Wednesday, October 20

Those of the El Jaro gang: sad story of misery, juvenile delinquency and quinqui cinema


“This story is based on real events, although all the characters that appear in it are imaginary.” The camera opens to a field, the city in the background and the Carabanchel prison, where a lawyer meets El Jaro. Then, after a brief dialogue, the credit titles begin with the characteristic guitars of the Burning at the bottom.

It is the beginning of Navajeros (1980), a film directed by Eloy de la Iglesia and starring a newcomer José Luis Manzano, who adapted to the big screen the adventures of El Jaro, a well-known juvenile delinquent who died (as we will see) a year earlier.

José Joaquín Sánchez Frutos (Villatobas-Toledo, 1962 – Madrid, 1979) started stealing to eat. His mother, an alcoholic, locked him and his siblings with just a loaf of bread and a little chocolate. They, of course, learned to force the door and go find food.


They will travel to Madrid after their mother gets out of jail (where she enters after messing her up in one of her drunks), they go with their father by bus, with their clothes on, fleeing from bad fame. Their landing in the capital was a occupied house on Ofelia Nieto street, which was followed by another on the Barajas highway from which they would soon be evicted. Almost from the first moment, their father disappeared from their lives, leaving José Joaquín and his brothers at the mercy of survival instincts and begging.

But at the age of eight, El Jaro was already flying alone through the streets of northern Madrid. While his brothers Donato and Joaquín, and his sister María del Pilar, lived in a small apartment in the Valdeacederas neighborhood with a relative, he lived alone and only occasionally appeared there with problems on his heels. He still had another sister, Carmina, who lived with her mother and was abandoned when she entered a psychiatric facility.

1973 is the first line of an endless list of robberies, arrests and entries into reformatories. Although he is not yet of criminal age, his name is very familiar to the police. And it’s not just El Jaro, the band that inherits its name is made up of a handful of under-sixteen who have seen the film Stray dogs, they are reflected in that Torete and they are not behind the wheel of the stolen cars. They are, in addition to El Jaro, El Gasolina, El Melones, El Carlos, El Payaso, El Juanillo, El Villa, El Guille or El Gordo, whose nicknames are known through the press clippings that move in the neighborhoods and overshadow their real names.


Little by little, they begin to fall more frequently. On January 5, 1978, the arrest of 19-year-old Ángel Segura was published in the press; Celestino López, eighteen; Miguel Rodríguez Morales, seventeen, and Paloma Bellido. Only a month later, other members of the gang were arrested in an apartment in Tetuán and in a clearing on Los Yeros street (in La Ventilla), but not before crashing the Simca 1200 against the police vehicle. El Jaro fell and, shortly after, a score more, and the police considered the band dismantled. More than 200 pulls are attributed to them. In reality, the legend of El Jaro grew with each article that appeared in the newspaper and, furthermore, many of the boys soon escaped from reformatory.

After this first dislocation, El Jaro was admitted to a center in Lugo, an open regime center, from which he soon left freely: some of his colleagues came for him with the news that he was going to be a father.

In 1978 the gang had a confrontation with the Civil Guard in the course of a robbery of a Somosaguas villa in which El Jaro lost a testicle due to a gunshot. This is an event in his life in which Eloy de la Iglesia especially recreates himself in Navajeros, as happens with the death of the gang member José Villa García during the attempted robbery of another villa in Moratalaz.

On February 24, 1979, the expected end for a biography like El Jaro’s arrived. They were going around with a stolen Seat 131 and ended up in the street of Toribio Pollán (today Veracruz, by El Viso). They saw a man in his fifties get out of a car and, in the dead of night, decided to rush him to rob him. The victim was going to have a drink at the house of a friend, who saw through the window the razors surrounding his guest and came down with his Beretta shotgun, 12 gauge. He fired, according to the police station, to scare away the gang members, but the Cartridge lodged in the body of El Jaro, who died shortly after. The press never published the identity of the author of the shooting – in El País they called him the four million from Madrid– and the magistrates who instructed the case did not see it necessary to judge him either.

Death found him with 16, a handful of newspaper clippings with his name on the pins and a son on the way, who was still on the front page by journalists from El Caso. The son of El JaroIt could be read, referring to David, who years later would be searched again by journalists, who asked about him in the Barrio del Pilar.

During his stay in the Santo Anxo sheltered center for minors, in Rábade, El Jaro was treated by the psychologist Ángeles Luengo, who classifies him as “a child who was playing to be older.” As counted In an interview the facultative, “you could say that he had some psychopathic traits. He was the leader of his band, so we tried to make him the leader of the school. He took care of the study of the other children, by our side, and we gave him a very personalized treatment” . With El Jaro, he could not carry out the reintegration work that he would have wanted – and that he believed was possible -; Nor with El Guille (who lived in his house for a few weeks but was detained by the police), although he did with another of the gang’s lieutenants, who was able to rebuild his life. Either Fernando Saleta Tato He was able to move forward with El Jaro, whom he met during his stay in the Zamora prison (a center to which juvenile delinquents who were not yet criminal age but were considered dangerous were taken at the time). Later, he and his partner rented a cheap apartment in La Ventilla and dedicated himself to lending a hand to the epigones of El Jaro who roamed there.

The robberies of the El Jaro gang must be understood within a Northern Madrid that is not the one of today, where the wealthiest neighborhoods were still making their way between wastelands, slums and unpaved streets. There is nothing left of the old low houses of Peña Chica and the Paseo de la Dirección area has been allowed to die for the sake of progress. Those were their domains and the tensions of geography made them move to give the stick to the neighboring neighborhoods of El Viso or, Barrio del Pilar through, to Mirasierra.

In the book The lives that inhabit me. The old Buenos Aires warehouse, which tells the story of an establishment that was located on Villaamil Street, some memories of former residents of the disappeared neighborhood of Peña Chica are collected. Among them, those of César, who recalls the days of the band: “There was the band of Jaro, that of Carahuevo. Once a police car went by chasing one on a motorcycle. The one with the motorcycle entered the soccer field and the police could not enter. The one who was on the motorcycle was El Jaro. Actually, they weren’t all that dangerous individuals. For people from outside the neighborhood maybe yes ”. This point is confirmed by another neighbor at the time: “I remember that when I had my first car, I left it open and if I was missing the radio, I knew who had taken it. He would go to his house and tell him: “Give me back the radio, it’s mine.” And the other one gave it back to me. For the people of the neighborhood there was no problem ”.

It was not the first time in history that the press devoted space to the ragged people of the suburbs entering the center of the city, or to the bourgeois neighborhoods, to spread panic. There is a scene in Navajeros which well reflects the lumpen twinning breaking out beyond their dominions. In it, El Butano, El Jaro’s friend, decides to go and avenge him in a bar after a group of thugs led by El Marqués (Enrique San Francisco) humiliate his partner. The juvenile delinquent says: “we are going tonight, but we have to link up many kids, we have to call those of the Menkes gang, those of Gasolina, those of Quique, the whole baska from Chamartín, to those from La Ventilla, to those from Tetuán … EVERYONE has to go, EVERYONE. “And then dozens of kids are seen frantically descending the subway stairs, on their way to the bar.


The generation quinqui He was a victim of the misery of emigration in absorption towns, a side of the supposed modernity that Madrid sold abroad and an uncomfortable reality for romantic apologists of quinqui aestheticism. Because of that fashion for movies starring juvenile delinquents, who made headlines and then died prematurely, many kids wanted to be El Pirri (El Nene de Navajeros). What other avenue of escape did the future hold for them? But El Pirri, with his fourteen films on his curriculum, died of an overdose in Vicálvaro. José Luis Manzano and Eloy de la Iglesia would also end up very badly.

Joaquín Sabina composed that of Macarra in tight trousers… for Thumbelina to sing (What too much! A song for El Jaro) the same year as Navajeros it was being released in theaters. However, could the chorus of one of the songs that appear in the film be the epitaph of that entire generation? And you have no tears left.





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