The nonagenarian grasshopper expert who had to flee Franco | Science

The nonagenarian grasshopper expert who had to flee Franco | Science


Antonio Bolívar Goyanes was the editor of three of Gabriel García Márquez's last books (The general in his labyrinth, Live to tell Y Memory of my sad whores), but he has not come to Spain to talk about magical realism. Or maybe yes. Bolivar, a beloved 77-year-old Mexican, landed in Madrid on Monday with a medal decorated with the drawing of a magnifying glass and a compass. The last time this badge set foot on Spanish soil was in the throes of civil war, shortly before he was born. "I brought it because we could never return it," he explains.

Bolívar Goyanes is the grandson of Ignacio Bolívar Urrutia, the so-called prince of the Spanish natural sciences. Born in 1850 in Madrid, he became one of the best entomologists in the world, introduced Darwinian ideas in Spain and directed the National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Royal Botanical Garden. The poet Antonio Machado, in his Juan de Mairena, quoted the "distinguished Bolívar, hunting grasshoppers at his seventy years, with general amazement of the eagles, vultures and alcotanes of the carpetovetónica mountain range".

The poet Antonio Machado quoted the "famous Bolívar, hunting grasshoppers at his seventy years"

When the Spaniards killed each other in the civil war, Ignacio was already a nonagenarian expert in crickets and grasshoppers, but he had meant in favor of the Republic denouncing "Spain fastened by fascism." The eminence in the study of insects, almost without sight, had to flee. On July 26, 1939, aboard a steamboat, he arrived at the Mexican port of Veracruz with his family. "I'm going to die with dignity," he proclaimed.

Ignacio Bolívar carried with him the medal that credited him as academic number 2 of the Royal Academy of Sciences. "During the dictatorship they erased all vestige of those who were on the side of the Republic," laments his grandson. On May 10, 1941, the new Francoist authorities ordered that Bolivar Urrutia and six other scientists be dispossessed of their medals as scholars. Today, in a solemn ceremony at the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Sciences, in Madrid, the Vice President of the Government, Carmen Calvo, and the Minister of Science, Pedro Duque, have proclaimed the injustice of punishment and have declared their illegitimacy.

In addition to Ignacio Bolívar, the event has honored physicists Blas Cabrera and Pedro Carrasco, Einstein's hosts in Spain; the chemist Enrique Moles, the astronomer Honorato de Castro, the mining engineer Enrique Hauser and the aeronautical engineer Emilio Herrera. "Four of them died in exile in Mexico," says Bolívar Goyanes. Some 25,000 Spaniards, including thousands of intellectuals, fled to the North American country before the arrival of the Franco regime. "Mexico never recognized Franco's dictatorship, "underlines Antonio.

Ignacio Bolívar and his son Cándido founded the magazine in 1940 in his Mexican exile Science, prohibited by Franco

The house of his grandfather Ignacio in the Plaza Rio de Janeiro 56 was the epicenter of Spanish exile in Mexico City. "I dream of doing something that works in favor of Science and of these nations that welcome us with generosity and do nothing, I have time to think and imagine what we could do when we are so far apart against our will and I thought that We could unite our efforts to encourage the development of the physical and chemical sciences in all of Latin America, "he wrote on September 25, 1939 to his botanist friend José Cuatrecasas, the investigations of the historian Miguel Ángel Puig-Samper.

That dream was immediately realized. On March 1, 1940, the magazine appeared in Mexico Science, directed by Ignacio Bolívar, already almost blind. One of its main editors was also the entomologist Cándido Bolívar Pieltain, son of Ignacio and father of Antonio. The first issue of Science proclaimed that the publication was born to "raise the level of public culture, in terms of the physical-natural sciences, exposing, in understandable language for all, the state of the problems of general interest that every enlightened person should know" .

In his book Spanish science in exile (1939-1989), the chemist Francisco Giral remembered that the Mexican exiles sent 500 copies of the first issue of the magazine to Spain, but the Francoist authorities immediately prohibited its distribution. "The fact of seeing together so many names of exiled Spanish science working and publishing from Mexico in collaboration with a select and numerous list of Spanish-American scientists seems to have been resented by the Francoist tyrannical authorities as an aggression worse than military attacks," Giral wrote. , born in Salamanca in 1911 and died in his Mexican exile, which was already his home, in 2002.

"My father was the soul of the magazine Science", Affirms Antonio Bolívar. His father, Cándido Bolívar Pieltain, was born in Madrid in 1897 and soon acquired the love for insects of the patriarch of the family. In 1911, at age 14, he described a new species, found in caves in the Cantabrian region, according to the historian Santos Casado. And, when the Second Republic arrived in 1931, that expert caveman insects was involved in the political renewal of Spain, performing various positions related to health and education. When Manuel Azaña assumed the presidency of the Republic, in May 1936, Cándido Bolívar agreed to be his personal secretary. Two months later the civil war broke out. And the entomologist was faithful to the legitimate president. Candido, with his nonagenarian father Ignacio, traveled to exile in Mexico in 1939.

Antonio, born in 1942, only spent two years in the arms of his grandfather, who died in 1944. His father, Cándido, died on November 26, 1976, in time to live a year longer than the dictator Francisco Franco. Antonio is today "maybe the last typographer to the good old way that is staying in Mexico", as described by García Márquez in the acknowledgments of the novel The general in his labyrinth. He has been a book editor for more than 50 years. "I entered the trade at the hand of my father. I helped him correct proofs of the magazine Science since I was seven or eight, "he recalls.

"You have to close the wounds with the truth, because only then will they be closed," Vice President Carmen Calvo said.

Today, Antonio has been the voice of Spanish exile in the act of reparation to the seven repressed academics. "You have to close the wounds with the truth, because only then will they be closed," said Vice President Carmen Calvo. Before the surprise of Jesús María Sanz Serna, president of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Bolívar has returned, 75 years late, the academic medal of his grandfather Ignacio, as the nineteenth-century protocol of the institution marks after a death. With the voice broken, the son and grandson of exiles has read a poem, written in 1939 by the Spanish poet Pedro Garfias on board the ship that was taking him to Mexico:

Spain that we lost, do not lose us;
keep us in your collapsed forehead,
keep the living hole at your side
of our bitter absence
that one day we will return, faster,
on the dense and powerful back
of this sea, with waving arms
and the throbbing of the sea in the throat.

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