La Voz de Galicia: "La imprudencia de un marinero que se saltó la cuarentena extendió el cólera en A Coruña

08, julio | Nuestros autores | 19 Comentarios
La Voz de Galicia: "La imprudencia de un marinero que se saltó la cuarentena extendió el cólera en A Coruña

La coruñesa Natalia Monje ha tirado de arqueología documental para escribir Mala Cosecha (Editorial Odeón). El covid-19 interrumpió la representación del libro ganador del Premio de Divulgación Histórica Juan Antonio Cebrián. Historiadora de formación y periodista de oficio, colabora entre otros con Cuarto Milenio, rescata casos que abarcan del siglo XVI al XXI con un hilo conductor común: cómo los miedos colectivos cambiaron el curso de la historia. Con ella hablamos también de sus últimas investigaciones sobre la ciudad que dan para otro volumen.

-En el siglo XIX se extendieron muchos bulos sobre la cura del cólera, ¿cómo puede suceder esto a 2020 con el coronavirus?

-Siempre se ha utilizado la información sensacionalista para provocar miedo. Cuando lo tenemos somos más manipulables. Hoy, las redes sociales han hecho que sea más rápido difundir los bulos. En Viveiro, en el siglo XIX, se corrió el rumor de que los boticarios asesinaban a gente para extraer grasa para medicamentos. La localidad se empapeló con fascines que se conservan en el Arquivo del Reino de Galicia. Era el muro de Facebook de ese momento. Hoy, cualquiera con unas mínimas nociones imita una página de un medio real. La sofisticación de los métodos está al alcance de todos y nuestra atención es más reducida, nos limitados muchas veces al titular.

-¿Las enfermedades contagiosas son un vehículo para el miedo?

-Algunas despertaron el fanatismo y el miedo. Los miedos colectivos ayudan a entender lo que fuimos y cómo somos.

-¿Volveremos a ser los mismos?

-Las grandes epidemias cambian la historia de la humanidad para lo bueno, en temas higiénicos, por ejemplo, y para lo malo. Después de la peste negra, Europa perdió mucha población, pero los supervivientes tenían mayor disposición a los recursos y hubo un resurgimiento. Sin embargo, también se intensificó el control social y el recorte de libertades. En 1917 se encarcelaron en EE.UU. a 20.000 prostitutas porque las culpaban de la sífilis.

-Además de la gripe española, hubo otra pandemia que marcó a Galicia, hoy casi olvidada.

-En 1833, el cólera entró en España probablemente por el puerto de Vigo. Las autoridades no querían reconocerlo, hubo incluso motines contra los médicos. Cuando las muertes se dispararon, empezaron a tomárselo en serio. Prohibieron romerías, ferias... Aquí el objetivo era establecer un cordón sanitario alrededor de A Coruña que no funcionó.

-¿Por qué?

-Esto lo investigué para un reportaje, no para este libro: lo que entraba por el puerto tenía que estar en cuarentena, mercancía y tripulantes, pero un marinero se saltó la prohibición y nadó hacia la costa. Fue a ver a su familia, que vivía en lo que hoy es Vioño. En los partes de defunción que se pueden consultar en el archivo municipal de Durán Loriga de A Coruña hay días con 300 muertes anotadas, la mitad en una misma calle del centro, donde servían unas vecinas del barrio del marinero. Su imprudencia, documentada en la prensa local, fue una de las causas de la propagación de la epidemia en la ciudad. Se quemó la casa que se creía que era el foco de la epidemia y proliferaron tratamientos absurdos porque no se sabía cómo se contagiaba la bacteria. Los primeros partes estaban escritos con mucho detalle. Después eran breves: «Murió del mal común». Hoy yacen en un fosa común sin señalizar en el cementerio de San Amaro.

-¿Cómo se documentó?

-Consultando archivos de toda España, muchos de ellos locales gracias a que empiezan a digitalizarse, pero, especialmente, en la Biblioteca y en la Hemeroteca Nacional. Se estima que el 90 % de los archivos españoles están sin rastrear. Imagínense las historias que puede haber por ahí.

 

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