The defenestrated square of Antonio López

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
20 November 2023 Monday 09:35
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The defenestrated square of Antonio López

* The author is part of the community of readers of La Vanguardia

The defenestrated Plaza de Antonio López, in Barcelona, ​​which replaced the old Plaza de San Sebastián due to the reform of the old city and the opening of the Vía Layetana, was inaugurated at the beginning of the 20th century.

It was carried out for the purpose of connecting the Eixample to the sea and the execution of the Vía Layetana, whose route began in the Plaza de Urquinaona and ended at the junction of the Isabel II and Colón avenues.

The decision to build the plaza in the name of Antonio López already had countless problems at the time of making the decision.

Antonio Víctor López y López de Lamadrid, who was born on April 12, 1817 in the town of Comillas, at a young age had a serious altercation in his town and for this reason, at the age of 14, in 1831, he had to emigrate to Cuba.

In Cuba, he reaped a significant fortune between his legal businesses and those that penalized him for the rest of his life as a slave trader and slave trade. They all assumed his return to Spain at only 38 years old and with an incalculable fortune.

In Spain, he played the role of businessman, banker, senator and patron, which led to Alfonso XII granting him the title of Marquis of Comillas and Grandee of Spain in 1878.

This contribution to the city was the cause of his recognition by the authorities who not only dedicated the square to him, but also, on the occasion of the urbanization of the Montjuïc mountain for the 1929 Exhibition, named the avenue that passes in front of Pueblo Español, like Marqués de Comillas Avenue.

For some, Antonio López was a great businessman who had the ability to start them and produce profits, which he later invested in the city and it was logical that he should receive this tribute.

At the back of the monument located in the square there was a gloss referring to railways, ships, tobacco and banks, in all these sections Antonio López triumphed in our city.

When the city council proposed these honors to the Marquis of Comillas, the first to oppose was his brother-in-law, who knew how it had started in Cuba.

According to his brother-in-law, the family had been the victim of the dispossession of all their possessions and that he took advantage of this basis to realize the enormous fortune he owned and had accumulated twenty years before his death.

"Antonio López used our family's income in his business and sent my father the accounts that suited him, he faked extraordinary losses, leaving my father fooled with the expectation of extraordinary business," declared his brother-in-law, who opposed the granting of tributes.

According to him, Antonio López did not possess any of the virtues attributed to him and if anyone doubted his words, they should go check it out and visit the Casa Ardiaca, where they would find information about the American journey of Antonio López y López, which for many was a real slaver.

"Do you want to know the trade that my brother-in-law did? He trafficked in human flesh, he was a slave trader, he bought blacks at a low price and then resold them in places where there was a lack of labor. When a ship arrived with slaves, he bought them and was in the place that managed to revalue its value," he noted.

This is really a story that represents two very different versions, and it would be necessary to gather a lot of information to be able to see the true reality of the matter and it would certainly still be difficult to know the entire truth with certainty.

The inauguration of the monument and the square took place on September 21, 1883. La Vanguardia, on page 9, then published in a single column, announced the events to be celebrated on the occasion of the Mercè festivities.

The voices that from various sectors advocated for the removal of the name of the square and the statue of Antonio López had their fruit on March 4, 2018, when the statue was removed from the pedestal on which it was located.

Currently the square is dedicated to Idrissa Diallo, a citizen of the world who arrived in Spain in December 2011 by jumping the Melilla fence.

Idrissa was arrested and transferred to the Foreigners Internment Center (CIE) in Barcelona. Two weeks later he died in the hospital where he had been transferred due to respiratory failure.