In Spain, around 90% of crimes are solved, but each one of the unsolved crimes, each death, each disappearance, is a drama of unacceptable dimensions for the victim’s environment. Lucía Garrido’s is also a terrible example of the blackest and most corrupt Spain, a case told in a rigorous and sober way by the docuserie Lucia in the cobweb, which can be seen in its entirety on RTVE Play. Directed by Thomas Ocana and Rafa González, the investigation starts from the unsolved murder of Lucía in 2008 in Malaga and opens the focus to address a much broader case that ranges from the trafficking of exotic animals to sexist violence, through money laundering and urban corruption , until reaching the great issue that sustains everything: drug trafficking.
Did Lucía Garrido die because she knew too much? Manuel Alonso is the centerpiece of the entire framework; the narrative and the criminal. The ex-husband of the victim and the main suspect of being behind her death was the necessary element of a set of plots that had the help of agents and corrupt commanders of the Civil Guard and Seprona. Lucía’s story is also one of institutional abandonment. His complaints of mistreatment and harassment against Manuel were unsuccessful. As their relationship deteriorated and the abuses multiplied, the victim began to accumulate information about the illicit activities that the farm housed. The Orange trees, epicenter of the plot. Were you in a position to reveal your ex-partner’s business and was that why she ended up beaten, stabbed and drowned in the swimming pool of her house?
The cobweb of the title refers to a case of infinite ramifications, something complicated to bring to the screen without entangling or eternalizing. “We had to tell it as simply as possible while maintaining the complexity of the story: it is a spider’s web and there are moments when you get lost, I have lost myself on occasions, but we cannot have the viewer with the notebook. The story is so complicated that it has had poor news coverage. And it is normal, because it is very complex, very difficult to count in three minutes. The case is a bad product for short formats and extraordinary for documentaries ”, defended this Monday by phone Ocaña, who together with his team has managed to go through the labyrinth in five chapters of about 50 minutes.
The crusade for justice of Rosa Garrido, sister of the victim who died in 2020 and whose last testimonies in life are collected in the documentary, and of the former civil guard Vicente Carrasco is the moral starting point of a documentary with a great virtue: in his sobriety, flees from the easy tear, from the spectacular image. “You don’t have to see Lucia dead in the pool. The story is so shocking that it is enough, but we also did it out of respect for the family. We felt very close to Rosa, who was our beacon. TVE has supported and encouraged us in this, it has insisted a great deal on a subtle approach and that at all times the decalogue they have for recounting sexist violence be respected, ”explains Ocaña, who has worked with screenwriters Adolfo Moreno and Antonio Díaz Pérez.
An essential test
It is not, however, a work without emotion. Among the mountain of data, recordings, statements and facts taken from a summary of more than 20,000 pages scrutinized with the rigor of good investigative journalism, there are also moments when Rosa or Lucía’s best friend, for example, are overwhelmed with the memory and the helplessness. The case pushes the narrative to the rhythm of thriller without the documentary losing the north for it. In the last two chapters, the plot is seen in all its fullness. And it terrifies. “Being a case of 13 years, when we approached we believed that the corruption would be resolved, but there are several open and there is a lot of fear in Malaga. There have been people who have not wanted to talk and people who to talk to us, even off the record, they have summoned us in dark places, secluded, outside the circle ”.
Each chapter closes with a list of people who did not want to participate in the documentary and with a warning: each statement is verified by a dedicated team for this purpose. “We are proof of demands and pressures,” sums up Ocaña proudly, who has three Emmy Awards and an Ortega y Gasset for his work in investigative journalism.
Sheltered by interest in the genre, current television abounds with true crime without thesis, pure synthesis of spectacular cases. Not in this case. Lucia in the cobweb has an idea behind it, but it is not written in neon letters. Through the testimonies of a person in charge of the Civil Guard’s internal affairs unit, retired agents, family members, specialized journalists and the attorney for the prosecution, it is clear that many things did not work in that case. “Of course you had to tell the events, the death of Lucia, the death of the Colombians [sospechosos de ser los autores materiales del asesinato de Lucía, muertos a tiros en la casa de Manuel en otro caso sin aclarar] But we were interested in what is behind it, what happens when drug trafficking takes over a place, when the institutions do not work. What we want is to talk about our society, about the danger that the area runs if something is not done. Luckily there are people like Rosa and Vicente. It is what separates us from the fact that the Costa del Sol ends up being Sinaloa. It is a declaration of intent that TVE has been involved ”.
The documentary provides evidence that can be very useful: the reconstituted statement of a protected witness whose words could not be understood at trial due to the poor quality of the recording. Given the influence of true crime television in real cases (The Jinx, Making a Murderer or The Staircase they are perhaps the first that come to mind of the fan), it is worth wondering if this production was looking for a similar effect. Ocaña responds: “As the tradition of North American investigative journalism says, our job is to turn on the light to see how cockroaches run. In this case it was full. We hope that justice is served, but we are very clear that it is not our job. Our job is to show the facts but I have hope ”. It is possible that only then did Lucía Garrido’s death drop off the ominous list of unsolved crimes and that a consistent and documented television product contributed to it.
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