Benavides Peña, José (Pepe el Romano)

Pepe-el-romano

Farmer and landowner, militant of the right-wing Popular Action Party. Federico García Lorca was inspired by him for the character of Pepe el Romano (only nominal, as he does not appear on stage) in The House of Bernarda Alba. According to researchers Miguel Caballero and Pilar Góngora, there is sufficient evidence to suppose that Benavides was part of the contingent made up mostly of residents of Asquerosa (Disgusting) who burst into the San Vicente Farmhouse on August 9, 1936 to violently interrogate the landlord, Gabriel Perea. According to this theory, Benavides already knew, through two landowners of the same party who also participated in the violent action (the brothers Horacio and Miguel Roldán), that the playwright had used his name, that of Francisca Alba and her daughters to write a drama about “Andalusian sexuality” entitled The House of Bernarda Alba,as he announced in the Madrid press a few months before.

In the play, the real data are altered and three sisters dispute the love of Pepe El Romano. The character inspired by José Benavides favors Angustias, the eldest and richest.

On August 9, Perea was tortured by the gunmen so that he would reveal the whereabouts of his brothers, accused of killing some relatives of the recently appointed mayor of Asquerosa, Enrique García Puertas, nicknamed El Marranero, who was also part of the group. In the brawl, Federico was also beaten, according to the testimony of his nephew Manuel Fernández-Montesinos. That same day at night, García Lorca chose to flee from the Farmhouse and take refuge in the house of the Rosales family.

House of Frasquita Alba, in Valderrubio, today converted into a museum. Federico García Lorca based his work 'The House of Bernarda Alba’ on the experiences of the inhabitants of this house.
House of Frasquita Alba, in Valderrubio, today converted into a museum. Federico García Lorca based his work ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’ on the experiences of the inhabitants of this house.

Around 1919, José Benavides married Amelia Rodríguez Capilla, one of Francisca Alba’s daughters, but the marriage barely lasted a year: in 1920, Amelia died in childbirth. In 1928, eight years later, in the transcript, Pepe el Romano married his late wife’s sister, Consuelo.

In the play, the real data are altered and three sisters dispute the love of Pepe El Romano. The character inspired by José Benavides favors Angustias, the eldest and richest, but the youngest, Adela in fiction, who was in love with her future brother-in-law and had been seeing him in secret, becomes furious and takes her own life. The play inflamed the family of Francisca Alba and José Benavides, and provoked the violent reaction of the Roldán family, linked to the conservative party and who had previously lost lawsuits with Federico García Rodríguez, the writer’s father.

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