Valtierra was one of the most important strongholds of the Navarrese left at the dawn of the Republic, and most of the townspeople felt great hope at the regime change. Once again, the unequal distribution of lands had been a drag on the quality of life of the rural workers in the town.
The April elections were won by the right, which got six seats to the republicans’ four. Despite that, on April 15, in the absence of the monarchist councilmen, the Republic was declared from the balcony of the City Hall, and a march was convened to celebrate the triumph of the republic throughout Spain.
The excitement in the air and the way the elections had played out eventually led to the six rightist councilmen resigning, due to health reasons which Dr. Félix Zapatero signed off on.
On May 31, new elections were held, and when no candidates on the right decided to run, on June 5, a City Government made up of six republicans and four UGT union members was formed, and Moisés Bobadilla declared mayor.
One of the first goals was the recovery of the common corraliza land that had been sold in the previous century and which were almost all rented out by the City and sublet by the citizens. The negotiations about the corralizas did not reach a satisfactory conclusion due to the high figures the owners cited.
In addition to the corralizas, the left also made known that projects such as a slaughterhouse, a washing area, work for the unemployed, construction of new schools, old age pensions, inexpensive homes, trash pickup, etc. were needed.
The Republican Right was created on July 13 with Marcelo Azcaráte, Tomás and Antonio Maeztu, and Gregorio Santafé. At the end of the year, the Socialist Group was convened with Faustino Lorente, Claudio Jiménez, Ángel Rubio, and several others.
In 1932 in Valterria, a noteworthy phenomenon occurred, in which the main landowners were convinced to cede the necessary land in rent so that all residents could cultivate at least six robadas of irrigated land.
In the spring of 1933, the mayor, Moisés Bobadilla, went to the provincial government to ask for a meeting for all City Governments of Navarre to try to recover the land that had been usurped the century before.
On May 22, 1933, the Leftist Republican Agrarian Center was founded at Nº 1 Lechuga St, with Donato García, Aniceto Guillermo, Isidro Garde, the Mayor himself, and many others among its members. A local Communist Radio station, run by Pablo Galilea, was also opened.
In October, the UGT started taking direct action to counter the administration’s immobility, and they started occupying and turning the ground in corralizas in more than 40 Navarrese towns. On October 7, over 400 residents of Valtierra took over the corraliza of Planillos o Norte, as it was still dedicated exclusively to grazing. On October 28, an agreement was reached with the owner to make 1100 robadas (98 ha, 242 acres) available for planting before the end of the year.
In November 1933 and February 1936, the left would continue winning in Valtierra. The military coup of July 18 would bring an end to the social victories and to a town that had fought so hard for social justice and an equal distribution of wealth, their land at the time.
Days before the Military Coup, it was noted that groups of armed rightists were making rounds at night around the town. As events unfolded on July 18, the stampede for the mountains and nearby towns was generalized upon seeing armed factions there. In Alfaro, Emilio Zapatería would be shot when fleeing his town. On July 19, the Republican City Council was sacked by the Civil Guard and Castor Montori was named, as well as Manuel Santafé and Valentín Jusué, both members of the CEDA.
Eight days after taking power, the Insurgent City Council sacked bailiffs Valentín Castillejo and Domingo Resa, peacekeepers Antón Jiménez and Tomás Paris, guards Agustín Garcés and Felipe Castillejo, and Secretary Francisco Javier Ancil Oteiza. The first grants were for the local Falange.
Carpenter Eusebio “Peraltica” Ricarte was the first to be shot to death. Two youths were arrested on the 27th and killed at Caparroso Bridge. Their bodies were thrown into the river and turned up in Marcilla. They belonged to Isidoro Garde, a Communist dayworker, and Domingo Urmeneta, the postman. Amadeo “Santero” Munarriz was taken from Tudela Jail on July 31 and killed in Arguedas. A group was taken to Pamplona on August 2; upon entering Traibuenas, they were all shot, including: Moisés Bobadilla, ex-mayor, father of five; Andrés Eneriz; Pablo Galilea; Aniceto “Alpargatero” Guillorme; Máximo “Rubio” Lafuente, and Juan “Baratero” Torres.
These murders moved the town, and some of those who had fled would never return to Valtierra, including Guillorme “Villarta”, Antonio Calonge, his cousin the “pregonero”; they would end up exiled in France. Others went missing. Their bodies were never found or ever registered in any court, but they were registered in the parish.
In Bardena, Máximo “Alfarito” Lorente, cow herder Juan “Pizorro” López, and Cecilio Rodrigo were buried. Anacleto “Refresquero” Martínez escaped when he had been tied up, and they chased him down and killed him. His head never appeared with his body. Rufino “Pancho” Cillero, Silvestre “Quinceno” Falces, and others were known to have been killed in Arguedas. Fernando “Alpargatilla” and Santiago “Modesto” Castillejo were also killed. Francisco Marzo was shot down in the Northern Front when he tried to skip over to the Republican side; he was one of the five children of Julio “Rosas” Marzo, a 62-year-old dayworker who was shot in Murillo el Cuende.
Jesús “Pescador” Prat was killed on August 13 in Murillete, and Ciriaco “Pelirroyo” Castillejo the day after. They then cruelly went after his family, burning down their house with all their possession inside; his wife, Melchora Urma, did her best to save a cow and a mare.
That was not the only house, or only wife, to be attacked. Gil’s Tavern, a leftist hangout, was burned down with everything inside. Around 30 women had their heads shaved before being paraded around town. Some were abused, some were made to shout “¡Viva España!”, others were taken prisoner. Francisca Samanes was forced to recite the rosary in the middle of the square with guns pointing at her, and Micaela Castillo, in addition to having her hair cut, was also made to clean the blood out of the truck that carried those who’d been shot. They were exploited to do the worst work and forced into abject poverty, reduced to beggars. In addition to those mentioned above, Carmen Hualde, Juana Guillorme, Carmen Guillorme, Manuela González, Trinidad Cillero, Josefina Marzo, Catalina Merino, Margarita Romo, Encarna Salillas, Milagros Catalán, Alejandra Eneritz, Esperanza Oteiza and her mother Juliana, Juana Rodrigo, Melchora Aznarez, Emiliana Aznarez, Antonia Jiménez, Blasa Pérez, Sabina Urmeneta and her mother Josefa, and Antonia “Pizorra” López “Pizorra, et al. were all part of that group.
Once again, the Church turned a blind eye, and cozied up to the established powers. So, coadjutors Fermín and Saturnino, along with priest Julio Laviñeta, who usually dressed up as a requeté, got friendly with those in power, Ezequiel López, Juan José Laviñeta, the Samanes brothers, everyone from the City Government to the War Committee.
Julián Álvarez, father of seven, tired of running and hiding in the mountains, turned himself in at Tudela and was killed there on September 2. Emeterio “Majadero” Miranda and Joaquín “Caparra” Santamaría were murdered in Murillo el Cuende two days later.
In the town of Cadena, between Cadreita and Valterria, seven people from Valtierra were killed: Luis Castillejo, father of seven; Misael Martínez; councilman Venancio Oteiza, whose wife and daughter’s hair was cut; Agustín Garcés, the guard, who had five children; Eusebio Romo, Demetrio “Melandro” Castillejo; and Silverio Mateo, father of seven, who is said to have had is genitals cut off, but not without biting one of his murderers first, a wound that took a long time to heal.
Ángel “Sastre” Cordón and Manuel Catalán were killed in Pamplona. Emiliano “Virgo” Conde and Francisco “Quirico” Castillejo, father of seven, were killed in Ventorrillo. Ángel “Santero” Munarriz was taken from his bed and later appeared dead in Arguedas. Anastasio Sagastibeltza was killed in Murillo and teacher Pedro Merino, in Zaragoza. The murder of Emeterio “Tatarile” Miranda, dayworker, is also documented.
One of the many times bodies of those who had been shot were thrown over the cemetery gate, the undertaker found one still alive, asking for water. Many times, the undertaker told the story of how he then replied, “I’ll give you some water” before slicing his throat with the shovel. After the fighting had ended on the different fronts, Teófilo Palacios returned to Valtierra from Madrid, where he’d been since the start; in the meantime, his girlfriend Corpus had met another man, a sergeant from Zaragoza.
When the sergeant found out he’d returned, he went to the girl’s house and first shot Teófilo, and then Corpus, along with two women who ran out terrified. He then shot himself, falling next to the body of Corpus. In total, three dead and two injured on August 17, 1939. Two hours later, the city festival dances started with complete normalcy in the Square. They had seen worse in Valtierra.