Thursday, September 21

The mural of Justa Freire, vandalized for the fourth time: attacks against tributes to women follow one another in Madrid

The mural in homage to the Republican teacher Justa Freire, located in the Las Águilas neighborhood of the Latin District, was vandalized again last Tuesday, August 2. Specifically, as reported and documented through social networks by groups and individuals who have moved to the place, a graffiti places a crosshair on the head of the portrait of Justa Freire.

Cervantes, the school that Justa Freire and other teachers turned into an example for the world

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With this there are already four times in which this artistic tribute, created less than five months ago, suffers an attack of similar characteristics. A dynamic against the memory of female and feminist references that in recent years has been repeated with some regularity in different parts of Madrid.

The Unlogic Crew art collective managed to complete this mural in homage to the Republican teacher Justa Freire a week after the Municipal Police prevent a group of citizens summoned by the Platform by the name of Maestra Justa Freire street make it happen. The painting can be seen on a wall located at the intersection of Blas Cabrera and Maestra Justa Freire streets, renamed Millán Astray since August 2021.

Those responsible for the painting, Unlogic Crew, are a group that was also in charge of creating the feminist mural of Ciudad Lineal with the residents of the neighborhood, another paradigmatic example of vandalization against a work of urban art dedicated to equality and memory. Recovered months later, on those walls you can see the faces of fifteen pioneering women, including Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks or cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

On March 8, 2021, he suffered an attack with paint that hid the face of these figures, in a context where the municipal plenary had approved its deletion at the proposal of Vox to replace it with another drawing (finally Ciudadanos changed its position and prevented the consummation of the affront ).

Just one day before that act of vandalism, another was perpetrated in Alcalá de Henares, precisely against a replica of the Ciudad Lineal mural. The faces of Clara Campoamor, Ana María Matute, Margarita Salas, Blanca Fernández Ochoa, María Zambrano, María Isidra de Guzmán, Catalina de Aragón, Dolors Aleu, Francisca de Pedraza and Gata Cattana were covered by paint. Everything happened 24 hours after the former Vice President of the Government Carmen Calvo visited the work.

cruelty against memory

This vandalism has also been a constant in plaques such as that of Yolanda González, a 19-year-old student kidnapped and shot to death in a terrorist act perpetrated by militants of the far-right party Fuerza Nueva in 1980. In the Aluche neighborhood, a metal plate is trying to preserve its memory, but it has suffered several attacks since it was installed on November 18, 2019 in the gardens of the same name.

The poster was first outraged with the drawing of a swastika that covered the writing on the plaque in black: “Yolanda González Martín was a student leader, worker and member of the Socialist Workers Party. She fought for real democracy, justice, and social and labor rights. In February 1980 she was kidnapped from her house, in the Aluche neighborhood, and murdered by a fascist commando. She was 19 years old. These gardens are dedicated to the memory of her, that she lives on. 1961-1980”.

The neighbors themselves cleaned the swastika that crossed out the inscription. On the next occasion, the methods were more savage: they ripped the plaque off. Luckily, a neighbor rescued her from a container and returned her to the neighborhood. She was re-welded to the post, and was again painted and stripped. It was replaced by a green laminated poster with the same text, accompanied by two bouquets of flowers. Nor was there compassion with the response of the neighborhood. Only the plastics of the flowers remained on the post. Yolanda González’s name has been rediscovered by neighbors, dissolving the paint and leaving a black drip under the sign.

A similar cruelty has suffered the plate of Cristina Ortiz “La Veneno”, a reference to the group of trans people murdered in 2016, located in the Parque del Oeste. It was ripped out just a week after it was placed, in April 2019. It was not until December 2020 that the Madrid City Council, already with Almeida at the helm, decided to replace it.

However, on March 7, 2021 (again on a date close to 8M) he was the victim of a new vandalism. She appeared covered with the message “You are Patriarchy. Down with the Montero Law”, in reference to the debate regarding the Trans Law of the Ministry of Equality led by Irene Montero.

Justa Freire: referent of education and pedagogy

Brought up in a rural school in her native Zamora, Justa Freire developed a large part of her career as a teacher and pedagogue at the legendary Cervantes School Center, located in Cuatro Caminos, since 1921. The school was a shock to a suburban orphan of schools, more beyond some small centers run by teachers in homes and schools sponsored by the Catholic Church.

Freire was in charge of social action, which included extracurricular activities, relations with families or the dining room, among other matters that gave him a special closeness to the students. He was the fundamental pillar of some of the center’s most ambitious educational endeavors, such as the nursery school or teacher training.

During the Republic, she would pass the oppositions to director of graduate schools, being appointed director of the Alfredo Calderón school (currently Padre Poveda). She thus became one of the first women to lead a men’s team in a school. During the republican years she participated in the Pedagogical Missions and published texts on this discipline that she was so passionate about.

At the end of the war, Justa Freire served a sentence in the Ventas prison, accused by a former colleague of having brought secularist practices to his classrooms and “having sung a song with Russian lyrics with his students on one occasion.” During the two years that she remained imprisoned, she was in charge, along with other repressed teachers such as María Sánchez Arbós, of the adult school. This is why she has on occasion named them as the teachers of the Thirteen Roses. A benchmark in the field of education, precisely something that those who commit all these acts of vandalism are very lacking.