Francoist Street Names Are Out. Women’s Accomplishments In Spain Are Finally In

2016 saw the 80th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War, and the 41st celebration of Francisco Franco‘s death. Yet on many streets all over Spain, the men who fought and assisted Franco though his 39 years of war and dictatorship are still revered with street names, vile and cruel men who harmed untold thousands. It is long past time to remove these names, and the opportunity to name streets after women has finally arrived.

Spain’s political situation is a hot mess – the December 2015 election ended in a stalemate, and subsequent efforts for coalition and even new elections have produced not a lot. The left-wing Podemos party, made of newcomers and small groups coming together to gain power, have found their place in some cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona. Spain has the History Memory Law, enacted in 2007, which provides rules to allow the reburial of SCW victims, and removal of all Franco (and Franco cronies) monuments, dedications and street names (the law has a wide range of powers; this is just an example). While many cry about leaving the past in the past, those with a wider view want to put right as much as can possibly be done. It is time to use Article 15 of the memory laws to change the streets named after men who murdered their way to power and used fear to stay there.

Some examples of names changes is in Calle de Soledad Cazorla (Spanish link), named after Spain’s first female public prosecutor, who used her position to fight gender violence. Until now, the street was named after Andrés Saliquet (Spanish link), an old-school General and fascist party member, serving in the war and the dictatorship. The notorious General José Varela loses his street name to journalist Carmen de Burgos in Granada, likewise Federica Montseny, Spain’s first female minister, will replace Colonel Chápuli.  Madrid’s Plaza Caudillo (if you’re new, Franco was referred to as the Caudillo, the leader) will be Plaza Mayor in El Pardo.

Places like León have just 5% of female street names, Cadiz has just 3%. People ask why it matters – the naming of a street in your honour is a great privilege; it shows prominence. The lack of female names shows that they are considered better at home than out in the world. Women’s achievements are simply not being recognised in this traditional way of having a street in their honour in Spain. Madrid has 137 streets which are named after the Virgin Mary, but not streets named after real women. Women’s roles are confined to being imagined virgin saints, not actual accomplished members of a community.

Valencia has a new law, meaning that 80% of new names, or streets in need of a change, must be female names. In the Poblet area in the west of the city, eight new streets are needed, and are being decided by public suggestion. Author Carmen Martín Gaite is in the running, along with Las Trece Rosas, 13 women murdered by a firing squad in Madrid in 1939.

The northern city of Oviedo has 22 new streets, a majority going to women. Alicante has a new law ensuring women are included while 50 Francoist streets are removed, and northern Bilbao and southern Cadiz now have mandates in place guaranteeing female names. Cadiz has only eight female street names, all saints, a situation about to be rectified.  In Santander, a motion is in place to remove Francoism from the city and celebrate women, a move which has faced steady criticism (aka fascist man tears).

Without surprise, all this comes with its complainers. The usual cries of ‘that’s just complaining feminists, don’t indulge them’ is rife, with machismo still strong in Spain. Giving women the same rights and rewards as men scares many, as does the notion of altering traditions, even when traditions are inappropriate. Somehow, giving a street name to a fascist murderer is okay, as is keeping the name because ‘tradition’. Changing the name to erase an evil man from memory, and embracing a successful woman still frightens many delicate flowers.

The 2007 memory law has had little success in its nine years. Granada alone has 4,000 victims still dumped in mass graves, Seville has only reburied two of the 104 mass graves in the region. You only need to look at the maps of each region on the Historical Memory Association website to see how many mass graves (fosas) country-wide are ongoing. As family members of the victims pass away themselves, voices are becoming lost and the commitment to the past needs to be honoured. Trouble is, Europe is doing its terrifying swing to the right. Spain is no stranger to the Hitler-fascist salute, regularly done at Francoist sites (especially Valle de los Caídos), and Nazi groups have been springing into violence recently in Madrid. Spain needs to be un-Francoed as fast as possible, and that level of hate needs to be eliminated.

It can be easy to say that what happened in the Franco years is in the past and no longer relevant. But as long as dedications to remarkable women like Dolores Ibárruri are opposed by those in power (due to her left-wing work), the past is still haunting the present. Guadalajara, near Madrid, has the highest number of female street names at a tiny 9.5%, all-but named after virgins and saints. The names are dedicated to women who are bound in legend and many hundreds of years out of date. Women are overlooked in history, so inaccuracies are ever-present. Meanwhile, Spain has a plethora of successful feminists, leaders, scientists, teachers, and modern sports stars who could be honoured, yet are forgotten.  Why not Calle Maruja Mallo (artist), Avenida Clara Campoamor Rodriguez (suffragette), or Paseo Margarita Salas (biochemist). Spain needs more streets named after women like Ángela Iglesias Rebollar (Spanish link), murdered by Franco’s killers, remembered for their struggles.

It’s not like Spain isn’t in need of change; young women need role models, advertised the way men are exposed to their role models, and largely take for granted – because they’ve always been right in front of them. Why have streets and plazas named after Nazi-style killers when you can have streets named after María Mayor Fernández de Cámara y Pita, who fought against the English in 1589, or Manuela Malasaña Oñoro who saw off the French from Madrid in 1808, or pianist Alicia de Larrocha from Barcelona who was an extraordinary composer, or Rosalia Mera Goyenechea from A Coruña who became the richest female entrepreneur worldwide and used her riches to help other women, as such as fighting anti-abortion laws.

Another issue is not just the lack of female names, it’s irrelevance of those that do exist. Margaret Thatcher was given a plaza in Madrid, hardly a popular move. Madrid also has Calle de Quiñones,  homage to the first female run printing workshop, but without her full name, how can anyone look up Maria de Quiñones from the 17th century (did any of you reading this know that until now?).

Galicia is leading the way by looking through historical information to find forgotten women, as is Barcelona, and making sure people can find information about all people awarded a street name. The southern city of Córdoba has passed a law saying 50% of new names must be female, which currently boasts just 6% of female names.

My personal suggestions (in addition to the ones above) –

Isabel-Clara Simó i Monllor – Valencian writer, one of the most important writers in the Catalan language

Clara Campoamor Rodriguez – women’s right campaigner

Federica Montseny Mañé – first female cabinet member – minister of health

Carmen Amaya  – influential flamenco dancer

Alicia de Larrocha – extraordinary pianist and composer

Margarita Salas – biochemist and geneticist

Rosalia Mera Goyenechea – world’s richest female entrepreneur, co-founder of Zara

Rosa Montero Gayo – journalist and author

María de los Ángeles Alvariño González – fishery research biologist and oceanographer

Magdalena (Magda) Bermejo – primatologist

Emilia Espinoza Hazelip  – pioneer of the concept of synergistic gardening

Patri Vergara – professor in Physiology, first woman President of the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science

Dolors Aleu i Riera – first female Spanish doctor

Ana María Matute Ausejo – writer and member of the Real Academia Española

Emilia Pardo Bazán  – Galician novelist, journalist, essayist, critic and scholar

María Josefa Crescencia Ortiz Téllez- Girón/ Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez – insurgent and supporter of the Mexican War of Independence

Rosalía de Castro – Galician writer and poet

It’s not about women being elevated above men, it’s about women being given their due. It’s about successful people (yes, women are people) not being forgotten, their accomplishments out there for all to remember.

Sign at entrance to town of Águeda del Caudillo. Photo: Gaceta de Salamanca

 
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This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 14 and 15: 17 – 31 October 1936

Week 14 and 15: 17 – 31 October 1936

Sorry for the delays, as the website was hacked and is only just back online now. Normal service is resumed.

Week 14

October 18

The Republican government creates the ‘Mixed Brigades’. This combines the army units which remained loyal during the initial rebellion, and militia groups of all forms fighting around Spain. This mix is titled the Popular Army, the name coming from the Popular Front party in government. While anarchist groups are not art of the government (yet), their militias are still able to be part of the Popular Army.
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Week 15

October 24

The first shipment of gold arrives in the Soviet Union; the first shipment of over half the Spanish supply which will be sent to Moscow. It is worth around $35 per ounce, a total of around almost $600 million, though Spain only gets half its worth.

October 27

Russian tanks finally get to Madrid to defend the city. T-26 tanks, around 10 tonnes in weight each, are dispatched from Madrid main’s train station and head straight to the front. The Nationalists outside the city already have tanks, supplied by Italy and Germany. The Republicans have been using Molotov cocktails to hold back the Nationalists until now and are in desperate relief to save the city.

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T-26 tank outside Seseña

October 27

The Nationalist unleash an air raid on Madrid. Six bombs are dropped in Plaza Colón, a major square in the city, heavily populated. A queue of women and children are waiting to get milk and a bomb lands directly on them. A total of 16 are killed, another 60 seriously injured. The air raid comes from a Junker Ju-52 with a German pilot. The bombing is labelled the first bombing in history that served no purpose. It was designed solely to bring terror to 900,000 Madrileños. Madrid has no way to stop planes flying overhead and bombing them as they are becoming surrounded by Nationalists, setting the stage for the coming mammoth siege of Madrid.

October 28

A squadron of Soviet Tupolev ANT-40 planes, named Katiuska bombers, drop bombs over the city of Seville, which has been in Nationalist hands since July. This Republican-supported bombing leads the Germans to send more planes and supplies, and set up the Condor Legion in Spain, to overcome the Soviet forces.

Aftermath of the air raid in prep for the Madrid siege

October 29

The town of Seseña is 30 kilometres (18 miles)  south of Madrid, near destroyed Toledo. The Nationalist army, who have marched and massacred their way north are now ready to take Madrid. The Republicans who hold Seseña attempt to hold their town. The new Mixed Brigades, led by Spanish and Russian colonels, lead their mixed-nation/loyalty troops with newly arrived tanks. However no one has any training, other than one Russian tank expert. The Nationalists have their highly trained Spanish and Moroccan troops and Italian tankettes on their side. The Republicans head south of Seseña to engage with the Nationalists about only gain around 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) before they are attacked.

The Republican were able to destroy 11 Italian tankettes and kill 600 soldiers, losing only eight men and three tanks in the fighting. However numbers were on the Nationalists’ side and they won the battle of Seseña when the Republicans were forced to retreat.

The showdown for the siege of Madrid is ready to begin.

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit

This Week In Spanish Civil War History – Week 3: 1 -7 August 1936

Week 3: 1 – 7 August 1936

August 1

France changes its mind and doesn’t want to support the Republicans, after being pressured by Britain, who don’t want to intervene in a war. The two governments, along with Italy, Portugal, Germany, and Russia, forge a Non-Intervention Committee and sign an agreement of non-intervention in the civil war. This will become a major error and huge turning point.

Spanish King Alfonso XIII, who has been in exile for five years, begs Mussolini for help and they send more planes and trained pilots to the Nationalist rebels, paid for by a Spanish billionaire known for illegal and dodgy deals. But two planes crash on their way to Morocco to collect troops, making the news, showing Italy has already broken their non-intervention plan. Still, other major countries sit on their hands and refuse to assist.

sa01-09-001The Non-Intervention agreement

August 2

Troops head out of Seville, having secured the city and made it their southern base, marching towards Madrid, over 550 kilometres away. The leaders plan to attack major areas like Badajoz, Toledo and Talavera along the way.

August 3

The shipment of refugee children is already underway, with children being sent to other European countries such and Belgium, France and Britain for their safety.

Nr:185498 9SP-1936-0-0-A1-35 Spanischer B¸rgerkrieg 1936-39. - Ankunft von Fl¸chtlingskindern aus Spanien auf dem Bahnhof von Gent (Belgien).- Foto, 1936. Photo: AKG Berlin Teutonenstr. 22 / D-14129 Berlin Tel. 030-803 40 54 / Fax 030-803 35 99 Bankverbindung Dresdner Bank Berlin BLZ 100 800 00 Konto 462732500 USt.Id DE 136 62841
Children leave for Belgium

August 4

As the war as broken down much authority, the collectivisation of Spain is strengthening, particularly in Catalonia and Aragon. Workers are grouping together and gaining control of land and businesses, mostly under the guidance of the CNT and FAI anarchist organisations. Worker control is being established, training and education is being given, state and church control is being eliminated, all while looking to defeat the rebels.

300px-Milicianas_em_1936_por_Gerda_TaroWomen start training in the militia outside Barcelona

August 6

North of Madrid in the Sierra de Guadarrama, Josep Sunyol i Garriga, the deputy of the Catalonian Republican left party and also the president of the Barcelona Football Club, is murdered by Nationalist troops. Sunyol is a politician, leader and journalist, having founded a left-wing newspaper in the 1920’s. He was captured during fighting and shot, and then dumped in a shallow unmarked grave (and wouldn’t be found for 60 years. This system of taking left-wing sympathisers, from battles or just their homes, murdering them without a word and dumping them in the wilderness is the start of what will result in 100,000 – 200,000 Spaniards ‘disappearing’, many still not found today).

indexJosep Sunyol

Francisco Franco makes his move, and leaves Morocco and flies to Seville, to be on the ground as his troops continue their bloody march towards Madrid, the start of severe killing through Spain’s south and west.

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit.

This Week In Spanish Civil War History – Week 2: July 25 – 31 1936

All photo

Week 2: 25 – 31 July 1936

July 25

Hitler agrees to support Franco’s bid to take over Spain. Franco needs urgent supplies and Hitler needs a distraction from his plans to dominate Europe.

Reprisal killings are happening in the south, in and around Seville. Numbers of deaths are unknown; anyone suspected of supporting the Republicans is taken away to face a firing squad.

franco_hitler

Franco and Hitler

July 26

German and Italian planes land in Morocco, ready to help the Nationalist cause. With a naval blockade halting the transfer of soldiers from Morocco to the mainland, they can be flown instead.

July 27 

The Nationalists control Seville with reinforcements from Morocco on the German-donated airplanes. Seville is to be a main centre for the rebels to plan their sweep north to capture all of Andalusia in southern Spain.

Aircraft used by the Nationalists drop a bomb on a market in Malaga, killing mainly women and children.

Fighting between Republicans and Nationalists continues in the eastern cities of Valencia and Alicante, which haven’t been captured by either side yet. Both cities are Republican strongholds.

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Republicans fighting in the streets

July 28

First bulk arrival of German and Italian planes into mainland Spain. Masses of troops arrive, ready to help local military forces, now vastly outnumbering the Republican people.

Savoia-Marchetti_SM.81

German donated aircraft used in Spain

July 29

Northern city of Gijon still fighting for control; military haven’t yet been able to claim the area.

July 30

Fighting still ongoing in Valencia as the large Republican population manage to contain the military in their barracks. Local people in support of the Nationalists are subdued by the worker’s Republican groups. Reports of old grudges between individuals being resolved with shooting, masked as executions due to the rebellion.

July 31

Great Britain bans the sale of weapons to the Republic. Most of Europe foolishly thinks that non-intervention is better than assistance.

400 Nationalist supporters killed by Republican supporters in Toledo as part of reprisal killings.

Reports from all locations of both Republicans and Nationalists being pulled from their homes and murdered, based on the perception of who they support. Reports of mass rape of women prior to being put before firing squads. Republicans are angry and trying to weed out ‘traitors’; Nationalists are killing the educated – doctors, lawyers, teachers, artists, government workers, anyone left-wing, and anyone suspected of voting Popular Front last February. Full-scale massacre has begun.

Republican prisoners about to be shot by Nationalist firing squad

Men being marched to firing squads

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This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggestion an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit.

SPAIN BOOK REVIEW: ‘City of Sorrows’ by Susan Nadathur

CITY OF SORROWS is an emotionally intense story about how relationships can get complicated, and how life is not always the way we want it to be . . . Under normal circumstances, they never would have met. Andres is a wealthy Spaniard, Diego a poor Gypsy, Rajiv an Indian immigrant. On a dark road outside the city of Seville, the lives of these three men come crashing together. One man’s anger leads to an unthinkable act, triggering another man’s obsession and forcing the third to negotiate his way through the underside of life. The choices they make ripple outward, throwing not only their lives, but an entire city, into turmoil and change. A devastating loss. A dangerous obsession. CITY OF SORROWS is an epic story of love, death, romance and rage. About what controls us . . . and the choices we must make to be free.

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As a fan of the city of Seville, I jumped at the chance to read some Spain-based fiction. This book brings together three very different men on a path that could either save or destroy them.

The main protagonist is Diego, a young Gypsy living on the edge of poverty in Seville. We meet Diego young and married, with a seventeen-year-old wife who is already six months pregnant. The naivety and youth is a mix for a fun new relationship but their tale is not a happy one. When disaster befalls the young couple, the entire city of Seville burns with rage as racism between Spaniards and Gypsies literally ignites. Diego’s life falls to awful lows filled with crime and revenge, which could end him.

Diego crosses paths with Andres, a rich young Spaniard, and not a character many could indulge or come to like. Andres’ hatred of Gypsies, born out of a cliché and unfair stereotype in his own head, leads him to make a simple yet cruel decision that costs someone their life. Andres is mean, tortured, racist and lazy, and while he tried is best to redeem himself through the guise of caring for his young sister Adela, it can be hard to not wish Andres would step in front of a bus.

A third man, Rajiv, a young Indian fresh in the city of Seville, is a wholly likable character. I live in an Indian community, all those who have emigrated for a new life, and the story of this man mimics one of so many real people in the world. He is kind, intelligent and good in the face of all that troubles him – mostly Andres, who he is forced to work with and help. Rajiv is on a different path in life to the other two men in the book, yet their stories weave together in the heartache that swirls through Seville.

Susan Nadathur has done a wonderful job at creating characters that both endear and infuriate, and it shows the divide between Spaniards and Gypsies in Spain. It shows how three different men from three different walks of life and effect, hurt and save one another, as well as explaining the inside details of Gypsy life. As chapters flip between the point of view of each man, one cannot help but want to turn the pages to see where their favourite character ends up next.

Learn more about Susan Nadathur here