The pandemic prevents Canaries from complying with the tradition of going to Villa Mariana on the trails (closed from Friday afternoon) and the roads (open to traffic at all times). The program of this August is developed (almost everything) through televisions and radios, which serve as a channel for citizens to live the encounter with the Virgin from their privacy, as the councilor maintains.
This year’s festivities are once again different for the Patron Saint. Safety is the important thing, he said.
Again, with the same format as last year and marked by the health emergency. It is a program developed at the moment of maximum rebound, we opted for non-face-to-face events and to promote the meeting of the pilgrims and the Virgin through the media. We suspended the pilgrimage, which is what causes us the most concern, a contingency plan is maintained and measures are adopted such as the closure of the Basilica during the night of the 14th (last night), the closure of the trails from the afternoon of the 13th to On the morning of the 16th, as it is a public holiday, the general highway of the South is kept open to traffic to prevent its use as a pilgrimage space and there are no extraordinary transport services either.
But people come because we cannot forget that it is a party full of bonds …
It is about inviting people to come to Candelaria all year round and not only on these central days of the August festival. Always maintaining respect for the faith and sentiment of the Canaries for the Patron, so that they can live that intimate and simple encounter from home, until it is possible to reestablish the tradition.
Why was Pepe Dámaso as a town crier?
Speaking with Pepe Dámaso, we believe that what happened was the result of providence. We wanted to rescue the proposal that he submitted to the City Council in 2004, which was saved, to include it in the development of the urban development strategy of Candelaria. We find it interesting that his footprint is here because, in addition, there is a connection between his painting and his sculpture with the identity elements of the municipality, since it combines the fishing and pottery traditions, activities with which Candelaria began to grow. Speaking of all this, knowing his deep religious sentiment, his devotion to La Morenita, in the debates we had to design the program for the festivities, we suggested not only that he was the town crier, but also the author of the party’s poster.
What do you want from Pepe Dámaso for Candelaria?
We are resuming the drafting of the special plan of the Old Way of the Virgin through La Jiménez, in Igueste, and we want to recover the symbols that Pepe Dámaso proposed at the time: the staffs with the bucio, the drawings that make up a series of handkerchiefs …
Is presenting the program in Gran Canaria a way of staging the regional character of patronage and the festival?
Taking into account his advanced age and state of health, we opted to go to Gran Canaria to avoid Pepe Dámaso having to come twice. Thus arises the idea of rotating around the Islands, of involving them all with the presentation of the program, the figure of the town crier and the preparation of the poster. It is a way of strengthening and making the regional dimension of this feast of the Patroness of the Canary Islands even more visible, a title ratified, up to twice, by the Vatican. Always respecting all religious feelings, because the Virgin of Candelaria is an element of our Canarian and cultural identity. With this foundation, the idea is to give more prominence to each island with the town crier and the party poster.
It seems that the regional patronage of the Virgin of Candelaria is assumed …
We do not want to encourage any conflict or lawsuit. The Virgin is the same in all her invocations. Los Remedios, in Tenerife; El Pino, in Gran Canaria; Las Nieves, on La Palma; Los Reyes, in El Hierro; Guadalupe, in La Gomera; La Peña, in Fuerteventura; Los Dolores, in Lanzarote, and Candelaria, in the Canary Islands, all are invocations of the Virgin Mary. Same image, spirit and faith. What we want is that it be a symbol of unity. Citizens understand that enough is enough. I am a Christian and a believer and each individual’s encounter with the Virgin must be respected in the way that any person experiences it, in all its dimensions, in a more cultural, popular or spiritual way. Respect and always be a symbol of union, I insist.
Taking advantage of the date, it should be remembered that 22 years ago the reform of the Plaza de la Basilica was discussed for the first time. Ricardo Melchior did it as president of the Cabildo in 1999. But not a single stone has been moved.
We have just made the entire scope of action available, having completed the long process of a final expropriation. Right now we are in the process of legalizing the work that was carried out at the time to protect the San Blas area and we are finalizing the authorization of Coasts. When we acceded to the Mayor’s Office in 1995, the project for the plaza was in the Cabildo without sectorial reports, something that surprised us quite a bit. Work began with areas such as Heritage, Strategic Projects and the Tenerife Water Council. As a consequence, the project had to be modified for reasons such as conditions derived from the sanitation works, because finally there are no parking facilities, due to accessibility issues, to maintain the fountain and the mural … The project is well advanced, pending that Costas grants us the concession in San Blas to tender it.
Will the Los Menceyes sculptural complex have to be relocated?
Yes. The proposal is that it move towards the interior of the square, as we requested when seeing that its transfer to San Blas was contemplated. It is done because the project includes a kind of botaolas in the encounter with the sea, which affects the space occupied by the Guanches.
Candelaria has serious problems of lack of parking. What solution is proposed?
The revolving car park in use is pending resolution of an appeal that we put forward for the concession by Costas. In addition, we have the feasibility study of the project for the Sixto Machado warehouses, which includes the rehabilitation of these buildings and the construction of a parking building at the entrance to the urban area. That takes a while, of course, so we try to enable parking areas in Punta Larga and Samarines, designing, at the same time, a transport network and service that facilitates the transfer from those spaces to those who live in the coastal area, above all. We also plan an underground public parking in the new projects of the indoor pool and the auditorium, both on Rambla Los Menceyes, as well as in the municipal infrastructure that we decide to build in the back part of Zona Joven. In addition, in Caletillas we are looking for land to enable them as temporary parking lots.