Sueca, early morning on September 11, 1981. The essayist Joan Fuster (1922-1992) is at his house on Calle de Sant Josep number 10, where he meets professors Jaume Pérez Montaner and Vicent Sanvador Liern. At 5.30 they hear a loud explosion. They go out into the street, other neighbors also look out to see what has happened and see one of the windows on the ground floor shattered. They observe that smoke is still coming out. Pérez Montaner approaches, verifies that there is another device and, just in time, the night owls take refuge in the house. A neighbor flies two meters due to the shock wave. The attack was designed to provoke a real carnage.
The damage even affects the bar in front of the essayist’s house and several vehicles. Also to the splendid library of the writer and part of his art collection. “Everything indicates that it was an attack by the traditional Francoist extreme right with direct connections with ultra people from the Army and the Police,” journalist Francesc Bayarri, author of Matar Joan Fuster (i altres històries), edited by Austrohongaresa de Vapors.
The writer has investigated in depth this attack, which marks 40 years this Saturday, against the most prominent essayist who, in the middle of Franco’s wasteland, invented himself in Nosaltres els valencians (published in 1962) a proposal for a modern Valencian Country, which has served as a guide, discussion or target of various anger for several generations. Joan Fuster —heterodox, caustic and wise— thus became the target of choice for ultra illiteracy, who did not even read the essay. Even today he is an uncomfortable author, showing (posthumous) his intellectual stature.
Bayarri’s book, which is about to see the second edition, carefully reviews the attack and rescues from oblivion the judicial and police documentation to which, after a titanic effort, it has managed to access. “The judicial file was in a file of the Ministry of Justice about to be expunged, I got the Swedish judge to ask for it, then she returned to that file and, from what a historian who was doing the thesis told me, it was finally expunged “, says the journalist. “Luckily I have a copy,” he adds.
Francesc Bayarri, author of one of the best investigative journalism books written in Valencian (Appointment to Sarajevo), also obtained part of the police documentation on the attack against Fuster. Thus, their findings reveal that the summary for that attack barely has 40 pages. The judge, who did not even wait to obtain the police report on the explosive (it was rubber 2), initiated proceedings for a crime of damages, punishable by the Penal Code then in force with a simple fine. “There are police data that continue not to be made public, of which I have obtained some documents that are not the most important,” warns the author of Matar Joan Fuster (i altres històries).
“The bombs that have been about to kill the most important Valencian intellectual of the 20th century, two of his friends and three neighbors from Sueca – also friends – have merited forty pages of investigation and only one month – less a day – of judicial effort . Case closed “, writes Bayarri in his book. “It is striking that the judge does not even wait to receive reports that he himself has requested,” the journalist declared on the eve of the anniversary of the bomb.
Historian Borja Ribera, author of a doctoral thesis on violence during the Transition, agrees on the ultra authorship of the attack. “The judicial investigation was a laugh, they closed everything. What is known is because Bayarri consulted the file before they cleaned the file,” he assures this newspaper. “Everything seems to indicate that it was decided, in this case as in all the other attacks by the extreme right, simply not to investigate,” says Francesc Bayarri.
The attack on Fuster’s house came just 24 hours after a series of attacks, the first in Valencian territory, by Terra Lliure, an armed independence group. The confidential report of the Regional Information Brigade argues that the explosive against Fuster is in retaliation for the attack by Terra Lliure against the Civil Government building in the Plaza del Temple in Valencia.
“Everything indicates that these are explosives from an Army magazine supplied in a record time of 24 hours,” says Bayarri. “Preparing an attack of these characteristics in 24 hours is surprising, all these attacks come from the traditional extreme right and from vigilante groups,” concludes historian Borja Ribera.
The explosion at Fuster’s house aroused a wave of solidarity: a tribute was held at the University of Valencia (UV) and a massive event in the Plaza de Toros de Valencia. In retaliation, the former UV headquarters in the La Nau building suffered another attack in which three workers from the academic institution were injured. One of the victims lost a foot in the blast.
“They did not arrest anyone either for the La Nau bomb or for the one at Fuster’s house, while in those of Terra Lliure there were several detainees, it is a dynamic that is repeated throughout the Transition”, explains Borja Ribera, who adds: “Demonstrating does not prove anything, but it gives a lot to think about.” “It was a constant at the time,” recalls Bayarri.
The civic activity and public appearances of the writer suffered “not only because of the attack but also because of the climate of disenchantment,” says the journalist, now head of the press at the University of Valencia. Francesc Pérez Moragón, Fuster’s biographer and contributor to this newspaper, also points to the disenchantment of the Transition but recalls that the writer’s work was already fully consolidated at that time.
Joan Fuster’s house, which had already been attacked with a low-power device on October 18, 1978, always had the door open for anyone who wanted to talk for a while over drinks and cigarettes. “For many years it was a source of cultural irradiation, a meeting place for writers, visual artists, politicians, activists and, in general, people from the world of culture”, explains Salvador Ortells, director of the Espai Joan Fuster.
The author of Nosaltres els valencians (and a vast additional work insufficiently explored) “he participated in cultural and social life through numerous initiatives and was always willing to exercise his teaching among the youngest,” adds Ortells. The house is today the house-museum dedicated to the writer and has a documentation center that preserves and manages the essayist’s funds, a didactic classroom for schoolchildren and teachers and a space with the art collection bequeathed by Fuster to Sueca, which includes originals by Josep Renau, Antoni Tàpies, Joan Miró or sculptures by Andreu Alfaro.
The memory of Joan Fuster lives on four decades after that night the extreme right tried to kill him.