Person - Medina Navascués, África (1915-2005)

Medina Navascués, África (1915-2005)




Preferred form:

Medina Navascués, África (1915-2005)

Dates of existence/Biographical dates:

1915 - 2005 (El redactor no conoce las fechas exactas del nacimiento ni del fallecimiento.)


She was the daughter of a military veterinarian that participated in the conflict of Morocco for several years. She was born in Ceuta in 1917 and raised in a paternal family coming from Toledo that counted on distinguished professionals in the Spanish veterinary science of the time. Her parents were Manuel Medina García and his wife, María Navascués González. This last-mentioned woman was born in Manila and was the daughter of Marina González de Arlegui and Felipe Navascués Garayoa, an official at the Spanish infantry posted in Philippines and Ceuta. Her paternal grandfather, Victoriano Medina Ruiz, was a military veterinarian as well as her father, and was the founder of the Official College of Veterinarians of Toledo. Her uncle Santiago Medina Rossi also leaded this professional corporation between 1930 and 1939. Her family moved to Madrid, where her sisters, Esperanza and Teresa, were born. The twelve-year old girl together with her mother and sisters donated money to a campaign whose aim was to improve the professional charities' benefits in October 1927. It was a project supported by her father and organized by the "Semana Veterinaria", a magazine managed by Félix Gordón Ordax. When she finished high school, she attended the first course of the Superior School of Veterinary Science of Madrid between 1935 and 1936. Women did not get the 1% of the students matriculated before the Civil War. She met there, together with her sister Elvira Caamaño Díaz, the sisters Paquita and Maruja Roldán Castros, daughters of the slaughterhouse's administrative of Legazpi, and the future sister-in-law of Maruja, Brunilda Gordón Carmona, among others. In a radio interview made for the "Unión Radio" to several ladies at the Veterinary School of Madrid by the journalist Matilde Muñoz Barberi, reproduced in "La Semana Veterinaria" in February 1935, África answered about the expectations for a professional future the following: "I'm thinking in studying animal psychology because I guess that specialty must give little money and that goes along with my slightly romantic personality; but, also, because I think that study will be a good base for the knowledge on the so interesting and fashionable biological psychology". With the military uprising on July 1936, África, her sister Ángela and the rest of her classmates had to interrupt their studies. Elvira Caamaño, the daughter of a Ministry of Public Works and Transport's worker and Carmen Caamaño's sister, went into exile in Portugal. The rest of the mentioned students stayed for some time in France and, later, went into exile in Mexico. Among them, María Roldán and Brunilda Gordón emigrated when they had already graduated by the Superior School of Madrid. África and her sister graduated two years later in Mexico and Paquita Roldán Castros never finished her studies due to her health situation. After Barcelona and Girona's fall, she went into exile in France with her mother and her 4 sisters, walking through Collado de los Belitres and crossing the railway's tunnel that connected Spain and France. Teresa, África's younger sister, explained her physiological horror to tunnels in her "Memorias del exilio: La vida cotidiana de los primeros refugiados españoles en México". Later, she realised that tunnels remembered her to the "horrible scape from Spain through the international tunnel", where a group from Senegal threatened them with their bayonets. Teresa exposed that she was 14 years old and she had never seen a black man and had never been threatened with a weapon. She also made reference to her intolerance to petrol's smell because it reminded her when they were machine-gunned in a petrol station in Bay of Roses. They were temporarily accepted by a French family in Port Sainte Marie (South of France), to be later concentrated in a refugee camp in Bordeaux. Her father, colonel of cavalry of the Republican army, also moved to France when the Civil War ended. The whole family was concentrated in a refugees' camp in Bordeaux. Shortly after, they boarded the French steamboat "Mexique" in Bordeaux together with other 2060 refugees thanks to the Mexican Government. This ship was chartered by the Spanish Republicans' Evacuation Service under the Colonel Antonio Haro Oliva's protection, the ship's Mexican authority, commissioned by the General Lázaro Cárdenas, president of the Republic of Mexico. It arrived in Veracruz's port on July 27th early morning (1939). The family stayed in Veracruz some weeks before moving to the City of Mexico. They established in Colonia Roma. Her sister Teresa also explained in the chapter "La hacienda de Santa Bárbara" of her memories, published in 2007, the reasons of the professional friendship's breakup between her father and Félix Gordón Ordas. She wrote about the estrangement between both families, which was due to the cold reception and the refusal to help of Gordón Ordás and his wife when her family arrived in Mexico. They had been settled down in the Mexican capital since May 1936. Gordón started to work as an ambassador of Spain in Mexico that same year. When the republican colonel and bacteriologist Manuel Medina García obtained the Mexican nationality, he founded the Anier laboratories at the 183 Colima Street, in front of the small palace that occupied the Galician Centre in Mexico, in Colonia Roma; they were laboratories specialized in the preparation of vaccines, bacterins and serums for the control and prevention of infectious animal diseases. Ángela and her sister África, the older daughters, worked as teachers in a primary school in Santa María Tulpetlac, a little indigenous town located at the northern part of the Valley of Mexico shortly after their arrival in the capital. However, as soon as the familiar situation returned to normal, both continued their careers in veterinary science that have been interrupted in Madrid. They started in the old Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics School in San Jacinto, at the Autonomous National University of Mexico, located in Tacuba. África Medina Navascués was the first woman that graduated in 1944 as a veterinary doctor in the National School of Veterinary Medicine in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, defending her thesis "Breves observaciones para fijar las constantes hemáticas del perro en el Distrito Federal" (Brief observations to determine dog's haematic conditions in the Federal District). When she got her degree, Dr. África Medina worked as a responsible of the technical and scientific services at the laboratory of her father, the Anier Laboratories. When he died in 1961, the company was sold and she started to work in the administrative area of the Veterinary Division of the Swiss company Sandoz Laboratories. Some years later, África confirmed as an excellent translator of the Hungarian André Reszler's work, "La estética anarquista", activity where her husband's uncle and aunt, José Robles Pazos and Margarita Villegas, as well as her daughter Paloma stood out. Eleven years before, on the 26th of December 1950, she entered into marriage with Jorge Fernández de Villegas, son of the actress Pura Villegas and nephew of Amparo Villegas, also exiled in Mexico. The married couple lived in Colonia del Valle. The testimonies indicate that the literary gatherings celebrated at their home were memorable. They raised there their two children, Paloma and Manuel, and had the fortune of enjoying their marriage for more than 50 years. In 2005, three years after her husband's death, África Medina Nacascués died at the age of 90 in the City of Mexico. She had arrived in this city at the age of 24 where she could remake her interrupted life due to the coup d'état in July 1936 and the following Civil War. Both facts defined the lives of the Spanish generations at both sides of the Atlantic.

Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Date of the event: 1936 - 1939



Profession (carried on by):



Related Authorities

Family relationships :

Fernández de Villegas Niño, Jorge (1920-2002)  - Marriage (He/She is married to)

Medina Navascués, Carmen (1919-?)  - Collateral (He/She is the brother/sister of)

Medina Navascués, Esperanza (1922-2012)  - Collateral (He/She is the brother/sister of)

Medina Navascués, María de los Ángeles (1917- )  - Collateral (He/She is the brother/sister of)

Medina Navascués, Teresa (1924-2009)  - Collateral (He/She is the brother/sister of)

Medina García, Manuel (1887-1961)  - Descendant (He/She is the son/daughter of)

Navascués González, María (1886-1959)  - Descendant (He/She is the son/daughter of)

See ancestors

Laboratorios Anier (México)  ( He/She works for )

Associative relations :

External Links

Recurso web:

El siglo de Torreón


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