Homage to the victims, in the restored cemetery

On 1st December 2012 the remains of the 28 people who had been shot, who were found in the excavations at El Marrufo, were buried in the cemetery at La Sauceda, which had been rebuilt as part of the project. The ceremony was attended by hundreds of people from all over Andalucía. Beside the entrance door to the mausoleum a ceramic plaque has been installed, bearing the names of all those who died or disappeared in the valley of La Sauceda and about whom, at present, nothing is known.

In 2014, the Foro por la Memoria del Campo de Gibraltar and the Asociación de Familiares de Represaliados en La Sauceda y El Marrufo announced that they had managed to identify 13 of the 28 people whose remains had been exhumed.

On 1st December 2012 the remains of the 28 people were buried at La Sauceda cemetery, which had also been restored as part of the project carried out by the association of families of those who suffered reprisals, and thanks to the sponsorship of Grupo Festina.


The cemetery, which had been abandoned for years and was overgrown with weeds and in a dreadful state of repair, was completely restored by a group of builders in the summer of 2012. They made the walls safe, plastered them and whitewashed them again, and did the same with all the existing niches and tombs. The builders also made a stone path from the road to the entrance gate of the cemetery, and constructed a small mausoleum next to a side wall. It was in this mausoleum that the remains of the 28 people which were discovered during the exhumation at El Marrufo were laid to rest.

Hundreds of people from all over Andalucía attended the commemoration and burial. The ceremony was opened by the president of the families association, Andrés Rebolledo Barreno, who welcomed all those present and invited the mayor of Cortes, Antonio Granero González, and the general director of Democratic Memory at the Junta de Andalucía, Luis Naranjo Cordobés, to uncover a commemorative ceramic plaque in the cemetery. The plaque bears the following inscription: “Valley of La Sauceda. Where lives were felled, dreams and hope take up the fight for memory and justice” (translation). The mayor of Cortes said that the tribute was a longstanding debt to the valley of La Sauceda. The general director of Democratic Memory stressed that this was a historic day; that the victims had been resisting fascism and he wanted to make it absolutely clear, in the name of the Junta de Andalucía, that there could be no equidistance, that the victims are morally and politically superior to their executioners. Naranjo Cordobés praised the whole process of investigation and exhumation at El Maruffo, and added that it was an exemplary intervention.

Andrés Rebolledo said that “this country is in debt to the victims and we do not understand how there can be first and second class victims. We have the same right to justice, and in the whole country these crimes against humanity which are punishable under international law cannot be subject to a Statute of Limitations. This country also subscribed to that law.” He then added that “We will continue to demand truth, justice and reparation, we will not accept the law, full stop. The crimes committed here and all over the country cannot be ignored because they happened so long ago; they are crimes against humanity which are punishable by international law, and this country subscribes to that law.”
He also pointed out that “28 bodies have been found, seven of them women, all with signs of violence and we have evidence from testimonies and investigations that many more people were killed in this valley. We will continue doing everything we possibly can to find the other graves, although we believe this should be the responsibility of the administrations and it is a shame that it has to be the families that are making so much effort. These 28 will represent and be a symbol for ever of those who are still lying where they were thrown, in communal graves in this valley.”
In early 2014, the Foro por la Memoria del Campo de Gibraltar and the Asociación de Familiares de Represaliados por el Franquismo en La Sauceda y el Marrufo announced that 13 of the 28 people whose remains had been exhumed had been identified. This had been possible thanks to analysis of DNA from the bones and its comparison with the DNA in saliva samples from people they were able to locate, whose relatives had disappeared at La Sauceda. Nine of those identified belonged to different families and in another two cases there were two members of the same family: mother and son in one case, and two brothers in the other. For the other 15 skeletons which were exhumed there were no matches to establish a definite relationship with those who had provided saliva samples. The identifications were possible thanks to the work by technicians at the NBT laboratory at Bollullos de la Mitación, in Seville province, with whom the physical anthropologists Juan Manuel Guijo and Juan Carlos Pecero had collaborated.
The families of the 13 people whose remains were identified welcomed the news, because it brought a little peace into lives which had been marked by tragedy and the loss of loved ones at an early age: fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings or aunts and uncles who were killed for the simple crime of having remained loyal to the legitimate government of the Republic. Nearly all were land workers, small farmers, charcoal sellers or cattle breeders; one was a postman and the other a trader.
Knowing who they were, and where the bones of our relatives lie, does not take away the suffering we have experienced but it is a consolation and it removes the uncertainty over their whereabouts. These bodies may have been recovered but there is still a long way to go to achieve the truth, justice and reparation which are the objective of the Foro por la memoria del Campo de Gibraltar and the Asociación de familiares de Represaliados por el franquismo en La Sauceda y el Marrufo.