(no he podido encontrar la fuente original en inglés, pero parecen ser dos artículos publicados en la edición anglohablante de El País)
New chapter in the mystery of Lorca
Book reveals more information about the circumstances of the Spanish poet’s death
El Pais – FERNANDO VALVERDE, Granada
Early in the morning of August 18, 1936, Federico García Lorca was executed near an olive tree along the road that joins Víznar and Alfacar, in Granada province. It was the end of a story full of political rivalries in a place that, according to the poet and playwright, was home to “the worst of Spain’s bourgeoisie.”
The scholar Gabriel Pozo has shed new light on the events that surround the poet’s execution in Lorca, el último paseo (or Lorca, the last walk), which will hit bookshops next week.
The book contains revelations from a key witness, Ramón Ruiz Alonso, who had kept silent until shortly before his death in 1977 (save for the occasional interview ranted to historians). Most researchers believe that Ruiz Alonso, a right-wing politician, was responsible for the arrest and execution of the acclaimed author of The House of Bernarda Alba and Blood Wedding. A few days after Franco’s death in 1975, Ruiz Alonso moved to the United States, but not before telling his oldest daughter, the actress Emma Penella, his version of events.
Pozo’s new book includes statements from Penella, who died in August 2007. She asked that her account, which raises new questions about Lorca’s murder, be published posthumously.
“My father wanted me to know the whole truth before he died,” said Penella, who first found out about her father’s past at a party, when someone embarrassed her in public by yelling out: “She’s the daughter of García Lorca’s killer!”
“When the war broke out, the situation was very confusing,” explained the actress. “Queipo de Llano [a lieutenant general who helped organize the uprising against the Second Republic] knew what was going on with Lorca. He phoned Granada after receiving a call from higher authorities and ordered them to scare Lorca into confessing everything he knew about [Socialist minister] Fernando de los Ríos and make him sign an accusation against him,” said Penella.
Her account suggests Lorca’s arrest was a last-ditch attempt by the right-wing rebels who controlled Granada to get their hands on Fernando de los Ríos, who had been sent to France as an ambassador at the onset of the war.
So how did they know that the poet was hiding out at the home of his friend, the poet Luis Rosales? The official version of events says Lorca’s sister broke down during a house search of the family’s country home, Huerta de San Vicente, and revealed Lorca’s location in an attempt to save their father. But Ruiz Alonso’s version, as reported by his daughter, is quite different. “The eldest of the Rosales brothers told my father during a Falangist parade that Lorca was at his place. He said that he was unhappy about having him as a guest and tried not to go to the house much himself, because he wanted Lorca to leave,” said Penella.
Following this conversation, Ruiz Alonso informed the leadership of CEDA, an alliance of rightwing Catholic parties. It was decided that “Fernando de los Ríos’ pampered boy must be taught a lesson.”
Penella’s story also differs significantly from the official version when it comes to the arrest. The actress says that there was no large display of armed men, as was previously believed.
“My father did not take Lorca out of the Rosales home — he was taken away to the Civil Government headquarters without handcuffs or anything,” she said. Penella blames the subsequent execution of the poet on a power struggle between CEDA and the Falange, of which the Rosales were leading members. According to Penella, the CEDA tried to illegitimize the Rosales family by killing the poet.
“García Lorca was simply the spoils that two rabid dogs were fighting over,” writes Pozo. But when the rebel uprising triumphed and Franco took power, the praise that Ruiz Alonso had received for eliminating the artist turned into vicious rumors.
“My father signed the accusation along with many others, but he never concealed what he had done — he was a brave man. The accusation claimed that Lorca was secretary to Fernando de los Ríos and that he was a red.”
Sometime after the war ended, Ruiz Alonso received a phone call. “There was a growing clamor from abroad about Lorca’s fate, and it was irritating Franco. He wanted to know what had happened so he called my father.”
The matter was never talked about again. All the evidence was destroyed, including anything that might shed light on the killing. “It is quite possible that the police had him under surveillance, and perhaps he was afraid that they would do something to him if he talked. He took the blame for everybody, and suffered for nearly 40 lonely years,” said his daughter.
Gabriel Pozo has added other new pieces to this incomplete jigsaw puzzle. One is a previously unpublished photograph showing the group of undertakers who worked at Víznar. The picture was taken just a few meters from the ravine where García Lorca spent his last hours. One photo shows a man sitting on his heels and holding a child in his arms. This is Manolillo El Comunista, the person who took the historian and Lorca scholar Ian Gibson to the spot where he allegedly buried Lorca with his own hands.
“Manuel Castilla pointed out a mass grave in the location that is now being searched, but he later confessed to others that he was not there on the day of the assassination, and that he took Gibson to the first place that came to mind,” says Pozo, in reference to the ongoing exhumation process to identify the remains of other men who were buried in the same spot. Lorca’s family, which has long opposed the exhumation of the site, has reserved the right to have the poet’s body identified.
Pozo is convinced that Lorca’s body will not be found there at all, because he says that Franco’s decision to eliminate anything related to the assassination was taken to its ultimate extreme.
Pozo refers to notes by scholar Agustín Penón, who investigated Lorca’s death in the 1950s, of a conversation with Antonio Gallego y Burín, the Francoist mayor of Granada during the Civil War.
“Authorities changed the location of the grave in Víznar for fear of repercussions and concealed the evidence to prevent it from becoming a valuable propaganda tool for the Republican side,” he says.
The evidence dividing the families
El Pais – F. V., Madrid
The revelations made in Lorca, el último paseo have elicited direct responses from the families involved.
Laura García Lorca, Federico’s niece and the family’s spokeswoman, has spoken up for Emma Penella. “I admire her loyalty, dignity and the brave, generous spirit with which she bore her tragedy,” she said, adding that Penella’s testimony will also help clear the name of Lorca’s sister Concha, who is charged in the official version with giving away the poet’s hiding place.
But Luis Rosales Fouz, the nephew of Miguel Rosales who is named in Penella’s testimony as the true discloser of Lorca’s location, has rejected Penella’s version.
“For my uncle to suddenly be implicated comes as quite a surprise,” he said. “I cannot deny that there were many different viewpoints in the family. But they all risked their lives to try to help García Lorca. If they had thought his life was in danger, they would not have taken him to the home of my grandmother, whose behavior was exemplary. The only people who did everything they could to save Lorca were the Rosales, and in return they were destroyed and their reputations ruined.”