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JOSÉ SUÁREZ ORELLANA

 

José Suárez Orellana (Las Algámitas, 1893 – Seville, 1986), socialist, anti-clerical, anti-anarchist, was petty mayor of Casas Viejas (1931) and councilor in the Medina Sidonia City Council (1931-1934 and 1936) for the PSOE during the Second Republic.

He spent his childhood and early youth in Las Algámitas, a settlement in Campo de Casas Viejas. In 1921 he married María Luisa Pérez-Blanco Vargas and in 1930 they moved to Casas Viejas.

In 1933, he witnessed the events of Casas Viejas. After the restoration of order in the town, he helped transport the dead to the cemetery and assisted in the care of the wounded. He was also in charge of receiving the authorities and the press in the following days.

That year, the Institute of Agrarian Reform (IRA), based in Jerez de la Frontera, entrusted him with the task of organizing a peasant community in San José de Malcocinado that would serve as a model for others that were to be established in the province of Cadiz. . From that first one, he put into operation seven more communities (Los Badalejos, Torrecillas-Pedregosillo, Charco Dulce, Valcargado, Canalejas, Picazo and Rehuelga) and was commissioned to supervise the march of many others throughout the province.

In his political activity, he stood out for his confrontations with the PRR, the CNT and the Medina City Council, for his role as mediator in conflicts (especially between peasants and landowners), for denouncing large landowners and nobles, and for confronting the Communists who arrived from Cádiz to burn the church of Casas Viejas in 1936. In this sense, he was always very clear that one of the main reasons for the dire situation in which the village found itself had its roots in the economy, specifically in the ownership structure; in the distribution of the land, in short.

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Falange de Medina Sidonia went after him and fled to the republican zone until he reached Malaga capital. His exodus led him to Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal; During this period, he worked for the National Federation of Land Workers (FNTT), attached to the UGT. The end of the war found him in the port of Alicante, where he was arrested, like thousands of Spaniards who were waiting for the English and French ships to get to safety. For eight months he passed through various concentration camps and in November 1939 he was released. He returned to Madrid and, finally, in December, to Casas Viejas. Days later, they arrested him again and imprisoned him in Medina Sidonia, where he remained until the court martial in which he was tried in May 1940, accused of “the crime of assisting the rebellion.”

Once acquitted and released, he had to live a harsh post-war period: he made a living in the cork and charcoal in Las Algámitas, set up a bar in Los Barrios and was a taxi driver and farm broker in Benalup de Sidonia. In 1949, worried about the future of his wife and four children, he emigrated to Seville, where he settled with difficulty and worked as a flat broker.

In his memoirs, written between 1977 and 1981, and unpublished until 2020, you can see someone steeped in social justice and interested in culture and education.

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