ON THE COLONIAL SITUATION OF THE
(Popular Front for the Independence of the
Geneva, Switzerland, 31st July 1998
The Canarian Archipelago occupies a wide band in the direction
of the parallels in front of the coast of Cape Num or Sidi Uarzik
to those of Cape Juby, some 96 km. off the coast of the Kingdom
of Morocco at its nearest point, and some 1,000 km. from the European
coasts. The Archipelago is made up of seven main islands: Lanzarote,
Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera y El
Hierro, and four smaller ones: Lobos, Alegranza, Montaña
Clara y Graciosa, with a total area of 7,446.62 square km. and
a de facto population of about 1,631,798 inhabitants, of which
some 500,000 are Spanish residents and other foreigners, whereas
a similar number of Canarians has been forced to emigrate, making
up the Canarian diaspora, mainly in Venezuela and other Latin
The Canarians are a people of insular Africa, of which the
descendants of the native Canarians are ethnically Amazigh (Berber).
The population of the Canaries comes from Northwest Africa, arriving
in the islands on successive waves since the first milennium B.C.
to the time of Roman colonisation in the north of the continent.
The racial type prevailing in the XVth century, at the beginning
of the European conquest was "mechta" (Mechta-el-Arbi
and Mechta Afalù), and the existing population at that
time, according to Bartolomé de las Casas in "Brevisima
relaciôn de la destrucciôn de Àfrica"
(brief account of the destruction of Africa) reached up to 100,000
inhabitants. Recent research by Professor Manuel J. Lorenzo Perera
of La Laguna University estimates some 87,000 inhabitants in the
two main islands, Tenerife and Gran Canaha, a significant population
for those days.
We speak the Canarian language, a dialectal variation of
Spanish spoken in the islands, in which are used some 3,000 words
from the archaic dialects or Tamazight spoken by the natives,
whose written form was very close to present Tifinagh. The autochthonous
names of the isiands and its inhabitants often show their ethnic
origin. Achinech was the name of today's Tenerife, inhabited by
the Ait ben-Wanche; Tamaran was Gran Canaria, inhabited by the
Ait-ben-Canarii, who came from the High Atlas; Benahoare was La
Palma and its inhabitants Benahoritas; La Gomera keeps its original
name, inhabited by the Ghomaras or Gomeros from the Riff in present
Morocco; Mahoh was Fuerteventura, inhabited by Mahoreros as well
as Titeroygakat, today Lanzarote; and finally Hero, present Hierro,
inhabited by the Bimbaches. Nowadays we name all the Canarians
of pre-colonial origin, and by extension every Canarian, "guanches."
Once the islands were conquered by the Spaniards, after a bloody
war, which lasted a century, its inhabitants were mostly submitted
to slavery. At the time, the Spaniards brought in new slaves from
the neighboring Sahara coast, from Senegal, and the Gulf of Guinea.
The present population is composed of this ethnic substratum and
later contributions of other African, several European, and Latinamehcan
All through history, there have been several independence
movements in the Archipelago, the main one, perhaps, led by Secundino
Delgado at the beginning of this century. In 1934, the United
Revolutionary Front carried among its proposals the independence
of the Canaries, but the so-called "Spanish War' and later
dictatorship of General Franco drowned this movement in a bloodbath.
Many Canarans had to migrate. Only in Venezuela could there be
counted up to half-a-million, who would create, outside the islands,
new movements for independence. Among these groups is the MPAIAC,
created in Algiers in 1964. In 1976, created inside the Canaries,
there was the Party of the Canarian Workers (PTC), which in 1979
was renamed Revolutionary African Party of the Canary Islands
(PRAIC). At the same time, there were created the nationalist
trade unions, Canarian Confederation of Workers (CCT) and the
Canarian Labor Union (SOC), later merged as SOC, today part of
the Intersindical Canaria. In the poles of 1979, the Canarian
nationalists split. Whereas PRAIC, MPAIAC and others were for
abstention, those around Pueblo Canario Unido joined those of
Union del Pueblo Canario (UPC), which obtained 13% of the votes,
though the abstention got a major response. In 1983, the PRAIC
merged with the Nationalist Canarian Groups and other political
and ecological groups to make the Popular Front of the Canary
Islands (FREPIC-AWAÑAK), today Popular Front for the Independence
of the Canaries.
The present situation of the independence movement is lead
by FREPIC-AWAÑAK, whereas lntersindical Canaria prevails
among trade unions. Since 1960, the Spanish military forces increased
in the islands, with new naval and air bases, which support NATO
in Northwest Africa. Nowadays, they face a strong popular fight
against this military presence and the establishment of new bases,
increased as a result of Spain's refusal to sign the Pelindaba
Treaty of Nuclear Weapons. FREPIC-AWAÑAK has played an
important role in this fight.
The Spaniards have imposed a Statute of Autonomy on the
Archipelago, with limited competence, not submitted to public
approval. And forgetting about our specific economical and fiscal
conditions, they have integrated us in the European Union, signing
a Permanent Statute to regulate the relations of the Archipelago
with the EU, which is leading us toward the loss of historical
rights and denaturation of our cultural inheritance. On the other
hand, they have established a "Regional Government"
with the coalition of Canarian parties (CC) (who rule together
with the PP), whose highest political goal is to widen the Statute
of Autonomy within Spanish constitutional frames in order to achieve
more competence as a compensation for granting the colonial situation.
Despite the harsh political repression suffered by the Canarian
independentists--including murders from police torture, police
shootings, prisoners in jails, and prosecutions, etc.--the independence
movement has strengthened and gained supporters among the population,
getting a fair representation in the political life of the islands
by creating cultural, social, and youth associations.
The economy of the Archipelago has always been headed for
a monoculture to export, today, tourism, port, and commercial
services. The tertiary sector occupies 80% of the Gross National
Product of the Canaries. But today, despite the high rates of
increase of GNP--over 3.8%--and a per capita income higher than
16,OOO $USA, the rate of unemployment stands over 20% of the work-age
population, and 30% of the total population is extremely poor,
which shows that the Canarians do not take advantage of the rents
generated in the islands. As a rule, the economic reality of the
Canaries is defined by control and extraction of the richness
generated in them by the Spanish metropolis and foreign enterprises.
Thus, the Spanish bank controls all the capital and receives all
benefits since we do not have our own bank. Indirect and some
direct taxes are collected by the Spanish Treasury since there
is no Canarian Treasury. The substantial economic resources generated
by Ports and Airports are cashed by the Spanish Administration.
All the air companies and most shipping trades are not Canarian.
All the energetic production, as well as the trade of oil by-products
is in the hands of Spanish monopolies and multinationals. Tourist
operators, as well as most travel agencies, are European without
Canarian shares, and their benefits do not revert to the islands.
Catalonians, Majorcans, and some other Europeans own most of the
hotels, with over 400,000 beds available. The highest turnover
of public works and building businesses put out to tender are
warded to Spanish companies. Food multinationale control over
60% of domestic products, importing more than 80% of those consumed
in the islands, serously damaging agriculture and the cattle economy.
Most insurance companies are foreign capital and pay taxes outside
the islands. The economy, which controls the fishing activity
except for a scanty fishing fleet, is in Spanish and foreign hands.
On the other hand, there are some elements operating in everyday
life, which do not have an obvious political character, as is
the case for some social and religions institutions and some professional
organizations, which do work together with the colonial system.
Judges, notaries, land inspectons, religious orders, sport and
social clubs, public officials, etc. are all personalities, which
fit into the lack herein mentioned and other structural deficiencies
naturalizing the colonial reality.