Policarpo Rodríguez Requejo, Bernardino Díaz Vázquez, Ricardo Caballero Calleja and Felipe Jara Maya. These are the names of the four people who, unidentified, were buried in the Sevillian municipality of Camas after finding their death in an ambush in La Pañoleta on July 19, 1936. They were members of the Mining Column that was launched in the Huelva basin, as soon as the coup d’état of Francisco Franco was known, killed at the gates of a Seville that they wanted to free from the hands of the also coup general Gonzalo Queipo de Llano. In the mausoleum of the camero cemetery these four miners still appear as unknown, something that the town council of the town is already going to correct to give them their last tribute.
The tribute to the Mining Column betrayed in Camas warns of the strengthening of the extreme right
The curious thing about this story is that the identification took place a couple of years ago, but until now the steps had not been taken to restore his memory. The names were recovered by two researchers, Alfredo Moreno Bolaños, from Rio de Janeiro and Gilberto Hernández Vallecillo, who published the article in the summer of 2019. Nine miners in La Pañoleta, Camas (Seville). 07-19-1936, a preview of the work that was being carried out at the time on the impact on the Huelva mining basin of the coup d’état and the Civil War. But since then, nothing at all.
Be that as it may, the truth is that it has not been until now that the Beds Group of the Memory, Freedom and Democratic Culture Association has been able to take the step of transmitting this information in a formal way to the Cameroon Consistory, with the request to recognize their memory. . And, as confirmed by the mayor, Rafael Recio (PSOE), this will be done, putting their names on the mausoleum where his remains rest and on whose plaque the word ‘Unknown’ still appears four times.
“They all have names”
The investigation of Alfredo Moreno and Gilberto Hernández has allowed it to be known who the fallen of that Mining Column were. “They all have a name,” they point out, while contributing the total number of 78 murdered among the members of that expedition that was launched with dynamite (to blow up the Giralda, Queipo de Llano would say) and that was betrayed by the guards accompanying civilians, in theory loyal to the Second Republic.
The scene of this betrayal on July 19, 1936, a few hours after the coup, was the area of Camas known as La Pañoleta, the end and beginning of the Cuesta del Caracol, a few stone’s throw from Triana. The civil guards went ahead of the Mining Column and there they machine-gunned those who could not turn around in time. Nine died, among them the four protagonists so far without a name in this story, while two others were badly injured and died a few kilometers away, in the term of Sanlúcar la Mayor. 68 prisoners were taken, of whom 67 were shot on August 31, saving only Niño Méndez, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for being a minor, “although he was not,” the investigators emphasize.
Thrown to Pico Reja … in theory
It was in 2016 when tribute was paid to the nine miners who fell in La Pañoleta, transferring their remains to a mausoleum in the Camas cemetery along with the bodies of five other reprisals who, although they were found in the same area, were not part of the Mining column. In addition to these nine, the total number of 78 deceased is reached by adding the two buried in Sanlúcar la Mayor and the 67 shot, in theory then thrown into the common grave of Pico Reja in the Seville cemetery, in which today it is searched his trail next to that of Blas Infante and hundreds of other reprisals.
Now, the intention of the City Council of Camas to honor the four miners who are still unidentified are valued by these two researchers “very positively.” “We have been communicating it since 2019, but it is evident that the investigations must be documented and ours is sufficiently detailed,” they add. Among the hitherto unknown is Ricardo Caballero, who was a driver at the mine and everything seems to indicate that it was requisitioned together with the vehicles of the Rio Tinto Company Limited, as it can be deduced from a document signed by Lawrence Carr Hill, a member of the company’s British staff: “They took three cars before dinner, the new Packard with Ricardo, the Dodge and a Ford and a man came with an order signed by the civil governor, and he took 250 kilos of dynamite that was distributed among a lot of cars. ”
Five years of research
The identification that has cost them the most to document is that of Felipe Jara, “one of the cases detected after analyzing the orphanhood and beneficence of the Cuenca Minera, where his four children and widow appear as beneficiaries.” “It is evident that Felipe Jara Maya had two entries in the Civil Registry of Camas, one of the four existing in time and form as ‘An unknown man’ on July 19, 1936 and another as ‘out of time’ that was carried out on May 7, 1981 “, already in full democracy. This miner’s thread was pulled thanks to the web In memory of all the victims, which in turn took as source José María García Márquez, author of the work The victims of military repression in the province of Seville (1936-1963).
The results of the investigations of Alfredo Moreno and Gilberto Hernández are collected in their work Memory vindicated 1936-1939, presented a few months ago and defined as Study of the historical memory in the Río Tinto Mining Basin in the light of documentary sources. After five years reviewing 20,000 summary documents and archives, among his conclusions is the affiliation of the 78 miners who died: 12 from San Juan del Puerto, 14 from Valverde del Camino and 52 from the mining basin (especially Nerva, but also Riotinto ), among them Antonio Bonilla Demures, mayor of Nerve in October 1931, a fact corroborated thanks to the local researcher Antonio Vázquez Jiménez.
The “most demanding” area
And why in a few hours was this militia movement organized to defend Seville? The authors point out that the Huelva mining basin was “the most demanding, with political and union formations very left-wing,” with great affiliation to the PSOE and the CNT, UGT and especially the Río Tinto Mining Union. This, “together with the existence of explosives, perhaps determined the prompt action for the formation of the Mining Column”.
The 68 prisoners made in La Pañoleta were used by Queipo de Llano as an ace up his sleeve. The coup general “knew perfectly well that the committees formed for the defense of the Republic in the mining towns were equipped with weapons, explosives, bombs and armored trucks,” so “an important and threatening asset was kept over the mining militiamen to desist of his actions in the region, which was none other than intimidation for having prisoners from the Mining Column “. The fear in the area was that, before any action, they would retaliate with these detainees.
Conquest and executions
With the hands tied like this by the republican forces, the coup troops took the mining region between August 25 and 26, 1936, “and the reprisals began the same day.” Once in control of the area, events precipitated in Seville with a withering trial whose sentence was announced on July 30: 67 death sentences.
“Instructions are given below to form six firing squads made up of regular soldiers and the presence of six trucks at 5 a.m. on August 31; the places of execution chosen were: Macarena, Triana, Amate, Ciudad Jardín and La Pañoleta, with two platoons. ” Thus ended a story, that of the Mining Column, which will now finally be able to write its epilogue with a final tribute (which will also be translated into a monument) to the four unknown miners who are no longer so.