The tourists quickly get acquainted with the Franco monument downtown (next to the underground museum containing the cannon that did a job on Horatio Nelson’s arm). This is the monument with the two beloved (and naked) soldiers guarding it, their butts shiny with adoration.
Lesser known is the statue at the end of the Ramblas, below the Military Museum. It is a large sculpture created by artist Juan de Ávalos in 1965. The monument was originally entitled “Monumento a Su Excelencia el Jefe del Estado“: a man standing on an angel represents Franco in his plane on his famous flight from Tenerife to the mainland to initiate the Civil War. Note how he holds the sword as a cross. This sculpture is by no means forgotten. In 2010, the sculpture was officially renamed to “Monument to the Fallen Angel” (yes, Lucifer), and renamed again in 2011 to “Monument to Victory”. in 2016 (among other occasions), someone splashed red paint on it. Soon an article appeared in the local press suggesting we rename the sculpture to “The dictator’s trampoline”. Another article said that the sculpture itself is an act of vandalism.
I thought that the 2007 Ley de Memoria said to keep old monuments as they stand, but I was wrong. It says: “Public administrations will take the appropriate measures to remove shields, insignia, plaques and other objects or commemorative mentions of exaltation, personal or collective, of the military uprising, the Civil War, and the repression of the Dictatorship.” This statue is quite literally an exaltation of the military uprising, so according to the law, it has to come down. That’s exactly what the niece of the last Republican leader before Franco has been fighting for, for 20 years.
In response, right-wing forces have gathered in recent years to defend the monument, complete with billboards and a website “defendamostenerife.com”. They prefer to call the monument “Angel de la Paz”. It was decided that this sculpture doesn’t have exceptional artistic merit, but this group has decided it is worth 450,000€. (Hmm, how about the city offers it to them for 300,000€? Win-win.)
When the issue went to court, the right-leaning party running the city responded that they were kinda busy at the moment, and the courts dropped it for the moment. I’d like to take the middle road: until the courts follow the law, let’s lighten the debate and make use of the sculpture: each year, have an artist decorate the sculpture for Carnaval: ribbons, feathers, nylons, the works. I went to hang some necklaces and a peace sign off the angel this year, but she’s higher up than I could reach with my broom.
Could this polémica be affecting the nearby trees?
In front of the Monument on the former General Franco street are a line of centuries-old laurel trees. Between a fungus and general unhappiness, these trees here have been dying for 50 years, especially the ones closest to the Monument. 6 got chopped down in 2020. The next two on their way to the chopping block have lights of artist names hanging on them, part of the
though this sculpture isn’t on the list. When the next two get chopped down, where will these artist signs go? Jean Tinguely, Umberto Boccioni, Joseph Cornell, El Lissitzky, Giorgione, George Maciunas, we haven’t forgotten you. Well, some of us have.
In other post-Franco news, eight street names in Santa Cruz were changed in 2008. They are:
Calle General Goded –>Calle del Perdón (renamed again to C/ Perez Minik in 2021)
Calle General Fanjul –> Calle del Olvido
Calle General Sanjurjo –> Calle de los Sueños
Calle General Moscardó –> Calle de Amor
Calle General García Morato –> Calle de Tolerancia
Calle General Franco –> Rambla de Santa Cruz
Calle General Mola –> Avenida Islas Canarias
That’s quite a name: “General Goded”.