As I was making my second ascent of El Teide, from the north of the island, I passed through extensive woodland called Esperanza Forest. I had heard rumour that, hidden in the forest in a remote spot, there was still a monument (an obelisk, in fact) commemorating the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Not only was it a memorial of that tragic war, but it also honoured the role played by Francisco Franco as the leader of the rebel forces. I simply could not believe that 36 years after the death of Franco, such monuments were still allowed to stand.
I sought assistance from several locals to find the spot, none of them ecstatic about answering my questions, and this is what I found (see photos). In an age when dictators around the world are tumbling like ninepins, I gazed upon this cruelly majestic memorial that marked the spot where the rebels had held the fateful meeting that sparked the movement of troops from north Africa into Spain, unleashing a three-year bloodbath that claimed over 1 million lives. As I drew closer, I saw that it was not wreaths, bouquets and candles that honoured the space around the obelisk, but broadly-painted graffiti and slogans that shouted to the world “Death to Fascism”, “Canary Islands Free & Independent”,”Out with Spaniards” “They will not pass” (a Republican slogan during the war). And I noted around the base of the monument that visitors had relieved themselves copiously as a mark of ‘respect’………………
A local website tells me that the Canarian government had made a unanimous decision to erase this monument from the face of the earth…………….. but that was nearly 4 years ago :0(