At 84 years old, Lorenzo Dorta it does not change. Any conversation with the mayor of Garachico from 1969 to 1987 and former councilor of the Cabildo for 36 years branches out infinitely and, furthermore, he works on it: “I had prepared a list of anecdotes,” he confesses at the end of a talk of almost an hour, when some already spend more than 10 minutes in an otherwise unstoppable conversation. As he points out, “we have a problem in places like Garachico due to a mass of tourists who leave nothing behind.”
-You have had serious ailments, such as overcoming bone cancer or being one of the first hospitalized for COVID: how are you?
“I spent 3 months in La Candelaria due to COVID and even in a coma on two occasions, but I have overcome everything (laughs)…”
-Something like that, does it score a lot?
“Yeah. The cancer needed chemo and they gave it to me along with 30 people, with friends in front plugged in like me to the ceiling. We passed newspapers to each other, we drank beer and, suddenly, the next day one of them wasn’t there, we asked where he was… and he was dead. It was something impressive and he completely demoralized you.”
-What did you think when, with you admitted, many people doubted or minimized COVID?
“Some in the media said that it was a pharmacy business and everyone began to doubt, but, for example, 3 days ago I got my fourth vaccine and also the flu vaccine, he gave me a hug and I have been there for two days lying down. However, I have friends my age to whom nothing has happened and what does that mean, that I don’t have to get vaccinated? Well, of course I do.
-With these experiences, do you look back and feel comforted with your life?
“Yeah. My Christian training has made me have faith in many things. Living in a town, you can be an altar boy in the church or in the convent of the Franciscan nuns… Those things mean that, at certain times, prayer helps a lot. The nuns, for example, tell me that they prayed for me every day. And, as mayor, I helped them when they had no resources. And, for that reason, I told my children that I was cured not because of the medicine, but because of them. In reality (first in-depth anecdote), I was always very lucky because, at 18, I finished teaching, I took competitive exams and, because I am the son of a teacher, the military is not required of me. At 19, and already as a teacher, I was assigned to the Peninsula, to a town of 700 inhabitants and 7 degrees below 0 (Torresillas del Pinar, Segovia), near Cuéllar, whose mayor was later civil governor here. When the nuns find out, they tell me, oh, Lorencito, we have a governor in Segovia who was here and is a very good friend of ours: you should bring him this gift, Venezuelan coffee that was a pain to prepare. I gave it to him, he wrote me a little letter for the mayor of Torresillas, a Francoist who had been a Francoist for 30 years, who thought he was going to be fired and who made me stay in his house out of fear.
-The influences, wow…
“(Laughs). Of course, but look how it is that, intubated in the hospital, face down and annulled, my children said that they should ensure that the house in the mountains does not give them to the nuns.
-I feel very accomplished…
“Yes, especially because of the concept of working for everyone, which Christianity gave me. Think that I retired at 81 as president of the Isla Baja consortium, from which I was not paid, and Pedro Martín did not want to fire me after dismissing all those from CC, although in the end I left… And I was delighted because we achieved the 4 objectives: the Buenavista hotel and golf course, the variant and regeneration of the Silense coast, the port of Garachico and the El Tanque ecomuseum.”
-Taking stock, what are you most proud of?
“Above all, having helped everyone who asked me for something. I never said no to anyone. Achieving the dream of Garachico (the port) is one more thing, or the roads from Icod to Buenavista, but it is a sum and I am not left with anything in particular. For example, the gold medal for Fine Arts that the King gives us for cultural activities or cleaning contests… All of this is what has made Garachico one of the most beautiful towns in Spain when, upon reaching the Mayor’s Office, , everyone thought that skyscrapers should be built for tourism, like in Marbella…”.
-Beauty is recognized now, but, in reality, I already had it 50 years ago and more…
“Of course, because of its great heritage, although it was abandoned because there was no money to restore it. In fact, look at what happened with the nuns and the reform of the convent: I asked a friend, Roberto Roldán, to give me a hand to restore and he told me that the only way was, not through Heritage or Culture, but through a general direction of aid to war-torn regions. He told me not to consider declaring the historical complex protected until I got that help because they would give me 20 duros of the 50 million for the Canary Islands. I responded that there was no war here and, nevertheless, I got 150 million pesetas.
-A fortune then…
“Yeah. I met with Soroya (director), he comes with 2 architects, sees the convents and tells me that, although they are not almost a thousand years old or more like another thousand on the Peninsula, he would make an exception for them being preserved. Of course, the works cost much more.”
-What mistakes hurt you the most as mayor and councilor?
“I haven’t thought about it. The most disappointed thing I am, and now I appreciate, is having left my family aside. My wife is a teacher, she taught in Garachico for 34 years, my 4 children were born and she took care of everything. Under Franco, if you were appointed mayor it was mandatory and free, but my enthusiasm was so great that I worked 20 hours and went home at night (…). “I have 4 children because I slept at home.”
-Although Franco’s mayor, he always felt like he was in the center: also during the dictatorship?
“Yes, because I was neither a communist, nor a socialist or anything: with Franco, they never gave me guidelines…”
-But, of course, it is difficult for anyone who does not know him and knows that he was mayor in a dictatorship to disassociate him…
“But I was always liberal, as they say now. To the president of the Historical Memory, Mercedes Schwartz, I jokingly say, to provoke them, why don’t they throw away, as Francoist, the Garachico IES which, according to Saavedra, is the most beautiful in the Canary Islands and which bears my name.
-However, do you reject the removal of the monument to the dictator of Santa Cruz?
“I don’t agree with throwing it away; In that case, it must be redefined. I do not recognize it as a monument to Franco; It was a subscription from the islands. Franco doesn’t appoint me as Mayor, what the hell, the governor does it when he knows that there is an enthusiastic young man who can do things…”
-However, do you understand that it is related to you or do you feel more identified with your other stage?
“No, because you start and you have no connection.”
-Did a mayor feel privileged for his friendship with Suárez: the avenue, the tunnel…?
“No, but Adolfo was very close, like a friend with whom you always have a drink.”
-In fact, you were the first to call him after his resignation in January 1981…
“Yes, I was in Galván Bello’s office and he told me that he was coming to Garachico to spend four days with his wife…”
-Were you frustrated by the port or was it very difficult in the 80s?
“That’s a long story (the journalist trembles)…”
“The director of Ports was a socialist, although he was with Adolfo. Suárez tells the minister that he had to be removed because of his commitment to me, but assures him that the sea would take him away, although they were referring to the old dock. However, with Felipe they take it on themselves, although we were lucky that Adán Martín appointed me as Infrastructure advisor and I included him in the plan with the Port and Tacoronte plan.”
-Well, those have not come out, should they feel privileged?
“No, because I told Marcos Brito many times not to commit himself to a great work, but he insisted and it hasn’t come out yet. Of course, Garachico now needs a drainage at the entrance…”.
-There is no line to La Palma…
“There is space, but it is not profitable because communications today are very fast; Yes, it is full of private boats.”
-Gaspar Sierra says that no politician has supported Isla Baja: do you agree?
“No, Adam did. He created the consortium, the first in the Canary Islands. Until then, there was no talk of Isla Baja, but this united the 4 towns and we obtained money and credits at very low interest.”
-The left has returned to power in the 4 municipalities and in Icod despite how badly 28M went: management or people?
“In the towns, people are looked at more than ideology.”
Is the local pact of CC and PSOE the best or do you regret the division with Ramón Miranda?
“I have no opinion because I am not part of the CC committee nor did I participate. They decided like this, Ramón told me, people from CC also, but I have neither given my opinion nor participated in anything since my retirement. Yes, I have my gathering from 12 to 1 in the square, where we talk about good and evil.”
-How do you see the people today?
“I don’t know. Unfortunately, unemployment forces a lot and you see people who are given 6 months of work by the city councils, then they collect unemployment, they come back again…”
-Do you think it is a captive vote?
“Yes, and it is not good for the country.”
-What do you think of CC’s support for Pedro Sánchez?
“What Valido said: he voted with his head and not with his heart.”
-I would have done the same?
“Clear. It always happens the same: either you give me this or I don’t vote. It is a negotiation and, if not, nothing reaches the Canary Islands. I see it well, it is a contract with your voters.”
-Are you afraid that CC will lose part of its conservative vote?
“It is true that there is a lot of discontent with that vote, but I think they will realize that it is to achieve what we will ask for in the legislature…”
-Will it be short or long?
“It depends on the EU. If he says there should be no communists, let’s see.”
-They have governed since 2020…
“But depending on what they do…”
-What does the Baja Island need?
“Many things need to be delved into, but one worries me the most: the invasion of tourists that Garachico suffers.”
-Can you die of success?
“Yeah; I don’t know anyone on the street. Groups and groups of tourists, but they leave nothing…
-The restaurants, full…
“Yes, but because of rental cars, a very big problem for traffic on an Island with 1.8 million vehicles.”
-And how to control that?
“Ah, well we have to do it. Teide, our jewel, is very bad. We must study it. Thousands of tourists come and leave nothing behind, they go to the square and ask for a drink and, on top of that, some throw papers on the ground.”