The big landowners in Tudela, Vicente Ochoa, Mariano Sainz, José Gaytan de Ayala, Felipe Moreno, Cándido Frauca, Julián Guallart, Eusebio Lirón de Robles, Eugenio Frauca, Miguel María Zozaya, Miguel Iribarren, the Marquis of San Adrián, Josefa Frauca, and the widow of Carlos Costi, owned 20.2% of the area within the city limits, and dayworkers, lacking schools, were the largest group of people in Tudela, where illiteracy ran as high as 40.45%.
In March of 1931, the Carlists were regrouping, and the “Jamist Commission of Tudela, presided by Isidro Huarte, was constituted. The republicans started getting together in 1930 to create a new party, which was finally constituted on April 5 under the name “Republican Group of Tudela”. The Socialists of Tudela had founded the “Socialist Group of Tudela” under Aquilino Ochoa in 1928, during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, and the UGT labor union had also created, in 1926, the Various Trades Society, the Construction Industry Workers’ Society, and the Bakers, Millers, and Similar Workers’ Society with the Local Workers’ Society Federation. The Communists and Anarchists had also organized Communist Radio and the CNT, which was especially strong at the Sugar Factory. Basque Nationalism, represented by the PNV and the ANV, were also present as political organizations in Tudela, but in very small numbers.
April 14, 1931 was a holiday in Tudela. Starting at 6:30 pm, Aquiles Cuadra de Miguel, a leading figure in the local Republican Group and renowned lawyer, proclaimed the change in government from the balcony of the Nueva Peña in the Plaza de los Fueros. The Republic was a reality. A huge and peaceful demonstration accompanied the local Republican Committee and elected officials to the City Hall for them to accept their offices. The new town council was made up of six rightists and twelve republican socialsts.
These results were hardly strange for Tudela. The city had been fomenting a liberal and democratic socio-political trend since the beginning of the century, which allowed for a program of measures and solutions to face the problems of the day to come about in the 1930s. The time of the republic was full of social and political activity, and it was agreed to launch the Agrarian Reform, to educate those who couldn’t read, and to try to stop the incessant proselytizing of the Church against the Republic.
The political and social struggle was hard, and would end up with the physical repression of those from Tudela who were on the left, republican, socialist, anarchist, and communist starting in July 1936. The struggle for communal land, where thirteen people owned 4,172 robadas (374 ha, 924 acres) of common land, while there were also 1,000 dayworkers in the very active UGT labor union, along with a large presence of the anarchists’ CNT union and a minority Communist Party, meant that they would win all the elections in the 1930s. In February of 1936, Tudela was the only city in Navarre where the Popular Front candidate won the election, and that was when all the plans and reforms that had been programmed began to be put into place.
On July 18, rumors began to spread throughout the town, and the Republican and leftist groups began to hold emergency meetings, while people went outside awaiting news. Civil Guard Captain Pelegrí, upon hearing of the murder of Commander Rodríguez Medel, who had been faithful to the Republic, in Pamplona, decided to side with the insurgents, and declared a State of War, arming the members of the Spanish Falange in the presence of local chief Aniceto Ruiz Castillejos.
That same night, July 18, 27 falangistas from Corella passed through the arch in the plaza and threw out night watchman Felipe Escribano. Three falangistas from Corella and a regular soldier, Luis Aguado Mateo, were injured in the ensuing shootout. People took refuge in the streets surrounding the plaza, taking cover in bars and the Mercantile Union, when Civil Guards and falangistas from Tudela arrived from one side and the other, trapping the defenders of the Republic in a pincer movement.
The first arrests took place in that same Plaza, as did the first flights from the City. On July 19, Tudela jail was filled up with dozens of arrested people, some of whom would later be taken to San Cristóbal Fort: Aquilino Ochoa, Luis Pérez, and Manuel Espadas, who were shot in November, and José Martínez, Jesús Grao, José Gómez, Teodoro Trifon y Ángel Serrano, among others.
At half past five on the 19th next to the Casino, two falangistas killed Saturnino “Pinchimono” Melero, a Republican Left party member, painter, and doorman at the Holy Hospital. At nine that evening, Plaza Military Commander Fidel Prada convened a meeting of the City Council, which some socialist and republican councilmen, showing incredible valor, attended. They were informed that they were being relieved of duty right then and there, and the new insurgent City Council was convened by mayor Santiago Marsellá, three falangistas, and twelve Carlists.
Marcelino Baigorri was shot by the Civil Guard near their headquarters on July 20. On the night of July 21-22, Polonio León Luis, aged 53, was killed in the Cierzo Mountains, and brothers Rogelio and Santiago Pérez Costardoy, postman and administrator, were killed on the bridge over the Las Limas Cliff. The military War Committee, which planned the repression and decided who was to be killed, met on Frauca Street, in a home owned by Julián Guallart.
Among the people carrying out the repression in Tudela, to be highlighted are the members of the Black Squadron, which acted not only in Tudela but throughout the Ribera; they were, among others: Joaquín Corral, Luis Zubiria, Arturo “El Argentino” Sanz, Juan Antonio and Manuel Huguet de Resayre, Serafín Pérez “El Chilpi” Gil, and Eulogio “El Andarín” Santos Alayeto. The body of anarchist Teodoro Goñi, which had appeared in the Ebro River, was buried in Buñuel. He had been a newspaper seller and typographer, and left behind three young children. “El Chilipi” and “El Chato” Sola, under the orders of Antonio Huguet de Resayre, ended his life under the Peñica.
Eight people were killed the next day near the Castejón Bridge: Maro Castilla, member of the Republican Left, printer, and editor of the Republican twice-monthly newspaper “El Eco del Distrito since 1930; Antonio Sainz Alcaine, city employee; cobbler Rufino “Quirico” Buñuel, of the PCE; Victoriano “Quizabe” Toquero, socialist and waiter at the Mercantile Union; Valentín Pérez Martínez, “Zapaterico”, councilman, and local Socialist Workers’ Party member; Domingo Burgaleta Pérez de Laborda, of the Republican Left, who had been mayor in the three days before the military uprising; Antonio “Tortilla” Castro; and Felipe “El puches” Escribano, both of whom had been bailiffs who had tried to stop the a doings of those who had come from Corella on July 18.
Soon after, insurgent mayor Santiago Marsellá started the purge of city employees. Bernanrdo Pérez, employee at the slaughterhouse, and up to fourteen public employees were fired, including some who had already been killed, such as Felipe Arceiz Mendi, mason and former UGT president, arrested in Ejea and killed in Biota on August 15. On the last day of July 1936, at the gravel pit near the Ribaforada intersection, they killed farmer Féliz Moneo and industrialist José María Cruchaga, son of councilman Epifanio Cruchaga, who was able to escape to France after going into hiding in Tudela for two years, before being exiled in Mexico, where he would die. José María Martínez Mena was killed at the end of September.
On the evening of November 8, Francisco Jaraba, socialist and councilman, was killed. On the night of November 11-12 in Los Llanos de Fontellas, they killed Luis Recasens and Francisco Añino, Sugar Factory employee aged 55, originally from La Coruña, Galicia, and resident in Tudela. The slaughter continued in the following days, when thirty more were killed: Julio Bardavió, mechanic; Manuel Ucar, aged 60 and father of six, one of whom, Francisco, councilman, would be killed with him; Nicolás Jalle, shop owner; Francisco Jacoste, mosaicist; José “Murube” Huguet Imaz, member of the local Socialist Workers’ Party committee; Lucas Gallego, of the Republican Left who, along with his brother Domingo had started an ambitious business project; José Sesma; Rodrigo Sainz Lasheras, city employee; Juan Navarro, mason, socialist, and city councilman; and Pablo Bermejo Diez, dayworker.
While these people were being murdered in Fontellas, in Balsafoada, Aquilino Ochoa, councilman and Socialist Workers’ Party member; veterinarian Luis Pérez; Manuel Espadas, socialist lawyer; Gregorio Albero; Francisco “Turutaca” Amigot; Leoncio Resines, of the Communist Party; Joaquín Meler Mur, socialist; Teodoro Villanueva, mason; Josefa “La Morota” Bueno, married to Juan “Moroto” Fidao, also murdered; Serafín Carrascón and his son Luis, members of the Republican Left and limeworkers; Leoncio Castillejo of the CNT; Juana “La Calderera” Charela; Julián Morales; Jesusa “la Rocamora” Olloqui; Felipa Ramírez, wife of Manuel “El Pollo” Sanz; Eugenio Tutor, socialist and councilman; and Manuel Castellano, socialist. Tomás Aranda Villanueva, mason, disappeared and was later killed by a Civil Guard, Zalduendo, months after July 18; his body has never been found.
Juanito Lasheras was killed on November 17, and Pascual Pérez on December 6. Moreover, it is still not known where and when Aquilino Marín, sandalmaker and member of the CNT-FAI; Ventura Arias, secretary of the CNT; José Castresana, of the Socialist Workers’ Party; José Gómez, of the PCE; Antonio Jaraba; Julio Meler Mur; coronel Crispulo Moracho; Mariano Ríos; José “Cholo” Salcedo; and Enrique Sanz were killed. Many women in Tudela were made to have their heads shaved and drink castor oil. Many others were forced to sign up for the front in order to save their lives. Still more were sent to San Cristóbal Fort, and others were exiled to Tarazona, including Carmelo Lafuente, Francisco Espadas, Pascual Lambea, Eugenio González, Javier Asían, Mariano Lacarra, Julián Jiménez, Joaquín “Carlín” Martínez, etc.
The prisoners who stayed in Tudela had to work as slaves in the Cierzo Mountains, Soto de los Tetones, cleaning the Queiles, the Ablitas Air Field, on the train tracks. There is documentation that says that 68 people were watched by the Civil Guard in September 1936 doing work in the Cierzo Mountains.
The only person from Tudela to be “tried”, lawyer and republican mayor Aquiles Cuadra, was shot to death in Vuelta del Castillo on October 19, 1939. After fleeing Tudela with the aid of several colleagues, he traveled to Seville, where he was recognized by some Carlists from Tudela who saw him when he was returning from a handball match. His remains were moved to the Tudela cemetery on October 17, 1949. Member of the Republican Left, he was aged 42 and married when he was killed. With Aquiles Cuadra, the number of those killed in Tudela reached 65, with most of them occurring during the three months of terror.
With the arrival of the Francoist dictatorship, Tudela entered into a dark period. As a sign of what was to come, there is documentation of the motion that was passed by the insurgent City Council that had just been organized, at the behest of Carlist councilman Sagaseta del Ilurdoz, to close “the four city schools, which will mean large savings for the city”.
“Good” habits and Catholic morality returned, and Catholic Women’s organizations marched against revealing clothing, short dresses, recreational sex, and kissing outside the home. Culture and freedom were excessive.
With this chapter on Tudela, I complete this series about the 700 people who were killed in la Ribera. I would like to express my regards and sympathies to all those families who suffered, like mine, the weight of fascism and repression in their own homes. There were no sides, or war fronts: they killed and murdered, tortured, raped, harassed, robbed, and looted, all with the blessing of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, finishing off the thirst for Freedom, Work, Land, and Culture that many in La Ribera had had.
Those who were killed died for having ideas and ideals, and those who killed them were mercenaries at the service of the powerful, of the caciques. Not long ago, I read a quote which said, “There will never be an eraser to correct the past, but there will always be a pencil to write the future”. Take up your pencils, fill your chambers with pens, fill your computers with dynamite, and write, write, write about peace, justice, and freedom for the future, so that no more generations, here or anywhere, will ever have to know, live through, and suffer under the terror and violence. Glory and Honor to the victims of fascism from La Ribera, for all time.