Santander (EFE).- The Montañesa Red Cross was born in 1873 to care for the wounded in the Carlist wars, took care of the soldiers returned from Cuba and created the first health clinic in Santander.
Decades later, he founded his first hospital in Torrelavega, converted into a national refugee center during the conflict in Kosovo.
That is only part of the history that the institution is commemorating on its 150th anniversary with a traveling exhibition that can be visited until July 31 at the Santander Port Authority Archive.
In addition, in the coming months it will travel to Castro Urdiales, Reinosa and Potes, among other towns in the region.
Its curator, Alesander Ruiz Puente, who is also the author of the book “A lighthouse in the middle of the storm. 150 years of the Montañesa Red Cross”, has toured the exhibition with EFE, which arrives at the new room of the Port Authority in the Fishing Quarter after two years of research and search for documents, photographs and historical objects.
Among the rescued objects, which have been ceded by volunteers and collectors, there are uniforms, merit medals or a pennant from the 38th Brigade, the Mountaineer.
All these objects speak of the military origin of the organization, a component that it maintained until times changed in Spain and the conscientious objection movement was born.
As Ruiz Puente explains, the oldest photographs on display, from the 19th century, are related to the reception of wounded soldiers from Cuba and the overseas colonies.
Shortly before, in 1893, the Red Cross already had to turn to face another emergency, the explosion of the Cabo Machichaco steamer, a tragedy that left almost 600 dead and some 2,000 injured.
Aurelio de la Revilla Huidobro, a well-known merchant of the time, was the first president of the Mountain Red Cross, which began its activity in three assemblies: those of Santander, where blood hospitals had already been prepared for the wounded but the war was at hand, Castro Urdiales, where there was fighting, and Reinosa.
The first free consultation
Other images show the first free medical clinic that the Red Cross opened in Santander, on Calle de la Enseñanza, because it realized that the San Rafael hospital was not there to attend to all the needs.
The Red Cross, which was born for times of war, then began to build a structure for times of peace. It was in the 1920s, the decade of the creation of urgent medical transport by ambulance, and also of the “garden parties”, such as the one shown in the film of the Hoppe and Sylvi family that can be seen in the exhibition.
The Civil War or the Santander fire in 1941, which mobilized other Spanish assemblies to raise funds for the victims, are other of the historical moments that the exhibition recalls, which also reviews in images the decades of expansion, from the 50s to the 80s, when the assemblies expanded and the Red Cross of the Sea, Alpine relief or highway relief emerged.
Another of the milestones was the creation, in 1974, of the Hospital María Jesús Ruiz Capillas de Torrelavega, thanks to the contributions of the members: some 5,000 when the city did not reach 30,000 inhabitants. Then the only public hospital was Valdecilla and the roads were not the same.
With 120 workers in Cantabria, 17,200 partners and 3,000 volunteers, who have a profile as varied as society itself, his challenge for the coming years, he explains, is to continue detecting these needs earlier and earlier so that care is increasingly effective.