Justo Bueno chiselled out of historical memory

The mysterious disappearance of an anarchist serial killer from the Catalan version of the Valle de los Caídos.

This is the anarchist serial killer who, according to a good series of articles by Josep Maria Sòria in La Vanguardia in 2003,

  • in April 1936 shot dead Miquel Badia. (To be fair, Badia had it coming, as he himself acknowledged: failed regicide, fascist bootboy and strikebreaker for “our caudillo” Francesc Macià, head of security under Lluís Companys, ex-head of security after failing to stop the army during Companys’ 1934 attempt at secession…; one version of his death says that Companys–who over 20 years had built up good relations with the violent left–ordered the killing after discovering Badia was shagging el pajarito del Paralelo‘s latest mistress.)
  • in July 1936 massacred unarmed soldiers being held prisoner in the building of his syndicate.
  • seems to have been behind the murder of a fine journalist, Josep Maria Planes, and a cop, both of whom were investigating the Badia killings.
  • made a name for himself in the Durruti column on the Aragon front by slaughtering “undisciplined” colleagues as well as peasants who got in his way.
  • went over the Stalinists in late 1936 and got a little tank as a present.
  • made it back to Barcelona by early 1937 and confiscated a garage in which he killed and buried five people, beginning with a French aviator, Jean-Marie Moreau. Bueno had convinced his union, the CNT, and Moreau that a large sum of cash could be exchanged for an experimental plane. The handover in the garage left Moreau dead, the aeroplane sold for scrap, and the CNT with the story that Moreau had hoaxed Bueno and run off with the money. The next four to die were Bueno’s accomplices who had planned to escape with the loot but without him.
  • was captured by the police but rescued from Manresa prison by other companions and spirited with his booty to France, from where the republic requested his extradition.
  • wasn’t extradited by the French until after the war, when the new government failed to make the connection with the Badia killings.
  • was finally recognised on the Rambla by one of the policeman on the Badia case, detained, convicted and shot, despite claiming his crimes had been carried out against communists and separatists, and thus por Dios y por España.

Until recently his name (Catalanised as Just Bueno) figured on one of the memorial columns in the Catalanist version of the Valle de los Caídos, el Fossar de la Pedrera, as one of those “sacrificed for the liberty of Catalonia”. It’s fairly safe to assume that a substantial portion of the names remembered there belong to vulgar thieves and murderers, but Mr Bueno’s inclusion was surreal, hilarious.

We don’t often take groups around Montjuïc cemetery, but we were there this morning and found his name had been removed from the list of executions for 1944. Free-lance revisionism with hammer and chisel? The fence is easy to scale, and the security guards only go there to have a quiet smoke.

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  1. In the biographical notes to the anarchist Bruno Salvadori/Antoine Gimenez’s reminiscences of the 1930s, Les fils de la nuit, doubt is cast on parts of the conventional account of Justo Bueno’s life and crimes, it being suggested inter alia that Moreau was not buried in the garage and that Justo Bueno was gay. Les fils is published by the excellent L’insomniaque, which has a small and one hopes growing collection of books dealing with the Spanish Civil War.

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