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The Monument to Franco, the last of the recognitions to the dictator in Spain

The contentious Monumento a la Victoria or Monument to Franco

On February 19, 1966, the inauguration of the Monument to Franco in Santa Cruz de Tenerife took place. This was reported in the edition of DIARIO DE AVISOS of February 22 of that year, in which it is detailed that, "at one o'clock on Saturday afternoon a brilliant and emotional ceremony took place in Santa Cruz on the occasion of the delivery, by part of the commission appointed for this purpose and chaired by the Civil Governor and Provincial Head of the Caudillo Movement, to the City Council of the capital”. The article continued, “the aforementioned Monument, the work of the sculptor Juan de Ávalos, as is known, presented a brilliant appearance with all the fountains fully operational…” 

Fifty-six years later, the sculptural ensemble is still standing, defying the passage of time, and awaiting a final report certifying that it also contravenes the Ley de Memoria Histórica de España (Historical Memory Law), which will mean its removal from the streets of Santa Cruz, the last in Spain in which recognition of the dictator is maintained. Santa Cruz City Council recently reignited the controversy by announcing its intention to reinstate water to the monument's fountains after they'd been out of action for 20 years, but now that the monument has been declared illegal is it expected to be removed.

If you've approached the city from the north, you may have seen the Victory Monument, located in a space adjacent to the (Museo Histórico Militar de Canarias) Military History Museum of the Canary Islands, at the junction of the Rambla de Santa Cruz and Avenida de Anaga. Called variously Monumento a Su Excelencia el Jefe del Estado (The Monument to His Excellency the Head of State), "Monument to Franco", "Monument of the Angel" and "Monument to Victory", it is the work of Juan de Ávalos. The Juan de Ávalos Foundation refers to the sculpture as a Memorial Monument to Peace. 

The sculpture is made of patinated, cast bronze on an iron frame. The angel flying with outstretched wings, is said to represent the Dragon Rapide flight in which Francisco Franco left to initiate the military coup that would unleash the Spanish Civil War. On the back of the angel is a male figure representing Francisco Franco holding a sword in the form of a Christian cross whose tip points downwards. It resembles the Cerro de las Aguzaderas or Angel of Peace, a work Ávalos made two years earlier at Valdepeñas (Ciudad Real).

During 2010 the City Council of Santa Cruz de Tenerife modified the name of the fountain to Monument to the Fallen Angel, although the work does not represent a fallen angel nor had it been considered as such previously. This generated the criticism of several political and social groups (still ongoing), who opine that the City Council resorted to this change of name to avoid the Ley de Memoria Histórica de España (Historical Memory Law). After the municipal elections of 2011, the new government eliminated the modification, calling it Monument to Victory and recognizing its Francoist origin and symbology.

The work is in a poor state and it looks as if the city council is letting the ravages of time, elements and vandalism erase it, rather than demolish it.

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