The legend of "The Black Hand" has made rivers of ink flow over Andalusia in 1883. An organization that, for many, transcended the chronicle of events and even the incipient political struggles, to become a kind of secret society with certain Masonic tinges.
¿What's the truth in all of it? Did such a society really exist or was it a mere and morbid charade orchestrated to justify certain executions and give a push to the presses?
The Black Hand Background
It may seem trivial to remember it, but the economic, social and political panorama of Spain at the end of the 19th century must be taken into account.
A troubled society, with a more than marked Catholicism, which at that time projected more shadows and terror than light and discernment to its faithful.
It was the Spain of two speeds, a country educated and illiterate at the same time, which was torn between an eminent industrialization and the agrarian harshness of its territory.
This is what Spain was like, a society eager to evolve, to modernize, but slowed down in its advance by tradition. A society that advanced two steps and regressed three, always pushing forward.
And in this social quagmire, two voices were raised over an expectant population, the one that rose severely from the pulpit and that one that expressed itself with the metallic clink of typewriters and the continuous rolling of the presses, which might seem like light in the darkness but the truth is that more than enlightening the people, it was traveling along other paths, economic, of course.
Yes, it is sad to admit it for those who write these lines, but it is still true that in 19th-century Spain the theses of Randolph Hearst took hold.
¿Why tell all this? How important is it in relation to legend of the Black Hand?
The beginning of ‘La Mano Negra’
In that breeding ground that mixed illiteracy and education, ruralization and servitude, opulence and famine, certain illustrated circles in rural areas of Andalusia.
Meeting in secret in the Carthusians, they tried to convey timid republican ideas to the people, trying to make the agrarian class aware of communist convictions, in those days when serfdom reigned and in which a peasant fell from sunrise to sunset throughout his life, to work a land that would always be alien to him and whose effort hardly gave him to live.
This soon reached the ears of Andalusian landowners, especially those of Jerez de la FronteraAnd it is not surprising that restlessness took hold of them, because those new revolutionary ideas that advocated for peasants united as a collectivity, working their own land alike, made their skin crawl.
On the one hand, due to the fear that they would abandon the land that they worked for them, on the other, because all the large estates had owners (the landowners themselves) and from somewhere these cooperatives would have to obtain the land they intended to work.
Soon the riots here and there, nothing scandalous and not too significant, but worrying enough for the Sagasta government, in those days when, as I have mentioned, progress in Spain was double speed.
The end of ‘The Black Hand’
The December 4, 1882, the security forces, arrested several peasants accused of committing murder and suddenly, thirty more followed, reaching almost 300 detainees, all of them accused of belonging to a secret anarchist society that tried to unbalance the government, and to which journalism would give the name of "The Black Hand” (from what I mentioned earlier, that of sensationalism ... the press would make its August in those months).
¿The criminal acts that were imputed to this secret organization were true?
It is true that there were crimes, there were fires and homicides, robberies (it was a time of famines), but that these were
related with The Black Hand It is something that today the vast majority of academia deny.
There are crimes every day and there were then, but the truth is that the forces of order made a fine connection between them and the supposed Black Hand, and the world of journalism, did nothing but emphasize that idea in their tabloids.
The trial that was carried out against the members of the alleged terrorist organization, however, was quite sloppy. False witnesses were pressured to testify against the accused, they removed “confessions"At stake and the evidence was non-existent, unless we count as such, a piece of paper found under a stone and that read"Mano Negra, quite a test of weight!«.
The result of this black stain on the Spanish history It resulted in a harsh repression by idealist anarchist groups and the death by hanging of the seven "alleged" terrorist leaders, in the Jerez Market Square, to public derision.
This is how the tabloids, those who sought to illustrate and banish obscurantism, shaped and spread one of the many dark events that poisoned those times of change and reform that the Sagasta government could not accept.
Illustration The Black Hand: Makimaus on Wikimedia