First exhumation in Madrid: “Whoever he is, he is already everyone’s grandfather” – RTVE

They call it the ride. It is an uphill gray sheet lined with graves. On one side and the other there are crucifixes, letters that form names, numbers that form dates, mourners’ allegories, some cloth flowers and as much marble as can fit in a narrow street of a small cemetery. As a name, that of the walk is an excessive one if what one is looking for is to walk. A round trip minute that seems to last less when compared to the international unit of time measurement in these places: eternity. The ride, in reality, is a mass grave. Eighteen of the 108 shot against the walls of the Colmenar Viejo cemetery at the end of the Civil War ended up there. Buried in a ditch that was paved so that anyone could plant their feet on it and start walking. To walk, in short, over the defeated neighbors. Without money for more We do not know much more about the ride, except that it is in the holy field and that only those who agreed to confess at the last minute before the shot ended up there. And we do not know more because, after the first civil exhumation that takes place in the Community of Madrid, this grave will remain closed. “There has been no budget for more,” explains Luis Pérez, president of the association Truth Commission of San Sebastián de los Reyes, who has promoted this excavation north of Madrid. The grave that has been opened is a few meters below, attached to one of the sides of the cemetery, in the civil zone. It is narrow and 90 bodies have been piled up there for almost a century. The nearly 20,000 euros that this association has received through the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces have served to coordinate a team of a dozen professionals, volunteers included. They have worked with pick and shovel because there was no space for heavy machinery and in ten days has given them time to locate just the bones of thirteen men. Now, the laboratories of the Complutense University will analyze them to compare their genomes with the saliva samples they have taken from the families. Pérez regrets that the Government of the Community of Madrid did not want to collaborate in the process. Everyone’s grandfather“The first day we had a really bad time. We cry a lot. I had never seen anyone unearthed, ”says Gema López, granddaughter of Facundo Navacerrada, local leader of the UGT at the time and who, she assures, the church and political leaders had exterminated. “He had no blood crimes, like none,” she adds. “We still don’t know if that first body that came out will be his. Whoever he is, that’s already everyone’s grandfather.” “We’ve been waiting for 83 years,” insists Esther Mateo. In her family, certainly, that wait is multiplied by three: they look for Cecilio Sanz, Cipriano Mateo and Manuel Mateo. For the latter, they already know that they will have to wait even longer: “My father always told us that it was there, at the top, on the promenade, not in what has now been opened.” A day laborer and bricklayer, Manuel was mayor during a few months from San Sebastián de los Reyes. Finding him, he says, is “a right” and a “healing” experience: “They are always accusing us of reopening old wounds, but it’s a lie: those wounds are still open because ours were always hidden and they didn’t let us pick them up.” Finish the task Before the new Democratic Memory Law is approved in a few weeks -which, among other things, obliges the State to be proactive in the search for the disappeared-, the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, has promised sufficient funding to complete the task in Colmenar and exhume every last victim of reprisal. In addition, the investigation must be completed to have all the data on what happened. For now, it is known that the ditches cross from east to west, that some had a coffin, but others did not, that the bullet hit some in the head and others in the arm. And, also, it is known that here the executions were not all at once, but that gunpowder smelled twelve days (or nights) during the seven months of revenge that followed Franco’s entry into Madrid. There are no dates yet for that second phase, but the relatives want it to be as soon as possible, since tons of earth have been removed to uncover the first bodies. Its color, that of the earth, reveals one of the most symbolic findings of this excavation. “It was very dark”, describes the osteoarchaeologist Almudena García-Rubio, director of the team. “The first meter of earth was full of rubbish, rubble, graveyard rubbish, tombstones, flowers, vases”. The town, it has been able to confirm, used that pit as a landfill for a time. For Luis, as with the walk, it was yet another humiliation: “They wanted to make sure they never left.”