Fernando Martinez Garrido
Mario Grande Esteban
Mercedes Escolar Ar valo

Madrid, 1996

Many years ago, a kind voice, on the phone, He invited me, on behalf of the ONCE Organización Nacional de
Spanish blind people, to give a lecture at the Fonoteca that the Organization has in Madrid. It was in November
1985. The person who called me was blind. It was called And, fortunately, his name continues to be Fernando Mart – nez Garrido. I accepted, pleased, the order and pronounced the conference on the political situation, at that time, the Basque Country and Spain in general, at the Fonoteca de la ONCE on November 13. I know, because in my library,
between my books, there is a plaque that remembers the fact. So I didn’t have regular dealings with blind people.
And he was amazed. In the first place, because I had never found, in my many public performances, listeners
so attentive and focused. Also, because in the colloquium who followed the lecture with questions and considerations of the participants were all extraordinarily
smart and accurate. What, as is known, not always
It happens in this type of act. The dialogue finally revealed in
the assistants who intervened a great inner life, a
surprising ability to get the important thing right
speech, leaving aside all the accidental, and a great commentary
knowledge of the developed topic. I was used to
hear so many and such nonsense about Euskadi! Insist that
I was amazed.
But my admiration did not stop there. The conference was followed
a dinner. Five blind men and me. I imagine that they, blind, know
they realized that there the only one blind to that reality
The rich man of his own universe was precisely me. The
Dinner was for me a show of aesthetic and inte-
lectual. As in an exercise in reading a written by
Braille raised dots, my friends, delicate-
their fingertips lightly brushed the content of the
nest of dishes, by the way without staining, to discover

their situation and they were no longer wrong. They expertly used
spoons, knives and forks and, at a distance, no one would have
been able to discover his physical deficiency. And that there were dishes
complicated. I remember some stuffed artichokes …
We Basques have a reputation for appreciating good cuisine and
the good drink. My hosts wanted to be kind to
me and at that dinner three kinds of wines were served. I think
than a sherry to start, white wine with the first course and
red with the second. Also mineral water. It was a spectacle
ass see how none of my five companions hesitated or
once to direct his hand, without hesitation, to the glass
correct and to put to the lips precisely the wine that
or water, if applicable. My admiration and amazement
they kept growing.
I have been lucky in life. I have met a lot of people
interesting and I look back on delicious after-dinner meals.
Think, for example, that, at a given moment,
we coincide in the Mixed Group of the Congress of Deputies-
two, Adolfo Su rez, Agust n Rodr guez Sahag n, Santiago
Carrillo, Francesc Vicent and myself. The five of us gathered-
We go to eat at a restaurant near the Pala-
cio of the Carrera de San Jer nimo. Can you imagine-
I know the interest of those after-hours. What an unrepeatable pleasure
listen to the immediate history of Spain from the mouths of
own authors! What a delight to know, first hand, the
“ Little story ”, the one that explains precisely the great
of events! How much intelligence, how much wisdom
politics and how much ingenuity together, if you exclude me! Really,
I can not complain. I have been a fortunate spectator, in
first row of the box, of our most interesting history
But, putting aside my political meals, from that
dinner with my friends from ONCE, from that conversation
while we ate, of that delicious after-dinner, I keep
a memory that I have not been able to forget. Definitely that
day I fell blindly in love with my blind friends.
And now, after the years, one of the diners, Fer-
nando Martínez Garrido, on behalf of the authors, returns to
ask me, with the same kindness, to preface this book
written by himself with Mario Grande Esteban and Merce-

des Escolar Ar valo, the latter are not disabled, but they are
great connoisseurs and experts, as you will discover,
of this valuable world of “ the disabled ”.
And I, pleased again, resume here that over-
table of November 13, 1985, chatting with Fernando,
with Mario, with Mercedes and with all of you about our
friends the blind, the hunchbacked, the invalid, the lame, the
one-armed, the dwarfs, the mute, the mad …, the others …,
‘The legitimate poor’, in short.
A few weeks ago I received the typewritten text.
Four hundred and ninety-seven pages. I divided it into three parts.
And I put it in my luggage. Between Bilbao and Brussels. Between Bia-
rritz and Paris. And between Paris and Strasbourg. At nine thousand meters
high I have devoured the book. I have underlined paragraphs. I have
I reread chapters. I have dreamed. I have thought. I have marveled-
do. I have learned. And I have enjoyed.
I do not know if because I have read the book traveling, it seems to me
that this is an exciting travel book. Fernando, what is
blind, he becomes our guide, he takes us from the
hand and leads us through a wonderful literary world of
of the blind – like him, like us, of the crippled, of
lame, crippled, crazy, buffoons, dwarfs, beautiful-
cos, rogues, rascals, vicious friars, thieves,
of histrions, of greedy clergymen, of corrupt bailiffs, of
rogue sacristans, venal judges, deceived husbands,
of cheating women, beaten and hanged. Of me-
be physical and moral.
He turns on his flashlight and, with great skill, he illuminates us
searching all corners of literature – searching for the per-
disabled chime throughout history. It starts in the
Middle Ages to end in the 19th century. Do not stop reviewing,
exhaustively, work in which one of those
characters and reproduces, with great success, rigor and literary taste
rare, the most representative and important citations of
the authors of each era.
During the literary journey, through history, he explains
very good because literature is history and history is
life will the evolution of humanity in the face of misery. Of the
contempt and horror of pity. And of the commiseration-
ci a solidarity.


From that pious and naive invitation to charity that
I read myself, not so many years ago, next to the brush, in a
Donostiarra gastronomic society:
In the midst of your joy
remember those who do not see
and put in his shady night
a glare of clear day
with the practice of good.
To Lang’s pathetic confession: We are all criminals.
you, all prostitutes, all criminals.
And, in the middle, the biblical admonition: Who closes his ears
to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and will not be heeded.
Thanks are due to Fernando for his history lesson.
toria, for the literature lesson and, above all, for the
of humanity.
Also Mario Grande Esteban takes us by the hand and
leads us, on a cultured journey, always in search of the
pobre , to other places and spaces in history, extraordinary
nariably suggestive.
He invites us, first, to dive into the ocean of
what he calls the higher forces: religions, myths and le-
yendas. From the Bible to Pharaoh Egypt. From the fantastic world
from Greco-Roman, passing through the Qur’an, to the mythical universes
cos of India, China and Africa.
Then review children’s literature with us: Pe-
rrault, Afanasiev, the Brothers Grimm. Childhood memories!
And, always having contemplation as a common thread
of the outcast, examines with enviable subtlety their presence
in modern and contemporary literature, traversing the
chronological door at which Fer-
nando Martínez Garrido.
Mario Grande Esteban does not limit himself to describing. Reflection-
na on an entire theory of impurity that would find its
expression in the human tendency to qualify as impure
those phenomena that do not fit into the prevailing scheme
understanding and vision of the world or, conversely,
those phenomena whose marginalization contributes to reinforcing
current social structures .


I, who have just arrived, these days, from the fields of
extermination of Auschwitz, where we have celebrated the 49th
times seven anniversary of his release, I think that in
Moments like these, when the world makes their way
new theories that, under supposed scientific justifications
economic or historical misinterpretations, threaten
with new forms of xenophobia, racism and marginalization, it is
It is extremely useful to reflect, as Mario does, on the
historical precedents of our situation.
In the world there have always been those who have taken the
decision to marginalize, when not to suppress, determined
human groups invoking arguments at the service of the po-
so that they impose their own canons on
normality and honorability .
The work of Mario Grande Esteban, in addition to an investigation
historical tigaci n, is also a plea against hypocrisy
Social. That hypocrisy that allowed to write, in 1868, to
John H. van Evrie: A Negro condemned to death, to be col-
even to be burned, rarely shows fear or
apprehension of any kind. Its imperfect innervation, its
slow brain and his low degree of sensitivity, make him unsuspecting
peace of anticipating such terrible physical suffering such as the
elaborate and exquisitely organized Caucasian suffers in
those same circumstances …
Finally, the work of Grande Esteban, which contemplates
the handicap as a personal and social reality, on a journey
perfectly logical, it takes us from the discriminations
ecclesiastical from the old canonical code to the modern
blaming AIDS patients.
Your reading has refreshed my memory of the already distant
days of the Faculty of Law in Oviedo … Of the requirements
cough of the subject of the sacred ordination … They are irregular by
defect illegitimate children, whether the illegitimacy is public
as if it is hidden … The defective bodies are irregular.
po, if they cannot safely exercise the ministries of the
because of his weakness, or, decorously, because of his
deformity … Those who are or have been epileptics, lovers or
possessed of the devil … Those who are infamous with infamy of
right … the judge who pronounced some death sentence
[Luckily!] … Those who have accepted the office of executioner


and those who have voluntarily been immediate assistants
yours in the execution of some capital sentence … (canon
Mario Grande Esteban helps us, very effectively, to
purify ourselves against any temptation to marginalize
handicaps in our lives and in our societies.
Finally, Mercedes Escolar Ar valo, the only woman in
this trip, he also takes us by the hand and, with a safe step and
erudition that I admire helps us make the great leap trans-
It leads us to America. And there, where she has been before
more than us, he teaches us the secrets of the cultures
Colombinas. And it shows us, at least, for the first
Once upon a time that delicious altarpiece presided over by the Sun, in which
the natural cycles parade, the trocosmic (the sun, the moon and
the constellation Zapilote, the other lover of the moon), the
the astro-king with the handicap, the illnesses of the
men, plagues, hunger, epidemics, discord
and wars, divine dwarves, the world of the dead,
darkness, the destiny of human beings and their works. AND
the blindness that is dazzling and that does not see things
but he knows how to read the soul.
And, in a string of essays with suggestive title and content,
you, Mercedes guides us through those Americas of mythology and
unknown tropology, even for those of us who love and presume it
pampering to meet her.
The cross-eyed sun of the dwarves, the rains, the blind who
love and hunt, children and old men, seductive women
and fear. Here is the route that Mercedes proposes us.
I have followed him without abandoning his hand and I have remained in-
sung. Delighted by pleased, but also delighted
in the most haunting sense of the word. Bewitched.
She’ll teach them why the blind touch touch
in the physical sense and touch in the moral sense, the two touches
that I admired so much at my dinner on November 13, and they
explain how blindness is attributed among populations
Indigenous peoples of North America contiguity
and reciprocity.
She will tell you, perhaps for the first time, about the Trauco and the
Invuche, the most important characters of the unconscious co-

school of the men of the Southern Cone. And its relationship with the
handicap. The one, the free, instinctive man. The other, the
alienation, the will submitted.
And, later, among the seductive women, she goes to them
to present Patasola, a one-legged woman; to
Mancarita, a one-armed woman, and Larga, with outsized legs.
radas. All three represent very well the woman trilogy,
formity and charm.
And then they will go to Panama with Mercedes. And there they will visit the
Tepesa, the family member and even the devil. Beautiful legends.
Secular myths to scare and wonder. Folklore au-
American robe. Traditions collected by Mercedes with
Exquisite respect that will enchant the reader.
This and much more is the book that you have among the
hands. You are sure to enjoy reading it. I,
there in the heights and vertigo of the highways, I have
I have learned a lot and have meditated a lot. I’m sure that
The same will happen to you.
From here my congratulations, my gratitude and my admi-
ration to its authors.
San Sebastián, January 28, feast of Santo Tomás de
Aquino, 1994.