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Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Is this Tenerife's first curfew?

The Monumento a los Caídos (a tribute to the fallen - a memorial to the victors - in the Spanish Civil War) in the Plaza de España, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Photo: Florival fr, CC BY 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The history of the island records moments in which this measure of public order has been used when there was a risk of not being able to contain disturbances or compromised situations for the rebellions against the Second Republic and during the Spanish Civil War.

Since Saturday at 11 pm the island of Tenerife has been experiencing what a curfew is

On this occasion, contrary to what happened throughout history, the reason for decreeing it is not war or military issues. The pandemic forces the use of a tool - normally imposed by military authorities - that restrains movement when night falls and has been commented on daily in recent weeks that, although it might seem novel, has already been lived under.

The history of curfews in democratic Spain

The measure was used in medieval times to protect citizens, and in the founding of the liberal State, to repress workers' uprisings.

The curfew is a measure that can be applied within the state of alarm, a phrase that we are already more than used to since the pandemic began. The only time that a curfew has been proclaimed in Spain in peace time, was during the historic 1981 Spanish coup d'état attempt, but only in Valencia. That night, the tanks took to the streets and military officials enacted a ruling that prohibited the movement of more than two people on public roads from nine at night to six in the morning, a period of time very similar to that of the measures adopted by some provinces and regions this December 2020.

But ... where exactly does the origin of curfews in Spain come from? At what other significant moments in our history has it been applied? "This is a measure that originally, in medieval times, was designed to offer protection to citizens when fires were one of the greatest threats to cities built mostly with wood," says Fernando Fernández Bastarreche, researcher at the Contemporary History area of ​​the University of Granada (UGR). "The bell reminded people that the time had come to 'turn off the lights' and go home.

¿Este es el primer toque de queda que vive Tenerife?

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