to join the new collective enterprise. To their bewilderment, the Civil Guard replied to the offer with gunfire. Many fled the village, but some took refuge in the hut of the septuagenarian Curro Cruz, known as Seisdedos. Inside with Seisdedos were his two sons, his cousin, his daughter and son-in-law, his daughter-in-law and his two grandchildren. They and a few other villagers were armed only with shotguns loaded with pellets. A company of Assault Guards arrived under the command of Captain Manuel Rojas Feijespan. During a night-long siege, several were killed as machine-gun bullets penetrated the mud walls of the hovel. Rojas ordered the Guards to set fire to the hut. Those who tried to escape were shot down. Another twelve villagers were executed in cold blood. 77
The immediate reaction of the rightist press was favourable, echoing its customary applause for the Civil Guard’s repression of the rural proletariat. 78 However, when they realized that political capital could be made, rightist groups cried crocodile tears and echoed anarchist indignation. Before the full details of the massacre were known, all three Socialist ministers, especially the moderate Indalecio Prieto, had given Azaña their support for the anarchist rising to be suppressed. 79 However, despite their hostility to the anarchists, the Socialists could not approve of the gratuitous brutality displayed by the forces of order. To make matters worse, the officers responsible claimed falsely that they had been acting under orders. They were backed up to devastating effect by the future leader of the Unión Militar Española. Captain Barba Hernández was on duty the night of 8 January 1933. When the scandal broke out, he defended his friend Captain Rojas Feijespan by claiming that Azaña had personally given the order ‘shoot them in the belly’. Seized upon by the right-wing press, the fabrication did immense damage to the Republican–Socialist coalition. 80 Casas Viejas and its repercussions brought home to the Socialist leadership the cost of participation in the government. They saw that the defence of the bourgeois Republic against the anarchists was sacrificing their credibility with the Socialist masses.
There was further violence during the campaign for the re-run municipal elections on 23 April 1933. There were to be elections in twenty-one towns in the province of Badajoz, the most important being Hornachos. On that day, the Mayor of Zafra, José González Barrero, headed a demonstration in Hornachos of three hundred Socialists andCommunists. Red flags were flown and revolutionary chants heard. Initially, on the orders of the Civil Governor, the Civil Guard stood back. However, local rightists, who were running in the elections as the Anti-Marxist Coalition, approached Rafael Salazar Alonso, one of the Radical deputies for the province, who was in Hornachos on that day. Since there was no telephone line to Hornachos, Salazar Alonso drove to the nearby town of Villafranca de los Barros where he telephoned the Minister of the Interior and called for the Civil Guard to be given the freedom to open fire. In his own account, he was still in Villafranca de los Barros when that happened. Other sources suggest that, in fact, he was present when, after stones were thrown and a shot fired, the Civil Guard in Hornachos began to shoot at the crowd. Four men and one woman were killed and fourteen people wounded. Forty workers were arrested, several of whom were badly beaten. 81 It was widely believed that Salazar Alonso was responsible for the action of the Civil Guard in Hornachos on that day. 82
The pugnacious and provocative Salazar Alonso was a man given to extreme enthusiasms who, prior to 1931, had been a fiery, anti-clerical Republican but had undergone a dramatic change after falling under the spell of the landed aristocracy of Badajoz. In consequence, he threw himself into the service of reactionary interests with the zeal of a convert and played
J.D. Hollyfield, Skeleton Key