In black, sitting in the middle, Lolita Mondragon, next to her dressed in black too, my grandmother Nieves Sanchez. This photo was taken by the nazi photographer Erich Andress when the facist troops entered Elgoibar and it was recuperated from the Berlin archive by the historical Memory group Elgoibar 1936.
It has always been for me food for thought the desire in which our unforgettable Ion Idigoras* referred himself as Juanita Gerrikabeitia’s son. Like that I sincerely do believe he wanted to pay tribute to his Mum and letting know that 99% of the applause, praise and gratitude claimed by our people was in fact more appropriately addressed to his mum and family than him. Rather than saying that behind every assume great man there is a great woman, I’m sure that Ion, always memorable for me, would prefer saying that we’d rather state that those who kindly consider us activists and people worthy of some admiration don’t really know us and anyway what is certain is that behind every suppose great man there is always an astonishing woman and family.
That’s why I would like to address you as Lolita Mondragón’s son, my mother. Despite my sorrow, I would like to share an anecdote of her life that I will never forget: when she was barely four or five, she went with her mum (my grandma Nieves) to the prison Penal del Dueso where my uncle Fidel was incarcerated after being captured by the fascist troops. And it’s obvious that I’m speaking of the fascist troops because I’m referring about an anecdote that took place in 1940s, and nowadays it’s for sure they wouldn’t call them like this but they would rather call them “democrats of all life”. My mum always remembered that when she entered the prison they warned them that they could only speak Spanish and that she saw all the prisoners lying on the floor and stacked. When my Grandma in tears got closer to her son, my mum always remembered that she asked him: “ Are you my brother?”And she gave him a kiss.
Today, nearly 80 years after, I was able to say goodbye to my Ama during a one-hour visit at Mendaro hospital. It was tough, sad/moving, but also unforgettable. We hugged and kissed each other like we never did…. we could only define the atmosphere like Kant would: Beautiful and sublime… and I even thought I saw in the room butterflies that accompanied García Márquez, another great personage, beyond Macondo.
Today, 80 years after visiting her anarchist-communist brother in the Dueso prison, being captive in Logroño my mum got to say goodbye to me, meanwhile Rafa Diez and Isma Arrieta are still wandering around that bloody jail in Cantabria and hundreds of other comrades are doing so in many other prisons of the Spanish and French states.
Today I won’t deny it, I feel pain, rage and helplessness, today, it would be easy and humanly understandable to indulge in resentment, hatred and feeling of injustice.. But all the pain of the world itself will not obscure my mind .
No, for in this too we are and should be different … as the Che said, that the true revolutionary is guided by agreat feeling of love for people. And, while trying to be a revolutionary apprentice, I received only my mother’s love that I will never stop thinking about while I live.
But also for her and all the parents (like those of Xabier, Garratz, Txoritxu, Santi, Gari,…) who died without seeing their children free in a freed Basque Country, we will plant near their ashes a cherry tree in the Basque soil. Because in spite of everything, it’s already the time of the cherries( “le temps des cerises”). I owe it to Lolita Mondragón… to who I owe my life.. That’s why next year the cherry trees will be redder in the Basque Country.
Thank you Ama Eskerrik asko Ama Agur Ama maitia
*Jon Indigoras was a long standing leader and spokesperson of Herri Batasuna