"That critique delete all my poetry, if you like. But this poem, now remember, you can not erase anyone," wrote Pablo Neruda. The poem had ship name, Winnipeg, which he sent to Chile in September 1939 with 2,500 Republicans rescued from French concentration camps. They just met the feat 70 years. The youngest passenger, Elena Castedo, and the Chilean ambassador in Spain, Gonzalo Martner, shared with the country the memories of that great rescue operation.
"I served two years on the day we saw Valparaiso" recalls Castedo, 72. "I was the youngest passenger to more than two children were born during the voyage. One died. Hygienic conditions were not very good ..."
The Winnipeg was a ship ready to carry 78 people. They climbed 2,500. Neruda himself elected on the orders of Chilean President Pedro Aguirre Cerda, passengers with two criteria. The first, the skills of each, because the selection was carried out as a massive job interview. "We needed specialists. Chilean Sea fishermen had asked me. Mines engineers asked me. Fields, tractor," Neruda wrote. "Sometimes, interviewed and made him a writer who was a lawyer. There was a strong lobbying campaign in Chile against the arrival of 'Spanish reds," says Martner. "So given that format Neruda: it was the Spanish look that could contribute to the development of their craft Chile".
The second filter were political sympathies and antipathies of the poet himself. "Neruda was not very generous with the anarchists" explains Marther. Instead, it was benevolent with some of the Republicans whose jobs did not fit that great human resources operation. "To one who claimed to be a writer, he inscribed as a lawyer. Y has a very nice story with a cork worker. Neruda said, 'In Chile there are oaks." And he said,' Well the will 'and only So let him go up. "
Undone by the war - "came from the anguish of defeat", Neruda-described Republicans trains arrived on board the ship. "Women recognize their husbands through the windows of the cars. Had been separated since the end of the war. And there were first exposed to the waiting ship. Never had to witness me hugs, tears, kisses, handshakes, drama as delirious laughter, "confessed the poet.
Elena's father carried the humiliation of having lost and serious injuries made in the Madrid front. Leopoldo Castedo, which later would become the benchmark of Chile historian, and his father, Elena's grandfather, had been held in the concentration camp of Argeles sur Mer, southern France. Elena and her mother, in a detention center. So when years later, he was reunited with Elena Castedo Neruda greeted him saying: "I'm alive because of you."
He almost did not go on that ship. "They kept up with anyone and I had pertussis infections. My mother trembled as interviewing us because they thought we would not let up. Whenever I coughed, she put her head on his lap and a man who was behind us in line and realized what was happening, spoke loudly to conceal. "
Elena does not remember. Forgot whole trip because when he came to Winnipeg still not old enough to have a memory. The memories I have had canned the other: his mother, his father, his grandfather. Similarly, when he returned to Spain in the 70s, did not recognize those who claimed to be southern cousins or uncles.
"We lost our country, our family, our house, everything. Exile is a disaster. I put this down to my nomadic war.'m From where I live and I live in many places: USA, Chile, Spain ...." explains Castedo. With that feeling, the uprooting, and being grandmother wrote a novel that earned him a nomination for one of the most important literary prizes in the U.S., the National Book Award and quen titled Paradise.
Winnipeg operation was funded by the Republican Government in Exile, with Juan Negrin to the head, and the Quakers, a religious society that Pudio the anonymity of their generosity. Asked if he believes that today, when closing the borders to immigrants, it would be possible to repeat the same act of solidarity, the Chilean ambassador replied: "I think so. Spain and we returned the gesture welcoming Chileans fleeing Pinochet's dictatorship. "