A message from our colleagues in the AABI (Association of Friends of the International Brigades) in Madrid…
A new year has begun which seems to herald important political changes. These changes will only become a reality if we are ready to fight for them. We hope that the victory of Syriza in Greece might open doors and encourage those who are still hesitant to step forward and embrace the hope for a fundamental political change in Spain.
While we get ready for the upcoming fight, we shall continue remembering the fight of those before us. This year’s memorial march to Jarama will be dedicated, as every year, to those who defended freedom in those heroic times. We will walk through the areas where the XI and XV International Brigades fought. Starting at the Restaurante El Alto, we will visit Suicide Hill and we will end by a small stone memorial dedicated to Charlie Donnelly. A total of 7km (4 miles) will be covered under the guidance of David Loriente, who will explain the development of the Battle of Jarama (February 1937) along these grounds. You will find further details in the attached document.
This year the march will end at the memorial to Charlie Donnelly, located at the beginning of the Valgrande path. Eddie O’Neill has written to remind us that it was during the 2007 memorial march that Maureen Fiining, accompanied by Bob Doyle and a delegation from Dungannon Borough Council, proposed the erection of a monument to Charlie Donnelly, fallen on 27 February 1937 at Jarama. Back then, a small memorial was created with stones, which features on the first of the attached photographs, and which was vandalised very soon afterwards. In 2009 another memorial was raised nearby (see 2nd and 3rd photos), and was inaugurated in the presence of Katleen Donnelly – Charlie’s sister-in-law – and her children. This is where our memorial march will end this year.
We would like to remember that some of our dear surviving veterans from the International Brigades celebrated their birthdays last December: Delmer Berg (98), Stan Hilton (97) and Virgilio Fernández (96). A few weeks earlier, Josep Almudéver had turned 95 and Juan Miguel de Mora 93. Antoine Pinol will celebrate his centenary in 2015 while César Covo, the oldest veteran, will turn 103. We wish each and all of them a happy 2015.
We would also like to congratulate our comrades in ARMH (Asociation for the Recovery of Historical Memory), who have been awarded the ALBA-Puffin award in the US in recognition of their work defending human rights, in this case the work they have done to rescue and dignify the memory of the Republicans executed by Spanish fascism. As an example of one of their exhumation campaigns, you can have a look at the report produced by our comrade Oscar Rodríguez, who works both in AABI and ARMH.
Salud, and strength to continue our fight.
11 January 2015