Docampo Ramos, María

? EEUU (New York?) – 1948, Arillo (Oleiros, A Coruña). Translator and interpreter, and perhaps an agent of US intelligence.
Luis Soto, María Docampo, Virxinia Pereira and Castelao in New York (in Castelao, a UPG e outras memorias by Luis Soto – Xerais, 1983)

Daughter of Galicians, born in the US. Her father, Francisco Docampo Pérez (from Bergondo) had migrated to the United States at the age of fourteen. He had previously worked in England as a sailor. In New York, where he worked as a machinist and stoker, met María Ramos Díaz (from Cabreiroa, Oleiros). Maria also had a sister, Encarnación, who married another Galician in New York, Pedro Lema (from Corme, Ponteceso).

Docampo worked as a Spanish and Portuguese interpreter for the Bank of London in Wall Street. During Castelao and Virxinia Pereira’s stay in in the United States, she was hired by the Frente Popular Antifascista Gallego to act as the couple’s translator and secretary. They couple grew fond of Docampo, who became “almost family”, according to Emilio González López. However, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, Docampo suddenly disappeared and did not keep in touch.

Docampo’s mysterious disappearance took a new turn when Emilio González López visited Panama in 1941, for a course on Criminal Law. There, he was told by professor and economist Edmund Peevy, that Docampo had been his secretary in Special Services, and a member of the U.S. military intelligence service. González López’s conclusion was that Docampo had been following Castelao’s visit for the American intelligence service, and her disappearance was due to the fact that her work had ended, and she would have to start a new assignment. This type of surveillance was not unusual with Republican exiles, who were not given political asylum by the US government, which often associated them with Communism. This was the case, for example, with Luis Buñuel and José Rubia Barcia. Castelao’s previous trip to the USSR and his proximity to the Communist Party (for example through Luis Soto) may have been some of the reasons why he was spied on by US intelligence. As the historian Eliseo Fernández has revealed, Galician nationalism was also investigated by the British secret services, as stated in a 1945 report that refers to Castelao as the most important Galician exile.

Due to her tragic end, it is known that Docampo passed away in Arillo (Oleiros) in 1948. In 1947 she had married Jose Garcia Peña (from Jalisco) in Mexico. However, they must have had problems in the relationship from a very early age, since in 1948 she traveled alone to settle in Galicia, where her parents had returned. “O Jalisco” (her husband’s nickname) followed her to Oleiros, and on her parents’ estate, “La Brava”, she murdered María, her mother and her sister, in what was known in the press as the “crime of the Jalisco”.

Despite the obvious crime of sexist violence (García Peña would assassinate his next partner and daughter in 1976), the theory was developed that the murder of Docampo could have political motivations, associated with the CIA. Not only because “O Jalisco” burned several photos and documents at the crime scene, but because his actions were lightly punished by the Spanish authorities, considering the brutality of the crime. Furthermore, a document declassified by the CIA states that Garcia Peña was transferred to a training center the agency had in Gran Canaria. After the murder of his following partner, he committed suicide in 1978 at the psychiatric hospital to which he had been admitted, also in the Canaries. The story was recreated by the playwright Manuel Guede Oliva in the play “A función do Tequila” (Rafael Dieste Award, 2011), and staged by the company Teatro do Morcego.

When Virginia Pereira returned to Galicia in 1968, she visited the cemetery of Dorneda where the remains of Docampo rest, an act that confirms the affection that the couple had developed for her (Sources: Cilia Torna Ferreiro, “María Docampo, unha espía para Castelao” (2016); Marta Villar, “La coruñesa que espió a Castelao para la CIA” (2017); Rodri García, “O crime do Jalisco, paso a paso” ; Premios María Casares, “A función do Tequila”; Extract of the play in Youtube; Miguel Anxo Seixas Seoane, Castelao. Construtor da nación, tomo II (1931-1939) (2020)).