SPAIN TODAY: The Goring, the Head, and Gramps


Francisco Rivera Ordoñez defends himself against the surging bull, presumably in Jerez de la Frontera, 2007 (www.riveraordoñ


by Jack Wright

Goring at the Fiesta in Huesca

Francisco “Paquirri” Rivera Ordoñez, one of the most popular among the current crop of Spanish bullfighters, was gored within an inch of his life by his second bull at the Feria de Huesca on Monday, 10 August, in northeastern Spain.  Spanish bullfighting, known locally as corrida de toros (running of bulls) or simply la fiesta (the festival), assigns two bulls each to three matadors in  a corrida. According to the rules each of the bulls should wiegh no less than 460 kilos (1,014 lb.).


Poster, Fair use

The prognosis for Ordoñez Rivera is “very serious”, his injuries stretching 25 cm. (10 in.) in the lower abdomen. He is now in the ICU of the San Jorge Hospital where he was transferred after an emergency operation that lasted nearly three hours in the bullring’s infirmary. The surgeon, Dr. Crespo, said he could have died in the arena considering the extent of his wounds. Fortunately, the bull has not pierced any of the matador’s vital organs.

Forty-one year old Rivera Ordoñez is the son of the late lamented matador Francisco “Paquirri” Rivera who was  gored fatally at the Plaza de Toros de Pozoblanco in the Andalusian province of Cordoba in 1984. At the time the ill-equipped infirmary failed to stop the massive hemorrhage on his right thigh. He died on the way to the hospital.

It was that terrible death that prompted the legislation requiring bullrings to have fully equipped infirmaries.

The courts have granted Francisco Rivera Ordoñez’s petition for the right to use his father’s professional nickname “Paquirri”. The parallelism of the goring incidents between father and son is alarming.

For a time both Paquirris retired from the arena but, like many youngish bullfighter retirees, they returned and took up the blood sport again.

Incidentally, the wife of son Paquirri, lawyer Lourdes Montes, will be giving birth to their daughter  any day now, the couple’s   first baby, and the matador’s second, having a daughter by his first wife, Duchess of Montoro Eugenia Martinez de Irujo.


Fatal goring of Paquirri the father


The Spanish Government and a Notorious Banker Fight Over the Head of a Young Woman
The Adix, photographed in 2012 in Ibiza/Harald Kobler via flickr/ CC BY-SA

The awesome Adix, photographed in 2012 near the Balearic island of Formentera/Harald Kobler via flickr/ CC BY-SA



TheHistorical Heritage team of the Central Operations Unit of the Guardia Civil, Spain’s military police, flew to Corsica off mainland France to take the Head of a Young Woman, a Picasso valued at over €25 million, back to Spain.

Notorious billionaire Jaime Botin, of the powerful Spanish banking clan, and former president of Bankinter, one of the major Spanish commercial banks, was going to take the painting to Switzerland when it was intercepted by the collaborating Customs in Corsica last 31 July on board Botin’s yacht Adix. By decisions of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, the Ministry of Interior, and the Reina Sofia Museum, which are upheld by the Spanish court Audiencia Nacional, the Head could not be taken out of the Spain because it is an important part of the national patrimony.  Few pieces pertain to Picasso’s  Gosol Period. In fact it is the only known Gosol painting kept in Spain.

Gosol is a little town in Lerida, Catalonia where the painter stayed for a few months in 1906. The Gosol paintings were the precursor to Picasso’s 1907 Cubist Les Demoiselle d’Avignon.

This is the second time Botin has tried to smuggle the Head out of Spain.

It is believed that the Spanish state will end up buying the painting to ensure its safekeeping which will then eventually become part of the Reina Sofia collection of contemporary art.

By Monday, 10 August, the Head has been deposited in the storage of the museum pending examination of damage that it may have sustained during the attempted smuggling.



Adios Gramps, the Palace will Miss Your Refreshing Ways
An old taxi of Madrid/Carlos Delgado/CC BY-SA

An old taxi of Madrid/Carlos Delgado/CC BY-SA

He was a mechanic-turned-cab driver in Madrid until he retired in 1991. He then went with his wife Enriqueta to live on the beach of San Gabriel, Alicante until Enriqueta died in 2008.

The hard-bitten paparazzi had never had it so easy for a while. They’d chat with him and get him dishing out nuggets of succulent quotes.  In his easy colloquialism he declared proudly that he lived in the (unpretentious) barrio Prosperidad, “al ladito del barrio Salamanca (right next to Barrio Salamanca),” the elite neighborhood of Madrid.

For this republican son of a bricklayer, interacting with people was the most natural thing. You know how it is: a passenger climbs in your cab, starts grumbling about the cruel world he lives in and, in the mood for a chat or not, you commiserate with him. You simply don’t shut up a passenger.

Nor would you ignore those who earn their living writing up stories about celebs, now that your granddaughter had married the heir apparent who, later, is proclaimed Felipe VI King of Spain.

Besides, it’s natural to want to talk about the people you love. So, what did he think of his great-granddaughter Leonor? “Why, she’s a precious little girl,” he beamed.

These chatty innocuous exchanges between the simpatico Don Francisco Rocasolano (better yet, simply Paco) and the delighted press went on uneventfully – until the Royal Palace said, “Enough!”

You don’t talk to the paparazzi – not if you’re the King’s gramps-in-law. One seemingly innocent comment could spark off a controversy of untold consequences especially these days when the monarchy is just recovering from low approval ratings.

So not only was Don Francisco a retired taxi driver; he had also been retired as the royal family’s peripheral interlocutor with the press.

Stop the damage before it’s done.

And yet even after the press lost its easy access to Don Francisco the people continue to remember him fondly and with respect, he who was a cab driver, proud of and happy for his granddaughter Letizia, a.k.a. the Queen Consort of Spain, who never pretended to be something else even as he rubbed elbows with the high and mighty at Letizia’s royal wedding, and sitting in one of the VIP seats in the Parliament during Felipe VI’s proclamation as monarch.

He was probably the best loved  and most respected member of Doña Letizia’s family.

Don Francisco died of coronary ailment at the Salamanca University Hospital on 27 July 2015 at age 98. He is survived by his daughter Paloma and his son Francisco, his two grandchildren by Paloma (Doña Letizia and Telma), and several great-grandchildren, among them blonde and blue-eyed Leonor, Princess of Asturias and, as such, heir to the Spanish throne.

Granddaughter Letiizia, then Princess Consort of Asturias, rleft, and her husband Prince of Asturias Felipe, extreme right, flank Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the First Lady. In the center, the then reigning monarch of Spain King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. The Zarzuela Palace, habitual residence of the royal family, during the Russian President's official visit to Spain, 2009.

Granddaughter Letizia, then Princess Consort of Asturias, left, and her husband Prince of Asturias Felipe, extreme right, flank Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the First Lady during their official visit to Spain in 2009. In the center, the then reigning monarch of Spain King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. The Zarzuela Palace/ BY-SA