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Malaga village honours local American independence hero

Macharaviaya in the Axarquía paid tribute Bernardo de Gálvez who was born in the village and went on to play in key figure during the Battle of Pensacola

Eugenio Cabezas

Macharaviaya

Monday, 8 July 2024, 18:43

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By 8pm on Saturday 6 July the small village of Macharaviaya in the Axarquía on the eastern side of Malaga province was packed with residents and visitors who’d travelled from all over Andalucía to watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Pensacola, in which the most illustrious resident of this small village of just 500 inhabitants, Bernardo de Gálvez, played a key role.

His bravery and determination led to the victory against the British during the American War of Independence in 1783. Born in Macharaviaya in 1746 de Gálvez would go on to become governor of Louisiana and viceroy of New Spain. Since 2014 he has been considered an 'honorary citizen' of the USA and a painting of him hangs in the Capitol in Washington.

The celebration has been declared of Tourist Interest by the provincial government the Diputación Provincial de Málaga. The Mayor of Pensacola, D. C. Reeves, and the consuls of the USA, Czech Republic and Luxembourg in Malaga province were present at Saturday’s event, as well as the dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Alberto Benito. Also in attendance were US military personnel whose ship had called in to Malaga port.

Little Madrid

Mayor of Macharaviaya Antonio Campos said, "We are the only town in the world with only 500 inhabitants that celebrates it this way.” At around 10pm the re-enactment of the life of Bernardo de Gálvez began, with a modified script this year in which special emphasis was placed on the life and career, not only of the soldier, but also of his family. A new scene was recreated in the court of King Carlos III, in which Bernardo's uncle, José de Gálvez, was the Minister of the Indies.

Little Madrid as Macharaviaya was known in the 18th century, still retains much of the legacy left by the de Gálvez family, who included not only soldiers, but also businessmen and traders. José de Gálvez, Bernardo’s uncle, built the village’s San Jacinto church, which today is also the family burial place.

He also repaired streets and introduced fountains and pipes bringing water to the village for the first time.The Torrijos 1831 Cultural Association, the Order of Grenadiers and Ladies of Honour of Gálvez and the Malaga Recreation Association took part in the military-historical recreation. Alfonso Aurioles, the municipal head of the re-enactment, pointed out that "the first western revolution was the independence of the United States, and blood was shed there, and illusion was shed there, and there were Spaniards there".

Bernardo de Gálvez led the offensive alongside General Jerónimo Girón, but when the latter's ship ran aground, de Gálvez took on the role of Field Marshal and uttered the words that would make him famous: "He who has honour and courage, let him follow me. If not, I will march alone". The same words were spoken during Saturday’s reenactment by José Gálvez, a descendant of the general who still lives in the village. The two-hour reenactment included a sound and light show as well as bayonets with real gunpowder.

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