Identified the remains of Murcian Francisco Solano, a victim of the prison of Formentera

Nov 19, 2022 | Current affairs, Featured, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

Francisco Solano Vera is the first mortal victim of Franco’s military colony of La Savina that has been identified in the cemetery of Sant Francesc Xavier, in Formentera.

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The remains were located last April during the first phase of exhumations and excavations of the cemetery of Formentera which, as part of the Third Plan of Graves of the Government (2021-2022), promoted by the Vice President and Ministry of Energy Transition, Productive Sectors and Democratic Memory, through the Directorate General of Democratic Memory, and in close collaboration with the Consell Insular de Formentera, with the aim of locating a minimum of 58 mortal victims who would have died in the prison between 1940 and 1942.

The intervention was carried out by the Aranzadi Science Society and resulted in the recovery of at least six bodies whose characteristics were compatible with the victims of the prison. The first of them to be identified as Francisco Solano Vera.

According to the biological identification report carried out by the BIOMICs laboratory of the University of the Basque Country (Vitoria-Gasteiz), the identification of Francisco Solano has been carried out by means of genetic comparison of the samples given by two daughters of the deceased and the bone samples from the exhumation in the cemetery.

His remains would have been recovered in grave 10 of row 6, in courtyard 2 of the Sant Francesc Xavier cemetery.

According to the documentation of the time, collected in the study by Ibizan historian Antoni Ferrer Abárzuza for the Second Graves Plan of the Government of the Balearic Islands, the Murcian died in the Francoist military colony of Formentera on 7 July 1942 from cachexia and pulmonary tuberculosis.

The identification allows us to be confident that the remains recovered in the first phase of exhumations in the Sant Francesc Xavier cemetery last April correspond to victims of the prison.

In the coming months, the second intervention in Formentera will search for other victims of the prison as part of the Government’s Fourth Plan of Graves (2022-2023), as approved this year by the Technical Commission of Graves and Missing Persons of the Balearic Islands Government.

To date, the Balearic Islands have been able to recover the remains of at least 220 people murdered during the Civil War and Franco’s repression, of which 47 have already been identified with Francisco Solano, and 35 have been returned to their families.

Francisco Solano Vera

Born on 13 December 1902 in Cartagena (Murcia) and a resident of Los Dolores, Francisco Solano Vera was a baker and married to Dolores Fernández, with whom he had six children.

He died on 7 July 1942 in the Formentera Prison at the age of 39, from cachexia and pulmonary tuberculosis.

The Formentera Prison

Also known as La Colònia or El Campament de la Savina, due to its location next to the municipality of Formentera, the Penal de Formentera was a Francoist penitentiary centre opened between April and May 1940 and dependent on the Provincial Prison of Palma.

It was intended for people already sentenced by military courts and it is estimated that, in its two years of life, it housed up to 2,000 inmates from all the provinces of Spain.

Prisoners interned and sentenced to sentences of less than 12 years imprisonment were allowed to leave the prison to carry out work and chores. Those sentenced to longer sentences, however, were reserved for confinement or work inside the camp itself.

All of them shared deplorable living conditions, characterised by overcrowding, insalubrity, disease and hunger. These conditions led to the death of at least 58 inmates, a figure confirmed by the Franco regime’s own bureaucracy, and documented by the study of the penitentiary colony carried out by historian Antoni Ferrer Abarzuza, at the request of the Government of the Balearic Islands and as part of its Second Graves Plan.

According to the testimonies and documents gathered by this study, the dead were buried in the Sant Francesc cemetery, which began to be built in 1938 and was inaugurated in 1940, shortly before the first documented death in the prison, in April 1941.

According to this study, deaths occurred until October 1942. “When a death occurred, the body of the deceased was taken by cart from the prison to the door of the church, where the parish priest prayed a response before the coffin, and from there it was taken to the cemetery”, the report states.