Fustiñana and Monteagudo
The construction of the Canal, finished in 1938, and the plowing of the Bardenas allowed this desert town to increase its arable land. Despite that, many families still lived hand to mouth, either because of how little land that had to cultivate, or to how they depended on a daily wage, when there was work. According to the labor union UGT, in 1932, there were 300 people who were unemployed.
The Agrarian Reform was greatly anticipated by the local farmers’ movement. The communal land would once again become something to be demanded, so Agustín Litago was asked to return the seven corralizas sold in the previous century to become public property. Better distribution of the common land was petitioned, at first via meetings and letters to the city and owners’ meetings. The negative results led to the dayworkers invading the corralizas. These tensions between dayworkers and owners would have consequences when July 18 arrived.
That Sunday, July 18, groups of armed men took over the streets and started searching houses. Believing that they were coming to kill, leftists fled to the fields to hide. Hunting rifles are confiscated, and all those who did not show up were declared outlaws. The Royalty Bar, owned by Anastasio Vitas, and Marcelina Litago’s tavern, were attacked and burned; the former would later be arrested. Marcelina’s hair was cut off, as was Angelina Redrado’s. Around this time, they sacked forest rangers Francisco Cacho, Gabriel Vallejo, and Casimiro Vallejo, brother to Gabriel, shot in August.
On the day of Sts. Justus and Pastor, the town’s patron saints, Marino Vicente and others are arrested. They were taken to the jail in the Town Square. Emeterio Floristán, insurgent mayor, signed the first death sentences for all those who were in the jail. It had just so happened that two of Floristán’s relatives had been arrested while he was away in Pamplona; his signature also sentenced them to death. On the morning of the 12th, close to the Abetos intersection in Valtierra, Francisco Íñiguez (married with four daughters and a son), Claudio Redrado (with ten children), Casimiro Eugenio Vallejo (guard), brothers Antonio and Emeterio Marino Vicente, Carmelo Vicente (aged 18, married to José Floristán’s sister Justa) are killed. Alongside these eight men, two women from neighboring Cabanillas, and an unidentified man, were also killed. They were all buried in Valtierra, in the cemetery of the unrighteous.
Practitioner Luis Polon and wild stock shepherd Rufino Ibáñez were killed in the town. Rufino was killed on the same mountain where he tended his flock. The three García brothers managed to escape: José would die on the Front in Madrid, and Juan and Mariano were exiled after the War. Santos Harz, Jesús del Río, and Manuel Íñiguez were jailed after the fascist uprising. Macario Mateo and Estanislao Vitas were forced to join the nationalist army; they were shot. Estanislao, who was a musician in the requeté band, was sought out by three from the town and killed. Also murdered were Pedro Lasala, Fernando Lázaro, Cipriano Lostado, José Mateo, Pedro Parejo, José Puig, Félix Vela, and there may have been more.
In 1930, the town of Monteagudo, on the border with Aragon, was still a feudal society. The heirs of Ángel Magallón, Grandee of Spain, Lord of San Adrián and Monteagudo, had 3,430 robadas (310 ha, 760 acres) of partial irrigation land, of the 4,900 there were in the town. This unfair reality marked economic, political, and social relationships in Monteagudo. In 1919, the dayworkers led a strike to protest the low salaries they had in comparison with those in other towns. The fear of losing houses and plots, owned by the Marquis, and the dependence that the dayworkers had on selective and discriminatory hiring practices put a stop to the farmers’ fight.
The Republic meant hope, much more than in other places. The Elections were won by those close to the House of San Adrián, and the new mayor, Eustaquio Azagra, took office before the commander of the Ablitas Civil Guard base, Vicente Revilla. The elections had to be repeated, and again the right won, and the assembly meetings were scheduled when the workers were in the fields.
The UGT managed to get two city councilmen, and with the Town House, they were the engine of social dynamism, especially as regarded the lands of the lordships and the Forced Labor Laws on the properties of the House of San Adrián. In November 1932, the dayworkers led a 24-hour strike. That year, there were 200 families on the census, and more than 60 lived exclusively on the day wages, and their situation grew worse with the discriminatory treatment of the House of San Adrián owners against the leftist dayworkers.
A worker-turnover system was put in place, but soon forgotten. Social projects, like works on the river, running water, land rental, and even the distribution of rations among the neediest of families, was petitioned. After the Popular Front’s triumph, several politicians on the right were sacked, and then the republicans abandoned the left and the right won the elections yet again.
On March 15, 1936, a large march walked through the streets of the town to support the farmers’ demands, taking them to the Popular Front Government. The City corps, the teachers of Monteagudo, and the new municipal band, all leftist, participated in the march. The Republic was up and running, and everyone hoped that the Agrarian Reform would bring justice to the unequal distribution of land. On July 9, 1936, the City agreed to attend a meeting in Tudela that would be to discuss the large lands owned by the Grandees of Spain in the towns of La Ribera.
A group of Civil Guards from Tudela arrived on July 21 and occupied the town, naming Manuel Jarauta de Goicoechea the new mayor. By order of the Civil Guard, Eustaquio Azagra is named the Chief of the Local Militias. Many residents had to go into hiding or escape. Teachers María Concepción Adrián Arévalo, María Suceso Cano Aguinaga, and Leonor Gómez de Quintana are sacked. Eustaquio Azagra quit as the Head of the Local Militia and a War Committee is convened, made up of Fermín “Sacapieles” Sola, Mariano Ochoa, and Tomás Azagra, all chosen by the Carlist Junta in Tudela.
The residents were arrested as they came out of their hiding places, and several were jailed in the schools. On August 19, they murdered Tomás Clavijo Soria (aged 62, with four children), Emilio Jarauta, councilman Francisco Muñoz, Pablo Planillo, Bonifacio Martínez, and Santiago Ullate in Corella. Six more were arrested on August 28 and followed in the same footsteps: Tomás Clavijo Ullate, Cecilio Muñoz, Eugenio Muñoz, Ramiro Planillo (father of four), Demetrio (Ramiro’s brother), and Julio Tomás. The bailiff and the guard, the Novallas water manager Feliciano Fernández, were sacked. Juan Arbiol, Jesús Jarauta, and others were fined and kicked out of town; José Sangalo was jailed, and some, like Miguel Ayensa, managed to escape and go into hiding in Pamplona.
The War Committee kept all the leftists’ harvest. Some were forced to join the Sanjurgo Corps, including Plácido Cornago, Victoriano Baigorri, Mariano Estella, Santos Sangalo, and Epifanio Martinez. Ángel Clavijo crossed over to the republican side in the Alcubierre Mountains, and young Mariano Clavijo, Cecilio Martínez, and Juan Baigorri “disappeared” in the Zaragoza massacres, when hundreds of men “suspected” of wanting to go over to the republican side were shot.
In November, Aquiles Morales was killed somewhere between Ablitas and Fontellas, as well as Francisco Muñoz, possibly in Pamplona. The Town Secretary, Ceclio Cornago, who was taken prisoner in San Cristóbal Fort, was taken out one night and shot in an unknown location. Luis Martínez, tax collector, suffered the same fate. The Church, represented by parish priest Santos Asensio, did not listen to the pleas of the families suffering reprisals, and was tolerant and collaborated with the repression.
The testimony of J. Jarauta, as collected in the book “Navarra, de la esperanza al terror, 1936”: “The priests said pretty words, but they were in favor of the crime. They opposed nothing. Mr. Santos Asensio was from Tarazona and the priest of Monteagudo at the time and for me, he was a double criminal. The brother of the wife of Jesús Jarauta, Concepción Muñoz, was arrested. On August 27, her brother sent word that he needed new shoes. Between the old shoes, he left a note saying, ‘they’re going to kill us tonight.’ Her mother was a neighbor of the priest’s, and she went around to see him when he was having dinner with the Civil Guard, and got down on her knees to ask, ‘Mr. Santos, what are they going to do?’ The priest replied, ‘Relax, Ángeles, go home and have a relaxed dinner and nothing will happen.’ That same night, they were taken away, and they were killed the next day in Corella. They could not have had a worse role to play.”
Last Updated on Jan 16, 2021 by About Basque Country