President: José Medina Jiménez.
Spain we once lost, don’t you lose us;
Keep us in your shattered forehead,
Preserve by your side the living hollow
Of our bitter absence,
For we will return one day, swifter,
On this sea’s vast powerful shoulders,
Our arms waiving in the air
And the sea’s beat in our throats.
Here we meet the poet’s call on his heartrending appeal to the common Homeland, which he put into verses during his forced exile on foreign lands. This has been possible only after defeating the stubborn intransigence that those historians working for the dictatorship managed to spread and inject into generations following the Spanish Civil War. We are grateful to the exhaustive work of those rigorous researchers following present day methods and techniques: they have brought us closer to the facts and have restored the value of truth by making use of original sources, critical interpretations and real chronologies.
The Transition to democracy served to postpone the enlightening task of spreading the thought and action of those fellow countrymen forced to leave in exile. However, the new democratically free and socially just Constitution opened up the doors for the return of the few who survived, the majority having perished in the distance. For the sake of guarding our collective memory, we must honour their descendants; we must save, preserve and divulge their thoughts; we must secure their archives and defend their belongings. To those who suffered within our frontiers and died to the intransigence of the regime, we owe dignified burial.
Juan Negrín has arguably been the most slandered and defamed Spanish figure of the XX century. He was left out from history books, thus denied a place in our collective memory, and he was unfairly ill treated in testimonies and notes given on him. It has taken the Government sixty years to officially restore Juan Negrín López to the general history of Spain, thus breaking the deliberate oblivion and malicious silence. In the early years of the XXI century, Juan Negrín’s name is finally being rescued to be included in history books as the politician, scientist and humanist he was.
To make it easier for history researches to do their work is the noble goal of this foundation, named after the scientist, humanist and statesman Juan Negrín López. Such a goal is the very justification of its existence and lies at the heart of its foundational purposes: to favour the restoration and to spread awareness of his person and the context in which he had to live by using reliable documentation, thus fomenting a more democratic and socially advanced thought.
Fundación Juan Negrín has focused its activity on efforts to restore Juan Negrín’s family patrimony and personal archives with the invaluable help of his family and the support of the Spanish Government, the Inter-island Council and the Government of the Canary Islands, thus facilitating access to part of Juan Negrín López’s heritage. It also allowed for nominations such as El Aula Juan Negrín at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the allegorical monument in the street where he was born, a state primary school in the city of Telde, streets named after him in Puerto de la Cruz, and the most recent and important one, Hospital de Canarias Dr Negrín in Las Palmas, back in 1998.
Published tributes such as Mariano Ansó’s in 1976; research works such as Ángel Viñas’s on the gold holdings, in 1978; significant references by Joan Llarch and Marichal in 1985, and by José Lluis Barona in 1991, both in relation to the history of Medicine; in a Santiago Álvarez’s speech in 1994; clarifying texts such as Tuñón de Lara’s El hombre necesario in 1996, teamed up with physiologist Díaz Chico and professor Miralles, who went on, in 2003, with Juan Negrín la República en Guerra; let us not forget Helen Grahan’s explanatory research that same year. Also, the historian Enrique Moradiellos wrote a comprehensive biography in 2006. More recently, in 2008, two more history publications saw the light, one by Gabriel Jackson on Juan Negrín’s personality, and the other one by Ángel Viñas, a dense and magnificent trilogy. El Abandono; La Defensa y El Honor de la República. All of these have served the purpose of breaking the instigated silence.
There have also been plenty of exhibitions with the purpose of commemorating Juan Negrín López’s death in Paris, 1956. The first one was organized by professor Sergio Millares and promoted by the Fundación Juan Negrín. It was held in Las Palmas in 2005, using the motto Juan Negrín El Estadista. Then there was one in Madrid entitled Juan Negrín, Médico y Jefe de Gobierno; there were others in between 2006 and 2007 in La Laguna, Las Palmas, Barcelona and Valencia, organized by the Sociedad Española de Conmemoraciones Culturales, the Fundación Pablo Iglesias and the FCJN, which was directed by UPV History professor Ricardo Miralles.
Finally we have to mention a centre for historical research on Juan Negrín in Vegueta, Las Palmas, which is promoted by the Inter-island Council and whose building restoration is being put out to tender. Such building will take in this important Canarian, Spanish, European figure for posterity.
José Medina Jiménez