In Corella, the Republic was received with large concentration of residents, as recorded by the City’s Book of Minutes; more than 2,000 people watched the tricolor flag be hoisted over city hall at 10:30 pm on April 14, 1931. Correla had a population of 5,700 that year, with 21,000 robadas (1900 ha/4700 acres) of vineyards, with a good amount of irrigation and cereals.
The right had won the Municipal Elections, and boasted eight councilman to the Socialist Republican Group’s six. The left denounced the pressure the right had put on sharecroppers, renters, and tenant farmers and managed to name a Provisional City Manager who was to prepare new elections. On May 31, the Socialist Republican Group gained absolute majority, with eleven councilmen to the four on the Right, and Melitón Catalán was named mayor.
They were successful at getting people to give up land, and 750 robadas (67 ha/170 acres) were distributed among needy residents. The wine harvest workday was reduced by three hours, affecting nearly all daylaborers in the town. The building of Inexpensive Homes, works on the Abatores River to increase irrigation, and schools with lunchrooms was outlined.
Tension started building between the republicans and those on the left and those on the right, and the religious question also caused many disagreements between neighbors. After the so-called black biennium, the left again took control of the town and in April 1936, they managed to make 3,000 robadas (270 ha/660 acres) in the Berro and Jordana corralizas into an Agrarian Collective. By then in Corella, or more specifically since February, there was already an arsenal of 200 9 mm pistols, and the Carlists took turns at night, receiving military training at the Catholic Youth centers at the orders of José Antonio Abadía.
The meeting held on July 18 was the last one to be held by the Republican City Government. That day, the leftists took their posts around the Workers’ Center and the Republican Alliance headquarters. On the other side, at the Catholic Youth Center and the Catholic Workers’ Mutual Insurance offices, the last details of the uprising were being ironed out. On the morning of July 19, several requetés, accompanied by a lieutenant and several officers of the Civil Guard from Tudela occupied the City Hall, putting down the resistance of the city workers and taking the weapons from the workers’ centers and the bars of the leftists, led by Enrique “Mechas” Giménez and Antonio “Tolo” Escribano. That morning, the priest at San Miguel, Lucio, was seen distributing weapons and blue-colored overalls to the insurgents. Some 40 residents were arrested and forced to lie down in the middle of the plaza.
Four youths held out in the Mayor’s house, injuring a requeté, whose response was quick: two were injured, Gregorio López and Jesús Andiano, and the other two, Ignacio López and Fermín Lázaro, were shot down in the same bed at the Red Cross. After being occupied, the City named José Antonio Abadía as the new insurgent mayor, and it is reported that the majority of Corella’s armed city workers had been jailed, while the rest had been fired, including five bailiffs, eight guards, and seven employees.
Upon the shoulders of J. A. Abadía, doctor and new mayor, fell the responsibility of “maintaining order”, “the rule of law” and “the peace of spirits”, as he himself laid out in his inaugural address, with the end result that close to a hundred townsmen were killed. Enrique Mateos, Cirilo Arellano, Eduardo Lasantas, José Virto, Cecilio Arellano, and others made up the civil government, as laid out in the book “Navarra, de la esperanza al terror, 1936”, and fascists Ignacio “Canco” Sanz, Ramón Latasa, the “combis”, José “Cabecilla” Guinea, José González, and others were responsible for imposing their order on the streets.
Corella jail was overflowing; the arrested were stuffed into a room at the home of the Marquis of Bajamar, with no water, toilet, or beds. At Tudela jail, there is documentation of the imprisonment of 87 townsmen between July 19 and October 10. The murderers continuously took men out of the jails. On July 25, 1936, known fascists arrived from the back alley to the bars of the cell were councilman and justice of the peace Ricardo Campos was, doused him with gasoline, and set fire to him. The Diario de Navarra reported that he had committed suicide by setting fire to the straw on the ground.
The next day, ex-mayor Antonio Moreno, city employees Víctor Muñoz, Enrique Giménez, Manuel Marcilla (father of five), Juan Arellano, Benito Sanz, Emilio Sanz, and Emiliano Martínez were shot to death. They were killed in the Bardenas by several Civil Guard officers and volunteers from Corella, and taken by truck to the Tudela cemetery.
On August 2, eight men were arrested, most of whom had been prisoners in Tudela. They were shot to death in Carrascal. They were Nicolás Sanz and Pedro Giménez, treasurer and secretary of the Socialist Youth, José “Rosetas” Sesma, Pío Fraguas, Cesáreo “Chaparro” Martínez, Simón “Iñigo” Segura, Marcos Ruiz, Eusebio Navarro, and Victoriano López who were later registered as dead in Carrascal.
The next day, another group of six men were taken to Alfaro to be killed. Before murdering them, they were brutally tortured, with needles driven into them, among other things, according to an eyewitness account. Among those killed were Francisco “Calahorrilla” Igea, Juan Sanz, Pedro Ruiz, and Diego Blázquez. Julio “Chano” Ayala survived after being shot, and he was able to see “Calahorrilla” still sitting up, though mortally wounded.
“Chano” had escaped to the mountains during the early days. He hid there until he returned home, when some neighbors reported him and he was arrested. When he was shot, the first one left him unconscious, and then a resident of Cintruénigo gave him the coup de grace, which entered his temple and exited his eye. “Chano” stayed still, and when they had left, he got up and went to the Guard’s house, where they performed first aid. When they noticed his cadaver was missing, they started looking for him. He hid at his mother’s house, for three years. After the war, he ran into the man from Cintruénigo who had made that final shot in a bar. The murderer froze. He went to the Civil Guard and reported him, saying he had been receiving anonymous letters and that “Chano” had been sending them to him. The Civil Guard arrested him but were unable to clear anything up, since “Chano” didn’t know how to read or write.
Six days later, on August 8, there was a new round of removals from Tudela jail, and the Corella murderers took Bernardino “Corujada” Sanz, Nicolás Martínez, and Félix Juan Giménez to Ballariáin. They would die alongside Jacinto Yanguas, the mayor of Fitero. On August 11, they killed Gregorio Gómez, and on the 12th, Dionisio Ríos, prisoner at Tudela.
On August 15, the day most towns in La Ribera celebrate the Day of the Virgin, the largest mass murder yet took place. Twenty-seven from Corella and three from Fitero were taken out of prison, led to the cemetery in Milagro, and shot in front of its walls. One of those killed had had his hands cut off when he kept trying to grab onto anything so as not to be taken away. Priest Bernardo Catalán bade the condemned farewell by saying, “Be calm, because tonight you’ll be dining with God.” They were killed between merciless insults, jeers, and blows. Félix Liroz, Pedro “Espadador” León, and Anselmo “Carabina” Monreal each left behind five children. Fifteen-year-old Garijo was thrown into the truck when he refused to reveal where his father was. Years ago, when relatives went in search of his remains at Milagro cemetery, they were told that “someone” had ordered their remains be taken to Madrid, to the Valley of the Fallen. One family member replied that they should be there, since they were neither martyrs nor fallen in any war.
Leftist and republican townsmen were also forced to sign up for the front, and many of them were killed in strange circumstances, including Victoriano Alfaro, Gregorio López, Santiago Delgado, and Juan Sesma, and it is generally believed that a total of 98 people from Corella were killed.
The repression of the women from Corella was harsh. One young townswoman who wouldn’t reveal her father’s hiding place was repeatedly beaten and raped. Ángeles Mora, Asunción and María Garijo, Mariana Sanz, Dionisia Ruiz, Isabel Calvo, Marcelina Sanz and others had their hair cut, and some of them were forced to run through the streets while being struck with a zurriaga, a type of whip.
Houses were searched, and many hid in the wine cellar tunnels. The Flag that the people of Corella had taken to Castejón on the occasion of the Gamazada was doggedly, and unsuccessfully, searched for. Teachers Marino García and María Dolores Piquer were suspended without pay, and Matías José Sainz and Salustiano Vidal were sanctioned for their political sympathies. The list of those shot in Corella could be made longer at any moment: terror reigned.