Amalia Álvarez and Alexandre Bóveda: they did not bury corpses, they buried seeds
Amalia Álvarez Gallego’s father bullied his 18-year-old daughter, telling her: “You talk a lot about that guy from the Treasury.” She would reply angrily: “Bah, I don’t even notice him. I want a tall one, I don’t like that one”. Because Alexandre Bóveda, “that one from the Treasury”, was short. And from Ourense. He had arrived in Pontevedra in 1926, at the age of 23, thanks to a brilliant career in the public administration: at that age he was already head of accounting for the Treasury, and in Pontevedra he found a perfect breeding ground for his political concerns. Castelao, Antón Losada Diéguez, Iglesias Vilarelle or Valentín Paz Andrade coincided in the city at that time, with whom he would end up founding the Galeguista Party (PG). He also found love: Amalia Álvarez Gallego and Alexandre Bóveda Iglesias fell in love singing. They were both in the Polyphonic Choir. They started talking, going out. And she, little by little, began to talk about him. Until her father pointed it out to her, and she, who was very worthy of her, said no: she didn’t like short men. 60 years after the execution of her husband Alexandre Bóveda, she acknowledged that she did. “Wow, I liked it. It was everything: to talk about, that marvelous falar e contar”.
Images from the time show them strolling through the gardens of the Plaza de Ourense, going to see a football match in Pontevedra, sitting in the Alameda de A Coruña or, like the photo that illustrates this page, taking a boat ride along the Ría de Pontevedra during the procession of San Benito on July 11. They were married on October 20, 1930 at the Poio Monastery. Xosé María Álvarez Blázquez, the bride’s cousin and writer, wrote that Alexandre seemed like a child full of happiness. He wore a small white flower on his lapel and played nervously with his gloves, also white. They went to live in Andurique, a place next to Pontevedra, on the other side of the A Barca bridge.
Until 1936, Bóveda did many things, the most important of all together with Amalia Álvarez: five children in six years. He also lived abroad for a year, was Secretary of Organization of the PG and launched the first Statute of Autonomy of Galicia hand in hand, among others, with Enrique Rajoy Leloup, grandfather of Mariano Rajoy. In between, he became a tenor and soloist with the Polyphonic Choir. There they had a baritone, Víctor Lis Quibén, an educated doctor and ethnographic scholar, who in 1936 led a paramilitary group dedicated to the “extermination of reds” in Sanxenxo, Poio and Pontevedra: they killed at night and looted union premises; Lis Quibén was removed from such a group (the Civic Guard) due to his brutal violence.
On July 18, 1936, after the coup d’état, Alexandre Bóveda appeared in the Civil Government to form part of a collaboration group in defense of the Republic together with the governor. And more people, including Amancio Caamaño, Telmo Bernárdez, Luis Poza, Paulo Novás, Germán Adrio, Benigno Rey, José Adrio Barreiro, Víctor Casas, Juan Rico and Ramiro Paz (all of them shot on November 12 in Pontevedra) and Juan Milleiro , shot in 1937, and Amando Guiance Pampín.
Years later, the widow of Bóveda would remember Pontevedra Newspaper that one of those nights, between July 18 and 20, he had a nightmare: he had dreamed that Alexandre was walking past the house dressed as a soldier, and was shot dead. She woke up crying, and he asked her: “Choliñas, Choliñas, what’s up?” And she would remember a long time later that those two days she asked him not to walk home, that there might be someone who would shoot him, and he would laugh and say: “But who is going to want to kill me?”
On July 20, at 7:40 p.m., as he was leaving the Civil Government, the military command stopped him to recommend that he not leave the city, that he not cross the A Barca bridge to get to his house, since there were many shootings taking place in this zone. Bóveda complied with the request (or order?) And decided to sleep at the house of his in-laws, the Álvarez-Limeses. They were the first who really worried him: they recommended that he run away. Bóveda’s wife, Amalia, had received a conversation in which a husband told his wife: “They have to liquidate those reds. They say that there are already lists of people to kill”. Alexandre Bóveda did not pay attention to his in-laws either: why would he run away? That night he stayed up late talking to his sister-in-law, Lolita Álvarez Gallego.
One of the witnesses in the trial of the Galician nationalist Alexandre Bóveda was the lawyer Gonzalo Adrio, who died in 2018, who slipped into the sessions as a public at just 17 years old. interviewed by Pontevedra Newspaper, he remembered well the “pantomime” that had been that. They tried him together with Amando Guiance, sentenced to life imprisonment that finally ended in 20 years. “At every trick question from prosecutor Ramón Rivero de Aguilar, an official from the Provincial Council would get up clapping loudly,” said Adrio. Vault was sentenced to death. This was his last statement: “My natural homeland is Galicia. I love her fervently. I would never betray her, even if I were given centuries to live. I adore her even beyond my death. If the court understands that for this endearing love the capital punishment should be applied to me, I will receive it as one more sacrifice for her, and under her flag I wish to be buried (…) ”.
“My mother said that she spent more time with Galicia than with us,” she told The world his daughter, Amelia. “And I think that when they arrested him, he recognized it and regretted not having thought more of us. My mother never spoke, only at the end, and I found out more things”. In that same conversation, in 2014, she recounted a very cloudy memory that she had as a child: “In summer he played in front of the door of the house we had in Poio. She played by herself at noon because no one was there, and a very thick man would always pass by and stare at me. It scared me a lot and one day I told my mother. The next day we both waited outside the door to see who she was. She passed by as always, she didn’t see me outside and she continued on. My mother told me very seriously that she should never leave the house at that time again. Only when I was older did I know who she was: Víctor Lis Quibén ”.
After the conviction, Alexandre Bóveda refused to sign a last appeal in the hope that this would leave his family alone. He dated himself to be executed on August 17 at 5:30 a.m., at an undetermined point on highway number 1 of Campañó, in Pontevedra. The afternoon of the 16th was the last time that Amalia Rodríguez, five months pregnant, was able to see her crush, the short man, “that one from the Treasury”, whom she flirtatiously disowned at first. David Otero, in his book on Bóveda (Alexandre Vault. No demand for restoration, Laiovento, 2009) beautifully describes that farewell: “Alí déronse o derradeiro bico de amor. Of eternal fidelity. They honestly fixed two innocent people who were stealing something incalculable from them”. The time he was alive was spent designing his own tombstone: a cross, his name (someone later went to his grave to cross out the ‘x’ and put a ‘j’), the date of his death and a five star. tips. He also confessed, went to mass and received communion. That morning, the truck that was taking him to be shot passed a few meters from his house, where Amalia spent the nights, sleepless, along with her four children.
The execution was carried out in A Caeira, next to the A Barca bridge, next to Pontevedra; So much so that Amalia’s brother, Xerardo Álvarez Gallego, heard the shots: “We picked out two shots in Caeira. It was like a stab wound, we were not closed (backbone)”. “They didn’t bury corpses, they buried seeds (seeds),” Castelao said of the executions.
There were two stories before that that featured a friend of Alexandre’s, Xosé Sesto. Bóveda had asked to be buried with a Galician flag, something he was denied; Sesto, when the corpse was going to be buried in the San Mauro cemetery, approached him and hid a small flag on his chest, under his jacket. Sesto himself, in the hours before the execution, received an unusual visit from a soldier. He was a man who had been a close friend of Bóveda, whom he had gone to visit in jail, with whom he played in Ourense when they were children. And he had been on the firing squad. Sesto told him to feign illness; the soldier replied that in that case they would mount a court martial. Sesto then asked him if he had children. He said yes. Giving up, he asked him if he was a good shot. The soldier told him that he was qualified as a sharpshooter. “Well, that extraordinary value that I see in you, put it at the service, serenely, of your pulse, and aim our friend at the heart, so that he does not suffer.” This is how Xosé Luis Bóveda, son of Alexandre Bóveda, reacted to the story when asked if he got to know that friend: “I was a two-year-old boy. You will understand that whoever he was, and whatever his condition, no one would introduce him to one of those who shot my father.”
Amalia Bóveda, the daughter of whom Amalia Álvarez was pregnant when Alexandre was murdered, is an endearing, affectionate and lucid woman. One of the reasons for that character of hers is that she never allowed herself to hate her: she did not grant that luxury to her father’s enemies. “Every August 17 my mother would take the five of us and take us to the cemetery to see him. My mother was left alone with five children, they separated us brothers to be able to get ahead. I went to a boarding school run by Piarist nuns in Carabanchel Alto. One day at the reds, as the nuns called us, they hid us in a classroom when Franco came to visit the school, ”she told The world eight years ago.
At home they did not talk about what happened. “I suppose out of a sense of protection, for not encouraging hatred and for his last letter. Some ladies came to spit on her in the street. Since her husband had been shot, and she was the widow of Alexandre Bóveda, humiliating her was an undoubted adherence to the regime, ”she said. “But she maintained friendships with Falangist families all her life, with neighboring families with whom she had lived in peace until the war and after. And she lived long enough to see the restoration of my father’s figure, his bust in this square, the monument where he was killed, his recognition as the city’s favorite son, his anniversary as Día de Galiza. Martyr. And thanks to her none of us grew up with revenge. We just wanted, and still want to know, because you always have to know everything. But hate no. Because those who did it are dead, and children must never pay for the sins of their parents.”
Amalia Álvarez Gallego died on November 27, 2001, 65 years after the execution of Alexandre Bóveda. Her last wish was that her remains rest next to his, so Xosé Luis Bóveda opened the Álvarez crypt in the San Mauro cemetery, where the remains of her father were together with others of his political family; he was soon able to recognize them because the coup de grâce hole was in Bóveda’s skull.
Amalia Bóveda Álvarez, the baby who never got to know her father, found out who Alexandre Bóveda was when one day they told her on the street that he was a man who had gone crazy and had picked up weapons and was walking down the street shooting. She arrived at her house and told her mother: she told her the truth. She told him how her father had died and why. And she told him about the letter. It was the last thing Alexandre Bóveda wrote in prison, at the age of 33. A letter written in Galician and addressed to that girl with whom he began to fall in love while they sang in the choir.
«Cholinas, Miña Peque, Vidiña:
I would like to write to you a lot. But you already know everything I could tell you. Forgive me everything, may the little ones always remember me; that you fulfill all my orders. I, almina, will always be with you as I promised you. There are a few minutes left and I have courage, for you, for the earth, for everyone. I go calm. Goodbye, Vidiña: live for the little ones and the old, hug them, comfort them. Be You, my admirable little girl, the bravest of all. There I will feel joy and satisfaction from you and everyone. I will always remember you, I will always watch over you. Bye bye. With you, with the little ones, with the old all, it will always be in the memory, in the biggest, deepest, most infinite of hugs, yours, Xandro.
PS / I prayed with you».
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