Women in Black, La Barranca Civil Cemertery
Creator: Cenzano, Óscar
Contributor: Comisión de Familiares y Amigos de los asesinados en la Barranca
Fond or Collection
Cementerio Civil de La Barranca
Date Created: 2011
Extent: 1 item
Geographic Region: Cementerio Civil La Barranca, Logroño
This sculpture by Óscar Cenzano entitled The Women in Black presides over the La Barranca civil cemetery and memorial in the outskirts of Logroño, the capital of La Rioja. The sculpture was inaugurated in 2011, but the cemetery was built in 1979 over the field where more than 400 people were murdered between 10 September and 15 December 1936. La Barranca was one of the first significant public recognitions of the Francoist repression during the Civil War to be created following the death of the dictator on November 1975.
La Rioja fell to the rebels within three days of the military coup. There was almost no resistance. Immediately afterwards, with the approval of the military, Falangists and Carlists carried out a sweeping repression. By December 1936, some 2,000 people, including 40 women, out of a total population of just over 200,000, had been murdered. In contrast, only 1,600 men from the region died while serving in the army during the three years of the war. At first, the victims’ bodies were moved to the city cemetery, but by September there was no more room. A field known as La Barranca, five kilometres from the city centre, was chosen as the new killing field and burial place.
Even before the war ended, women dressed in mourning, the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the men whose remains had been dumped there, began to visit La Barranca, enduring the taunts and coercion by the police. The pilgrimages continued, however, throughout the life of the dictatorship and beyond. The women in black brought flowers and chairs to sit on, mostly on All Saints Day, November 1, while they contemplated the unmarked graves of their loved ones.
La Barrranca is an outstanding example of popular initiatives to memorialize and dignify the remains of the victims of Francoist repression that took place during the first years of Spain´s transition to democracy. Local people in a few places, mostly in Navarre and Extremadura, exhumed unmarked graves and gave the people dumped there a proper burial. In Logroño, however, led by the Committee of Family and Friends of the Murdered in La Barranca, the decision was taken to leave the remains undisturbed and build a civil cemetery-memorial above them. The cemetery also contains a plaque listing the names of everyone buried in there as well as all the people murdered in La Rioja.