Trench 702: a wait of more than 80 years | Spain


Some of the bones found during the first exhumation works of the so-called tomb 702, in Jaén.JAEN HISTORICAL MEMORY ASSOCIATION

A few minutes of archaeological excavations were enough for the first human remains to come to light in the so-called tomb 702 of the old cemetery of San Eufrasio, in the city of Jaén. These are a few bones which, for the moment, already give an idea of ​​what the relatives of the victims of the civil war have been waiting for for more than 80 years. In what is also known as the “corralillo de los ahorcados”, there are an estimated 1,081 victims of Franco’s repression buried, although work continues in two others: 548 and 48, where 173 and 32 others are wanted respectively missing.

“This exhumation comes late, but it is welcome, relatives have been waiting for this moment for more than 80 years, which must be an act of justice and reparation”, underlines Miguel Ángel Valdivia, president of the Association of Historical Memory of Jaén . , the group that pushed the most for this moment to come. According to him, the discovery of the first human remains is something that suggests that scenes of great emotion will be experienced among the relatives of the victims. “Unfortunately, many of these direct descendants have already died without knowing where their parents were buried,” he says.

In a first phase, the work carried out by archaeologists from the University Institute for Research in Iberian Archaeology, based at the University of Jaén, focuses on the delimitation, through archaeological excavations, of two mass graves: 702 and 484. The first of these, the largest in the province of Jaén, was in force until 1948, when, according to historians, the last maqui and anti-Franco guerrillas of the many hiding in the Sierra mountains were buried. Civil war.

In the case of pit 484, it is a matter of resuming work started 11 years ago and interrupted for lack of budget. On this occasion, the Secretary of State for Democratic Memory of the Ministry of the Presidency released 507,813.46 euros in Andalusia for six projects of investigation, investigation, localization, exhumation and dignity of the mass graves of victims of reprisals during the civil war. The two most important projects are those of Pico Reja, in Seville, and that of the cemetery of San Rafael, in Cordoba, both more advanced than those of Jaén.

Additionally, another line of investigation focuses on the location of a third grave, 548, where the province’s top Republican leaders are believed to have been buried when the Civil War broke out. Beneath the three chasms, 1,286 victims of reprisals are waiting to be identified by their relatives. This is the case of Dolores García-Negrete Ruiz, one of the symbols of the republican struggle since the presidency of the Association of Anti-Franco Women of Jaén. On March 1, 1940, García-Negrete was shot on the walls of the San Eufrasio cemetery in the capital of Jaén.

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The archaeological demarcation work, which should be completed before the end of the year, will give way to the exhumation of the tombs. Before, yes, it is necessary to sign an agreement between the four administrations that will finance these works: Central Government, Junta de Andalucía, Provincial Council and City Council of Jaén.

The wait was so long and the expectations aroused by the exhumation work that many relatives are already stocking up with DNA kits, provided by the Anatomical Institute of the Andalusian government, to proceed with the identification of the victims.

In 2018, the update of the Map of Mass Graves of Andalusia documented 702 of these enclaves of repression of the civil war and the Francoist dictatorship throughout the Andalusian community, including 27 in the province of Jaén. Six of these tombs are in the old cemetery of San Eufrasio, but none buried so much pain and cruelty as tomb 702.

Three years ago, the symbolic pit 702 was vandalized. Some graffiti on the sinkhole which was repeated with some frequency afterwards. Before, in 1985, an earth movement had brought out hundreds of corpses. Years later, a 132 square meter marble platform was built, a kind of mausoleum that hosts every November 1 the homage of those close to the reprisals of the Franco regime.

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