Monday, September 20

A terrible story among the tin cans of Muros

Nothing remains of the wall of Muros. Not even the name of this Galician town, a strategic fishing enclave of the Rias Baixas, refers to the fortification that was built in the 16th century, but to the natural protection and shelter that Mount Louro gives it. All the buildable space between Louro and the sea is Muros, whose houses expand from north to south inside the estuary.

Franco created 300 concentration camps in Spain

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Muros has its Praia de Castelo, its Rúa do Castelo and even a large building materials store called Castillo de Muros, but it does not have a castle. And that was done by the first Marquis of Cerralbo, ancestor – in that way – of whom the Madrid museum is named. The cannoned fortress was where there is now a fish market. Nor is the fortress that defended them from the pirates from the top of Mount Louro. Nor the battery of cannons in front of what the neighbors call the Seat workshop, where now there is a cross that says “Save us Lord We Perish”. To top it all, its Municipal Archive burned when Napoleonic troops leveled Walls in 12 hours.

Muros had but did not always retain. Its last episode of splendor came in the 19th century, with more than 30 fish canning factories installed in its surroundings. In 1909, at the southern exit from Muros to Carnota, Joaquín Vieta Ros, a Catalan – like many other industrialists settled in the area – installed his successful salting factory. He built a jetty and even had his own sailboat built, that is still afloat today. A century later, sardines were still being packed in that same building, under the Conservas Leocadia brand. It was only a few months, between 1937 and 1938, but in the middle of that period between the cans of Vieta and those of Leocadia the terrible memory of one of the concentration camps of Muros is inscribed.

Despite the fact that at the time these camps were not hidden, rather on the contrary, they served the repression with an exemplary spirit, leaving a “strong mark on the local memory”, according to the historian Pedro Pablo Fermín Maguire, today ” misses their existence. ” The memory of the canning industry ate the historical memory. In 2015, the people of Murada mourned the demolition of the Leocadia factory, which many simply called Daniel’s factory, and they longed for their mythical cans of mackerel and sardines, repainted with the same colors as the Spanish flag. It was the newest building of the three that made up the small complex. In application of the Coastal Law, its use was reversed and now there is only one hole, with a pinkish-colored flooring. On the other hand, next to it, the former home of the owners remains, a beautiful two-story house dating from 1909. Next to it, the old factory of Vieta is also standing, semi-ruined, the place that specifically it was used for Franco’s repression. In the near future, it is intended to build a hotel and restaurant there, or that is the intention of the new owners, despite the fact that it is within the easement zone of the coastal demarcation.

Like canned sardines

Framing, delimiting, recalling the old defensive towers, both concentration camps were also located. In the parish of Serres, actually next to Muros, to the north, there was a larger factory, Anido, owned by the Romaní family, which pressed famous sardines. It was a complex made up of two buildings. One of them, the one facing the sea, is today the Casa Anido restaurant with beautiful views. Between the two buildings, a patio, where the packaging tasks were carried out. But in 1936, the courtyard was used to train prisoners.

Fermín Maguire had the opportunity to speak with a woman named Fina do Artilleiro, who knew both fields because the war caught her when she was a young girl. Fina recalls that the prisoners of Anido slept on a straw blanket placed over the peeps, which were the two-by-two-meter tanks, separated by 20-centimeter walls and about three meters deep, where the fish was salted. “Man, they were still lucky… they weren’t that cold,” Fina told Pedro. And so they slept next to each other.

A few years ago, Pedro Fermín defined the Francoist concentration camp as “the equivalent of the CIE of today”: people locked up in a place that they say is not a prison but that it looks like it, without being accused of anything but presuming guilt. The historian explains that, in Galicia, where there was strong repression even though there was no war, concentration camps were set up in places where in the immediately preceding years there had been Galician political, trade union and cultural effervescence. To intimidate. Locations were sought that were not hidden, but had been present in the social and cultural life of the town, because the concentration seeks to be an exemplary punishment. Although today we have forgotten them, at the time the concentration camps could not have been more present.

Getaway place

Francisco Abeijón also collected the few memories that vanished in Muros, as the older ones disappeared. There were those who, as children, had accompanied their mothers to bring food to the prisoners in Anido. Not because they had their relatives there, but out of solidarity, hoping that other women, in other towns, in other fields, would also demonstrate it with their own imprisoned husbands. Abeijón made an investigation in the Municipal Archive of Muros, which resurfaced after the ashes, and thanks to a letter from the mayor, he learned that in November 1937, between the two camps there were 1,300 prisoners, more than 10% of the municipality’s population.

“The old fields of Muros are still invisible,” admits Pedro Pablo Fermín Maguire from Brazil, where he resides. A geolocated search on Instagram throws up on the phone screen a mosaic of images taken in recent days where visitors and vacationers bathe in a crystalline sea, navigate the cove like ancient corsairs, take their pictures in the narrow stone streets, take breathtaking panoramic views from Mount Louro, perched at sunset, sunrise, octopus fountains, and crawfish dishes. “On a getaway,” writes a woman under her selfie. In one of those captures, a young woman walks under a stone vault. The accompanying text says this about Muros: “It has experienced pirate attacks, it was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops, converted by Catalan businessmen and now a tourist enclave. If for a moment you want to imagine that you are Jack Sparrow, this is your place “.