The secessionist glories, intact on their pedestal


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The statues are there, as in the poem by Gloria Fuertes, waiting for the seagull that goes up the Tagus from Lisbon to act as a belly in the bronze bald head. Madrid is a city of hidden statues or, perhaps, of statues that are visible to all, but that the walker blurs on the horizon. Ferrer-Dalmau says that Martínez Campos’ equestrian sculpture in El Retiro is the canon, and that is why Madrid’s sculptures should be themed.

Miguel Hidalgo.  Sculptural group erected in 1970, pays tribute to the priest and soldier, inspirer of the Mexican independence movement.  He was shot in 1811
Miguel Hidalgo. Sculptural group erected in 1970, pays tribute to the priest and soldier, inspirer of the Mexican independence movement. He was shot in 1811 – ABC

Every statue has a hidden memory, a good or bad gouge, and a better or worse trip to perpetuity. In the tour of these pages we propose to walk through Madrid that honors those heroes of independence with respect to Spain; precisely now that from Mexico to Bolivia, passing through Washington, it has become fashionable to vandalize the statues of Europeans, Spaniards, who, noblemen of fortune, made themselves to the Ocean Sea. Even the Pope has asked Mexico for forgiveness for the Spanish colonization, and that after the torturous prestige of an indigenous movement that, in the last analysis, passes by obviating the Hispanic legacy.

Jose Rizal.  In the Parque de Santander, in Chamberí, this monument commemorates the hero of the independence of the Philippines, who died in 1896
Jose Rizal. In the Parque de Santander, in Chamberí, this monument commemorates the hero of the independence of the Philippines, who died in 1896 – ABC

And yet Madrid appears, lending a pedestal to the heroes of independence: from José Rizal to Simón Bolívar, going through myths like Moctezuma or Atahualpa in the Royal Palace, which are also among others in stone and in the city; mainly in the Parque del Oeste, a breviary of Spanish-American glories.

Atahualpa.  The last sovereign of the Inca Empire rests on a facade of the Royal Palace, along with several Hispanic monarchs
Atahualpa. The last sovereign of the Inca Empire rests on a facade of the Royal Palace, along with several Hispanic monarchs – ABC

Our tour begins very close to the Vallehermoso stadium, in the Philippine Islands. There stands the sculpture of José Rizal surrounded by two women, oblivious to the traffic. The leader of Philippine independence is there, between a stadium and a gas station, with his poem in Tagalog and Spanish erased by time, and that was inaugurated by Gallardón. On the left his posthumous poem in Spanish, on the right, in Tagalog; and in the obelisk doves, many doves, which are ‘aging’ the bronze and granite.

‘My last goodbye’

At the feet of the Filipino hero, there is a line of rental bikes and the Madrilenian, with his head down, does not have time to read, even in Spanish, his poem ‘My last goodbye’, in which there are verses as moving as the one that prays that «I go where there are no slaves, executioners or oppressors, / where faith does not kill, where God is the one who reigns». And that between slogans nailed in the hard granite such as that “from the instruction the greatness of the nations is born” or other more bloody exclamations. Note here that Rizal traveled to the Peninsula, studied Medicine and Letters, and that it is a reinterpretation of a similar monument in Manila, the work of Richard Kingsley, by the chisel of the Filipino sculptor Tito Boy.

Moctezuma.  The image of the last Aztec emperor (1466-1520) emerges in a corner of the main entrance of the Royal Palace
Moctezuma. The image of the last Aztec emperor (1466-1520) emerges in a corner of the main entrance of the Royal Palace – ABC

Beyond that, the route inevitably leads to West Park. There, Spain, America, the loss of the colonies and the couples who kiss between bottle and bottle are woven together. And yes, Simón Bolívar had to leave,the liberator of Gran Colombia, who had no other idea than to come to Spain, to Madrid, and get married. And the thing about marriage in Spain later degenerated on Bolivarian televisions … but that’s another story. What is today the work of Emilio Laíz Campos It is a secret for muffled kisses on the La Coruña highway.

Mushrooms grow by his side, and Bolívar no longer has the floral offering he used to. Adolescents continue to kiss in the septembrina shadow of the creator of Gran Colombia and of the man who has become an adjective synonymous with populism. The thing about the string of mushrooms east of Simón Bolívar may be a metaphor. Except for the couple, there is no trace of human presence in that part of Parque del Oeste; no offerings or anything. Perhaps a few words from Miguel de Unamuno – the only thing missing – on the sides encouraging the reader’s imagination under the belief that without him, without Simón Bolívar, “History would have been incomplete.”

Yesteryear, landfill

It is also curious that the Parque del Oeste, which was once a landfill, houses the monuments of the glories that became independent from Spain: from San Martín to O’ Higgins, and from there to the already mentioned Bolívar and the Latin American glories that must also be vindicated here, in these latitudes so close to the Museum of America.

No statue has been vandalized, and Madrid’s sculpture gardens look like London. To that ‘father of country’ de la mexicanidad that it was Miguel Hidalgo –the one with the scream– they have labeled him very low and on the base, a sickle and a hammer as without strength or conviction. The same thing happens with Bernardo O’Higgins, a Chilean from that Chile of a Neruda who also walked through these atochales.

In Madrid there is no reaction against the black legend. A statue is put on the historical enemy and from there one begins, in bronze, what is Latin America and the memory of where Spain had a cross, a sword and bravado who guarded that land where the sun did not set.

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