Cosme Damián Churruca never lowered the flag. He faced each other on the deck of the Saint John Nepomuk six English ships at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). He died on October 21 after a cannonball blew off his leg. Federico Gravina, captain general of the Spanish Navy, also died a few months after that same battle due to the serious injuries suffered – he lost an arm – during the combat. Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete was taken prisoner after facing a much superior American squad in Cuba in 1898. The memory of the three will soon be lost in the streets and squares of Palma. The municipal government – a coalition of the PSOE, Podemos and Més – has decided to eliminate their names, along with nine other characters or places, “because of their fascist origin,” according to a municipal note.
In fact, a municipal spokeswoman maintains that the three streets – despite being named after the admirals Churruca, Gravina and Cervera – are actually dedicated to “Francoist ships from the Civil War.” These three names were approved in May 1942, shortly after the end of the Civil War. In a statement, the City Council affirms that this change will begin to take place this Tuesday to comply with the Law of Memory and Democratic Recognition and “recover history and traditional place names and vindicate the role of women in history.” Thus, Admiral Churruca Square will be called Mateu Pruners, Admiral Gravina Street, Angelí Dulcert and Cervera Street, Pere Rossell. The three new names correspond to male cartographers between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
The mayor, the socialist José Hila, insists on the note that the change of nomenclature is to “continue advancing in democracy.” “That is why we continue to change street names, open graves and identify the bodies so that we can return them to their families,” he says.
The other names that are eliminated (Castillo de Olite, Joan March, Toledo, Brunete, Alfambra, Josep d’Oleza, Bisbe Planas, Gabriel Rabassa and Canonge Antoni Sancho) are also related to or exalted the Franco regime, according to the City Council.
March’s implications for the Civil War
In the municipal study Census of symbols, legends and mentions of the Francoist side of the Civil War and the dictatorship in the Balearic Islands the reason for these changes in the street is argued. In the case of the Mallorcan banker Joan March, it is indicated that the avenue received his name in the sixties to remember “one of the main financial backers of the regime who made possible the supply of war material to the rebel side during the war. Civil”. The avenue will be renamed the Gran i General Consell.
As for the three admirals, it is insisted that the streets received their names because “they belonged to ships of the Francoist side”, despite the fact that their official nomenclature does not make any reference to any warship. In April 2018, the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, also abolished Calle del Almirante Cervera in the city, dedicated since then to actor Pepe Rubianes. Colau unleashed a notable controversy when he branded the military man, one of the protagonists of the war in Cuba, as a “front”.
For the Councilor for Education and Language Policy, Llorenç Carrió, “the Civil War and the dictatorship were a black page in our history, the changes in street names will not make it forget, but they will not exalt it any more”. The City Council considers that “this act of democratic normality cannot entail an economic cost for the self-employed or the companies in these streets, therefore it will provide aid worth 40,000 euros to modify the names in the documentation.”