Wednesday, July 24, 2024

4th December: Why is the Andalusian Flag Day?

December 3, 2022
4th December: Why is the Andalusian Flag Day?

The 4th of December has been since 1977 a symbolic date for andalusism due to the historic demonstrations that took place all over Andalusia in 1977 claiming for the autonomy of the region. That day where almost two million of citizens took the streets peacefully ended tragically in Malaga as a young worker, Manuel José García Caparrós, was shot dead after the police intervention. More than forty years later, the Andalusian government has given official recognition to that historic moment declaring the date as Andalusian Flag Day’ for its importance in the later approval of Andalusia’s statute of autonomy.

1977. Spain was held in a critical moment for the democratic transition, two years after the death of dictator Franco and one before the approval of the Constitution. Juan Carlos I was chosen by Franco to be his successor and Adolfo Suárez was named president. The constitutional process was moving forward and the internal organization of Spain and its division in regions was one of the big topics of public discussion. That is the reason why near two million of Andalusians from all the provinces went out on the fourth of December and demonstrated under the motto “Freedom, amnesty and statute of autonomy”. Although the spontaneous organization of those demonstrations, the fourth of December was already a symbolical date as in 1868 the peoples of Cadiz rose up in arms for the establishment of a federal republic in Spain. 

It was not until 1981 when Andalusia’s statute of autonomy was officially approved after the referendum held one year before, but those massive demonstrations of 1977 have been widely considered as the turning point for the achievement of autonomy. Since that day, the fourth of December has been a non-official date of celebration for andalusism in the region, as the 28th of February is the official day of Andalusia (the day of the referendum). The Spanish 1978 constitution stablished the right for ‘historic communities’ to have their own statute of autonomy which allowed them to have more capacity of self-government.  This distinctive was previously given to Catalonia, Basque Country and Galicia and thanks to the popular outcry, Andalusia could be considered at the same level. Now, 45 years later, Andalusian government has decided to give official credit to those events by declaring the Andalusian Flag Day in order to defend the values of a “moderate, plural and inclusive andalusism” as President Juan Manuel Moreno argued. Although it will not be declared public holiday, the proposal is to prepare an agenda for commemorations and educative events in schools to celebrate the cultural and socio-political identity that was revendicated that day. Moreno also made clear that the celebration of the Arbonaida the Arabic word that originally named the Andalusian flag, does not aim to be interpreted in an independence sense but always belonging to Spain. It was after a reunion between Moreno and the first leader of the andalusist party, Alejandro Rojas-Marcos when the Parliament approved the initiative of the fourth of December. However, criticism arose from the left parties as the initiative did not mention Manuel José García Caparrós, a young worker who was demonstrating that day in Malaga, like other thousands of Andalusians, and died after police shooting in a case that today is still not resolved.

Manuel José García Caparrós: A clasified crime

Worker of the Victoria beer factory and member of the union Comisiones Obreras, Manuel José García Caparrós was only 18 years old when he was killed. “He did not want to die for Andalusia, but he did. He should be recognized as a victim of state terrorism killed by the armed police” claims Luis Ocaña, the spokesman of the García Caparrós association after meeting with President Moreno last Monday. 

December fourth, 1977. Demonstrations were taking place peacefully all over the region and also in some other cities with a high rate of Andalusian immigration. All provincial councils agreed to raise the Andalusian flag, except the Malaga council. Demonstrators there started protesting and one of them, Juan Manuel Trinidad Berlanga, climbed the council’s façade to put the Andalusian flag in the balcony. Right after he achieved to raise it, was immediately detained and the head of the council ordered armed police to intervene. The tension increased and some of the policemen started shooting to the air, according to those present. A few hours later, Manuel José dies in hospital due to a bullet wound. Investigation was immediately declared classified and more than four decades after that’s the official version that García Caparrós relatives know and all this time they have been fighting to know the truth. The report about the case was made public a few years ago but with the names crossed out in it. That’s how it was discovered that the ballistic analysis showed the coincidence of the bullet that killed García Caparrós with a gun from one of the agents that were that day on the demonstration. However, the judicial truth and the author remains officially unrevealed.

In 2013 García Caparrós was named Favorite Son by the town of Malaga, a belated honor which coincided on the same year as Antonio Banderas, who honored his memory with an emotional speech. On the past 24th of November, after various fruitless attempts over the years, for the first time the whole Andalusian parliament -except the far-right party Vox- agreed to solicitate the full declassification of the documentation “referring the events of December fourth 1977 and the murder of Manuel José García Caparrós”. An announcement that pleased the family hoping it “materializes into the revelation of the whole truth and the recognition to Manuel José as a victim and also that people who demonstrated pacifically” says the Ocaña. He also shows his support to the initiative of the flag the day but underlining the importance of “the people who carried the flags, over the flag itself”. With the agenda of the Flag Day and the memory of Garcia Caparros, today Andalusia celebrates the spirit of community that lead almost two million of citizens from different ideologies to claim for the democratic autonomy of the region.