No honours for the slave tradeThe figure of Antonio López, Marquis of Comillas, has been taken away from the square which bears his name. The removal of the statue of the mogul, industrialist and slave trader was accompanied by music, various activities and workshops.
Entities and city residents were involved in the sending off party for the sculpture, taking part in a programme of activities headed by the Comediants theatre company. Music and circus played a part, as did a chocolate fest organised by Sindillar, the trade union for migrant women domestic workers.
The dismantling of the statue had long been called for by citizen movements, as is the change of name for the square. On Thursday 1 March, the entity Tanquem els CIE and the producer Metromuster presented a petition with 17,840 signatures to rename it Plaça d’Idrissa Diallo, in honour of the migrant who died in the Foreigner Internment Centre (CIE) in the Zona Franca early in 2012. The proposal is one of the options in a popular vote to be held before the summer.
Antonio López, the history of a slave trader
Born in 1817 in the town of Comillas, in Cantabria, Antonio López y López was one of several tycoons who made their fortunes in Central America by trafficking slaves from the African coast to Cuba.
Once in Barcelona, he ran the Compañía Trasatlántica shipping line and helped found the Banco Hispano-Colonial, at the same time continuing to trade in slaves and putting the brakes on social reforms in Spanish colonies on the other side of the Atlantic.
His business success earnt him the title of Marquis of Comillas in 1878 and Spain’s Grand Cross in 1881. Following his death the statue paying homage to him was erected. The monument sparked controversy and was demolished in 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War, later to be rebuilt in 1944.