Spain salutes Mexican sanctuary from Franco

4th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 October 2005, MADRID — One of Spain's top universities paid homage the late Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas and 200 scholars who were given refuge in Mexico after the fascist victory in their country's 1936-39 civil war.

4 October 2005

MADRID —  One of Spain's top universities paid homage the late Mexican president Lazaro Cardenas and 200 scholars who were given refuge in Mexico after the fascist victory in their country's 1936-39 civil war.

They were among some 20,000 Spaniards who were given refuge there.

On hand for the ceremony at Madrid's Universidad Complutense, were Cardenas's widow, Amalia Solorzano, son Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and grandchildren.

The event was presided over by Spanish culture minister Carmen Calvo, university chancellor Carlos Berzosa and writer Juan Manuel Caballero Bonald, and included notables such as the long time leader of Spain's Communist Party, Santiago Carrillo; historian Nicolas Sanchez Albornoz and singers Ana Belen, Victor Manuel and Rosa Leon.

In his opening remarks, an emotional Berzosa said that Francisco Franco's triumph in the civil war drove into exile "the cream" of Spanish learning and that of the scholars left behind, those who avoided the firing squad, "were also condemned to a long and sad internal exile".

The sciences and humanities sustained "a mortal blow," the chancellor said, describing the flight of so many scholars and researchers as "the drain of a substantial part of the human capital of Spanish culture".

The ranks of the 215 university professors who found "their second homeland" in Mexico included physicist Pedro Carrasco, chemist Jose Giral and naturalist Ignacio Bolivar, as well as physiologist Severo Ochoa, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1956.

Calvo recalled Cardenas as a "key Spanish figure" by virtue of the support he provided to the civil war refugees.

She said those refugees - numbering more than 20,000 - were not just members of the intelligentsia, "60 percent were farmers, 30 percent were technicians and skilled workers and 10 percent were intellectuals".

The exiles, Calvo said, "went on defending the values of liberty and dignity".

Author Caballero Bonald hailed "the refuge, the solidarity and the employment" the civil war exiles found waiting for them in Mexico, whose embrace of the Spanish refugees established a "universal paradigm".

"Scientists, historians, artists, writers, poets could pursue there (in Mexico) their work of investigation" even as other nations refused to help them, Caballero Bonald said.

He wondered aloud "what would have become of that fundamental part of our culture" without Mexico's generosity, a gesture he said left him "moved as a Spaniard, as a republican and as a writer".

Cuauhtemoc Cardenas Batel, grandson of the late president, said that the Mexico of the late 1930s "understood like no one else the gravity of the Spanish Civil War" and that his grandfather's government spoke out against Franco in international forums at a time "when France, England and the United States preferred to wash their hands of the whole affair".

Cardenas Batel is the son of a better known Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, a left-leaning Mexican politician and former presidential candidate who was the son of Lazaro.

Even before the end of Spain's civil war, Mexico took in some 500 children from the Iberian nation at the behest of a group of influential women led by then-first lady Amalia Solorzano.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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