Archive for May 29th, 2012
Tenerife History – To Airbrush Or Not To Airbrush

Blimey it’s more exciting than Eurovision and we all get to vote. Arona council have produced the list of new alternative names for Calle General Franco, the road that runs from the Los Cristianos Cultural Centre down past the church square and onto the old beach. The big day of decision is Wednesday 13 June but why does this well known road have to go all ex directory?

It’s all part of a the Law Of Historical Memory brought in by Spain’s socialist government in 2007 to espunge memories of the Franco era from public buildings and monuments. Some monuments were removed quietly overnight and others have been largely ignored, but regardless of political views I am a bit uncomfortable with such sweeping changes. History happened and in this case it is particularly relevant in the Canary Islands as Franco started his rise to power here when exiled to supposedly stop his plans. Basically the law amounts to airbrushing parts of history away, maybe the next mob in power will decide to remove reminders of events they don’t agree with.

Anyway here are the choices of new name for Calle General Franco – LOS ARTISTAS, LAS MARCHANTAS, LOS COSTEROS, LOS PLAYEROS, MARCELINO CAMACHO, BARTOLOME DE SARABIA, JUAN RODRIGUEZ FEO, JOSE DE VIERA Y CLAVIJO, NICOLAS ALVAREZ HERNANDEZ, JOSE MANUEL ENCINOSO MENA. As you can probably guess the peoples names are politicians of various eras which goes back to my original point about people of different political persuasions choosing to stiffle memories of the past they consider wrong. The voting takes place on 13 June at Los Cristianos Cultural Centre from 9 am to 7 pm but you must be registered on the padron. Just be thankful, if this happened in the UK Simon Cowell would turn it into a game show with premium rate phone votes, and we would end up with Calle Bonzo or Calle Patch.

On a similar theme some councillors in Santa Cruz want Plaza Weyler renamed, I wrongly assumed that General Weyler was also from the Franco era but he goes back a lot longer. Originally from Mallorca, Weyler was Captain General of the Canaries from 1878 to 1883 and when back on the mainland he ordered the arrest and imprisonment of a Canarian independance fighter, Segundinio Delgado in 1902. So you can see why people might be a bit miffed at his name marking a well known landmark in Santa Cruz, just for good measure Weyler is also credited as inventing concentration camps in Cuba – charming chap. A quick trot up the road beyond the La Paz area is the old crumbling bull ring where Calle Horatio Nelson interesects with Rambla del General Franco.

That’s another anomoly, Nelson’s defeat when trying to invade Santa Cruz is remembered with an annual celebration and the old British Admiral is held in high esteem with a monument to him down at the dockside. What’s in a name – quite a lot it seems.