The mole of Mijas – Manuel Cortes

A fascinating story! One of many to come from the Franco era here in Spain.

Manuel Cortes, who became the last Mayor of Mijas in 1936, was known as the “mole of Mijas”. He was a socialist and a barber by trade, but during the Spanish Civil War, he was forced to hide to avoid death. However, he probably didn´t expect this enforced hiding to last for thirty years.

He left his family, but in 1939 he decided to risk his freedom to live close to his family. He became a prisoner in his own home. For the next thirty years, he lived in a cramped space under the stairs behind a false wall.

There are stories of him dealing with his own dentistry problems whilst he was in hiding. His official biographers were told that he pulled out his teeth as soon as he noticed an ache, yanking the tooth out with his fingers. He also had to be satisfied watching his daughter get married through a hole above where he was living.

Finally, on 28 March 1969, he heard the news he had been waiting for. The government had granted him amnesty. Cortes was then accompanied by the Mayor of Mijas Miguel Gonzalez Berral to the Guardia Civil headquarters where the world’s press waited to hear that he was finally free. He had worn slippers for so long, he had trouble walking

When asked if his sacrifice had been worth it, he said “I never lost faith in democracy and believed Franco’s dictatorship would not last forever”.

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