People in Malaga took part in commemorations this week to remember a dark day in 1977 that led to the tensest scenes in the city since the end of the Spanish Civil War several decades before.
Some 2,000 politicians and members of the public marched through Malaga city centre last Sunday four decades after another demonstration of 200,000 locals turned violent in the period after General Franco’s death.
The peaceful rally in 1977 had been organised to urge central government to allow the Andalucía region to achieve devolved power in the shortest period possible. It was felt that Madrid was denying Andalucía “a historic right”.
As the march on 4 December 1977 was finishing, an overreaction by officials and police to the crowd’s high spirits led to an innocent young trade union activist being shot. Manuel José García Caparrós, who was 18 years old, died on his way to hospital.
The police action, in a period when Spain was living a nervous transition from dictatorship to democracy, caused shock and outrage across the city and region, and there were three days of disturbances.
On Monday last week, the exact anniversary day, today’s local leaders and dignitaries paid tribute to Manuel José and his ashes were reburied in the city’s official garden of remembrance.
Raising the flag
Back on 4 December 1977, the tensions had started to rise when a protester climbed up the front of the Diputación provincial authority’s building on the Plaza de la Marina to raise the Andalusian regional standard, against the wishes of the authorities. He was detained on the balcony and riot police sent out.
Four decades later, politicians stood on the same balcony last Monday and symbolically raised the now official and well-recognised regional green and white flag.
Many people have also being paying tribute this week by laying flowers at the site of the shooting of García Caparrós, on the corner of the city’s main Alameda avenue and the Alameda de Colón, near the suburban railway’s underground terminus. The victim’s sisters also took part in this week’s events.