The Doctor in History, Ángel Luis Cervera Fantoni, details what Spain was like in the 19th century, prior to the Disaster of 1998
Benidorm vindicates the figure of Constable Zaragoza, hero of the Cuban War
In the battle in which Zaragoza and Such lost their lives, four Benidormenses survived
On Thursday night, the Assembly Hall hosted the conference Admiral Cervera and the Disaster of '98. The War of the Constable Zaragoza', given by the Doctor of History, Ángel Luis Cervera Fantoni, and organized by the Department of Culture in collaboration with the Frax Foundation.
The event was attended by the mayor, Toni Pérez; the Councilor for Culture, Jaime Jesús Pérez and other members of the Government team, as well as representatives of the Navy and officers of the Civil Guard among the public.
Toni Pérez took the floor to value the figure of Francisco Zaragoza y Such, to whom the city dedicated a street in 1991, previously known as Les Roques, in the historic centre, the "enclave that best represented the essence of the town", thus showing his recognition of "a Benidormense and the history of a city that we must always know how to tell".
The mayor thanked the Frax Foundation for its proposal and Cervera Fantoni's research work which, among other details, has revealed the names of "four more Benidormenses" who survived the conflict along with "others from the region and the Province".
On the figure of Admiral Cervera, Toni Pérez claimed his "boldness, courage and intelligence" which saved the lives of most of the sailors and made it possible for "many to have descendants who are here today to remember the history of Spain" that “it is great” due to facts such as those exposed.
Before the conference, the president of the Frax Foundation, Matías Pérez Such, introduced the speaker and encouraged Quico Zaragoza, the ship's lieutenant and great-nephew of Constable Zaragoza, to greet him from the lectern.
In his dissertation, Cervera Fantoni explained to the attendees what Spanish society was like at the end of the 19th century, after the First Republic and the cantonal movement that took hold in the Spanish southeast, especially in Cartagena. The historian put the number of soldiers who were sent to Cuba in the last four years of the conflict at 220,000, a figure that would only be surpassed by the Allies during World War II, and the tragedy for families that young men were called to rows, although the rich paying 2,000 pesetas at the time, could get rid of the service.
Cervera Fantoni introduced Francisco Zaragoza y Such, constable; the position of non-commissioned officer in the Navy specialising in artillery, comparable to a sergeant of the Infantry, who, at only 24 years old, was assigned to the Alvarado gunboat and later to the Vizcaya cruiser. On this ship, he lost his life in the Naval Battle of Santiago de Cuba, during the Spanish-American War, on July 3, 1898, under the command of Admiral Pascual Cervera.
Zaragoza and Such, showed courage and heroism, but were wounded in the chest and belly by a grenade and expired their last breath embracing the Spanish flag. That day, 360 Spanish sailors died, although Cervera's strategy allowed 1,900 to save their lives, despite the sinking of their ships by the US fleet. Spain lost the war and with it what was left of her Empire.
Among the 44 sailors from the province embarked in the Squadron of Admiral Cervera, in addition to the Benidorm constable Francisco Zaragoza y Such, six other sailors died: two from Alicante, two from Denia, one from Torrevieja and another from Altea, the third constable Pedro Nomdedeu Martínez, personal friend of Zaragoza. Survived the battle and his internment as prisoners of war in the United States, the Benidormenses Bartolomé Agulló Orts, Bartolomé Llorca Zaragoza,. José Solbes Devesa and Valentín Valero García.
Ángel Luis Cervera Fantoni is the great-grandson of Admiral Cervera, Doctor in History (CEU San Pablo University), Doctor in Economics (Rey Juan Carlos University), Graduate in Sociology (Pontifical University of Salamanca) and in Business Sciences (ICADE), and Master of Science in Quality Management (University of Lincolnshire & Humberside - United Kingdom).
He has worked in the areas of communication and external relations at Navantia and Indra, as well as at CESEDEN's Higher Institute for Strategic Studies as an expert in Defense Economics. He is an advisor to the Scientific Committee of the UNESCO Chair of the National Council of Cultural Heritage of Cuba, on issues related to underwater cultural heritage and the history of the Spanish Navy of the 19th century, as well as a Foreign Corresponding Academician of the Academy of Cuban History ( 2016), Member of the Royal Geographical Society (2016) and Corresponding Academician of the Royal Academy of Valencian Culture (2017).