“Not all myths have to be Greek. Gamonal’s is a necessary myth, that the common are capable of defeating the most powerful “. Sergio Izquierdo, Burgos historian, high school teacher and scriptwriter of the graphic novel ‘Gamonal. In the echo of the same memory’ (ed. The red sheep) speaks. aims to tell the story of the Burgos neighborhood of Gamonal, which jumped into the national press in the 2014 protests, and which aspires to be published in March 2021. “The objective is to understand why people took to the streets in 2014, tired of the whole situation, but also to tell the story of a town, a people and a neighborhood that when they joined, it went viral and they stopped the monster, “says the illustrator -also Burgos- of this novel, María de la Fuente.
This comic is already in the editing process and has started recently a crowdfunding campaign in Verkami to support this project, which traces through its cartoons how the protests of 2014 and the 2017 trial were experienced in Gamonal −10 sentenced to six months in prison and one woman sentenced to one year in prison−, but also delves into other aspects of Gamonal such as the teacher shot during the civil war, the airfield from which the planes that bombed Gernika left or how the town of Gamonal was annexed to the Burgos capital. “The neighborhood has a very rich history,” Izquierdo claims before elDiario.es.
In 2014, the Burgos City Council – then in the hands of the Popular Party – wanted to impose a boulevard that the residents rejected because they believed that the neighborhood needed more support in other areas such as Social Services. A ‘pharaonic work’ designed by a company owned by Miguel Méndez Pozo, ‘the boss’, and that a friendly company was going to run. Méndez Pozo was convicted in the 1990s for falsifying documents in the construction case and is the owner of various media in Burgos and Castilla y León.
Neighbors took to the streets against this imposition in 2014, but it was not the first time that these Burgos have demanded their rights in a neighborhood where associations are very strong. The comic by Sergio Izquierdo and María de la Fuente has several years of research and interviews with Gamonal neighbors, protesters and historians. Some characters in the story are real neighbors – such as Honorato Rupelo, one of those who still remember the Gamonal town before the annexation in 1955 -. Several figures from regional and national politics will also make their ‘cameos’ in a novel that portrays police officers, journalists and even musicians from Burgos, but does not forget one of its great men of letters, Virgilio Mazuela.
The graphic novel, tinged with nostalgia, captures through a young woman from Barcelona of Burgos origin the beginning of the protests, the arrests and the subsequent judicial process. “But what happened in 2014 is only the tip of the iceberg. We must also go back to the problems in this area, built in the late 70s and early 80s” with hardly any facilities and with space problems “in a working-class neighborhood in that unemployment is one of the biggest problems they face. “There was no criterion or order except a construction benefit. It is a chaotic neighborhood, “says Sergio Izquierdo, who regrets that, historically, in other areas of Burgos, problems are faced with” dialogue “while in Gamonal” order and command “has been used.
In 2017, Izquierdo began taking the first steps to tell this story with Fernando Ortega. The intention was to do an essay, but by then the Gamonal question had already been published in numerous magazines and books. So they bet on the comic format. “Faced with critical reading books such as ‘Gamonal. History from below’, we are looking for a more romantic focus because we need references to believe in,” says Izquierdo.
The first illustrator could not reconcile the project with his personal and work life and in 2018, Sergio Izquierdo contacted María de la Fuente, whom he knew from an explanatory work they carried out at the Recovered Social Center of Gamonal. Hand in hand, both were shaping this work that will be completed in the coming months.
“When he told me, he had practically done it, my part has been basically the visual one,” María de la Fuente, illustrator and graduate in Art History, tells this newspaper. A fan of Belgian, French and Spanish comedians, this is her first graphic novel, she confesses “versatile” in drawing. “It is not that I have used this style specifically for the comic, but it is the one that comes out so loose,” he says.
Laia, the protagonist of this story, will return to Gamonal, where her parents grew up before moving to Barcelona, in a constant exodus from Burgos and other cities in Castilla y León. He will precisely travel to Burgos in 2017, while the trial is being held against those who were detained in the neighborhood protests. In Gamonal you will be able to know that there is a Burgos beyond the medieval and monumental center. That Gamonal, one of the most densely populated Spanish neighborhoods, is much more than protests over a boulevard. Gamonal is a rural exodus, it is employment and unemployment, it is a growing population. Gamonal is where David beat Goliath and has paid for his fight. The neighborhood has felt “grounded” in recent years for the protests and now faces a new proposal from the City Council –In the hands of the PSOE– with skepticism.
The reader will be able to delve into the protests, but also know the history of the town and subsequent Burgos neighborhood, how it was formed in the Middle Ages, the passage of Romans and Napoleons through Gamonal and how the Francoist side shot Fernando Plasencia in 1936, teacher of Gamonal. Not that it was especially significant in politics, but he was shot even before the general secretary of the Burgos CNT in 1936, Nicolás Neira.
“Sometimes remembering is equivalent to foreseeing the future of Gamonal”, assures the author of ‘Gamonal. In the echo of the same memory ‘. Izquierdo recognizes that over the years the case of Gamonal has been mythologized, precisely because it comes from a city as conservative as Burgos, in the Castilian plain. “There are myths that are necessary and in which we must believe and bear in mind, that the common people are capable of standing up to the established powers. All together, like those of Fuenteovejuna,” he reflects.