The truth of 'Las Marías' A documentary reveals the story of two well-known sisters of Santiago
Share on Whatsapp
Send by e-mail MARÍA FÁBREGAS
Santiago 17 APR 2008
They went out every day to walk the streets of Santiago, always at two o'clock, arranged with clothes and makeup as colorful as extravagant. There are still many people in the city who remember the inseparable sisters Coralia and Maruxa, better known as Las Marías , two emblematic characters from Compostela who are only known by the new generations for the statue that pays homage to them at the entrance to the park. Mall.
But under that reputation of madness that precedes them until today, they hid a personal drama that not everyone knows, with the Civil War as a backdrop. This is how the documentary Coralia e Maruxacollects it , as irmás Fandiño , from Xosé Rivadulla Corcón, for whose elaboration it has counted on testimonies of people like Encarna Otero, Xosé Luis Bernal or Dionisio Pereira.
The Falangists mistreated them to find out the whereabouts of their brothers
"Those who did not rebel out of fear saw in 'Las Marías' a cry of freedom"
They were born into a working family of 11 brothers, three of them prominent members of the CNT. The documentary tells how after the outbreak of the Civil War, one of them is killed while the other two manage to flee. The nightmare for the sisters began when the Falangists tried to use the family to find out their whereabouts. At odd hours of the night, they arrived at the Fandiño house, searched and broke up the house, stripped the sisters of the public road to humiliate them and put them up on the Pedroso mountain in Santiago. "It's not proven, but there are people who say they came to torture and even rape," explains Rivadulla.
With little more than 20 years and without getting involved with anyone, the life of Las Marías becomes a bad dream that will last from the beginning of the war until the mid-40s. Rivadulla points out that these continued mistreatments were the cause of the madness that both suffered, because "before they were not like that". Finally the fled brothers were arrested and the pressure on the Fandiño ceased.
Even so, his economic situation was very precarious. The sisters stopped working as seamstresses, a job they had been doing together with their mother, because the clients stopped wearing clothes "for being an anarchist family, for fear of being meaning". They lived in part thanks to the charity of the neighbors. They did not help them directly, because those who knew them knew that they would not accept alms, but left them anonymously small amounts of money in different stores, in which they later bought.
The solidarity of the neighbors was put to the test in the early 60's, when a storm threw down the roof of the house of the Fandiño. Immediately a large collection was organized among the residents of Santiago and 250,000 pesetas were collected. "It's spectacular," says Rivadulla, "because at the time that's what it cost a flat."
"They showed their madness by showing rebels against society," says the author. Las Marias never went unnoticed, not only because of their striking dress and their faces made up with rice powder, but because of their attitude. "They complimented the men on something that, of course, did not occur to any other woman, they always stated that all men fell in love with them and flirted with students." Contrary to what it may seem, they were very different: Coralia, the youngest and tallest, was shy and not very talkative, while Maruxa, smaller but older, was the one with the lead.
The opinion of the author of the documentary is that the sisters played, possibly without knowing it, a fundamental role in that era of repression. "Many people who felt drowned by the regime and who did not rebel for fear of reprisals, saw in Las Marías that cry of freedom." When Maruxa died in 1980, Coralia went to live with another sister in A Coruña, a city she never adapted to. He died three years later after asking many times what was the way to return to Santiago.
* This article appeared in the print edition of Thursday, April 17, 2008