Fernández-Montesino’s (Lorca’s brother-in-law’s) maid, sent with a
basket of provisions for the detained poet.

Angelina Cordobilla’s Evidence.

At first, in
her interview with Agustín Penón in 1955, Angelina insisted that she had seen
Lorca only once at the Civil Government building but then, in relating the events,
she seemed to remember seeing him twice on consecutive days. That would have
been on the mornings of the 17th and 18th. This narrative then becomes the
narrative that she repeats again and again, over the years. (Page 199.)

However,
convincing ‘new’ evidence, from 2005, provided by Manuel Titos Martínez, which
places Lorca before the firing squad at dawn on the 18th, has become
the consensus to the extent it actually appears in Wikipedia as definitive
fact.

So, how
reliable is Angelina’s narrative?

Those who
reject her evidence imply that she was unwell, senile; unsound in body and
mind. When Gibson interviewed her in 1966, she was getting on, yet he found her
lucid and had absolute confidence in her evidence. This same woman, who Penón
interviewed in 1955 and who he judged to be around sixty-five, was physically
active, neither senile nor unwell.

Angelina
reports seeing Lorca on the morning of the 17th, the day after the
arrest. ‘The next day I took him his food,’ she relates, ‘and a packet of Camel.
He hadn’t touched the food I had taken the day before, but he had smoked the
cigarettes.’ Her vivid testimony makes a strong case for Lorca being held
overnight before being moved to Viznar. Could it be that on this second
morning, when she noticed the food had not been touched, Lorca himself was not
present, that she last saw him on the 17th, and that she was
mistaken only about the second morning, the 18th?

Backing up
Angelina’s evidence, Gibson lists a number of witnesses who saw or claim to have
seen Lorca in the Gobierno Civil building after 10.30 on the 16th:
Julián Fernández Amigo, Carlos Jiménez Vílchez, Emilio Muñoz Medina, Joaquín
López-Mateos Matres, Vicente Lara Jiménez, and Francisco Benedicto Domínguez
Aceitero, ‘el Bene’. (Page 191.) The weight of evidence indicates Lorca was
still there long after the Rosales-Valdés confrontation and apparently until
the following morning.

Another in
itself quite minor discrepancy lies in the fact that Lorca left the Rosales’
house wearing a white shirt, as Miguel López Escribano, for example, testifies.
(Page 181.) Yet later testimonies speak of him wearing a pyjama top; for
example, Agustín Soler Bonor claims to have seen him leaving the Civil
Goverment wearing ‘a pyjama jacket, not a shirt‘, and later, at Víznar, Manuel
Martínez Bueso, who accompanied Lorca’s car from the Falangists’ Viznar
Headquarters to Villa Concha, the improvised prison for the disappeared,
reported to his superior, José María Nestares, that he was wearing a pyjama
top. If Lorca left the Rosales wearing a shirt and arrived at Viznar wearing a
pyjama top, it is reasonable to suppose that someone had brought him a change
of clothes. Indeed, Angelina told Penón specifically that pyjamas were among
the supplies she carried the last time she went on her distressing errand.

Last but not
least, there is the testimony of Antonio Galindo Monge, son of Dióscoro Galindo
González, another victim who we know was shot alongside Lorca. Antonio says his
father was taken away at 2am on the 18th and he went to the military command a
few hours later in the hope of getting him released but was told his father had
already been put to death. The son’s evidence is backed up in this case by an
official death certificate. Galindo’s and Angelina’s evidence combined make for
a strong argument against Lorca having already faced the firing squad on the
morning of the 17th, as Caballero will have it.

Two conflicting reports on when Lorca was taken from the Gobierno Civil to
Víznar.

The
disappearing of the poet-playwright García Lorca happened effectively just
after José Rosales got to speak to him at around 10.30pm on the night of 16
August. Evidence of what happened after that has been clearly concealed and/or
tampered with. We know he was then taken to Víznar to be shot. But, did it
happen immediately after Rosales’ visit, or was Lorca held at the Civil
Government for 24 hours, and if so, why?

An important
witness and one who could be used to corroborate Caballero’s theory is Agustín
Soler Bonor. He claims to have seen Lorca being taken away from the Civil
Government without being able to verify the exact date:

‘One night in the month of August at
about 10.30pm I arrived at the Civil Government (…) At the door a car was
waiting (…) Inside there were two prisoners, villager-types (…) Going up to
the first floor I met Lorca coming down, escorted by two Assault Guards.’

Gibson
doesn’t include any information on this supposed eye-witness account. If it is
true, the two ‘villager-types’ could have been the anarchists Juan Arcoyas
Cabezas and Francisco Galadí Melgar who are known to have been shot alongside
the poet. Gibson quotes Molina Fajardo in saying that the two had been picked
up from the police station just round the corner from the Gobierno Civil and
brought to Víznar with the poet.

Soler
continues: ‘He was handcuffed and looked despondent and showed no sign of
recognising me.’

The
likelihood of this August night being the 16th, and just moments
after the poet’s brief conversation with the respected and influential
Falangist, José Rosales, seems pretty remote, in view of the evidence of
Antonio Galindo, Angelina Cordobilla, Manuel Titos Martínez, etcetera.

But
supposing this is the 17th and the man Soler describes is not one
who was simply dispirited, but one who had been locked up and held incommunicado
for several hours, maybe 24, maybe even tortured? He seems to be oblivious to
his surroundings and fails to notice the presence of the witness. How long
would it take to get to this state of resignation and apathy? Could he have
lost heart so quickly, and so completely, if this incident happened moments
after Rosales’s visit?

This
evidence does not tie in very neatly with the evidence of Diáscoro Galindo
being taken from his home at 2am on the 18th, several hours later.
Galindo, I suggest, was possibly picked up later and taken to Víznar
separately?

In total
contradiction to the evidence given by Soler Bonor, which Gibson for some
(undoubtedly well-founded) reason chooses to ignore in his latest overhaul of
relevant events, Ricardo Rodríguez Jiménez gives a colourful account of how
Lorca was taken from the Civil Goverment, and this Gibson does quote:

‘Each night I used to go to the
police station to hear Queipo de Llano’s last bulletin, which was broadcast
around 3a.m. (…) That night I left the station at 3.15am. Suddenly I heard
someone call my name. I turned around. ‘Federico!’ He threw an arm over my
shoulder. His right arm was handcuffed to that of a schoolmaster from La Zubia
with white hair. ‘Where are they taking you?’ ‘I don’t know.’ He was coming out
of the civil government building, surrounded by guards and Falangists belonging
to the ‘Black Squad’ (…) Someone stuck a gun in my chest. I screamed:
‘Murderers! (…) They locked me up for two hours and then they let me go.’ By
then, of course, it was too late to do anything.

Gonzalo
Queipo de Llano was of course commander of the Nationalist Army of the South
and so the supreme authority of the uprising in Andalusia. The white-haired
schoolmaster ‘from La Zubia’ is easy enough to identify as Diáscoro Galindo,
though he was actually from Pulianas. If Galindo was taken away at 2am, as his
son said, it is quite possible that he had been brought to the Civil Government
prior to being transferred to Víznar, on the morning of the 18th.

This account
can be made to fit in with the evidence of Joaquín López-Mateos Matres,
previously mentioned, who says that while on guard at the Civil Government on
the evening and night of the 16th he saw Lorca sitting alone, buried in his
thoughts and anxieties, ‘all evening and part of the night’ without witnessing
him being taken away at any point. ‘Part of the night’ can hardly only refer to
until 10.30pm, which is really not that long after nightfall, but to my mind it
fits in better with Rodríguez Jiménez’s declaration. What it does not fit in
with, though, is the bulk of the evidence about Lorca’s arrival in Víznar,
which points to a much earlier time of night.

Why was he held overnight in the Gobierno Civil?

Here
Gibson’s ‘dale café’ (give him coffee) thesis is well-known and convincing.
Valdés realised that Lorca was a Big Fish and he wanted backing from a higher
authority before sending him off to face the firing squad. The higher authority
was Queipo de Llano. (Page 200.) Queipo del Llano’s go-ahead could easily have
been given by telephone, as the line between Granada and Seville had been
re-established that same day, the 17th. In fact, it seems likely
that ‘the supreme authority’ called back to make sure his orders had been
carried out. (Page 201.)

If we are to
accept Caballero’s thesis that Lorca was taken to Víznar before midnight of the
16th, it would mean disregarding or finding an alternative explanation for the
‘give him coffee’ exchange as well as for evidence provided by Diáscoro
Galindo’s son and Angelina Cordobilla, and also for Titos Martínez’s
2005 findings. Once
again, Caballero’s main argument in favour of his 16th August thesis
is that his enemies wanted Lorca dispatched before his highly respected and
influential father had time to intervene to protect him.



KILLING A POET. 1.

Lorca disappearing and death Posted on Mon, May 21, 2018 15:53:18

Ian Gibson’s
re-working of El Asesinato de García
Lorca
, originally published in France in 1971, came out in April 2018 and I
immediately devoured the bits I had been waiting for: primarily Chapter 8, El poeta en el Gobierno Civil de Granada,
and Chapter 9, Aynadamar, ‘La Fuente de
las Lágrimas’
. They cover the events from Lorca’s detention at the
Rosales’s house to his death by firing squad on the road between Víznar and
Alfacar, a few kilometres to the north of Granada.

Gibson’s
decision to re-publish this work was, I am convinced, prompted by Miguel
Caballero Pérez’s 2011 publication Las trece últimas horas en la vida de
García Lorca
. Caballero’s work is a
deliberate and polemic challenge to Gibson’s original findings.

One thing
that convinces me of this is the trouble Gibson goes to to stress the political
aspect of Lorca’s social status, downplayed by Caballero, who prefers to see
Lorca’s murder in terms of personal vengeance and family rivalries. Indeed,
Caballero implies that Gibson is swayed in his judgements by his own political
sympathies. Be that as it may, Gibson dedicates his first of ten chapters, plus
a lengthy appendix of 35 pages, to demonstrate Lorca’s conscious political
leftwing posture.

Otherwise,
in reducing the time scale between Lorca’s arrest and his death to thirteen
hours as stated in his book title, Caballero is demonstratively refuting
Gibson’s originally much longer time frame. For me, the evidence indicates that
Lorca was held in the Gobierno Civil
building overnight; that Caballero’s timescale is unconvincing; that Gibson is
closer to the truth.

PART ONE:
The Detention.

While major
contradictions between the two investigations open up once the poet has been
disappeared, the facts about the detention of the poet at the Rosales’ house
are relatively straightforward. Caballero places the arrest with some
confidence between 1 and 1.30pm, although he is a bit vague about how events
subsequently played out over the afternoon. Gibson also, in this updated
version, tends to avoid specific time references. One of the very few is given
in José Rodríguez Contreras’s much quoted description of the exaggerated police
operation around the Rosales’s house deemed necessary to carry out the
detention: It must have been about one o’clock, he says, because ‘it wasn’t
every day you got released from prison!’ (Page 179. All page references to
Gibson’s Asesinato.)

Even so,
there is general agreement that the detention itself was held up for some time
because Esperanza Camacho (‘Mrs Rosales’) refused to let Lorca be taken away
without one of her sons being present, and it was Miguel Rosales who was first
located, at the nearby Falange Headquarters in the Monastery of San Jerónimo.
It was about 4.30, according to one version I read, when Ramón Ruiz Alonso, the
man with the arrest warrant, brought him back to the house. Then Lorca needed
time to get dressed, bid his farewells, which included saying a prayer with Aunt
Luisa (page 181), so it wasn’t until maybe 6 or 7pm that they arrived at the
Civil Government building. In his declaration to Ian Gibson in 1967, Ramón Ruiz
Alonso says it could have been 5, or 6, or 7pm, he doesn’t know. (Page 349.)
Another witness, Miguel López Escribano, a teenager at the time, says it would
have been 3.30pm when he saw Lorca leaving the house. But, as I said, Gibson
refrains from giving specific time references in this latest version of his
chronicle, admitting only the evidence of Eduardo Carretero, who reckoned that,
judging by the quality of the daylight, it must have been some time in the
afternoon. (Page 180.)

So Lorca may
have arrived at the Civil Government as early as 4pm or as late as 7pm. What is
beyond a doubt, however, is that Civil Governor José Valdés Guzmán was away all
day on the 16th and didn’t return to Granada until 9.45.