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The Transition seen by those who died in it

2024-02-26T19:14:06.316Z

Highlights: Arturo Ruiz was murdered on January 23, 1977, at the age of 19, by shots fired by a far-right thug in the center of Madrid. The Collective for the Forgotten of the Transition estimates that 271 people were killed by the action of the police and the extreme right between 1975 and 1981. Manuel Ruiz decided to make a documentary about his brother so that his murder, and many others, would not be forgotten. The documentary has been made possible with the altruistic collaboration of film and television professionals, who have also provided the material, the cameras, the lights.


The documentary 'Weapons will not erase your smile' remembers the student Arturo Ruiz and more than 200 people murdered between 1975 and 1982 by law enforcement forces and the extreme right, the least known story of the conquest of democracy


Manuel Ruiz decided that he had to make a documentary about his brother so that his murder, and many others, would not be forgotten.

Arturo Ruiz was murdered on January 23, 1977, at the age of 19, by shots fired by a far-right thug in the center of Madrid, during a demonstration.

This crime began the so-called Black Week - portrayed in the film

Seven Days of January

(1979) by Juan Antonio Bardem - because the next day, in the demonstration to protest the death of Ruiz, another young woman, Mari Luz Nájera , 21 years old, died from the impact of a smoke canister.

And that night was the massacre of Atocha's lawyers.

Those seven black days represent many other days that are not even remembered, which were also black because other people died.

They are the forgotten deaths of the Transition.

The Collective for the Forgotten of the Transition (COT), promoted by Ruiz, estimates that 271 people were killed by the action of the police and the extreme right between 1975 and 1981.

Manuel Ruiz wanted to make that film, and he was in a hurry, because he was sick and didn't know how much time he had left.

“You can't imagine what it has meant to him, he couldn't even pronounce his brother's name for many years.

The first times he said with a microphone that he was Arturo Ruiz's brother, he was excited, it was difficult for him to break the silence.

He said: 'Look, Atocha's lawyers have a monument, we have nothing.'”

In recent years, Ruiz worked to recover the memory of his brother, he tried to reopen the case because the murderer fled and was never located, he supported the complaint filed in Argentina for the untried crimes of the dictatorship, he managed to have a commemorative plaque placed at the scene of the crime, in the Plaza Santa María Soledad Torres Acosta.

But he wanted to make a film, because above all he was concerned about preserving the memory of what happened.

Inauguration of the plaque in memory of the murder of Arturo Ruiz, in the Santa María de Soledad Torres Acosta square in Madrid, in 2019.Claudio Álvarez

Finally he found the documentary and feature film director Adolfo Dufour, who became involved in the project and in March 2023 he began filming.

One of the first days, looking at old photographs at Manuel's house in search of material, he saw a portrait of his brother Arturo, he turned it over and saw a phrase that his father had written behind it, two years after his death: “The "Weapons will not erase your smile."

“I realized that was the title.

It was what we wanted, it represented the memory of those we have lost.

"It seemed so humanly beautiful to me, so profound, that I saw it clearly."

The filming was complex, because Manuel was the common thread and had to be coupled with his entrances and exits from the hospital, and it was “emotionally very intense,” remembers Dufour.

There was also a great lack of archive images from the time, only some from German television, from the PCE, and little else, with the added problem that those from RTVE and EFE have a "very high" price, laments the director. for a small production.

“In other European countries this is easier and more affordable, if we want the memory to go forward, public organizations should collaborate.

In this country, prices are excessively high,” he says.

The documentary has been made possible with the altruistic collaboration of film and television professionals, who have also provided the material, the cameras, the lights, all for free.

The day he finally finished editing the film, he called Manuel to tell him the news, and he told the oncologist: “I've already finished the film, so I can die now.”

Dufour told her that he would take her to the hospital the next day, but she died.

“He couldn't see her for a day, just barely.

His obsession was for it to end, he made me promise to finish it.”

In the same days, before dying, Manuel Ruiz was able to see another wish fulfilled: EL PAÍS, which in recent years has remembered and investigated the case of Arturo Ruiz, located the murderer, José Ignacio Fernández Guaza, in Buenos Aires.

The news was published on November 2.

However, last month the National Court refused to reopen the investigation.

José Ignacio Fernández Guaza, the far-right fugitive accused of the murder of Arturo Ruiz, in his house in Ingeniero Maschwitz (Buenos Aires), in October 2023, located by EL PAÍS.ENRIQUE GARCIA MEDINA

Dufour agreed to make the documentary because he had a personal connection with that story: he was there that day, at the demonstration where Arturo Ruiz died.

“We were there to ask for amnesty and freedom.

They were peaceful demonstrations, and in addition authorization had been requested.

Today we don't understand what that was, you were risking your life, it could touch you.

The film has been possible due to the insistence of Manuel Ruiz, but I had an ethical and moral commitment to all those people who risked their lives for democratic freedoms, and were recorded in our conscience, we were young, an excited youth.

Dufour believes that this point of view, that of these people, has rarely been seen in a film, since they have been relegated from the history of the Transition.

“It is the point of view from below, it is not the dominant one, that democracy is something that power granted us, when a good part of the merit also went to the people in the streets, who demonstrated and received bullets, all at once. People have forgotten her, and most of all the victims.

I talked about it with Manuel, we wanted only relatives of victims or witnesses to appear in the film, telling these events that are so little talked about.”

Broken families appear in the documentary, telling the camera how the deaths of their loved ones appeared in the newspaper and then were forgotten.

They have never had tributes or official recognition.

There are shocking and moving testimonies, such as the woman who was Arturo Ruiz's girlfriend, whose photo she carried in her wallet, or one of the survivors of the Atocha massacre, Alejandro Ruiz Huerta, who was saved because the body of a companion fell on him. on top and acted as a shield from the bullets.

Also the woman who was looking out the window of his office and saw how a police officer fired the canister of smoke that killed Mari Luz Nájera.

Or Javier Almazán, who lost his brother Ángel de él, 18 years old, in December 1976, when he went to a demonstration to ask for abstention in the referendum for the law for political reform and was beaten by the Police .

“All of these people are people that Manuel contacted and brought them together,” recalls his widow, Olga Gutiérrez.

“Many people who had the same thing happen to him, had lived it alone all these years and did not know each other, and he put them in contact, he talked to everyone, he didn't care what party they were from, and a group was organized, the Colectivo por the Forgotten of the Transition (COT).

There was no group of this type, it is incredible, but that is how it is.”

Arturo Ruiz.

The documentary was in time to be screened for the first time last January, on the anniversary of the murder of Arturo Ruiz, and it was a few meters from the place where it happened, in the Press Palace in Plaza de Callao.

It will soon be released in cinemas and Dufour hopes that it can then be screened in town halls, festivals and public institutions: “Let at least the story of what happened remain, our truth.

That's why we made the film, there is no more interest than that, as far as we know."

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Source: elparis

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