«Young people turn their backs on the cultural treasure of the near world of their parents and grandparents»

The palmero writer and philologist Anelio Rodríguez Concepción, in a file image. / C7

The writer and philologist Anelio Rodríguez Concepción participated this Wednesday in the Ethnography and Folklore Campus of the Ingenio festival

CANARY ISLANDS7 The Gran Canarian palms

writer and philologist Anelio Rodríguez Concepción belongs to a tobacco family from Santa Cruz de La Palma and tobacco has left deep marks and emotional ties on him. Author of a reference title, 'The island tradition of tobacco (much more than smoke and ash)', spoke this Wednesday of the famous tobacco craft tradition of the island of La Palma and its links with America, in the third session of the
9th Campus of Ethnography and Folklore of the ULPGC which is being held within the framework of the 27th edition of the International Festival of Folklore of Ingenuity 'Solidarity Exhibition of the Peoples' which promotes the
Cultural Association Choirs and Dances of the said municipality.

Rodríguez Concepción will refer in his lecture to tobacco shop readers and their relationship with the liberal and progressive spirit of La Palma between the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. “Partly thanks to this reading tradition, cigar workers are by definition patient, cautious, observant, critical, and enterprising.
The reader's custom was brought from Cuba and it responded to a somewhat subversive plan for the acculturation of the workers. Reading opens the floodgates of the critical spirit, and this marks the path of freedom of conscience.
It should not surprise us that the first strikes in the Canary Islands were due to the non-conformist character of the tobacco growers, nor that many of them were punished by the repressive apparatus of the Franco regime after the outbreak of the Civil War. In the tobacco shops it was read aloud because the workers could listen at the same time as they did their work. Works by great writers concerned with the dignity of human life were read, such as
Tolstoy or Pérez Galdós, and also the written press, which described reality openly, that which is often missing in the official versions of the government of the day. That flow of words could not fall on deaf ears. Later
the thick veil of the censors was lifted during the dictatorship, and to this was added a carousel of radio programming for pure entertainment”, says the writer.

with ups and downs

For the writer «the tobacco tradition is full of ups and downs, has required a lot of sacrifice and continues to stand against all odds. The work of the cigar workers, in a way, is like a form of resistance. They do not want what has been fought so hard for centuries to disappear », he explains. «
There is a strange current of union between the palm tree idiosyncrasy and what tobacco has meant for it. Already in the seventeenth century tobacco had its importance in the insular economy. It should not surprise us that the 19th-century palmeros heroes were obsessed with the idea of ​​associating tobacco production with the economic and social growth of the island».

El palmero warns of several dangers surrounding the survival of the most striking secular ethnographic traditions of the Canary Islands. “I see several dangers. The main one is that of the gradual disappearance in the midst of a complex network of new customs imposed by the great mass media (before there was television, now the overwhelming waste caused in all orders by social networks, which act as songs siren for people disoriented between so much noise, so much loose image, so much deception with the need for utilitarianism). Another risk would be
adulteration due to lack of care and rigor, something that seems inevitable in this polyhedral and vertiginous world that invites us to renew everything. Over the craft sectors, of course, the chiaroscuro of globalization with its tendency to fall into the volatility of fashions looms. To this we add that in many cases the new generations, either due to ignorance or prejudice, or due to laziness or lack of time, turn their backs on it.
to the cultural treasure of the near world of their parents and grandparents", Add.

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