UH Professor to Open Astros Game in Celebration of Cinco de Mayo

HOUSTON, TX—Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, a University of Houston professor and the founder/director of the Hispanic literature publishing house, Arte Público Press, will throw the opening pitch of the Astro’s game against the Detroit Tigers in Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 5, 2022, in recognition of Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated in the United States to commemorate the Mexican roots of many citizens.

NICOLÁS KANELLOS is the Brown Foundation professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston and founder-director of Arte Público Press, the most accomplished publisher of US Hispanic literature. He is a fellow of the Ford, Lilly and Gulbenkian Foundations and of the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 1988, he was awarded the White House Hispanic Heritage Award and in 1989 the American Book Award in the Publisher/Editor category. The author of numerous books on US Hispanic literature and theatre, Dr. Kanellos was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate to serve on the National Council on the Humanities. He also directs the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, a national project to locate, study, index and commit to print and electronic media the whole of US Hispanic literature from colonial times to 1960.

ARTE PÚBLICO PRESS is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint serve as a bridge from home to school to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity. For more information, please visit artepublicopress.com.

¡Escucha mujer!, voces en lucha en los años 20

Por Yanina Hernández y Javier R. Franco

Dentro del programa Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery) existen distintos proyectos encauzados a recuperar y conservar el legado hispano en los Estados Unidos. Uno de estos proyectos es el “Periodicals in the US-Mexico Border Region”, cuya misión se enfoca en preservar las publicaciones periódicas de la zona fronteriza de Estados Unidos y México. Para esto, es necesario digitalizar los periódicos y, simultáneamente, registrar sus datos como fecha y origen de publicación, editor, idioma y una descripción de las condiciones físicas de cada página. Después de semanas o meses, volvemos a revisar los periódicos escaneados, del proyecto ya mencionado, para verificar más detalles de la publicación, o para buscar otra información como las dimensiones de las páginas y palabras clave sobre el contenido del periódico. 

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 8 Marzo 1928. Número 2.

Un periódico que sobresale por varias razones y capta nuestra atención es Avante. Avante es un periódico del anarquista Librado Rivera (1864-1932) que fue publicado en Villa Cecilia, Tamaulipas, México durante los años 1927-1930 (Alcayaga Sasso y Trejo Muñoz). A través de las publicaciones que incluía, Rivera valoraba los grupos marginalizados, entre ellos los niños, la clase obrera y las mujeres. De los ejemplares de Avante, el más antiguo que se encuentra en la colección (“Periodicals in the US-Mexico Border Region”) es el de la fecha 8 de marzo de 1928. En esa fecha, uno de los titulares publicados en primera plana fue el que más atrapó nuestra lectura porque justamente el 8 de marzo es el Día Internacional de la Mujer.

El origen del Día Internacional de la Mujer nos lleva a distintas fechas. La primera es el 8 de marzo de 1857, cuando las mujeres trabajadoras de la industria textil se organizaron en una huelga para exigir salarios justos y condiciones laborales más dignas. Estas mujeres fueron detenidas por la policía y no se les fueron concedidas. 51 años después, el 8 de marzo de 1908, quince mil mujeres tomaron las calles para exigir mejor salario, menos horas de trabajo y la prohibición del trabajo infantil. También, en ese dia, un suceso trascendental marcó la historia del trabajo en el mundo entero: 129 mujeres murieron en un incendio en la fábrica Cotton, de Nueva York, Estados Unidos, luego de que se declararan en huelga con permanencia en su lugar de trabajo.  Como resultado de las huelgas y de la muerte de esas mujeres, surgió el Día Internacional de la Mujer que se propuso durante la Internacional Socialista que tuvo lugar en Dinamarca en 1910. El primer Día Internacional de la Mujer en varios países europeos y en los Estados Unidos se conmemoró el 18 de marzo de 1911. Al caer la monarquía en Rusia, se concedió el voto femenino el 23 de febrero de 1917 según el calendario juliano. De acuerdo al calendario gregoriano, esa fecha es el 8 de marzo. En 1975, la Organización de las Naciones Unidas conmemoró el Día Internacional de la Mujer por primera vez. 

El ejemplar de Avante que se publicó el 8 de marzo contiene un artículo de Florinda Mondini titulado “Escucha mujer” y aparece en la primera plana. En el artículo, Mondini les exige a las mujeres a sublevarse de las condiciones en las que están y a no seguir las expectativas que el hombre tiene sobre ellas sino alcanzar la libertad a través del pensamiento. No sabemos con detalles quién fue Florinda Mondini; lo que sí sabemos es su origen. El artículo mencionado lo firma con su nombre desde Tandil, Argentina. También Mondini publicó en Nuestra Tribuna, un periódico argentino redactado y administrado por mujeres entre los años 1922-1925 de acuerdo al sitio web AmericaLee. Decidimos aprovechar este medio para continuar escuchando la voz de Mondini a través de sus palabras de inspiración y acción que continúan vigentes hoy en día: 

Pongamos toda nuestra voluntad para superarnos
Instruyámonos compañeras para alcanzar la libertad deseada
Rompamos las cadenas que nos atan al pasado
Rompamos la venda que nos impide mirar hacia el futuro. (Florinda Mondini, “Escucha Mujer”)

Entre los números de Avante con los que contamos en la colección, queremos destacar las publicaciones escritas por mujeres. El número del 15 de mayo de 1928, publica un poema titulado “Rebélate, pueblo amado” de Felipa Velázquez que llama a la necesidad de la igualdad y la libertad. El poema lo firma desde Navojoa, Sinaloa, julio de 1927. Velázquez también escribió para otros números de Avante, escribió por ejemplo el manifiesto anarquista  “El Credo” con fecha del 1 de septiembre del mismo año que satiriza las creencias religiosas mientras invita a la emancipación de dichas creencias. El espíritu de lucha contra las injusticias sociales llevó a Velázquez, junto con sus hijos, a ser apresada en las Islas Marías (Colonia Penal Federal Islas Marías) por unos meses en 1931. La imagen de Velázquez representa a las mujeres y los movimientos de trabajadores agrarios de Baja California del periodo posrevolucionario (Hernández 2015). 

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 10 de Sept. 1929. Número 43.

“A la mujer” de María Seijo es un artículo también publicado en Avante el 10 de septiembre de 1929 que critica la sumisión de la mujer que promueve la religión e incita a las mujeres a reflexionar y liberar su espíritu del fanatismo religioso. De acuerdo con el sitio web de la CNT Galiza (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo en Galicia, España), Seijo estuvo encarcelada en La Habana, Cuba con sus dos hijos y esposo en el año de 1931. Seijo fue liberada con sus hijos unas semanas después, pero no lo fue su esposo. 

En los trabajos publicados en Avante tanto por Velázquez como por Seijo, las demandas y los llamamientos invitan a las mujeres a despojarse de la sumisión y tomar acción contra el sistema opresor del Estado y la Iglesia. El proyecto de preservar archivos mantiene vivas las voces que han contribuido en la historia como las de Seijo, Velázquez y Mondini.

El proyecto “Periodicals in the US-Mexico Border Region” está financiado por una beca Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives del Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Bibliografía

Alcayaga Sasso, Mónica y Rubén Trejo Muñoz. Archivo Histórico Librado Rivera y los Hermanos Rojos. www.libradorivera.com/inicio.html Accessed 3 Mar. 2022.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 8 Marzo 1928. Número 2.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 15 de Mayo 1928. Número 6.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 1 de Sept. 1928. Número 1.3

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 10 de Sept. 1929. Número 43.

Fischer, Andrea. “La Dolorosa Historia Detrás Del Día Internacional De La Mujer.” National Geographic En Español, 27 Jan. 2022, https://www.ngenespanol.com/traveler/la-dolorosa-historia-detras-del-dia-internacional-de-la-mujer/. 

Hernández, Sonia. “Revisiting Mexican(a) Labor History through Feminismo Transfronterista: From Tampico to Texas and Beyond, 1910–1940.” Frontiers (Boulder), vol. 36, no. 3, University of Nebraska Press, 2015, pp. 107–36, https://doi.org/10.5250/fronjwomestud.36.3.0107

Nuestra Tribuna. Quincenario femenino de ideas, arte, crítica y literatura. AméricaLEE, El portal de revistas latinoamericanas del CeDInCI. https://americalee.cedinci.org/portfolio-items/nuestra-tribuna/


Yanina Hernández es estudiante de doctorado en el departamento de estudios hispanos. Sus intereses académicos incluyen el español como idioma de herencia, el aprendizaje de español, la sociolinguística y la creación de material OER (Open Educational Resources) para cursos de español.

Javier Franco es estudiante de doctorado en el Departamento de español de la Universidad de Houston. Sus intereses incluyen estudios del trauma, teoría queer, estudios de filme y media y el travestismo en la literatura mexicana de los siglos XX y XXI.

¡Escucha mujer!: Voices in the Struggle (1920s)

By Yanina Hernández y Javier R. Franco

The Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery) program undertakes various projects aimed at recovering and preserving the Hispanic legacy in the United States. One of these projects is “Periodicals in the US-Mexico Border Region,” which focuses on preserving periodicals published on the United States-Mexico border. In order to do this, Recovery staff digitize the newspapers and, simultaneously, register their data, such as the date and origin of publication, publisher, language and a description of the physical conditions of each page. After weeks or months, we go back through the scanned newspapers from the aforementioned project to verify more details of the publication or to look for other information such as the dimensions of the pages and document keywords about the newspaper’s content.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 8 Marzo 1928. Número 2.

A newspaper that stands out for various reasons and captures our attention is Avante. Avante is a newspaper by the anarchist Librado Rivera (1864-1932) that was published in Villa Cecilia, Tamaulipas, Mexico during the years 1927-1930 (Alcayaga Sasso and Trejo Muñoz). The publications included in Avante suggest that Rivera valued marginalized groups, including children, the working class, and women. The oldest issue of Avante in this collection is dated March 8, 1928 (“Periodicals in the US-Mexico Border Region”). One of the headlines published on this issue’s front page caught our attention because March 8 is International Women’s Day.

The origin of International Women’s Day takes us to different dates. The first is on March 8, 1857, when women working in the textile industry organized a strike to demand fair wages and more decent working conditions. The police detained the women and the textile companies did not grant their demands. 51 years later, on March 8, 1908, fifteen thousand women took to the streets to demand better pay, shorter working hours and a ban on child labor. That same day, a fire broke out at the Cotton factory in New York, United States, killing 129 women after they had declared a sit-in strike in the factory. As a result of the strikes and the death of these women, International Women’s Day was proposed during the Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1910. 

The first International Women’s Day was commemorated on March 18, 1911 in several European countries and in the United States. When the monarchy fell in Russia, women’s suffrage was granted on February 23, 1917 according to the Julian calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, that date is March 8. The United Nations Organization commemorated International Women’s Day for the first time in 1975.

The March 8, 1908 issue of Avante contains a front-page article by Florinda Mondinititled “Escucha mujer”. In the article, Mondini demands that women rise up from unfair conditions they are in and insists that they can attain freedom through thought, rather than following men’s expectations. We do not know the details of Florinda Mondini’s life, but we can gather some insight from this article. The mentioned article is signed with her name from Tandil, Argentina. Mondini also published in Nuestra Tribuna, an Argentine newspaper written and managed by women between the years 1922-1925 according to the AmericaLee website. We decided to take advantage of this medium to continue amplifying Mondini’s voice through her words of inspiration and action that continue to be valid today:

Pongamos toda nuestra voluntad para superarnos
Instruyámonos compañeras para alcanzar la libertad deseada
Rompamos las cadenas que nos atan al pasado
Rompamos la venda que nos impide mirar hacia el futuro. 

[Let’s put all our will toward improving ourselves
Let’s educate ourselves, compañeras, to achieve the desired freedom
Let's break the chains that bind us to the past
Let's break the blindfold that prevents us from looking toward the future.] (Florinda Mondini, “Escucha Mujer”)

We want to highlight some of the Avante articles written by women that we found in this collection. Felipa Velázquez’s poem, “Rebélate, pueblo amado” [Rise Up, Beloved People], appeared in the May 15, 1928 issue and  calls for the need for equality and freedom. The poem is signed from Navojoa, Sinaloa, July 1927. Velázquez also wrote for other issues of Avante, including, for example, the  anarchist manifesto, “El Credo” dated September 1 of the same year, which satirizes religious beliefs while inviting the relinquishing of said beliefs. Because of her strong commitment to social justice, Velasquez and her children were imprisoned in the Islas Marías Federal Penal Colony (Colonia Penal Federal Islas Marías) for a few months in 1931. The image of Velázquez represents women and workers’ agrarian movements of Baja California in the post-revolutionary period (Hernández 2015). 

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, México. 10 de Sept. 1929. Número 43.

María Seijo’s article, “A la mujer,” appeared in Avante on September 10, 1929. In this article, Seijo  criticizes the submission of women who promote religion and encourages women to reflect and free their spirit from religious fanaticism. According to the CNT Galiza (National Confederation of Labor in Galicia, Spain) website, Seijo was imprisoned in Havana, Cuba, along with her two children and husband in 1931. Seijo was released with her children a few weeks later, but her husband was not. 

The demands and appeals  published in Avante by both Velázquez and Seijo invite women to cast off their submission and take action against the oppressive system of the Church and State. Archival preservation work helps to keep historic voices, such as those of Seijo, Velázquez and Mondini, alive.

The “Periodicals in the US-Mexico Border Region” project is funded by a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Works cited

Alcayaga Sasso, Mónica and Rubén Trejo Muñoz. Archivo Histórico Librado Rivera y los Hermanos Rojos. www.libradorivera.com/inicio.html Accessed 3 Mar. 2022.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, Mexico. 8 Marzo 1928. No. 2.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, Mexico. 15 May 1928. Número 6.

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, Mexico. 1 de Sept. 1928. No. 1.3

Avante, Quincenal de Ideas, Doctrina y Combate, Villa Cecilia Tamaulipas, Mexico. 10 de Sept. 1929. No. 43.

Fischer, Andrea. “La Dolorosa Historia Detrás Del Día Internacional De La Mujer.” National Geographic En Español, 27 Jan. 2022, https://www.ngenespanol.com/traveler/la-dolorosa-historia-detras-del-dia-internacional-de-la-mujer/. 

Hernández, Sonia. “Revisiting Mexican(a) Labor History through Feminismo Transfronterista: From Tampico to Texas and Beyond, 1910–1940.” Frontiers (Boulder), vol. 36, no. 3, University of Nebraska Press, 2015, pp. 107–36, https://doi.org/10.5250/fronjwomestud.36.3.0107

Nuestra Tribuna. Quincenario femenino de ideas, arte, crítica y literatura. AméricaLEE, El portal de revistas latinoamericanas del CeDInCI. https://americalee.cedinci.org/portfolio-items/nuestra-tribuna/


Yanina Hernández is a PhD student in the Hispanic Studies Department. Her research interests include Spanish as a heritage language, Spanish language acquisition, sociolinguistics and the development of OER material for Spanish language courses.

Javier Franco is a PhD student in the Hispanic Studies Department. His research interests include trauma studies, queer theory, film & media studies, and transvestism in 20th and 21st century Mexican literature.

Mujeres a la lucha: Ernestina González at New York’s Royal Windsor

[Image: “Habla usted español” (Do you speak Spanish? Read “La Voz”), La Voz, 119 July 1937. New York Public Library Archives, General Research Division.]

By Ana María Díaz-Marcos, University of Connecticut

Translated by Javier Franco

On December 22, 1937, La voz published the article “Mujeres a la lucha” [“Women, to the cause”], which contained a speech given a few days earlier by Ernestina González Rodríguez (1899-1976) at the Royal Windsor Theater in New York. The event took place during the festival for the militiamen’s bonus, organized by the Comités Femeninos Unidos [United Women’s Committees]. Ernestina González is lesser known than the other three Spanish signatures that appear on La voz’s “Página de la Mujer” [Women’s Page] in those same months (Margarita Nelken, Dolores Ibárruri and Federica Montseny), but she is a highly-relevant figure in the political arena of the time. She was born in Medina del Pomar (Burgos), studied at the University of Salamanca and worked as a librarian at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking at the University of Madrid when the war broke out. Her first stay in the United States was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she likely taught Spanish during the 1926-1927 academic year.

“Mujer española que defiendes” [Spanish woman who defends], La voz, 14 April 1938. New York Public Library Archives, General Research Division.

This teacher, librarian and activist maintained an active political agenda in the United States, particularly in New York, where she resided for at least two decades. She founded the Comités Femeninos Unidos [United Women’s Committees] and was a member of the Comité Pro Diario Hispano [Hispanic Pro Newspaper Committee] that organized the publishing company The Spanish Newspaper Corporation that began publishing La voz in the summer of 1937. In April of that same year, the Daily Worker newspaper collected a biographical profile highlighting her intense activity in propaganda tasks and support for the republican cause.

The aforementioned speech “Mujeres a la lucha” [Women, to the cause] includes a brilliant exposition of the role of women working both at the forefront and behind the scenes, underlining the impressive task that they carry out in the “despertar político del pueblo español” [political awakening of the Spanish people]. Ernestina lists some of the ambitious conclusions of the 2nd Conference of the Comité de Mujeres Antifascistas [Antifascist Women’s Committee] that was held in October in Valencia: incorporation of women into war production, construction of nurseries and kindergartens to facilitate the work of women, equal pay, creation of schools in the countryside to eradicate illiteracy and vocational training schools in the cities.

Her speech links democratic, anti-war and anti-imperialist values. In her speech, Ernestina highlights that when fascism is imposed in a country, women are the first to suffer the consequences of oppression. She denounces the way that fascist regimes exploit the reproductive potential of women, pressuring them to have children without providing them with the means to maintain them, and argues that many times these children are meat destined for the slaughterhouse of imperialist wars.

Portrait of Ernestina González, Vicéns Family Archive.

For Ernestina, women’s agency is irreplaceable in the political struggle, since no revolution can succeed without their support, just as no national construction project is capable of prospering without their contribution. This conference documents the task and commitment of republican women both in the fighting post and in the rearguard, in the homes and on the streets:

…la mujer española desde el principio de nuestra guerra acudió en defensa de las libertades de España (…) En los momentos de improvisación, cogió el fusil y marchó a los frentes de combate; en la retaguardia invadía los hospitales, las escuelas, los comités políticos, en el hogar alentaba a sus compañeros, a sus hermanos, a sus hijos en la lucha, en la calle organizaba manifestaciones levantando la moral de los combatientes.

[Spanish women from the beginning of our war came to defend the liberties of Spain (…) In moments of improvisation, she picked up the rifle and marched to the combat fronts; in the rearguard occupied hospitals, schools, political committees, at home she encouraged her peers, her brothers, her children to the fight, in the streets she organized protests raising combatant morale.]

As Federica Montseny and Dolores Ibárruri did through La voz, Ernestina González appeals to the women of America in the fight against “el fascismo imperialista” [“imperialist fascism”], emphasizing that the emancipation of women is closely linked to the struggle of the working class. This impassioned speech exalts the role of Spanish women in the fight and is filled with an urgent outreach for anti-fascist Hispanic women to follow her example. In this way, thanks to the determination and effort of its women, the United States could become a symbolic transatlantic rearguard for the Spain loyal to the Republic:

Mujeres españolas de América, imitad el ejemplo de estas compañeras de España, trabajad aquí para que esta retaguardia sea una prolongación de la retaguardia de la España leal. Todas unidas sumemos nuestros esfuerzos a los suyos. Querer la victoria, desearla, no es bastante: es necesario trabajar por la victoria (…) Adelante contra los crímenes del fascismo, contra sus feroces apetitos colonizadores, por la defensa de la paz y la democracia.

[Spanish women of America, imitate the example of these peers from Spain, work here so that this rearguard is an extension of the rearguard of loyal Spain. United, we will add our efforts to yours. Wanting victory, desiring it, is not enough: we must work for victory (…) Onward against the crimes of fascism, against its ferocious colonizing appetites, for the defense of peace and democracy.]


Ana María Díaz-Marcos is Professor of Spanish Literature in the Department of Literatures, Cultures and Languages at the University of Connecticut. Her fields of work are literature, theater, historical feminism and gender studies. Her latest work on Margarita Nelken, published in the magazine Feminismos of the University of Alicante, is available at the following link: https://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/111723/1/Feminismos_37_10.pdf

Original version in Spanish: Mujeres a la lucha: Ernestina González en el Royal Windsor de Nueva York

Pasionaria se dirige a las mujeres del mundo (1938)

Newspaper headline

Por Ana María Díaz-Marcos, Universidad de Connecticut

Esta entrada de blog es la última de la serie dedicada a documentar las colaboraciones de activistas españolas antifascistas que se manifestaron a favor de la causa republicana y democrática a través de colaboraciones publicadas en La voz de Nueva York entre finales de 1937 y 1938. En blogs anteriores se han discutido los apasionados discursos de Ernestina González, Federica Montseny y Margarita Nelken.

El artículo íntegro firmado por Dolores Ibárruri y publicado en La voz el 17 de marzo de 1938 está disponible en la colección digital Antifascismo y feminismo en la página de la mujer de La voz y destaca por su poderosa apelación a las “madres y mujeres del mundo”. Este llamamiento a las mujeres como madres sin distinción de nacionalidad, credo, ideología o raza representa muy bien el espíritu feminista y comprometido predominante en la “Página de la mujer”. [1]

Black and white photograph of a woman smiling
Dolores Ibárruri en 1936, Biblioteca Nacional de Francia. gallica.bnf.fr

Las referencias de Pasionaria a las madres son frecuentes en sus discursos y este texto remite al concepto de sororidad internacional antifascista, destaca la agencia de la mujer como promotora de la paz y apela a su empatía ante el sufrimiento de las españolas. Sus palabras buscan construir un puente de entendimiento y sororidad entre las mujeres que se asentaría sobre su instinto humanitario y maternal y esta voluntad la lleva a incluir en su apelación no solo a las ciudadanas de los países democráticos sino también a las italianas y alemanas que vivían bajo sistemas fascistas. Ibárruri no duda en considerarlas posibles aliadas en esa causa “maternal” en la que se invocaba la agencia de las mujeres de cualquier condición como activistas contra la guerra, defensoras de la paz, protectoras de sus hijos y, por extensión, de la humanidad:

Madres y mujeres del mundo: sobre todos los pueblos se cierne una amenaza terrible; el peligro de la guerra. Madres y mujeres de los países democráticos: sobre vosotras pesa una gran responsabilidad y si nuestro pueblo es dominado, la guerra mundial sería rápidamente una terrible realidad (…) Madres de Alemania e Italia: aconsejad a vuestros hijos que no vengan a pelear a España. Decidles que los trabajadores españoles no tienen para ellos odios o rencor alguno (…) Nosotros conocemos vuestra terrible tragedia, vuestra miseria, pero aprended en nuestra gesta.

(La voz, 17 de marzo de 1938)

Las palabras de Pasionaria inciden en una identidad femenina universal asociada a valores pacifistas y maternalistas (Yusta) para destacar en esta coyuntura el sufrimiento de las mujeres españolas, pero también el de las alemanas e italianas bajo regímenes totalitarios que denuncia como una trágica imposición. Ibárruri destacaba así el papel de las mujeres como protectoras de la especie y como sujetos especialmente empáticos ante el trauma y sufrimiento causado por las guerras. Junto a esta solidaridad internacional basada en la sororidad (como mujeres, hermanas y madres) se insiste también en la conciencia de clase: el vínculo y el respaldo trasnacional entre lxs obrerxs del mundo. Existe pues un enemigo común -de la humanidad, las mujeres y la clase trabajadora- que es el fascismo, representado como promotor de conflictos que intenta aplastar la democracia y que no puede traer sino miseria para lxs trabajadorxs y luto para las mujeres.

Pasionaria clama por el apoyo internacional para esa España “que lucha por la paz y la libertad del mundo” y su discurso destaca la centralidad e importancia de la guerra española, denunciando el insuficiente apoyo internacional de los países neutrales en ese conflicto en el que no se estaba dirimiendo solamente el destino de España sino la paz mundial: los “fusiles de vanguardia” de la causa republicana representaban una valiente aspiración a “asegurar la paz del mundo y consolidar las conquistas de la democracia”. Esta convicción la lleva a augurar la guerra mundial en caso de que España perdiera la suya. En este sentido su discurso invita a un ejercicio de sororidad internacional, interclasista y democrática para vencer al enemigo. El alegato de Ibárruri destaca el riesgo que se avecinaba y la responsabilidad de las mujeres ante esa situación: “si nuestro pueblo es dominado, la guerra mundial sería rápidamente una terrible realidad”. La causa leal se presenta como la única opción legítima frente al “ejército de invasión” por lo que se hacía necesaria más que nunca la solidaridad de las naciones democráticas. Ibárruri apeló también a la simpatía pacifista de las madres y trabajadoras alemanas e italianas representadas como víctimas del fascismo y contrarias a la guerra.

El texto de Pasionaria publicado en La voz se muestra audaz y fervoroso como el más conocido “No pasarán” y finaliza con las palabras “¡Adelante! ¡Adelante! ¡Adelante!”, apelando a la solidaridad internacional de las madres y mujeres del mundo y al avance hacia una victoria que no se produjo.

Ibárruri, Dolores, “Pasionaria habla a las mujeres,” Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections,  http://usldhrecovery.uh.edu/items/show/3380.

Obras citadas

Yusta, Mercedes. “Construyendo el género más allá de la nación: dimensión nacional e internacional de la movilización de las mujeres antifascistas (1934-1950) “, Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez [En línea], 42-2 (2012) <http://journals.openedition.org/mcv/4597>

Agradecimientos

Agradezco a María Dolores Ruiz- Ibárruri Sergueyeva su permiso para publicar este discurso de su abuela.

Recursos adicionales

Díaz-Marcos, Ana María. “Una batalladora antifascista: Margarita Nelken en el Centro Galicia de Nueva York”. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Blog. 1 junio 2021. https://recoveryprojectappblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/01/una-batalladora-antifascista-margarita-nelken-en-el-centro-galicia-de-nueva-york/

_____. “Mujeres a la lucha: Ernestina González en el Royal Windsor de Nueva York”. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Blog. 12 abril 2021. https://recoveryprojectappblog.wordpress.com/2021/04/12/mujeres-a-la-lucha-ernestina-gonzalez-en-el-royal-windsor-de-nueva-york/

_____. “Sororidad antifascista: Federica Montseny en La voz, 18 de enero de 1938″. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Blog. 15 marzo 2021. https://recoveryprojectappblog.wordpress.com/2021/03/15/sororidad-antifascista-federica-montseny-en-la-voz-18-de-enero-de-1938/

Notas

[1] Durante los primeros meses en que se publica la “Página de la mujer” es muy posible que, tras el pseudónimo de la editora “Lina Mares”, estuviera la sufragista mexicana Margarita Robles de Mendoza. Sus conexiones con el feminismo internacional explicarían la enorme relevancia de las firmas que adornan esta página en esas fechas.


Ana María Díaz-Marcos es catedrática de Literatura Española en el Departamento de Literaturas, Culturas y Lenguas de la Universidad de Connecticut. Sus campos de trabajo son la literatura, el teatro, el feminismo histórico y los estudios de género. Su último trabajo sobre Margarita Nelken, publicado en la revista Feminismos de la Universidad de Alicante, está disponible en el enlace:
https://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/111723/1/Feminismos_37_10.pdf

1917-1918 Influenza Epidemic Project

By Carolina López Herrera (University of Houston)

My name is Carolina Lopez-Herrera and I am researching the 1917-1918 influenza epidemic with the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program. During the epidemic, many media outlets and documents were heavily censored because countries involved in World War I, including the United States, did not want to decrease public morale. The only country that allowed for mass publication and reporting on the subject was Spain, one of the few countries that remained neutral during the war. Since it was the only country reporting on the illness, people assumed that Spain was responsible for the widespread disease. The more likely scenario is that the influenza originated in the United States (“First Cases Reported”). This heavy censorship resulted in little documentation of the illness, the spread, or precautions taken, severely limiting our knowledge of the influenza. Furthermore, the information published was broad, scarce, and undermined the severity of the epidemic. Most of these publications also did not take into consideration how the flu affected different communities, especially those of people of color.

Advertisement in “La Prensa” (28 October 1918) explaining how to apply the product, Urban’s Balm, to prevent influenza. It also claims that the product is recommended for all illnesses.

In the United States, due to the cultural and language barrier, publications and media from Hispanic communities were not restricted by the same level of censorship. The Recovery program has collected, preserved, and digitized Hispanic newspapers from that era, which allows us to study them and get a better understanding of life during the 1917-1918 epidemic. As part of the University of Houston’s Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) Program, I have had the opportunity to work with these archival newspapers. Under the guidance of Recovery staff and using their protocols, I am currently reading the publications and helping to create metadata based on the information they provide. We are trying to collect information that went unrecorded for decades by describing it in English and Spanish. From these documents, I am getting a deeper comprehension of how Hispanic communities were treated differently, simply due to the name of the disease. We also hope to find more knowledge on the effect that the epidemic had on communities of color.

Although 100 years has passed since the 1917-1918 epidemic, there are many parallels to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Some parallels include: mandatory quarantines, face coverings, public unrest, increase in prejudice to a certain ethnic group, and lower income communities being the most affected. In both these historical health crises, there is also the problem of measuring the effect the widespread illnesses have caused, because of everything they have severely impacted. There are also significant differences between the two pandemics, including, but not limited to, wartime censorship, technology, and lack of medical information. Currently, we are not at war, so we are not subject to wartime censorship, as the media was in 1917, meaning that we have more access to information. Moreover, we have advanced technologically, so we are not reliant on only a few printed forms of media, and we can look for more information online. Technology also has allowed for countries to communicate and collaborate in a timelier manner to combat the spread of COVID, whereas in 1917, countries were more interested in winning the war rather than slowing the spread of the flu. Lastly, we have advanced immensely in medicine, which has allowed us to have technology that can save more lives and we have been able to quickly develop a vaccine. We strive to keep investigating the 1917-1918 epidemic to continue studying its parallels to the current pandemic and hope to discover information that has been lost in the past.

The forthcoming 1917-1918 Influenza Epidemic Collection will include newspaper articles and advertisements from various Hispanic periodicals related to the 1917-1918 health crisis as well as interventions, treatments, and the community’s reactions. Student interns who have contributed to this digital collection include Julia Goodley (Whitman College), Melissa Carrizales (SER Bank of America Summer Youth Internship Program) and myself, Carolina López Herrera (REACH).

Works cited

“First cases reported in deadly 1918 flu pandemic.” History.com, 2009. Accessed 16 Feb. 2022. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-cases-reported-in-deadly-influenza-epidemic

Hispanic American Newspapers. Newsbank. Accessed 16 Feb. 2022.


Carolina López-Herrera is an undergraduate student at the University of Houston (UH) majoring in Philosophy and Political Science. Lopez-Herrera is also a Candidate for a Masters in Public Policy. She is currently a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) Program  fellow at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (Recovery) and is interested in researching early Hispanic communities in the United States. UH’s REACH Program is a collaborative effort supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA) that provides research experience for students in humanities disciplines. 

Nochebuena, 1949

Por Montse Feu (Sam Houston State University)

Traducido por Elías David Navarro (University of Houston)

Apelando a la conciencia de sus lectores, Aurelio Pego (1896-1978) empezaba su crónica del 23 de diciembre de 1949 con una pregunta: “¿Comerá usted el turrón a gusto este año?… ¿se puede comer turrón sin pensar en España?” (Pego en Feu 64). La crónica se publicó en el periódico neoyorquino España Libre y fue leída en Estados Unidos, Latinoamérica, Europa y, clandestinamente, en la España fascista. Ese año, España Libre había denunciado la escasez de alimentos en España gracias a los informes de la resistencia clandestina. Por ejemplo, el número del 11 de marzo de 1949 denunciaba la muerte de 430 reclusos, así como la falta de asistencia médica adecuada en las cárceles españolas. La publicación afirmaba que Francisco Franco, un “verdadero seguidor” del Tercer Reich, exterminaba a los luchadores por la libertad de formas más baratas que Hitler (“El Martirio de un Pueblo”). La represión del régimen incluyó tortura y experimentos científicos más allá de las cárceles y campos de concentración franquistas, y persiguió a otros sectores de la población con leyes represivas contra las minorías y personas relacionadas con afiliaciones democráticas.

Franco empleó el hambre como una eficaz táctica de represión. Queriendo emular a la Italia fascista, Franco “massively intervened in the economy, regulating both trade and the supply system. It also manipulated markets, imposed import substitution, and forced industrialization” [“intervino masivamente la economía, regulo tanto el comercio como la cadena de abastecimiento. También manipuló los mercados, impuso la sustitución de importaciones y forzó la industrialización”] (Cazorla Sánchez 6). Antonio Cazorla Sánchez atribuye este desastre a la “corruption, racial and class prejudice, and economic ignorance” ”[“corrupción, los prejuicios raciales y de clase, y la ignorancia económica”] que caracterizaban al régimen (Cazorla Sánchez 10). Los resultados fueron la pobreza y el hambre que causaron un gran sufrimiento y limitaron la resistencia de la población al terror fascista. A pesar de que los bancos neoyorquinos prestaron 25 millones de dólares a Franco a principios de 1949, las políticas que este implementó solo enriquecieron a sus partidarios. La corrupción del régimen trajo consigo inflación y escasez de alimentos y de materiales; esto impidió que los más desfavorecidos pudieran luchar: “in working-class districts of major towns, people in rags could be seen hunting or scraps, and the streets were thronged with beggars” [“en los distritos obreros de las principales ciudades, se podía ver a personas vistiendo harapos hurgando entre los desperdicios y las calles estaban atestadas de mendigos”] (Preston 383). Aunque había suficiente comida para alimentar a la población, gran parte se desviaba al mercado negro, lo que dejaba muy poco para ser racionado; y esto enriquecía a los partidarios de Franco. La mayoría de las grandes ciudades tenían barrios enteros en condiciones precarias y los servicios médicos y asistenciales estatales prácticamente eran inexistentes. En consecuencia, la desnutrición y las epidemias cobraron numerosas víctimas entre la población, aproximadamente 200.000 españoles murieron de hambre (Cazorla Sánchez 9-11).

Satirizando una campaña católica que animaba a las familias ricas a invitar a los menos afortunados en Nochebuena, la película Plácido (1961) de Luis García Berlanga mostraba la hipocresía del evento, que incluía desfiles, artistas invitados y una marca de ollas a presión como patrocinador. Plácido, el obrero protagonista, pasa el día tratando de pagar la letra del préstamo de su motocarro para evitar que se lo embarguen. Sin embargo, los organizadores de la campaña lo retienen con diversos trabajos todo el día y Plácido no lo logra hacer su pago a tiempo. Al final de la película, simplemente logra llevar algo de comida enlatada a su familia en las últimas horas de Nochebuena.

Pego también denigró a los lectores que no apoyaban económicamente a la resistencia clandestina en España y en cambio gastaban su dinero en turrón. Su crónica “Esta noche es Nochebuena” denunciaba la escasez de alimentos en España con juegos de palabras culinarios y recordaba a los lectores que: “… el turrón con una copita de jerez no está mal, pero el turrón con pensamientos de España, tiene cierto sabor amargo”. Para conocer más sobre la sátira de Pego y navegar entre algunas muestras de ella, visite la exposición en línea Fighting Fascist Spain – The Exhibits.

Bibliografía

Feu, Montse. The Antifascist Chronicles of Aurelio Pego. A Critical Anthology. Routledge, 2021.

“El Martirio de un Pueblo”. España Libre March 11, 1949.

Preston, Paul. A People Betrayed. A History of Corruption, Political Incompetence and Social Division in Modern Spain. Nueva York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 383.

Sánchez, Antonio Cazorla. Fear and Progress. Ordinary Lives in Franco’s Spain, 1939-1975. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.


Montse Feu es profesora asociada de lenguas y culturas españolas en la Sam Houston State University, en Texas. Su trabajo recupera e interpreta la cultura del exilio de la Guerra Civil española en los Estados Unidos, la cultura anarquista hispana de los Estados Unidos y las publicaciones periódicas españolas en los Estados Unidos en general. Puede consultar sus publicaciones y proyectos actuales en montsefeu.wixsite.com/montsefeu.

José Rubia Barcia’s Exile of Reason and Bile: Creating an Anti-Francoist Narrative from the United States

Omeka exhibit with a photograph of Rubia Barcia

By David Miranda-Barreiro (Bangor University, UK)

Invited post by Fighting Fascist Spain -The Exhibits. See Rubia Barcia Exhibit here. 

Black and white headshot of a man wearing glasses and a suit
Photograph of José Rubia Barcia

José Rubia Barcia was born in 1914 in Mugardos (Galicia, Spain), a small coastal town next to Ferrol, a city which, coincidentally, was also the birthplace of his antagonist in exile, Francisco Franco, and of the founder of the Spanish Socialist Party, Pablo Iglesias. Rubia Barcia defined himself as a Socialist Humanist, influenced by the ideas of the professor in political law and Spanish politician, Fernando de los Ríos. In 1931, he began his university education at the University of Granada, where he studied a degree in Liberal Arts, became involved in politics and learnt about De los Ríos’ version of socialism, wrote for several local magazines, took part in the university theatre group, “La carreta,” met Federico García Lorca, and completed a PhD in Arabic Studies. In short, he enjoyed and contributed to the thriving cultural and political life of the Spanish Second Republic, whose project he saw as a historical opportunity to fully modernize the country (González Herrán 2014: 54).

It is no surprise then, that when the fascist military uprising against the Spanish democratic government failed in 1936, leading to the Civil War, Rubia Barcia became fully involved in the defense of the Republic. He fought at the front, became director of the magazine Armas y Letras, and was placed in charge of the correspondence with the Soviet Union with the title of Jefe de Negociado, asignado a la Secretaría Técnica de Correspondencia Secreta con Rusia, en la Subsecretaría de Armamento (Ocampo Vigo &  Piñeiro de San Miguel 1995: 22). At the end of the war, he started his exilic wandering. He crossed the French border and was sent to a concentration camp in Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans where he almost died because of the cold. After he managed to escape to Paris, he contacted one of his uncles who lived in Havana (González Herrán 2014: 66-68). Thanks to the economic aid he received from this relative, Rubia Barcia was able to travel to the island, where he stayed from 1939 to 1943, when fellow exile Américo Castro invited him to work as a language assistant at Princeton University (Ocampo Vigo &  Piñeiro de San Miguel 1995: 24-25).   

As soon as he set foot in the United States, the authorities became suspicious of his intentions: they detained him at the Miami airport and questioned him for four days. The US authorities did not deport him, and he soon managed to settle down in the United States, yet he continued to encounter difficulties, as he was suspected of being a communist agent. In an interview given after his retirement, Rubia Barcia argued that the US authorities viewed all Spanish refugees as communists, “todos los refugiados españoles éramos rojos, éramos comunistas” (González Herran 2014: 83). In 1945, he met the film director Luis Buñuel in New York, who convinced him to work with him for Warner Bros in Hollywood. For the next two years they dubbed US English films into Spanish. According to disclosed FBI files, the Bureau maintained Buñuel under close surveillance. These same files reveal that Rubia Barcia’s movements were monitored. The following year, US immigration authorities began a deportation process against him, imprisoning him in Seattle, and almost securing his return to Spain.

His struggles with the US authorities came to an end ten years later, thanks to the support he received from the University of California, where he had been hired as teaching assistant in 1947. As Roberta Johnson recollects (1982: 8), Rubia Barcia developed a prolific academic career in the field of Hispanic Studies at this institution, publishing extensively on authors such as Miguel de Unamuno and Ramón del Valle-Inclán, supervising many PhD dissertations and becoming head of Department of Spanish and Portuguese in 1963. Together with Clayton Eshleman, he published The Complete Posthumous Poetry of César Vallejo (1978), for which they received the US National Book Award, in the Translation category. He retired from his post at UCLA in 1985.

Rubia Barcia sustained a vocal political commitment to the Republic until the death of the Spanish dictator in 1975, including his participation in two events against the Francoist regime, organized in New York in 1943. However, probably because of the hostility he felt from the US authorities, most of his political activism took place in the articles he published in several newspapers, especially España Libre. An anthology of these articles was gathered in the volume Prosas de Razón y Hiel. Desde el Exilio: desmitificando al franquismo y ensoñando una España mejor (1976), published in Venezuela. The prologue to this volume sets out the guiding principle of Rubia Barcia’s project: to challenge the official discourses of Francoism that distorted the reality of the war and the Franco regime, which had been accepted by the Spanish population during the dictatorship. In his articles, and as expression of his Republican ideals, Rubia Barcia placed all hope for change in the population itself, if they were able to go back to the democratic essence of Spain that had been embodied by the Republic, kept alive in the voice of the exiles, and waiting to be recuperated after the fall of the dictatorship.

Cover of José Rubia Barcia’s Prosas de Razón y Hiel (1970)

Significantly, the prologue provides a recounting of the Spanish Civil War from a Republican perspective. This is indeed symptomatic not only of how the exiles constantly relived the traumatic past that caused their displacement, but also of the responsibility they assumed to correct Francoist historiographic manipulation. Although this might sound obvious nowadays, one of the contentions held by the exiles was that Spain was not a free country, not only because it was under the control of a military dictatorship, but also because the Republic (seen as the pinnacle of Spanish cultural and social progress and supported by the majority of the country) had been obliterated by foreign forces, specifically Germany and Italy. Rubia Barcia disputed the regime’s historical narrative; by challenging the Francoist official discourse, he portrayed the Spanish army, the economic elites, and the Church as the real traitors to their country, who resorted to the support of foreign allies to protect their privileges and put an end to the Second Republic’s progress. As a reminder of the destruction of the Basque town of same name by Nazi warplanes, the choice of Picasso’s painting Guernica as book cover reinforces this view of Spain being invaded by external powers.

Throughout his articles, Rubia Barcia reclaimed his Spanishness, representative of the democratic and progressive spirit of the Spanish people who sacrificed themselves to fight fascism in the name of justice, freedom, reason, and goodness (in his own words) (1976: 52). The true Spanishness –construed by Francoism as the anti-Spain, the internal enemy of the nation– was now only alive in exiles, whose return would bring Spain back to the Republic. Because of Franco, he claimed, “España […] ya no es España” [“Spain … is no longer Spain”] (1976: 53). This sentence was published in 1947, in an article entitled “Amargura,” which describes a sorrow that comes from the disappointment of seeing the lack of international intervention in the Spanish dictatorship even after the defeat of fascism in the Second World War.

Rubia Barcia, who constantly referred to Franco as “el enano sangriento” [“the bloodthirsty dwarf”] throughout his articles, continued to challenge the characterization of the Spanish tyrant as an almost harmless and sentimental old dictator promoted in the international press (for example in the US magazine Time), and reminded his readers about the monstrous crimes from which his regime originated. His writings ripped off Franco’s mask of a weeping grandfather to show the monster that hid behind it: “la piel arrugada de lagartija fría, la voz aflautada de bruja aterradora, la actitud gagá de la degeneración progresiva […] Suponer sentimientos caritativos en esa lamentable figura sería tanto como si los creyentes atribuyeran a Dios características satánicas” [his wrinkled skin like a cold lizard, his fluty voice like a terrifying witch, the loopy attitude that shows progressive degeneration […] To assume charitable feelings in this wretched figure would be as if Catholics attributed satanical characteristics to God] (1976: 161).

Given his life circumstances, Rubia Barcia occupied a privileged position to criticize the US government’s tolerance and later endorsement of the dictatorship in the defense agreements signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Franco in 1953. For example, in a 1956 article about the Nobel Prize awarded to Juan Ramón Jiménez, he criticizes the use of “self-exiled” by US newspapers to refer to the poet, as it implies that “es algo así como salido por su gusto, sin que nadie lo forzara” [“is something like leaving by choice, without being forced by anyone”] (1976: 68). Echoing his own experience in the United States, Rubia Barcia alludes to the treatment received by the Spanish Republican exiles in this country: “este poeta – no criminal, no asesino, no vulgar delincuente, no comunista, no socialista, no anarquista – no ha podido vivir en los últimos veinte años – veinte años de patria secuestrada – en contacto con su pueblo” [“this poet –not a criminal, not an assassin, not a vulgar delinquent, not a communist, not a socialist, not an anarquist– has not been able to live in contact with his people for the last twenty years–twenty years kidnapped from his homeland”] (1976: 69).

Apart from his anti-fascist articles, Rubia Barcia also reflected on the trauma caused by exile in the volume of surrealist prose poetry, Umbral de sueños (1961), illustrated by Eugenio Granell, another Galician Republican exile who lived in New York.  The text is a poetic account of the author’s journey into exile written in a style reminiscent of Salvador Dalí’s paintings and Buñuel’s early films. The journey is framed within another journey taken afterwards, as the main character dreams about his past while travelling on a plane. Each chapter is an account of a different dream, and although the theme of a traumatic journey and the presence of some recurrent characters unify the volume, there is an apparent lack of chronological and spatial coherence, as the action seems to move back and forth from Spain to France and Latin America, and the nonlinear timeline alternates between the origins of humankind, the Middle Ages, the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, and even the future. By contrast, the book follows a rigid structure, whereby each chapter is preceded by a 16th– or 17th-century Spanish poem and takes its title from the verses that open the chapter as an epigraph, which are quotes from classic works of Spanish literature (Cantar de Mío Cid, poems by Lope de Vega and Jorge Manrique, etc.). On the one hand, this structure inserts the text into a literary and cultural tradition that depicts the exiles as embodiment of a historical continuity interrupted in their country. On the other, the dreams express the spatial and temporal dislocation caused by exile.

Despite his academic and literary work, Rubia Barcia is still largely unknown in Spain, as is the case with other exiles. However, his figure was reclaimed in Galicia after the dictatorship in publications, public tributes, the creation of a cultural center in Ferrol named after him, and even his appointment as a member of the Real Academia Galega. In turn, he published a collection of poetry in Galician and Spanish, A aza enraizada. Cantigas de bendizer (1981), and devoted the last years of his life to the study of Galician literature and history, a project that he could not finish before passing away in California in 1997.

Works cited

González Herrán José Manuel (ed.), José Rubia Barcia: unha vida contada. Santiago de Compostela: Consello da Cultura Galega, 2014.

Johnson, Roberta, “José Rubia Barcia”, in Studies in Honor or José Rubia, ed. by Roberta Johnson and Paul C. Smith. Lincoln, Nebraska: Society of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies, 1982.

Miranda-Barreiro, David. “Galician New York: a Cultural History” at https://newyork.gal/en/

Ocampo Vigo, Eva and Esperanza Piñeiro de San Miguel. Xosé Rubia Barcia, un intelectual ferrolán no exilio. Ferrol: Liceo Rubia Barcia, 1995.

Rubia Barcia, José, Prosas de Razón y Hiel. Desde el Exilio: desmitificando al franquismo y ensoñando una España mejor. Caracas: Casuz editores, 1976.

___ A aza enraizada. Cántigas de bendizer. Sada: Ediciós do Castro, 1981.

___ Umbral de sueños. Barcelona: Anthropos, 1989), facsimile of the first edition in Orbe Publications (1961).


David Miranda-Barreiro is a Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Bangor University and co-editor of Galicia 21: Journal of Contemporary Galician Studies. He specializes in travel writing, migration, and exile in both Spanish and Galician. He studied the representation of New York in early 20th century Spanish literature in the monograph Spanish New York Narratives. Modernization, Otherness and Nation (Legenda, 2014, AHGBI Publication Prize), and is now working on the connections between the US and Galicia. Visit his digital project: “Galician New York: a Cultural History” at https://newyork.gal/en/

Fighting Fascist Spain: Castelao, A Man Exiled and a Cultural Myth

By Bailey Mills and Montse Feu (Sam Houston State University)

Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao (1886-1950) fought against fascist Spain and for the preservation of Galician culture with his pen.  His artistic, satirical, editorial cartoons were his weapons. Fighting Fascist Spain – The Exhibits showcases Castelao’s anti-fascist art.

Announcement regarding the reprint of Spanish government propaganda during the Spanish Civil War. Frente Popular July 19, 1937.

As a young artist, Castelao’s took part in a “Galician Regional Painting Exhibit” (“Rusty’s Artists”). His drawings stood out because of his use of satire and comedy to point out the unfair and despicable social conditions. Castelao’s humor also played on Galician culture (Miranda-Barreiro 68-69). 

Due to the political nature of his art, Castelao went into exile in the United States in 1936 (Mejía 80-82). Castelao originally chose to go to New York because of a Galician immigration pocket in the city. New York Galicians responded to the news positively, as they saw it as a beacon of hope that this would help them unite. Upon arriving in New York, however, Castelao was disappointed to learn that the local Galicians spoke more English than Spanish. In addition, Castelao thought of himself as a cartoonist who used satire and comedy to critique the power-hungry Spanish government.  He struggled to see himself as the powerful political figure the New York City Galician community wanted him to be (Mejía 83-88).

Castelao’s “Viejo Federal.” Frente Popular. 9 Dec. 1938.

Antifascist periodicals like España Libre (New York 1939-1977) published Castelao’s work because of his unapologetic denunciation of fascist Spain. Castelao’s work had a crucial impact on Galician society, resulting in the publication of many biographies about his life and work. After his death, he became known as the father of Galician political comics. His contributions to the defense of Galician culture from repression made him more than a mere comic creator–he stood for the Galician peoples and history (Miranda-Barreiro 72-73, 85).

Castelao is one of the cartoonists whose work is recovered in Fighting Fascist Spain – The Exhibits.  He used his skills as a writer and cartoonist to make satirical drawings that critiqued Francisco Franco’s fascist rule in Spain. His exile in New York City, helped him realize that he wanted to fight against Franco, not as a political figure, but a cultural one (“Alfonso Rodríguez Castelao ‘Castelao’ · FIGHTING FASCIST SPAIN — the EXHIBITS · Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections”). 

The images in this blog post are a part of the Castelao Exhibit.  For more information on Feu’s Fighting Fascist Spain project visit: https://bit.ly/FFSTheExhibits

Works cited

“Castelao.” Blogspot.com, 2012, rustysartists.blogspot.com/2012/12/ alfonso-daniel-rodriguez-castelao.html. Accessed 01 Dec. 2021.

Castelao, Alfonso Rodríguez. “Castelao.” Frente Popular, 1937. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections. http://129.7.224.3/items/show/3304. Accessed January 11, 2022.

_____. “Viejo federal.” Frente Popular. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections, 1938. http://129.7.224.3/items/show/3301. Accessed 11 January 2022.

Feu, Montse. “Alfonso Rodríguez Castelao ‘Castelao.’” Fighting Fascist Spain–The Exhibits. Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Digital Collections. http://usldhrecovery.uh.edu/exhibits/show/fighting-fascist-spain–the-ex/graphic-art-cartoons/alfonso-rodr–guez-castelao. Accessed 22 Dec. 2021.

Mejía Ruiz, Carmen. “Castelao’s exile in North America (Texts and documents).” Madrygal: Revista de estudios galleos. no. 7, pp. 79-92.

Miranda-Barreiro, David. “From Pioneer of Comics to Cultural Myth.” European Comic Art. vol. 11, no. 1, 2018, pp. 66-86. 10.3167/eca.2018.110105. Accessed 22 January 2022.


Bailey Mills is an undergraduate at Sam Houston State University.  She is an English major with a minor in Creative Writing.  Mills has been consistently on the Dean’s List and is a member of SHSU Alpha Lambda Delta.  Mills participated as a student researcher on Montse Feu’s Fighting Fascist Spain: The Exhibits project.

Montse Feu is Associate Professor of Spanish languages and cultures at Sam Houston State University, Texas. She recovers and explores the Spanish Civil War exile culture in the United States, US Hispanic anarchist culture, and US Spanish periodicals at large. Find her publications and current projects at montsefeu.wixsite.com/montsefeu.

Christmas Eve, 1949

By Montse Feu (Sam Houston State University)

Appealing to his readers’ conscience, Aurelio Pego (1896-1978) started his Dec. 23, 1949 chronicle with a question, : “¿Comerá usted el turrón a gusto este año?… ¿se puede comer turrón sin pensar en España?” [“Will you feel at ease eating nougat this year?… can you even eat nougat thinking about Spain?”] (Pego in Feu 64). The chronicle was published in the New York newspaper España Libre reaching his readers across the United States, Latin America, Europe, and clandestinely in Fascist Spain. That year, España Libre had denounced food scarcity in Spain thanks to the underground resistance’s reports. For instance, the March 11, 1949 issue denounced the death of 430 inmates as well as the lack of adequate medical assistance in Spanish prisons. The publication claimed that Francisco Franco, a “true follower” of the Third Reich, exterminated freedom fighters in cheaper ways than Hitler did (“El Martirio de un Pueblo”). The regime’s White Terror included torture and scientific experiments beyond Franco’s prisons and concentration camps and included other sectors of the population with repressive laws against minorities and anyone associated with democratic sentiments during Franco’s rule.

Franco employed hunger as an effective repression tactic. Wanting to emulate Fascist Italy, Franco “massively intervened in the economy, regulating both trade and the supply system. It also manipulated markets, imposed import substitution, and forced industrialization” (Cazorla Sánchez 6). Antonio Cazorla Sánchez attributes this disaster to the “corruption, racial and class prejudice, and economic ignorance” that characterized the regime (Cazorla Sánchez 10).The results were poverty and starvation, which caused great suffering and limited the population’s resistance to state terror. Despite the New York banks’ $25-million loan to Franco early in 1949, his policies enriched only his supporters. The regime’s corruption brought food and material shortages and inflation, preventing the underprivileged from fighting back: “in working-class districts of major towns, people in rags could be seen hunting or scraps, and the streets were thronged with beggars” (Preston 383). Although there was enough food to feed the population, much of it was diverted to the black market, leaving too little to be rationed, and Franco’s supporters rich. Most major cities had shanty towns and virtually non-existent state medical and welfare services. Consequently, malnutrition and epidemics caused numerous victims among the population, approximately 200,000 Spaniards died of hunger (Cazorla Sánchez 9-11).

Satirizing a Catholic campaign that encouraged wealthy families to invite the less fortunate on Christmas Eve, Luis García Berlanga’s Plácido (1961) showed the hypocrisy of the event that included parades, invited artists, and pressure cookers. Plácido, the working-class protagonist, spends the day trying to make a loan payment for his three-wheeler before it is repossessed. However, the campaign organizers delay paying him for his services and instead engage him in jobs throughout the day. At the end of the film, Plácido can only bring some canned food to his family late on Christmas Eve.

Pego similarly scorned readers who did not economically support the clandestine resistance in Spain and instead spent their money on nougat. His chronicle “Tonight It’s Christmas Eve” denounced food scarcity in Spain with culinary puns and reminded readers that: “Nougat with sherry is good, but nougat with Spain has a bitter taste.”  To learn more about Pego’s satire and to browse samples, visit the online exhibit Fighting Fascist Spain.

Works Cited

Feu, Montse. The Antifascist Chronicles of Aurelio Pego. A Critical Anthology. (Editor, transcriber, translator, and writer of critical introduction). Routledge, 2021.

“El Martirio de un Pueblo.” España Libre March 11, 1949.

Preston, Paul. A People Betrayed. A History of Corruption, Political Incompetence and Social Division in Modern Spain. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 383.

Sánchez, Antonio Cazorla. Fear and Progress. Ordinary Lives in Franco’s Spain, 1939-1975. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.


Montse Feu is Associate Professor of Spanish languages and cultures at Sam Houston State University, Texas. She recovers and explores the Spanish Civil War exile culture in the United States, US Hispanic anarchist culture, and US Spanish periodicals at large. Find her publications and current projects at montsefeu.wixsite.com/montsefeu.