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Stage 1980 - 1992

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México, 1982.

The decision to travel to Spain was apparently made in the first half of 1980. In September of the same year Nicomedes and his wife Mercedes Castillo, together with their two sons, Pedro and Luis Enrique, arrived in Madrid, where they began a new life.


He is immediately invited to give recitals, courses, seminars and conferences. In Madrid, life is very active and comforting. The children enter school very quickly and adapt easily to the new environment.


However, finding a job that would meet his expectations and guarantee him economic stability was not an easy task in Spain. 


The truth is that he had no great illusions about it either, rather he knew perfectly well the difficulties that could await him, as he told me in a letter shortly before leaving: "I am not so unprepared that I would be sorry to miss any opportunity to do something. Well, I am prepared for everything, although I have no illusions of conquering Spain. As long as they allow me to earn some money in some of the activities I can perform, I am very well served".

About a year later, in August 1981, Nicomedes told me that "we are all having a good time and that is why we have decided to stay more in these parts. I still don't have any work to do, but I believe that my new fall offensive will give positive results". And indeed, the following year he began working at Radio Exterior de España (REE). In his new job he soon became loved and respected by his colleagues and superiors, as well as promoting various radio projects. From there the doors opened for him to do, at an international level, what in Peru he had only been able to do at a national level. Among the many works carried out within Radio Exterior de España, Nicomedes suggested including in the programming two new broadcasts in Quechua and Guarani. At that time REE was broadcasting in English, French, Arabic, Russian, German and Sephardic and Nicomedes demonstrated the importance of these two languages. In 1989 the project was launched. And it was he who was in charge of finding people in Madrid who spoke these languages to translate the texts. These broadcasts were on the air until 1993. 

"The whole morning is dedicated to interviews, and receiving information from the provinces, and the afternoon for mixing and recording; I return home around nine in the evening, usually after attending a conference or giving a recital."


For more information on his time at Radio Exterior de España see Production/Radio&Television


Representing Peru in one of the international meetings organized by the magazine "Mundo Negro".


On June 20, 1988 Nicomedes underwent a long surgery at the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid. He had been found to have cancer in his left lung. The operation, which involved the removal of a tumor, was considered successful by the attending physicians. After a brief period of convalescence, Nicomedes returned to his job at the radio station and resumed his many activities. However, a medical check-up was necessary every six months, which fortunately showed positive signs.

Despite his illness, Nicomedes was still the same as ever, in terms of vitality, enthusiasm and work projects. Whether it was international conferences or his participation as a teacher in the expedition Adventure 92, in 1990 and 1991. An expedition led by the Spaniard Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo (1932-2016) aboard the ship Guanahaní, which visited the ports of Yucatán, Puerto Limón, Panama, Cartagena and Puerto Rico, with 500 young people aged 16 and 17, to whom, together with other professors, he gave a series of lectures. 

However, it was visible that as time went by, he became more and more exhausted with every little effort, which also caused him respiratory problems. These problems were aggravated in the spring months, when the highest amount of pollen to which he was allergic was produced.


The Peruvian government, through its embassy in Spain, grants him the "Order of Merit for Distinguished Services, in the Grade of Commander". July 19, 1990.

Video. Interview by Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo. 1990

Entrevista de Nicomedes a Miguel de la Quadra -Salcedo. Audio 1991

In 1991, the lung cancer for which he had been operated on in 1988 recurred. In December, after spending a few days in hospital, he was temporarily discharged so that he could spend Christmas with his family. Nicomedes takes advantage of these days to put his things in order: he leaves instructions to his children about the material that should be returned to the radio when he is no longer there or about the care of certain books. He also puts his things in order at Radio Exterior and literally says goodbye to his co-workers.

He is readmitted to the hospital on January 5, 1992.


A complication in his clinical condition put an end to his life on February 5. Death, to which he had written, recited and sung so much, took away from us the exceptional character, who gathered exceptional qualities, the most representative popular poet, decimist and Afro-Peruvian folklorist of all times.



Taken from:

Texto: Nicomedes Santa Cruz: "Decimista, Poeta y Folklorista Afroperuano", por Pablo Maríñez.


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