Somos una revista independiente que sobrevive gracias a tu apoyo. ¿Quieres ser parte de este proyecto? ¡Bríndanos un café al mes!

Coordinates of a revenge

Michel OtayekSunday, the twenty-third of August, nineteen thirty-six.

onse inside they makeus stand on a line facing the wall after friskin us and taking evrithing we had a voice was heard saying wit cold blood; boys theres no point in lying to you we aregonna shoot you, so, here are nin priests and three cannons togive  youconfession and communion so you can depart in god’s grace

Some of the condemned—including Honorio Arteta, the massacre’s sole survivor—refuse confession. Enraged, the clerics place scapulars on the wretches’ necks. As this was goinon we herd rounds, they were already shooting. The men are executed in groups of six. Glorious cries. May our blood be fruitful to Spain. Apesteguía chortles, with delighte and making fun of us. Eighteen bodies in a grea t pool of blood. The captain orders the last group to move closer to the dead making us steep on them as many as thre times. And then, the last round is fired.

This is how a remote spot in the Bardenas was sowed with corpses, on the clear night of that tenebrous day in which the bishop of Pamplona proclaimed that—facing not as much a war as a crusade—the Holy Church could “do no less than offer everything it owns to the service of its crusaders.”

This is not unpublished testimony. But I suspect this version, entrusted to me in premature inheritance, may be the closest to the sanctified violence of that fateful evening. Badly injured, Honorio manages to escape the fury of Falangists and Requetés. Protected by the darkness of several nights, he leaves the steppes of Navarra behind and, seeking the frontier, ascends the solitary slopes of the valley of the Roncal. After a brief and healing interlude on the safe side of the border, he travels to the red-and-black Barcelona of the Confederation. As soon as he arrives, he manages to be deployed to the Ascaso Division. He then invests all the capital of his thirst for justice in the implausible advance into Carlist territory of the quixotic endeavors of anarchist warfare.

as I finish this lines I am still in said divission in the service of the proletarian cause anctious to exterminate facism so that it never lifts its head up again

But the proletarian chimera collapses and Honorio flees Spain for the prolonged French exile of so many tens of thousands. It is in Bayonne, I suppose, that he meets Romana, grandmother of my grandmother, and hands her this lugubrious constellation of words, which with honorable syntactic and grammatical poverty describes the vile murder of her son, Marino Húder Carlosena.


I ask myself every now and then how is it that the story managed to reach these four watermarked folios, two of them stamped and sealed, and manufactured by a venerable Barcelonese company. The uniform and virtually imperceptible presence of miniscule stains around every letter suggests that this is a carbon copy. Intuition tells me that this document is a faithful and coeval duplicate of an original text typed by Honorio, or by some comrade taking his dictation. It is not difficult to imagine the survivor—unwilling to surrender a single detail of the horrifying crime to the complicit silence of oblivion—getting hold of, in the confusion of the Aragonese front, a few sheets of paper destined by law to less dismal uses.

We have never doubted that Marino was shot for the sin of being a Republican in the stronghold of Carlism. But I recently stumbled upon a few lines that suggest an even more ignoble motive. Someone who knew him well contended in his memoirs that the good doctor paid dearly for having once assisted the wrong duelist in a joust in which the maculated honor of a notable had not been sufficiently restituted. The delirium of war unleashes all sorts of vengeance. Siblings, friends, neighbors, and rivals take to the streets, and to the fields, to extract payment in blood for the pettiest arrears.

Each one of the fifty-two men shot that night fell victim to a different revenge. Seventy-eight years later, their remains have yet to be found. Several hypotheses circulate. I suppose that they have already excavated the earth at the correct spot.

down the road to Zaragozafter the towns of Tafalla and Caparroso.. about 5 kms after Caparroso… the cars turnt left two hundred ms from the road there was a husbandrie

I still don’t know what to do with this letter. One must wonder if, in any way, it made an unnecessary mourning somewhat easier to endure. They say that what truly consoled Romana was the certainty— reflected in a deferred certificate of death—that Marino was among those who died confessed.

Age: 45.
Profession: Physician.
Cause of death: As a consequence of the Glorious National Movement.
Witnesses’ affidavit of death: Antonio Añoveros Ataun: “That he is certain, having seen his corpse, that don Marino Huder Carlosena, a resident of this city and whom the witness knew personally, died on August 23, 1936, in the area of the Bardenas in the municipality of Cadreita, having the deponent assisted him during his last moments in his capacity as a priest.”

Hey you,
¿nos brindas un café?