30th May is Canarian day, but how much do you really know about the fight for independence?
An Article by Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura
The 30th of May 1983 was the first established parliament for the Canaries in Santa Cruz and it gave them all a lot more influence in the running of their own affairs. It is a definite bank holiday, and when it falls on a Thursday some local councils extend it to include the Friday as well.
The Isles of Dogs
The Canary name is derived from the early investigation of the islands by the king of Mauritania, which was a Roman province just 100 kilometres away on the coast of Africa. While investigating the islands, they discovered many fierce fighting dogs. The Latin name for dog is Canis, thus Islas Canarias, basically means Isle of Dogs and this is reflected in the Canarian flag.
Different Languages & Customs
The seven Canarian Islands islands are:
– El Hierro,
Each island is distinct and different to the other, not just in geography but before the Europeans arrived, the local population of each island spoke different languages, had many different customs and there was very little contact between them. After their conquest, their treatment depended on who had financed that particular invasion. So Aristocratic Military men, Bishops, Merchants or the Crown of Spain each had a separate authority. This never worked very well, as you can imagine, and is one of the reasons government is still having difficulties. So to get their own parliament and have less control from central government, is a reason to celebrate all the things we have in common.
For many Europeans the word Canary, conjured up birds, bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, sugar, rum and wine, all of which are exported from here. When we received the produce from the America’s, much of it was then transported on to the European markets. That is why Canary Wharf in London is so named, as No. 32 berth of the of the Import Dock on West Wood Quay, was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade and most of our exports ended up there.
If you visit Canary Wharf today it looks very different that it would have done way back then. Above is am image which shows what Canary Wharf would have looked like back in the day when imports from the Canary Islands were a regular thing. Below is what Canary Wharf looks like today.
Inside the iconic London dockside building is a mosaic. On the Mosaic it says…….
“The original Canary Wharf took its name from the tomatoes, fruit and potatoes imported here from The Canary Islands”
Then, post war, the Canaries became an exotic holiday destination. Cruise ships arrived in Tenerife and hotels began being built to accommodate the influx of visitors.
Life After Franco
After the death of Franco in 1975, restrictions started to be dropped, bikinis were allowed on the beaches and singing and dancing to local songs was permitted. The whole face of Canarian life began to change and our “Touristas” or tourists started to come and enjoy our sun, sea and sand once again.
Independence & Airline Crashes
There was even an Independence for Canaries movement, who in 1977, bombed an airline office and a shop in Las Palmas. They also threatened the airport, which had to be closed and led to the worst air crash in world aviation history. It happened at Los Rodeos airport (now Tenerife North), On March 27th 1977. Two Boeing 747 passenger jets, KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736, collided and 583 people were killed. After an assassination attempt in 1978, by the Spanish secret services, their leader was left handicapped and the movement officially gave up its armed struggle. In 1979 he returned to Spain.
Celebrations In The Streets
With a day now set aside to celebrate being a little nation of islands, instead of an outpost, people will enjoy food and entertainment, all inspired by traditional influences. Have a look around for a local bar, even if you have to leave the resort, and try some of the local food and drink for yourself. However, don’t be surprised if you find a lot of places closed that day, as the proprietors will likely be with their families and enjoying being Canarian. Happy Canaries Day all!