11 septiembre, 2016

San Pedro de Abanto I: The weeks leading up to the battle.

July 16, 2013
San Pedro de Abanto I: The weeks leading up to the battle.

On 27 February 1874, Antonio López departed on a special train from Granada to join the Army Operations North. My great-great-grandfather was twenty years old and the military life was his only path to prosperity. His departure from his home, a village on the plain of Granada, coincided with bad news from the northern front. General Morriones and the twenty-five thousand strong Liberal army, tasked with lifting the Carlist siege of Bilbao, had been repulsed after two days of fighting. The Liberals suffered over a thousand killed and countless wounded.
General Domingo Morriones
Morriones, aware of the impossibility of the endeavor, had just sent a telegram: "Unable to break the enemy's line. Send reinforcements and another commander." In Madrid, the telegram produced an enormous uneasiness. General Serrano decided to resign the Presidency to take charge of the military operations. At that time, the civil war had lasted two years and its outcome remained uncertain. The Carlists continued to besiege Bilbao and tried to conquer it, despite the impossibility of their goal. Taking Bilbao was an old Carlist obsession; they had already tried it during the First Carlist War. Now, just as before, the Carlists sought to access Bilbao’s resources and obtain a success that legitimized Don Carlos’ claim to the throne in front of international powers. The pretender refused to accept the first republican government in Spanish history, which had been established after the abdication of Amadeus of Savoy.
Charles of Bourbon
Antonio had not forgotten the moment of his enlistment in the army, just two weeks earlier: exactly a year after the foundation of the Republic. Hounded and already mortally wounded, the Republic would limp on another ten months before finally expiring. The desperate financial situation—an enormous budget deficit and large payments immediately due to creditors—and the ensuing political instability had led to rising unemployment, hunger and unrest in the countryside. Benito Perez Galdos described the situation in his National Episodes: "the ungodly civil war, nefarious monster that showed me only her painful limbs. Two armies, two military families, equally impassioned and heroic, tore themselves apart for a throne and an altar. It would be difficult to say which of the two aged furnishings was more severely battered and bloodied by the fight. In the annals of world history, quarrels and a race’s pursuit of an ideal appear noble. Conflicts as vain and stupid as Spain saw and withstood during the nineteenth century, justified by illusory familial inheritance rights and scraps of a Constitution, ought appear only in the history of cockfights.”

After five days’ travel by train, Antonio arrived in Santander. The city had been converted into a huge military camp, where reinforcements mingled with those wounded in the previous battle. Four days later, on March 7, Antonio departed for the front lines at Santoña.

The cover of the contemporary edition of Spanish and American Illustration amply demonstrates the national crisis which Spain was enduring. The caption reads: "We would prefer to introduce this magazine by announcing a great and fortunate event of those which the country has been awaiting with growing anxiety [...] we will have to delay a few days. Impatience devours us in anticipation of upcoming developments that will free our country from a harrowing and fratricidal war.”

Antonio was one of twenty thousand men that Serrano had under his command. Their regiment, the Eighth Infantry of Zamora, 2nd Battalion, was part of the Colonel Fajardo’s 1st Brigade, which was encompassed in the 1st Division commanded by General Andía, which in turn formed, along with sixteen battalions, the 2nd Corps of Field Marshal Primo de Rivera.
General Francisco Serrano, Duke of la Torre
The aftermath of the previous defeat was immediately apparent to the soldiers. The rest of the country could get an impression through the drawings published in Spanish and American Illustration. One image of a field hospital was described as follows: "It was necessary to convert the parish church of Somorrostro into a vast field hospital, whose atmosphere stamped a profound impression of grief and bitterness into the soul. There was a dreadful muddle between objects of worship and those belonging to the Military Health Service. The pavement was covered with straw and crowded with mattresses that had been commandeered from the population. In them lay those unfortunate enough to have been more or less severely wounded. Some complained plaintively, others shouted desperately, no few were already immobile, with blank stares."
Field hospital at Somorrostro, drawn by José Luis Pellicer for the March 22, 1874 edition of Spanisand American Illustration

The magazine also included an explosion which had occurred a few days earlier in front of the Church of St. John: "Suddenly a vivid flash outshined daylight for a moment, and a horrible sound reverberated. One of the aforementioned wagons was filled with two large drawers of powder and no small amount of loaded fuses and detonators. It had burst into flames, causing a horrific explosion. Overcome by panic, the soldiers fled. Alas, many unfortunates fell victim of this unexpected event, which was of the magnitude of a true catastrophe.”
“Explosion of a cart of war munitions, which occurred in Somorrostro on the 19th of the current month,” drawn by José Luis Pellicer for the March 30, 1874 edition of Spanish and American Illustration.

The Church of San Juan de Muskz today, an image of which appeared in the previous edition.
However, the battle had not even started, and the worst was yet to come.

English translation by Katya Anderson of the spanish text: 


10 julio, 2016

The Heroism of Spanish Republicans in World War II

When World War II broke out, nearly 150,000 Spanish Republican veterans remained in France. Most of them had been received with hostility by the French authorities after they had crossed the border just a few months earlier. Now, their experience in combat during the Spanish Civil War made them useful again for roles in military operations. They were offered the opportunity to leave the internment camps by enlisting in the French Foreign Legion. Most, however, held strong ideological convictions against this, and refused. When the French authorities realized that few Spaniards were enlisting, they invented another way to recruit these veterans: the Companies of Foreign Workers, entrusted with defense and the construction of fortifications. An estimated 75,000 men enlisted, voluntarily or by force, in these companies. Another 35,000 joined the French Army.

From the outbreak of the Second World War, the former Republican soldiers distinguished themselves in military operations against the Nazis. At the beginning of the war, the Allies decided to occupy the ports of northern Norway, from which Swedish iron was shipped to the Third Reich. Unfortunately, the Germans arrived first and invaded the country. French and British expeditionary forces tried to help the Norwegian armed forces to reconquer their country. Due to the Nazi advantage, however, they decided to concentrate on the northern ports. Among these Allied expeditionary units was the 13 Brigade of the French Foreign Legion, half of whose soldiers were former Republicans. Despite heavy casualties inflicted by superior enemy forces, the 13 Brigade managed to free the people of Narvik. General Béthouart, who was in command of the brigade, described these nine hundred Spaniards as "dark, troublemakers, difficult to command, but extraordinarily courageous.” Their accomplishment was in vain, because the Allied High Command decided to withdraw from Norway in view of the disaster on the French front. In this battle many Spaniards died; they are still buried there. One of them won the first French Military Medal. This was the first award of several thousand that our compatriots would win during the war.

Tombs of Spanish soldiers in Narvik
After the rapid advance of the German divisions and the collapse of the front in France, the British and French soldiers were besieged at the port of Dunkirk. There, the British hastily mustered all available boats. For five days Royal Navy evacuated the British Royal Expeditionary Force, only then allowing the boarding of French troops and soldiers from other nations. Those left behind included twenty thousand Spaniards enrolled in eight work companies, numbering 111 through 118. Less than half of the Spaniards from these companies had reached Dunkirk; the rest had fallen in battle or been taken prisoner. The Spaniards who did manage to reach the port were not allowed to board ships. Less than two thousand managed to reach the English coast by their own means, and most of these were treated as German prisoners and even returned to France. In France, Republicans who had been imprisoned by the Nazis were considered stateless, stripped of the status of prisoners of war, and deported to the death camps. Many of them were interned in Mauthansen, another story that merits retelling.

Our countrymen continued fighting for the duration of the war on several fronts, both in Europe and in North Africa. In 1942, the XIV Army of Spanish Guerillas was created in honor of the unit of the same name which had fought during the Civil War. It was formed of 7 divisions and 31 battalions, which were reorganized into the Association of Spanish Guerillas. These units, although in theory dependent on the Free French armed forces, had complete autonomy and were instrumental in Resistance operations against the Germans.

On the night of August 24, 1944, the 9th Company broke into the center of Paris via the Porte d'Italie. Its soldiers wore American military uniforms, but belonged to the French army coming to liberate Paris. Names like Belchite, Guadalajara and Brunete were emblazoned on the fairing of their tanks. The first to enter the town hall square, firing at a nest of German machine-guns, displayed in white letters the word “Ebro.” When civilians took to the streets singing the Marseillaise, they were astonished to see the first Allied soldiers speaking Spanish and waving the tricolor flag of the Second Spanish Republic. The 9th Company was composed of Spaniards and belonged to the 2nd Armored Division. Commanded by General Leclerc, the 2nd Division had landed at Normandy and advanced on the French capital. The division also participated in the equally symbolic military operation of taking the Eagle's Nest, the mountain residence from which Hitler had planned the conquest of Europe. Of the 148 Spanish soldiers who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, only 16 survived the war. It was the 9th Company, the names of the cities where its soldiers had fought during the Civil War painted on its tanks, that opened General de Gaulle’s victory parade on the Champs Elysées in Paris. In March 1945, the French government gave the Republicans refugee status, in recognition of their heroics in the Resistance and in the victory over fascism.

Spaniards in the victory parade
But, later, the official history forgot them. The brave British army did not want to remember the shame of its behavior at Dunkirk, and De Gaulle’s chauvinistic nationalism could not admit that the first soldiers to enter Paris had been Spanish. The victors broke the last hope of these men who, after being defeated in their own country and neglected by their neighbors, did not hesitate to again take up arms to liberate Europe from fascism. Europe did not try to continue its struggle, and permitted the fascist dictator of Spain to die in bed after forty years of tyranny and the stories of these heroes to rest, like so many others, in the box of oblivion.

You can find more information on the following websites, which I consider very interesting:

English translation by Katya Anderson of the spanish text: 


08 julio, 2016

The Last Flight of the Natachas

In war, improving weather is never a good omen for those awaiting an attack. On the morning of December 24th, 1938,  everyone at Rosanes, an airfield near La Garriga, was looking forward to the Christmas Eve party. Under the Republic, this holiday had been disguised as a “Winter Festival.” Unfortunately, Franco had launched the final offensive against Cataluña the previous day, and by mid-morning the activity on the airfield had become intense. The Natacha squadron had just received the order to bomb the enemy advance near Fonllogosa, on the Balaguer front.

The trucks were driving across the runway, starting the engines of the planes. The gunners were testing their weapons by firing short bursts. The pilots could not do the same. Due to the matériel shortages, the forward-facing machine guns had been dismounted in order to equip Polikarpov I-15 “Chatos,” which left the Natachas unarmed should the gunner be overcome by enemy bullets. At two o’clock, the first airplane took off, piloted by squadron leader Eustaquio Gutiérrez of Toledo. After a few minutes, the nine Natachas—grouped in an arrow of three patrols—left the sky of La Garriga. Half an hour later, they met up with their fighter escort, the two remaining squadrons of Polikarpov I-16 “Moscas.” The ten airplanes of 6th Squadron flew two hundred meters above the bombers, while the nine of 7th Squadron flew about halfway between 6th Squadron and the Natachas. The fighters had to zigzag to match speed with the slow bombers without stalling. At this point in the war, the Natachas were already obsolete in light of the technical advances of the latest Italian and German airplane models that were operated by the Nationalists.

After an hour and twenty minutes in the air, the Natachas arrived at their target and were received by dense antiaircraft fire. They dropped their bombs at an altitude of five hundred meters and began the flight home. The intensity of the ground fire forced them to disperse too much, although they did not break formation entirely. The shooting stopped suddenly. The escorting Moscas were already far away when a storm of Nationalist Fiats bounced the Natachas. The enemy fighters, which were returning from a mission to protect a bombing raid, had noticed the situation. The Fiats mercilessly attacked the Natachas, whose only defense was a dizzying dive. Without fighter cover or rapid-fire machine guns, they were easy prey.

The first to fall was the squadron leader, Eustaquio Gutiérrez, and his gunner, Teodoro Garrote. They were wounded by bullets, forced to parachute above enemy territory, and captured. Gutiérrez’ right wingman was also hit by Fiats. The pilot, José Gómez, received a shrapnel wound to the head. Almost blinded by blood, he was also in extreme pain from an explosive bullet in his ankle. Meanwhile, the gunner, Juan José Ruiz, who had received six shots in one leg, continued to fire until he fainted. When they reached Republican lines, the fuel was running along the floor of the cabin, threatening fire. They force-landed on a mountain two kilometers to the north of the Osó of Balaguer, a shrubland near a ravine. They were picked up by a small group of Republican soldiers that saw the accident and carried them by mule to a field hospital. The doctors, believing the pilot dead, concentrated on his comrade until a seven-year-old boy touches the body and realized that Gómez was still alive. Later, he would regain consciousness, but he would remain deaf because they had to remove both ears. The gunner’s leg had to be amputated.

The third airplane of the first patrol, Guiterrez’s left wingman, was hit. The gunner, Diego López, stopped shooting because of his wounds. Defenseless, the pilot Antonio Nicolás managed to reach Republican territory, but he died in a crash while trying to force-land. His gunner would follow him to the grave a day later.

The Natacha that led the second patrol, piloted by Farncisco Palma, dove wildly, hounded by its pursuers, and managed to land near Tárrega. However, the plane was irreparably damaged and both pilot and gunner injured. To their right, Antonio Arijita’s airplane managed to escape alone without anyone having seen it, but it did not return to Rosanes. Arijita and his gunner, Martiniano Lumbreras, were both presumed dead. Their comrades did not know that he had managed to land in Vic without being hit by a single bullet.

The bomber to the left, in which Isidoro Nájera and Dionisio Onoro were flying, managed to escape with one from the third patrol, that of Luis Villalvilla and Antonio Lizaga. Aided by the four fighters that follow them, both Natachas defended themselves, even managing to shoot down one of the Fiats. These two Natachas were the only ones that managed to return to La Garriga.

The leader of the last flight, Hector de Diego, dove at over 500 kilometers per hour while he listened to the insults of his gunner mixed with the staccato gunfire. After leaving the fighters behind, he tried to force-land immediately so that his gunner, who had been wounded in the leg, could receive medical attention. De Diego’s Natacha nosed up on a field, where the airplane turned over abruptly. After being attended to in Cervera, they managed to return to Barcelona in a car. After spending a few hours in the Platón Clinic where his companion’s leg wounds were treated, de Diego decided to leave him and return to La Garriga.

The last Natacha, that of Ramón D’Ocón, had worse luck. Pursued by some of the most experienced enemy pilots, among them the Nationalist ace García Morato, this last airplane was the one that received the most hits. The gunner, Enrique Sanz, never stopped firing his rapid-fire Shkás. That day, it had been his turn to relieve a comrade as the photographer in the last plane. After the Natacha was overtaken, the pilot parachuted. Despairing, he watched the airplane, with Enrique Sanz still inside, crash into the swamp of Camarassa. After hiding all night in no-man’s land cursing the death of his friend, D’Ocón managed to reach Republican lines.

When Hector de Diego arrived at La Garriga, at three on Christmas morning, the silence was sepulchral. The table had been set for the Christmas Eve dinner, but it was untouched, the emptiness lit by candlelight. The Natacha squadron of Rosanes was already history.

Members of 2nd Squadron in front of the Chalet. 
Photograph taken by Héctor de Diego, one of the pilots.

Note: Following an annual tradition, on Sant Jordi’s Day (April 23rd), my wife Laura gave me a book: Aviació i guerra a La Garriga. 1933-1946 by David Gesalí and David Iñiguez. Although the narrative sometimes gets lost in local, somewhat provincial, details, the book is magnificently documented and illustrated. This article draws some crucial details from that work.

Translation by Katya Anderson of orgininal spanish text: http://bit.ly/29mVUei


Cuando inicié este blog, hace de eso ya mas de ocho años, imaginaba una metáfora: la del naufrago que arroja una botella al océano de internet, sin saber a quién le llegará. Lo que nunca pude imaginar eran las respuestas que he ido recibiendo en todo ese tiempo.

Hace unos años me encontró mi tío Pepe y pude conocer su maravillosa historia, hasta ese momento totalmente desconocida por mí: http://bit.ly/29Dz44P

Un antiguo vecino  del barrio de mi infancia al que tampoco había conocido, me ayudó a encontrar una fotografía que andaba buscando: http://bit.ly/1fFUwoL

Compañeros en el viaje de la memoria han ido enriqueciendo con sus precisiones algunas narraciones. No importaba si sucedían en plena batalla contra los carlistas, en un barco de regreso de Cuba o durante la Guerra Civil.

Otros me animaban en sus correos a seguir contando historias y me pedían ayuda para poder encontrar las pistas adecuadas que les llevara a documentar las de sus familias, en muchos casos muy parecidas a las que me gusta contar.

Incluso he recibido mensajes de lectores desconocidos que, desde la otra punta del mundo, me confesaban que llevaban años leyéndome porque les emocionaba como propios algunos de los hechos que contaba.

Hace unos meses, recibí un email de Katya Anderson.  Me escribía desde Seattle para contarme que quería traducir algunas de mis historias al inglés. Su idea me pareció maravillosa: quería que estuvieran a disposición de las personas que quisieran leerlas en esa lengua. Katya me confesaba que también era aspirante a novelista y le interesaban sobre todo las historias de aviación porque en su ciudad estaba la fábrica de Boeing donde se construyeron muchos aviones que lucharon durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Esa pasión le llevó a interesarse para una novela corta por la historia de los pilotos voluntarios norteamericanos que lucharon por la República Española.

Para mí es un honor poder traer aquí sus traducciones. Con todo mi agradecimiento.

14 abril, 2016

Hoy hace 85 años...

Nunca había estado tanto tiempo sin publicar en mi blog. No hay mejor día para romper el silencio. Lo hago con una escena de mi novela. Sucedió justo hace 85 años... el sueño de un país que no dejaron que existiera. Hoy más que nunca mi corazón es republicano y trato de verlo a través de los ojos de mi abuela. En su honor, en el de mi tía que nació -un día como hoy- en una cárcel franquista, cuando ese sueño ya se había convertido en pesadilla, en el recuerdo de tantos hombres y mujeres que un 14 abril se arrojaron a la calle con el corazón lleno de esperanza...

Como cada tarde, la suavidad del pasamano le trasladó la primera sensación de paz después de la jornada de trabajo. Tras varios meses sirviendo en la casa, María se había acostumbrado al tacto delicado de la madera, fruncida por el tiempo y el paso de miles de manos, los cientos de visitas que habrían recibido los señores, las carreras de los niños que llegaban tarde al colegio. La baranda se tornaba más áspera en los últimos pisos, cuando subía a tender la colada y los peldaños se volvían más estrechos y empinados y el balde de la ropa mojada pesaba como un muerto, pero el descenso desde el principal hasta la calle solía significar el inicio de un agradable paseo hasta el tranvía, la promesa del tranquilo paisaje de la vega en las ventanas, la sonrisa cansada de su padre al regresar del campo.
Ese día, en cambio, tras echar las horas pertinentes más la habitual propina añadida por las peticiones de última hora de doña Águeda, tenía prisa por regresar a Uriana. Su madre andaría preocupada. Se cambió de ropa con rapidez. La camisola blanca quedó en la percha, con el cuello lobulado por encima del vestido negro que imponía la austeridad del servicio. Antes de cerrar la puerta del minúsculo armario lo vio colgando como un apéndice al que no acababa de acostumbrarse. La cara de la señora se había mostrado más seria que de costumbre, encerraba una inquietud parecida a la que pudo ver en la mirada de Antonia cuando, como cada mañana, fue a despedirse de ella con un beso y la asaltó con una petición extraña: “¡Ojalá hoy pudieras quedarte en casa!”. Su pobre madre estaba inquieta por el runrún que sacudía la calle con una posible victoria republicana, pero, a diferencia de la señora, cuya intranquilidad se ceñía a los cauces materiales que su marido, un comerciante venido a más, conseguía con la política, Antonia tan sólo suspiraba porque nada les ocurriera a sus hijos.
El domingo de resurrección había quedado atrás, el martes ya no guardaba los signos de la lluvia, pero la euforia contenida, que se fue haciendo más evidente con el paso de las horas, podía verse en los rostros que María se cruzó de camino al trabajo. Los rumores corrían de boca en boca, susurraban que el rey se planteaba abdicar tras los resultados de las elecciones municipales. En su familia, sólo su hermano mayor desafió al aguacero y acudió a votar. Su padre se quedó en casa: “No va a servir de nada. Siempre mandarán los mismos”. El entrañable gañán solo creía en el sol que cada mañana salía por el horizonte para calentar la simiente de la tierra, pero ella, que tampoco estaba demasiado enterada de política, compartía con su hermano la esperanza de que las cosas pudieran cambiar, que las vidas fueran menos miserables, aunque la opinión de las mujeres no contara porque las votaciones, como otros muchos asuntos, eran sólo cosa de hombres.
Todos esos pensamientos, que se habían borrado de su cabeza con el trajín de la faena, regresaron en un momento. Al bajar los escalones fregados por la mañana, se sorprendió de la penumbra húmeda, de la blanca frialdad del mármol, de la atmósfera oscura, tan infrecuente, iluminada tan sólo por el ojo de cristal que se alzaba desde el techo para arrojar su luz sobre el hueco de la escalera. Cuando llegó al primer descansillo desde donde se divisaba la entrada comprendió la causa: el gran portón de madera por el que debía colarse a raudales la claridad de la tarde de primavera estaba cerrado a cal y canto. 
Afuera se sentía un inmenso jolgorio que ni siquiera de los goznes de la puerta, que chirriaron como grillos, pudo aplacar. Una multitud entusiasta la rodeó nada más salir. En todas las caras se iluminaban sonrisas. Algunos cantaban, otros se fundían en abrazos muy efusivos, todos se contagiaban de una felicidad desbordada de la que era imposible escapar. La marea humana, que fluía hacia la Plaza del Carmen, la engulló sin remedio. Unas muchachas se habían prendido lazos rojos en las blusas, confraternizaban entre saltos de alegría con hombres que portaban banderas tricolores. Los vítores llegaron a apagar el eco del tañido de las campanas que se sumaban a la fiesta. Los gritos, las canciones, los comentarios de la gente se confundían en el aire. Aunque no habían salido aún los resultados de las elecciones en más de cuarenta pueblos de la provincia, ya poco importaba. Todos sabían que en los pueblos de la vega siempre ganaban los monárquicos, pero en Granada, como en todas las capitales del país, la victoria de los republicanos era incontestable. Lo que por la mañana sólo era un rumor ya se había hecho realidad: el rey había abdicado. Todos vitoreaban a la República y entonaban coplillas picantes en las que Alfonso XIII no quedaba muy bien parado.
Sin poder darse cuenta, mientras fregaba los suelos, planchaba la ropa o subía a tenderla, el país había cambiado en apenas unas horas. Los acontecimientos se resumían en la hoja pisada del periódico de la tarde que hablaba de la extraordinaria pujanza con la que el pueblo español había manifestado su voluntad republicana, de la reunión del gobierno durante más de cuatro horas para deliberar sobre el resultado de las elecciones, de la invasión de la plaza de Oriente en Madrid por parte de la muchedumbre, de la desbandada de los servidores de la monarquía, del silencio del Jefe del Gobierno que se negó a hacer declaraciones a su entrada en palacio, de las manifestaciones de entusiasmo que habían comenzado en varias capitales de provincia, de la proclamación de la República en la ciudad de Vigo, del nombramiento de Niceto Alcalá Zamora como jefe del gobierno provisional, de la intención del rey de marchar a Inglaterra, del compromiso del gobierno con el Conde Romanones para garantizar la seguridad de la familia real, pero, por encima de todo, podía leer bajo las enormes letras negras de El Defensor de Granada el titular: “En casi todas las poblaciones de España se ha proclamado hoy la República. El Gobierno provisional de la república ya está actuando y a las cinco de la tarde el rey firmará el acta de abdicación.”
Hay vidas enteras que pasan en un suspiro, recuerdos que se olvidan al girar una esquina y se pierden a lo lejos para no regresar nunca. Los años se difuminan en la tela rota y oscura del tiempo que esconde a su capricho lo que le viene en gana, los detalles pequeños que pasan sin dejar constancia, las sensaciones tantas veces repetidas hasta convertirse en una rutina que se apaga como una vela se queda sin sebo. Hay imágenes que se fragmentan como un espejo roto y, destrozadas en mil pedazos, dejan de existir porque las borran las que vienen después, porque las tapan el dolor, la felicidad o simplemente el olvido, pero hay otras, en cambio, que se graban en la memoria y ya nunca se pueden borrar, las que son recordadas muchos años más tarde con la precisión de lo que acaba de suceder, de lo que está ocurriendo todavía. Hay un pasado remoto que siempre ocurre en el presente. El presente de aquella tarde de abril en la que María no supo lo que estaba pasando porque pasaban demasiadas cosas, porque, sin ni siquiera saberlo, ya nada volvería ser igual. Más allá de que mandara un rey o una república, la alegría en los cientos de caras, la ilusión que se reflejaba en los miles de ojos era algo imposible de olvidar.
Al pasar junto al Coliseo Olympia vio una bandera roja que ondeaba en la puerta. El trapo bailaba sobre las letras del cartel: La canción del día, el clamoroso éxito de Muñoz Seca se anunciaba en tres sesiones junto a una película de dibujos animados de la Paramount, aunque esa tarde nadie iría a la representación porque todos tenían la fe en un mundo nuevo. El gentío comenzó a ovacionar a un grupo de guardias urbanos que se habían colocado brazaletes tricolores sobre las mangas.
Cuando María llegó a la plaza, la encontró abarrotada por un enjambre que se había congregado frente al Ayuntamiento. Varios guardias civiles retenían las riendas de sus caballos. Los ojos de los jinetes estaban tan expectantes como los de los animales, a la espera de los acontecimientos que estaban por venir. El oficial al mando trataba de transmitir calma con todos sus gestos y acabó por subir al balcón del consistorio para dirigirse al pueblo y tranquilizarle con sus palabras. Pero la calma no duró demasiado: el tiempo que tardó en hacer su entrada una sección de caballería. Los soldados desenvainaron los sables e iniciaron una carga entre un revuelo de carreras, pero les frenó el griterío primero y luego las indicaciones de un teniente coronel de infantería que se acercó para ordenarles la retirada. De seguida, la muchedumbre jubilosa se abalanzó sobre él y lo subieron a hombros entre ovaciones. El pueblo no estaba acostumbrado a que las autoridades se pusieran de su parte y, como ya iba siendo hora de celebrarlo, empezaron a gritar vivas al nuevo y rebautizado Ejército Republicano.
Unos minutos más tarde se fue abriendo, como si de una cremallera de tratase, un hueco entre los presentes por el que comenzaron a desfilar los ediles recién elegidos. Avanzaron entre apretones de manos y saludos hacia el Ayuntamiento. Las puertas del edificio volvieron a cerrarse tras ellos, pero no tardaron mucho en aparecer de nuevo por el balcón central que se abría en el primer piso. Lo hicieron con una enorme bandera republicana. La tela de colores ondeó al viento como una promesa de libertad. Tras pedir calma, uno de ellos comenzó su discurso. Decía que, como representes de la naciente República, tenían el mandato del gobierno provisional para tomar las instituciones y garantizar la seguridad. Luego explicó que se iban a dirigir en comisión  a entrevistarse con las autoridades civiles y militares del régimen que se estaba derrumbando para hacerse cargo del orden en toda la provincia y, entre el sonido de los cohetes y campanas, proclamaron la República. En ese momento el entusiasmo era ya indescriptible y la plaza un hervidero de aplausos. Rodeada por una marea de desconocidos, María lo presenciaba todo como en un sueño lento, con esa felicidad extraña que se contagia de forma imparable.

05 febrero, 2016

Poemas para beber de un sólo trago

La poesía tiene el sabor intenso de las bebidas fuertes. Destila los sentimientos más puros, los más apasionados. Por eso, es la compañía perfecta para las noches difíciles, en las que no hay compañía posible, sólo silencio, soledad y palabras escritas.

En noches como ésas se agradecen algunos poemas que pueden beberse de un solo trago, pero que luego dejan un estado tan necesario para poder sobrellevar ciertas realidades difíciles de pasar por la garganta, poemas escritos por otros que expresan sentimientos propios.

Algunos prefieren emborracharse con alcohol. Yo he pasado las últimas noches leyendo poemas, esos poemas maravillosos que fui  olvidando por las estanterías con el paso de los años. Al menos a la mañana siguiente no provocan resaca: … o eso creen algunos.
Si quieres comprobarlo ahí van varios ejemplos…

Los amantes tienen pasos de humo
Se alejan uno del otro como lo hacen
Los convidados oscuros que golpean los techos.
            Louis Aragón

Las palabras
sobran ahora que el dolor levita,
orza a estribor y pasa.
Es tarde y en tu espalda florecen los pañuelos.
Es así que el amor, el viejo amor,
el pobre amor tan viejo, tan torpe, tan cansado,
mira hacia el mar, entorna los postigos
y se tiende y reposa.
            Javier Egea

La vida no traiciona, sólo existe
de un modo diferente al esperado
y es justo que se cuide, pues la cito
cuando tengo interés en malgastarla.
            Luis García Montero

Así que cuando sufras –y lo harás-
por alguien que te amó, procura siempre
acusarte a ti mismo de su olvido
porque fuiste cobarde o quizás ingrato.
Y aprende que la vida sólo tiene un precio
que no puedes pagar continuamente.
Y aprende dignidad en tu derrota
Agradeciendo a quien te quiso
el regalo fugaz de su hermosura
Felipe Benítez Reyes

Que dure un día un año un mes
es lateral en el amor
Que se acabe es su precio
Que duela su victoria
Seamos los servidores del amor
y jamás sus contables
            Félix Grande

Duelen más las heridas
al cerrarse.
Quedan restos de lluvia en la ventana.
El invierno se carga de razones.
Anay Sala

Un hombre lleno de febrero
ávido de domingos luminosos,
caminando hacia marzo paso a paso.
Ángel González

En el corazón de todos los inviernos
vive una primavera palpitante,
y detrás de cada noche,
viene una aurora sonriente

Nunca ha estado tanto tiempo alejado del blog. Es invierno y toca desbrozarlo,  corregir su dejadez, prepararlo para la primavera que, aunque le cueste, llegará y, con ella, brotarán flores nuevas, de colores más intensos. Es más fácil escribir cosas bellas cuando las heridas están abiertas y la imposible ternura busca refugio en las palabras.