Monday, February 24, 2020

Decapitations in Bigastro!

Translated from an account by Pascual Segura - Official Chronista.

Bigastro is a place sculpted by the history of its territory and its people. History of their achievements, marked by the myths and echoes of the past, but also of their misfortunes, which their longest-lived neighbours never forgot and that they remember with a calm voice, a firm look and a sad story.

There are stories that, because of their amazement, incongruity or rarity, seem impossible. And I will not deny it, I also thought that this story never happened, that arose from the imagination of a neighbour who in another century fantasized the story to the astonishment of his neighbours, but no. History always surprises, especially when the facts are proven, and it is that after the pertinent investigation I can assure that the legend of the beheading has little of legend, because we are facing a reality. A real fact that I have documented today, and that happened like this:

Shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 36, the town of Bigastro, governed by Mayor José Aureliano Díaz Ortuño, was finalizing some infrastructure that would improve the lives of its neighbours, such as the Unamuno unitary schools, which contributed to Great measure to your educational progress. Important works were also carried out in some streets of the town, such as San Pascual Street and San Joaquin, which were renovated with rock extracted from La Pedrera. In addition, the expansion of the current municipal cemetery took place, by the master mason José Grau, who built several niches for eternal rest of his neighbours. In turn, the carpenter Enrique Brotons placed the last slats on the newly installed wooden benches in the old Republic Square, now Constitution Square.

It was 1934, and while the session was finalizing the celebrations in time to commemorate the Republic Day - appointment of a party commission, hiring the band, gunpowder request, etc. - a seemingly daily event managed to shake the foundations of tranquillity from the neighbourhood. Nothing extraordinary seemed to have happened, since a dog had bitten a neighbour, but it is that the animal was infected, possibly from the disease of rabies, and of course, all the alarms went off, because in addition to not being the only infected animal, The life of the neighbour was in danger.
The rabies virus was and is a disease that is present in all the continents of our planet, being one of the most recognized and feared diseases throughout history, and it is not for less, because it is spread rapidly through A simple bite.

The misfortune caught the authorities of the town hall by surprise, who, with the advice of the town veterinarian, decided to take action on the matter: they killed the dog and cut off his head. "Dead the dog, the rabies is gone". But what about the head? Why decapitate the animal?

Well no, it was not a whim, and that was the protocol to follow for this type of accident. When an animal infected with rabies was suspected, it was first killed, then cut off its head. The dog's body remained in Bigastro, usually burned, but the head had to be transported to the city of Alicante, where the Provincial Institute of Hygiene did the relevant tests to confirm whether or not he was infected by the rabies virus.

So the animal's head was cut, deposited inside a sack and handed to Antonio Escobedo, ordinance-watchman of the Bigastrense town hall, so that on January 8, 1934 he moved to the Provincial Institute of Hygiene of Alicante, where the affected neighbour also had to move, to receive the appropriate treatment for having been bitten by the dog.

The unfortunate accident caused the town hall to work on the elaboration of censuses of dogs in the municipality, where the vaccinated dogs were recorded. And those who were not, notification to its owner that he had to face the payment of the corresponding sanction. And on suspicion of infection, death of the dog and decapitation.

Decapitations that were repeated on April 1 of the same year 1934, when Bigastro's neighbours suffered new bites from dogs infected with the rabies virus, causing new transfers of the ordinance-watchman, who had to travel to the city of Alicante carrying new cut heads.

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