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
hora
s…) says Lorca arrived in Víznar shortly before midnight, on the
16th. Pedro Cuesta Hernández, who was one of the regular guards at the Villa Concha, improvised prison for the
condemned, testifies that Lorca was brought there between 10.30 and 11pm on one
of the nights between 17 and 20 August, though elsewhere he says about 10pm on
16 -18 August.

We have
previously ruled out the likelihood that Lorca was transferred to Víznar on the
same night as his detention. All the evidence indicates that Lorca was brought
to Víznar on the night of 17/18th August. Depending on whose
evidence you accept, it was before midnight, or after 3.30am. See Part 2 for
the reasoning behind this.

Gibson,
citing Fajardo, says that Nestares was disturbed in his sleep in the middle of
the night by the arrival of Lorca, suggesting the later time. But, before the
firing squad arrived to do its work, it seems certain that Lorca was held
alongside his three fellow victims, Dióscoro Galindo González, Juan Arcoyas
Cabezas and Francisco Galadí Melgar at the villa known as Las Colonias (Villa Concha).

The testimony of José Jover Tripaldi,

Tripaldi, who
gave Agustín Penón such a hard time in the 1950s, colourful and attractive
though his evidence is, might not be a reliable witness, as Caballero argues
strongly. Most of what he says could have been picked up in village gossip or
in the cafés of Granada, and even the picturesque anecdote about Lorca’s
last-minute improvised confession seems to have been in certain quarters part
of contemporary street folklore. Caballero insists that documentary evidence
indicates that Tripaldi was not around at the time of Lorca’s disappearance.

Caballero
makes a point of emphasising that his evidence is based on contemporary police
reports and civil and military documentation rather than on unreliable oral
testimonies, as Gibson’s was. This is little more than point-scoring, for of
course the sort of oral evidence that Gibson collected could never have been
recorded by official reports and documentation and anyway these in turn could
have been falsified by a regime whose legitimacy was questionable and which did
not necessarily want the truth, the whole truth, to be revealed. Besides,
Caballero’s faith in the written word must strike us as a bit naïve,
considering the nature of the regime that had taken control of Granada, and the
chaos that existed in those early days of the Civil War. Such records
themselves are often written reports of spoken declarations and their veracity
may be legitimately questioned, Lorca’s death certificate itself being an
illustrative example. (Page 234.)

Gibson, in
any case, chooses to disregard Caballero’s objections and go along with
Tripaldi’s account. (Page 213.) For me, the poet’s possible last-minute
confession is merely anecdotal evidence, with limited truth value.

There is
also, I feel, some inconsistency in Gibson’s accepting on the one hand Ricardo
Rodríguez Jiménez’s evidence – that Lorca was taken away on what must have been
his second night at the Gobierno Civil after
3am – and on the other Tripaldi’s narrative – that he offered ‘pastoral’
assistance to the victims in the hours they were held in Las Colonias while waiting for the arrival of the firing squad.
Tripaldi’s evidence of a longish waiting period after Lorca’s transfer from the
Gobierno Civil to Víznar is at odds
with Gibson’s account of the transfer taking place after three in the morning
(see Part 2).

Regardless of Tripaldi’s testament, the earlier
arrival time (before midnight) seems to me more plausible, otherwise the
killing must have followed on from the arrival almost immediately and hardly
required the victims to be held in Las
Colonias
until the firing squad arrived from Granada at around 4 in the
morning.

1. The acequia (water canal) ran through the Villa Concha and drove a mill. 2. Restoration work was carried out some years ago: these steps led up to the first floor of the Villa. 3. This is the view from the first floor after restoration. 4. Viznar is upper right; Alfacar slightly lower to the left; in the foreground, the munitions factory at El Fargue. 5. A sneaked view of the palace gardens. 6. The village square, with the church on the left and the archbishop’s palace on the right, ceded to the Falange during the Civil War.

A
forthcoming fourth post will consider the actual killing, including a
discussion of Manolo el communista’s
claimed participation as the digger of Lorca’s grave, a claim which has been
put in doubt since the first publication of Gibson’s work.