Cubillo Ferreira, Antonio

Cubillo Ferreira, Antonio
b. 1930, La Laguna (Tenerife)
   Canarian nationalist leader
   Brought up in the rural north of Tenerife, Cubillo studied law at the University of La Laguna and during the late 1950s and early 1960s defended various strikers and labour organizations, most notably the port workers of Santa Cruz, dairyworkers and bus-drivers. In 1960, he co-founded a radical independence movement, Canarias Libre (Free Canary Islands), with leading communists like the lawyer Fernando Sagaseta. Shortly afterwards he was arrested but fled into exile before sentence was passed. He established contacts with the communist PCE in Paris, but his separatist ambitions resulted in the PCE distancing itself from him. In 1964 he moved to Algeria, where he set up MPAIAC (Movimiento Popular para la Autodeterminación e Independencia del Archipié-lago Canario-Movement for the Self-Determina-tion and Independence of the Canarian Archipelago) and began broadcasting pro-indepen-dence propaganda to the islands. The broadcasts of Radio Canarias Libre were popular among the students at La Laguna University, and prepared the ground for a growth of independence feeling in the post-Franco period. From his Algiers base Cubillo steadily built up the case for Canarian independence in the Organization of African States and among the pro-Soviet states of the United Nations. The historic connection between the Canaries and Cuba was instrumental in the acceptance of his claims.
   In 1978, he was knifed in his Algiers apartment block and suffered injuries which left him almost totally paralysed below the waist. His attackers were never caught. Their identity has caused much speculation, which has centred on both the Spanish and Algerian secret services. Cubillo returned to the Canary Islands in 1985 and has campaigned in regional and local elections, though not at national or European level. Although Cubillo still enjoys some affection among more radical elements of Canarian society, his party, re-established in December 1986 as the Congreso Nacional de Canarias (Canary Islands National Congress) regularly polls under 2 percent of the vote. Other pro-autonomy parties, however, take a good third of the vote and now dominate the regional assembly as well as many cabildos (island councils) and town councils. His status in the independence movement was undermined in the early 1990s by the foundation of the Las Palmas-based Coalición para Canarias Libre by his former lieutenant, Angel Cuenca Sanabria.
   Apart from his purely political work, Cubillo has been actively engaged in linguistic and historical work based on the premise of the African, particularly Berber, origin of the pre-Spanish inhabitants of the Canary Islands (the Guanches). Research into the pre-Spanish past has been used to bolster the cause of Canarian independence ever since Secundino Delgado set up the first modern movement in the late nineteenth century. MPAIAC's manifesto, known as El Libro Blanco (The White Book) and published in 1970, stresses the "scientific" basis for the uniqueness of the Canarian people, although the evidence for this is mainly derived from discredited craniometric work.
   See also: Archaeological Museum of Tenerife; Canarian culture; Museum of the Canaries
   Further reading
   - Cubillo, A. (1991) Los Años Verdes. Semimemorias, Sta. Cruz de Tenerife: Centre de la Cultura Popular Canaria (a rather fanciful version of Cubillo's early life and career).
   - Garí Hayek, D (1992) Historia del nacionalismo canario, Sta. Cruz de Tenerife: Benchomo (the best overview of modern Canarian nationalism).
   - Mercer, J. (1980) The Canary Islanders: Their Prehistory, Conquest, and Survival, London: Rex Collings (modern Canarian nationalism up to the death of Franco is covered in an appendix).
   M. R. EDDY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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