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Spanish Town Renames Pablo Neruda Street

Spanish Town Renames Pablo Neruda Street
April 13
16:37 2012
chile news, noticias chile

Renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, 1966. Author: U.S. Library of Congress

The mayor of Villamayor de Calatrava, a small town located 188 kms south of Madrid in Spain’s Ciudad Real province in Castile de la Mancha, has decided to rename a street named after Pablo Neruda.  

CIUDAD REAL, SPAIN —    According to the mayor, Juan Antonio Callejas Cano, this is because the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, “is a little known figure to the community”.  Apparently, this is sufficient reason to change the name of the street.

Pablo Neruda is not the only historical figure to be replaced.  Streets named after Pablo Iglesia, founder of the Socialist Party in Spain, have also been renamed.  Additionally, Enrique Tierno Galván, a respected intellectual and mayor of Madrid during Spain’s transition to democracy following the Franco dictatorship, will face the same fate.  Much like Neruda, these figures are “not well-known” and “hadn’t done anything for the town”.

There has been speculation in Spain over motives for the changes.  Writer Eduardo Labarca has suggested that these street name changes, and others that have taken place across the country, could be a form of ‘revenge’ from the conservative Partido Popular.  He says that they may be responding to the 2007 law enabling councils to change street-names or plazas that commemorate the 1936 coup d’état that led to the Spanish Civil War.  The outcome of the war was the government of Francisco Franco, a fascist regime that lasted until 1975.

The application of this law, instated by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español, a socialist party, saw dozens of statues of General Franco demolished and hundreds of street and plaza names change. This could have sparked a reaction from some members of the PP who deny that Franco was a dictator.

Callejas has decided to rename one street “La Roja” in homage to Spain’s World Cup win in 2010, but the other new street names are unknown.

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Marianne Tweedie

Marianne is a native of the UK and was a journalist for I Love Chile in 2011 and early 2012. While in Santiago, Chile, she also worked as an English teacher in the English Opens Doors program.

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