On the Guerrilla War on Francoism in Cordoba. Norberto Castillejo Jiménez aka Veneno

On the Guerrilla War on Francoism in Cordoba. Norberto Castillejo Jiménez aka Veneno

26 year old Norberto Castillejo Jiménez (aka Veneno) an anarchist from Santa Eufemia (Córdoba) took to the hills in May 1940. The army revolt on 19 July 1936 was a failure in Santa Eufemia. The rebels were put down by resolute action taken the local workers with help from Almadén (Ciudad Real) and militians from Conquista – a Córdoba town where no revolt took place – with hardly any violence and no bloodshed. Santa Eufemia remained in republican hands until the dying days of the civil war as it only fell into the Francoist hands during the final push on 26 March 1939, when upwards of 5,000 prisoners were taken. With the blessing of the Church and the acquiescence of the Vatican, in the shape of Pius XII, repression – having become the main function sponsored by the State, carried on with impunity and ghastly viciousness towards the vanquished – that repression had begun on day one of the coup d’état. By April 1939, over a half a million Spaniards were behind bars or surrounded by barbed wire fences or enslaved in Labour Battalions and tens of thousands of them were to be “liberated” by being murdered after they had been subjected to methodically refined torture.

Once the civil war ended, Norberto Castillejo was reported and arrested twice before being released each time. But when they came for him a third time, he took to the hills to escape. The persecution of the guerrillas after 1939, in Córdoba as well as in other provinces involved Army troops, Regulares, Civil Guards, often assisted by Falangists and armed members of the Somatén militia. This motley crew became even more motley in 1940 thanks to the addition of the Legion in northern Córdoba, in the areas of most intense guerrilla activity such as Villanueva de Córdoba, Pozoblanco, Belalcázar and Santa Eufemia. A lot of utterly gratuitous killings were carried out without the slightest excuse. Norberto Castillejo’s family suffered cruel reprisals at the hands of legionnaires as there was a legionnaire detachment operating in Santa Eufemia. Every single family member was beaten and tortured and Norberto’s father had boiling olive oil poured into his ear in an effort to extract the whereabouts of his son.

Once in the hills, Norberto first joined the band of Eugenio Collado Rodríguez aka Corruca[1], a communist from Santa Olalla (Toledo); there he bumped into other anarchists such as Fernando Maraña aka El Joven[2] and Eusebio Liborio Lombardía aka Lavija[3], both natives of Guareña (Badajoz); they held positions in the future Ciudad Real 2nd Guerrilla Agrupación and later in the band led by Francisco Corchado Silveira aka Lazarete[4] from El Viso (Córdoba), who had broken out of prison in Hinojosa in September 1940. But it did not take long for Norberto to strike out on his own and he set up his own band with another anarchist, Manuel Fernández Fernández aka Secretario[5], who had run a collective in Santa Eufemia for the CNT.

The Santa Eufemia area in the far north of Córdoba was of great strategic value to the guerrilla war as it sat at the intersection of three provinces, especially two of them.

The 2d Guerrilla Agrupación was set up in Ciudad Real province in early 1945, at the instigation of the communist Ramón Guerreiro Gómez aka Julio[6], who had been sent down by the PCE from Madrid to that end. But Julio’s efforts did not really prosper as he ran into reluctance from socialists and anarchists who had no desire to fall under the iron rule of the communists, as sampled earlier during the civil war when it had not so much sought unity as the subjugation of everyone else to its orders, despite the well-known fatal consequences of such a policy in the fight against Franco.

Ramón Guerreiro appointed himself Chief of Staff, but actually had very few personnel under his command as all the bands from the Alcudia valley (socialist and anarchist alike) were not ready to defer to the hegemony the PCE was out to impose. At a broad gathering of guerrillas, it was decided that they would affiliate instead to the ANFD (National Alliance of Democratic Forces)[7], rejecting Unión Nacional option that the communists had launched in 1943 with a Supreme Council. They also stood down Ramón Guerreiro aka Julio and appointed the anarchists Eusebio Liborio Lombardía aka Lavija and Norberto Castillejo Jiménez aka Veneno as commanders of the Agrupación, albeit that Lavija only served for a short time. But as might easily be imagined, such appointments were mainly theoretical, given the lack of understanding that prevailed in the bands as a whole and because Ramón Guerreiro stuck to his guns, remained in the area and did not let up on pursuing his own mandate to secure ideological amalgamation. From autumn 1945 on, the communists organized a band of their own under the supposed authority of Julio.

The fact is that such frictions only helped the common foe as a lot of guerrillas, losing heart, were giving up on the fight as they had no wish to get caught up in a guerrilla war with two fronts and by late summer 1946, with the withdrawal of battle-hardened fighters like the socialist José Caballero Domínguez aka Yamba[8], or the anarchists Fernando Maraña Falcón aka Juan or Rubio, and Eusebio Lombardía aka Lavija, the communist presence received a boost in the shape of communist guerrilla reinforcements from Andújar (Jaén) under the command of Victor Padilla Aína aka Aragonés[9] and Francisco Expósito Prieto aka Gafas.[10]

On 21 April 1947 it was the turn of Norberto Castillejo Jiménez aka Veneno himself. In spite of pressures, he had managed to remain independent without ever joining any of the pompously so-called communist “divisions”.

Norberto Castillejo and his three companions came to grief due to a foraging raid they carried out on 20 April 1947 on the ‘Los Matutes’ estate in Caracollera near the Almadenojos bridge, in which they stole three pigs. A ten-man band of guerrillas was roaming the area and four of them broke off to look for food before meeting up again with the rest later at an agreed location. 

The story of Norberto Castillejo Jiménez aka Veneno’s death has been told by Córdoba historian Francisco Moreno Gómez. The foraging party was made up of Veneno, plus Manuel Martínez de la Mata aka El Mera, Adelardo Tena Gómez aka Timochenko and Manuel García Peco aka Templao. After the raid, a complaint was made and forces from Almadén rushed out to track down the perpetrators.

At one o’clock in the morning on 21 April a squad of Civil Guards and Regulares troopers took up position at the intersection of the highway from Gragantiel and the Almadén road, cutting off any retreat in the La Rivera direction and then combed the area until they tracked down the four guerrilla foragers in the location known as Montegicar (Granada). A fierce gun-battle erupted and the first man downed was 36 year old Martínez de la Mata aka El Mera, a native of Cabeza de Buey (Badajoz), followed by 33 year old Norberto Castillejo Jiménez aka Veneno, whilst 31 year old Adelardo Tena Gómez aka Timochenko, a shepherd who was also from Cabeza de Buey, surrendered. The fourth guerrilla was 40 year old Manuel Garía Peco aka Templao, a native of Belalcázar and he had been wounded and gone into hiding, but Timochenko that day started a new career as a traitor as he directed the troops to where Templao was hiding and they captured him. 

A council of war held in Ciudad Real city on 6 July 1949 tried the two prisoners plus a goodly number of liaisons and collaborators who had been turned in by Timochenko. Templao was shot in the city cemetery on 24 August 1949. Timochenko himself received a 20-year prison sentence but his efforts as guide and informer ensured that his sentence was reduced and he was freed from El Dueso prison in June 1952 on conditional release. 

Article from the on-line edition of Polémica, No 78, December 2002, downloaded 01 April 2024 https://revistapolemica.wordpress.com/2024/03/31/sobre-la-guerrilla-antifranquista-en-cordoba-norberto-castillejo-jimenez-veneno-antonio-tellez/ 


1, Eugenio Collado aka Corruco was killed in a clash with the Civil Guard on 11 May 1942.

2, Fernando Maraña Falcón aka El Joven was killed in a shoot-out in Madrid in 1947.

3, Eusebio Liborio Lombardía aka Lavija died in a shoot-out in Tetuán de las Victorias (Madrid) on 5 November 1946.

4, Francisco Corchado Silveira aka Lazarete was killed in action in Sierra del Mochuelo (Ciudad Real) on 5 March 1948.

5, Manuel Fernández Fernández aka Secretario died on 28 October 1948 together with another guerrilla, Juan Calero Murillo aka Gorrión, when ambushed in Pozoblanco (Córdoba) town centre. 

6, Ramón Guerreiro Gómez aka Julio, born in Vivero (Lugo), died in a raid on his Piedrabuena (Ciudad Real) hide-out on 8 May 1948. 

7, The ANFD was officially set up in Madrid at the instigation of the CNT in October 1944 and involved republicans, socialists, the UGT and the CNT, but not the communists who at the time were still clinging to their very own Unión Nacional, established in 1943, with its bombastic alleged Supreme Council.

8, José Caballero Domínguez aka Yamba fled to France in 1949. 

9, Victor Padilla Aina aka Aragonés was killed on 28 September 1948 in a clash near Molina de Las Hoces in the townland of Visio del Marqués (Ciudad Real). 

10, Francisco Expósito Prieto aka Gafas withdrew to France on 22 September 1948 and died in Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme) on 9 April 1998. 

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.