Palomares renames street after fiery aristocrat

Known as the ‘Red Duchess’, she was jailed by Franco in the 1960s for taking part in nuclear accident protest

The ‘Red Duchess’, as Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo y Maura was known

By Richard Torné

A street in the village of Palomares will be renamed in honour of a Spanish duchess who campaigned to uncover the truth behind the 1966 nuclear accident.

Known as the ‘Duquesa Roja’ (the Red Duchess), Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo y Maura, whose real title was the Duchess of Medina Sidonia, was a historian, novelist and – remarkably for an aristocrat – a political activist and member of the Socialist PSOE party when it was banned during Franco’s rule.

The duchess was jailed for eight months in 1969 after taking part in a protest in support of 50 farmers who were demanding compensation for the contamination of their land caused by the Palomares accident.

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