Friday, May 27

The Basque Country pays tribute to the 2,194 Basques shot during the Franco regime


Heliodoro Patricio Jorge Laca was executed by Court Martial in January 1938, and buried in the Derio cemetery. He was a native of Ortuella, a resident of Barakaldo, an assault guard, he was married and the father of 4 children. Juan José Valdivielso Labrador was shot by a War Council in Gijón, in November 1937, and buried in the municipality’s cemetery. He was a native of Ondarroa and a neighbor, he was a widower when they killed him. Florencia Olazagoitia Ceciaga was extrajudicially executed in Oiartzun in November 1936 and buried in the municipal cemetery. She was a native and resident of Arrasate-Mondragón. She had three children and was pregnant when she was killed.

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They are three of the 2,194 people shot during the Civil War and the post-war period in Euskadi and, this Saturday, they have been honored in an act in which their relatives have been present. “They defended a just cause: freedom, the defense of their country and its self-government, social justice, democratic principles and values. Today we say it, once again loud and clear: they were unpunished and unjustly executed. They gave everything, today we want to recognize, honor and restore their dignity. We do so by collecting their witness and reaffirming our commitment to democratic principles and values ​​against totalitarianism and intolerance”, said the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, in charge of presiding over the act that took place in the Vista Alegre cemetery in Bilbao, in Derio .

According to the research on fatalities of the Civil War in the Basque Country by the Institute of Memory, Coexistence and Human Rights (Gogora), there are 2,194 people executed, approximately half of them civilians, of which 60 are women and 2,134 are men. “Many of the victims to whom he pays homage today were shot against the walls of the Vista Alegre cemetery itself, walls that today are a symbol of Francoist barbarism and, above all, a symbol of dignity, memory and the fight for freedom and democracy”, explained Urkullu.



“War is always a tragedy, in every way”

During the act, Maite Canedo, granddaughter of Heliodoro Patricio Jorge Laca, Rosario Valdivielso, 100 years old, daughter of Juan José Valdivielso Labrador and Mª Natividad Roa, granddaughter of Florencia Olazagoitia Ceciaga, remembered their relatives and expressed what it meant for their family their death. Later, the lehendakari took the floor to point out what a war meant, both then and now, for example, in Ukraine: “War is always a tragedy, in every way, especially when it comes to fundamental rights. ”, he insisted.

The attendees have been able to see on video, an account of the way in which the rebel side carried out the executions, both by court martial or extrajudicially, in each territory of the Basque Country, where the main figures of victims have also been exposed. The video also includes photographs of the victims, as well as their last reflections collected in the farewell letters addressed to their families, who had the opportunity to do so.

Once the interventions in the cloister area of ​​the cemetery were completed, the authorities, accompanied by the families, moved to one of the walls where the executions were carried out and even today you can see the bullet holes in the the stone wall itself. On both sides of one of the walls that remains today, two commemorative plaques have been installed against the sides of the rows of niches with the names of the people executed and buried in the Derio cemetery, 523 people in total. Relatives, two for each of the plates, have discovered them, before the authorities, and the rest of the relatives and assistants.





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