Adelita,the anti-Franco teacher who united the Catalan city of Gava with Camagüey

November, 2019.- She gave classes in full Franco but in her classrooms she did not segregate by sex, she never sang the Face in the sun and, although they say it was very demanding, no type of punishment was used that involved physical aggressions. Against the tide, Adela Barberà Jiménez dodged the regime’s guidelines for years from her semi-clandestine school in Gavà, a city where she is still a well-remembered person.

Journalist and writer Eva Comas Arnal recovers her story in the book Els nens de l’Adelita, which she has just published. “He made himself loved by everyone. Both by the mayor and by the homeless who asked for money, ”describes the author. “Although it was illegal, she brought children together in the same classroom and talked to the children about the importance of being valued. They were taken on excursions to different places, opening them to reality, ”says Comas. The journalist has interviewed a quarantine of people to carry out her work, many of them students of a teacher who anticipated her time.

Adelita, as she was known in Gavà, was born in Sabadell in 1911 in a very humble family. Her mother could not read or write and “nothing foreshadowed” that she would end up teaching. Her life gave a change of direction when she moved with her loved ones to the Cuban city of Camagüey, about which years later she explained stories in her classes. “There she met a teacher who scored her,” says Comas.

Her parents ran the Avellaneda theater bar and the young woman “was always in the dressing rooms.” There she impregnated herself with art, met characters like Cantinflas or Margarita Xirgu and discovered her two great hobbies: cinema and reading. Love brought her back to Catalonia. A Gavà man named Manolo Buisán visited Camagüey and began a letter relationship with Adelita. In one of the letters, he asked for marriage. “Against the will of the family, she said yes,” says Comas.

Thus, in 1933 she arrived in Gavà. With a restless mind, during her boat trip she stopped in New York to get to know the city that never sleeps in first person. Once in Baix Llobregat after traveling half the world, the truth is that “she got bored a little”. Therefore, influenced by the Cuban teacher, she decided to open a school inside the Can Serra y Balet factory, dedicated to velvet.

Before the Civil War she made friendships that allowed her to move her unofficial school to an apartment next to the City Hall after the war. “There she taught until 1954, when she was forced to close,” recalls the journalist, who in addition to explaining the history of the teacher portrays the Gavà society of the time in her book. The official teachers of the regime denounced it. However, the requests of the neighbors made Adelita return to teach during the 1960s. In the 80s, she retired.

Then in Gavà they paid her a great tribute with all kinds of honors and her students gave her a trip to Camagüey, where she was able to visit her father’s grave and said goodbye to the teacher who marked her life. Adelita ended up being a whole institution in the city.

The teacher is a person still very dear in Gavà. “She taught with an advanced pedagogy at her time,” said Josep Larruy, who was his student and neighbor for years. “She had an unprecedented ideological opening in her time. It made children think for themselves, something complicated at the time, ”he adds.

“She let her students express themselves a lot,” Larruy remarks, recalling that Adelita scored with letters and not with numbers and never gave excellent or bad grades. “Textbooks were used rather little,” he says.

“Going to school with the Adelita looked forward to it, when it was something that children didn’t like,” acknowledges another of her students, Victorín Palachi. Born in Barcelona, ​​she went to Gavà, where her grandparents lived, to receive review classes. “She was an endearing person, who made you feel special,” says another of the the Adelita girls.

Eva Comas tells an anecdote that describes the way of being and acting of the emblematic teacher: “Once she realized that a boy was bending down to look at her legs. Then Adelita lifted her skirts and showed them to the boy. The boy was so ashamed, with a completely red face, he never occurred to him to try again. ”
“She was an important woman in the history of Gavà who, despite having many more obstacles than we have today, overcame them,” says the mayor of the municipality, Raquel Sánchez. The mayor congratulates initiatives such as the Comas book, edited by the City Council, because they serve to “recover their own historical memory.” (Taken from La Vanguardia)(Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez)


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