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History of the Canarian flag (IV)

The flag of the Ateneo of La Laguna

The first flag with historical record of having ever flown in representation of the Archipelago was the so-called ‘Flag of the Ateneo of La Laguna’, for having been hoisted in the balcony of this institution’s headquarters in the first decade of the 20th century, probably in 1907, remaining there for some time, until apparently ‘it had to be removed to avoid further troubles’ (according to Domingo Cabrera Cruz, one of the founders of the Ateneo, in his Memoirs). This is the first time that stars appear in a flag intending to identify the Canary Islands, this time white and placed on a blue background in a distribution that schematically reproduces the position of the seven islands on the map.

Flag of the Ateneo

It does not seem risky to suppose that the presence of the stars would be influenced by American models, imported by the many Canarian who migrated to the other side of the ocean spurred on the successive crises. We should not forget that the flag of Venezuela, one of the main coutries receiving Canarian inmigrants, contains seven white stars on a blue background, representing the original territories integrating the Federation in 1811.

The appearance of this ephemeral Canarian flag takes place in the years when the crisis of the political system of the Restoration begins, and the struggle between supporters and enemies of the provincial division reaches an unusual peak. As a consequence of this, in the intellectual discussion, in the press and in the political scene there is a flourishing of autonomist ideas, and even of several regionalist movements which, however, were always minority and had an ephemeral existence. The flag of the Ateneo of La Laguna would be thereinafter assumed by the Canarian Nationalist Party (PNC in Spanish), created in connection with the Canarian Association of Cuba and founded in Havana in 1924. The flag appeared in the cover of all the issues of their bulletin El Guanche (second era).

Frontcover of El Guanche

In its first issue an article was published entitled ‘The flag’ where it was said: ‘The same ensign, with its seven stars in blue field like its sky", this last expression not to be taken in a literal sense, since the shade of blue shown in the drawing of the cover is clearly the same navy blue of the registry flags. Before the foundation of the PNC, the Canarian Association of Cuba had already used this flag in some of its acts, as did some private individuals in this Caribbean island and in the North American state of Florida. In recent times the flag of the Ateneo has resurged as the flag of the re-born Canarian Nationalist Party.

In 1931, the Tierra canaria magazine, published in Havana by the forementiones Canarian Association, reproduces in its cover a flag very similar to that of the Ateneo, but with six stars put in a circle around a central one.

Tierra Canaria

Tierra Canaria (re-construction)

It seems that the cover's author, Manuel Martín González, wanted to re-interpret the flag of the Ateneo, putting one of the stars, the one representing Tenerife, in a central position.