In full controversy over the announcement by the Santa Cruz City Council of its intention to rehabilitate the fountain known as Monument to Francoand almost as if it were a response to this announcement, the General Directorate of Culture and Heritage of the Government of the Canary Islands announced yesterday that the Catalog of Francoist symbols, streets, monuments and mentions of the municipality of Santa Cruz has already been completed, as established by the Law of Historical Memory of the Canary Islands. A catalog that coincides almost entirely with the report that the Santa Cruz City Council had already commissioned in 2018 to review compliance with the state Historical Memory Law in the municipality.
In this way, they include 78 tokens with monuments, sculptures and objects, names of streets, spaces and urban elements, as well as buildings, and a list of honors and distinctions awarded at different times in the history of the Corporation, which do not comply with the aforementioned Canarian standard, and which, therefore, They must be removed from the public space.
That of Franco, that of the Fallen in the Plaza de España and the Mercado Nuestra Señora de África-Puente Serrador are the three monuments that have been included in the catalogue. But also the propeller of the Canarias Cruise, which participated in the massacre of civilians on the Andalusian coast during the war of 1936, the arch of the García Escámez neighborhood or the bust of Joaquín Amigó de Lara. Shields, inscriptions and tombstones, around thirty streets or various recognitions complete a catalog that has yet to pass through the Technical Commission for Historical Memory of the Government of the Canary Islands, to subsequently have the endorsement of the Ministry of Education, Universities, Culture and Sports.
Yesterday, the mayor of Santa Cruz, José Manuel Bermúdez, who has defended in all monuments that until this catalog was available, a decision could not be made on the removal of the Monument to Franco, criticized the procedure followed by the Government of the Canary Islands when preparing only the list of Francoist vestiges for Santa Cruz. “Of course, Santa Cruz will comply with the Historical Memory Law, but we reject that this city be designated and a different speed be applied than the rest of the Archipelago,” said the mayor. In addition, he argued that “we will resort to the current catalog of Francoist vestiges, for not conforming to the law, in which only this municipality is indicated, in what we understand to be a stigmatization of this capital, co-capital of the Canary Islands.”
For his part, the first deputy mayor and councilor for Public Services, Guillermo Díaz Guerra, yesterday supported the position of his government partner, pointing out that “in Santa Cruz we know how to take care of our heritage and we also know how to comply with the laws. With this announcement by the Government of the Canary Islands, it is shown that they are trying to mask their inability and inactivity when it comes to enforcing the law in the exercise of their obligations through improvisation. Likewise, he added that “in no way are we going to accept an arbitrary and partisan catalog that only affects the municipality of Santa Cruz.”
From the Association of Historical Memory of Tenerife, its president, Mercedes Pérez Schwartz, was also critical of the Vice-Ministry of Culture, not for the content of the catalog, which she shares “in its entirety”, but for the way in which the Government of the Canary Islands has made it known. “As a member of the Technical Commission, which has not even been convened yet, I have found out from the press that this work has been completed.” Pérez Schwartz understands that Santa Cruz has been started “because there was already previous work done”, but also that the removal of Francoist vestiges could be done from tomorrow if you want. She understands that the City Council cannot be required to do it from one day to the next, although, with regard to the Monument to Franco, she does defend its immediate withdrawal. “You don’t have to wait for any catalog to do it, because it just breaks the law,” she said.
From the municipal opposition, both the PSOE and UP yesterday expressed their support for what is contained in the document of the Government of the Canary Islands and their rejection of the position expressed by the mayor. The spokesman for the PSOE, José Ángel Martín, expressed his “surprise” at CC’s resistance to complying with the law and recalled that both state and Canarian law “already clearly pointed to the Franco Monument as a flagrant breach of historical memory ”. As for the mayor’s statements about resorting to the catalog, the PSOE mayor invites him to “comply with the law” and “stop looking the other way.” “He has the responsibility to enforce it like any other law and what stigmatizes our city is having Francoist symbols in public spaces,” he concluded.
From UP, Ramón Trujillo states that “there are no longer any excuses for Santa Cruz to stop being an anomaly in the Canarian, state and European spheres due to the intense persistence of Francoist symbols. The municipal government has to abandon its objective of restoring the fountain of the monument to Franco and use those funds to remove it from public roads and adapt the resulting space.” Like the PSOE, he also urges to “remove the propeller from the Canarias cruise ship, which carried out the mass murder of civilians.” “We reject the victimization of the statement issued by Mayor Bermúdez -he continues-, because the Law allows the Catalog of the Canary Islands to be gradually drawn up and it was necessary to start with Santa Cruz, because, objectively, it has the worst situation in the Archipelago in terms of recognition of major rapists of human rights in its streets”.
The last to speak was the spokesperson for Cs, Matilde Zambudio, who, unlike PSOE and UP, continues to bet on giving new meaning to the Monument to Franco. “We understand that what has been ruled by the Historical Memory Commission of the Government of the Canary Islands has to be followed, so now it is time for the City Council to withdraw it, despite the fact that we defend its resignification.”
Bermúdez accuses the Government of “stigmatizing” the capital
The mayor of Santa Cruz, José Manuel Bermúdez, yesterday accused the Government of the Canary Islands of “pointing to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, ignoring what is stated in the Canary Islands Historical Memory Law itself and stigmatizing this city, which is the co-capital of the Archipelago”. For the mayor of the capital, the fact that the list of vestiges has only been made for Santa Cruz is a form of discrimination against the rest of the municipalities that also have them. With this premise, he announced that, “obviously, we will scrupulously comply with the removal of the Francoist vestiges that are indicated in the catalogue, but we will not act until it complies with the precepts of territoriality required by the aforementioned article 12.”
“It is unacceptable -reiterated the mayor- that only Santa Cruz appears in that catalogue, is it that there are no Francoist vestiges in the rest of the municipalities of the Canary Islands?” and argued that “precisely article 13 of the aforementioned law expressly mentions that the withdrawal procedure will become effective once it is certified by the competent body that the corresponding object or mention of Francoist symbology is included in the catalog (of territorial scope Canarian) referred to in article 12 of the aforementioned law.
Faced with these statements, the Deputy Minister of Culture of the Government of the Canary Islands, Juan Márquez, who was in charge yesterday on his social networks of detailing this 3,000-page catalog, responded through his Twitter account to the mayor that, “with the utmost respect institutional, in the field of historical memory, what stigmatizes a city is not a catalog, it is having a statue of Franco in its streets”.