Our protagonist Santiago Pi i Sunye was a Professor of Physiology at the University of Zaragoza. He visited the USSR after the revolution and the Civil War, publishing “The Republic of the Soviets”.
Until 1936 he did scientific research and published numerous research papers. In 1931 he took part in the constitution of the Izquierda Republicana party and 1934 he served as Undersecretary of Public Instruction for the Republic, accelerating the transfer of education services to the Generalitat.
At the beginning of February 1939, Santiago, his two brothers August and Carles, and their respective families (more than thirty members as Núria reminds us) left Catalunya, pushed by the Francoist victory, to return never again (except for Santiago).
In 1939 Santiago went into exile in France and later in Bolivia and Panama, where he held chairs of Physiology and Biochemistry. He retired to La Jonquera between 1962 and 1981, although in 1968-69 he was professor of Physiology and Head of the Department of Physiological Sciences at the Autonomous University of Madrid.
Their biographies of the three brothers, their professional, intellectual and political careers perfectly illustrate the enormous cost the Francoist victory meant for Catalunya, with the political, social, economic, cultural, and linguistic repression the country was submitted to during the following years. Their exile symbolizes the end of the project of a modern, democratic, and reforming Catalan Republic that was widespread throughout Catalunya during the first third of the XX century reaching its culmination in the years 1931-1936.
From so far to close.
From so far to so close.