Puig Antich’s sister: ‘They killed him here, every time we come here it is upsetting’
Catalan News visits La Model to interview family of Salvador Puig Antich, the last person executed in Barcelona’s infamous prison
Barcelona’s La Model prison is one of the most infamous and iconic sites in the city, it is also the place where one of the most infamous executions of the Franco regime took place. On March 2, 1974, a 25-year-old militant anarchist called Salvador Puig Antich was executed by garrote -a device that strangles the victim- and Puig Antich is now remembered as the last person to be executed in the notorious penitentiary that was finally closed last year.
Puig Antich’s death turned him into an icon for Catalan supporters of independence. Since his execution, Puig Antich has become the subject of books, plays and films, as well as providing inspiration for top Catalan artists. Exactly one year since La Model was closed, the Catalan News Agency talked to Puig Antich’s sisters, Imma and Carme, in the very building where their brother met his tragic end and was catapulted into the history books.
What does it mean for you to be inside La Model prison?
CARME: It’s very upsetting, because we used to come two times every week for 20 minutes, and then spend 12 hours locked up in the chapel, and they killed him here, every time we come here it is upsetting.
Your brother was the last person executed at La Model. It was internationally recognized. What are your memories of it?
IMMA: We remember it as brutal because not only was he executed but it was by garrote, and the garrote is the most brutal way there is, it is medieval. And later they killed Txiqui, another one, but they shot him, they didn’t kill him by garroting. It is too hard to describe.
Do you believe that enough has been done, in Catalonia, to recover the memory of victims of the Franco dictatorship, like your brother?
CARME: It is a long and difficult subject, for many years absolutely nothing was done, absolutely nothing. After a few years they began doing a few things, but people as individuals, politicians acting for themselves but not for a party. And other people. And since then more has been done, by a lot of everyday people, a great many people have put in a lot of effort, but on a state level nothing has been done.
Since La Model was closed a year ago, Catalonia has gone through complicated times. The same minister who closed it, Carles Mundó, ended up in prison, and nine people are still behind bars… Some say Spain isn’t democratic enough, that not enough has changed. You’ve lived through the dictatorship, what do you think?
CARME: For us it is a backward step, because they won’t let us move forward; there is very little in the way of democracy.
IMMA: The transition was not carried out well, everything was covered up, everything about Francoism was covered up and then we have a democracy with a lot trash swept under the carpet, and until what is under the carpet is cleaned out, not for Salvador, but for all those people who were killed at that time, nothing will have really been achieved. There are people who make an effort but it is a democracy that is not clean, that is not consolidated and we are seeing that more these days.