Santi Lorente is someone our regular readers will remember, thanks to the “Confinement Chronicles” he brought us throughout the first weeks of the pandemic, in which he told us the stories of Navarre and La Ribera, half in jest, half seriously.
We met this Ribera de Navarra-born Basque, of whom we’re quite fond, thanks to the blog. We discovered his guided tour project in Tudela, called Tudela me pone (Tudela Turns Me On), which is a great idea we highly recommend: a truly unique way of discovering this history of this ancient southern Navarrese town.
We liked it so much that we decided to dedicate one of our “Viewpoints” articles to it. So that’s how we got to know him, and “to know him is to love him”. Not one but two entries came from that visit, one to Tudela itself and the other to the Bardenas.
And he’s back on our blog thanks to a series eh’s writing about the tragedy Navarre in general and La Ribera in particular lived through after the Franco uprising of 1936.
From the very beginning, Navarre was completely under the control of the insurgents. There was no “front”, and despite that, 3,000 people were murdered, either by the “taking a walk” method or by mock trials. Of those, 700 were from the Tudela region.
That means that in just a few months (90% of those murders took place in the first five months of the insurrection), 8.17‰ of the entire population of Navarre at the time was killed. On top of that massacre, that politically-motivated mass murder, we’d also have to add all those who suffered reprisals, prison, deportations, thefts, and rape. And lest we forget, all those who were exiled.
To serve as a reference for comparison’s sake, the COVID-19 tragedy, that has touched us all so deeply, has caused 500 deaths throughout Navarre.
The survivors and the families of those victims had to live with and alongside the silence of the materially and intellectually guilty parties of those murders. They had to watch as an illegal regime legalized the thefts and rewarded the thieves.
So, from 1936 until the end of the regime imposed by the insurgents, they had to keep quiet to avoid being jailed or killed themselves. Since the dictator’s death, any attempt to stand up for the dead, to remember what happened, has been called a “vindictive” attempt to “re-open old wounds that have healed” by the ideological and familial heirs of those guilty parties, as if asking for Truth and Justice (not to mention Reparations) was an act of violence that went against “common sense”.
Santi Lorente has decided to share those stories with us in a series of articles.
We’re sure many will discover parts of history they knew nothing about, despite living in those places where the events took place. We’re also sure some might be bothered by seeing the truth being told and the (willing or unwilling) protagonists being named.
We’re sure this won’t be easy. But the author explains what brought him to do this in his first installment. We believe it is of the utmost importance to include this difficult, important, and forgotten part of the history of our country in the blog.
To illustrate this series, we’ve chosen a photograph from the book Sanfermines by Ramon Masats. It was taking in 1955, and in it we can see a group of schoolchildren recreating a firing squad execution. We’ve chosen it because it captures the tragedy hidden behind that society that had been poisoned by Francoism and his oppressive regime, which still looms large over us today.
Click on a title to read it: