Speech by Mr. Ricardo Melchior
(President of the Cabildo de Tenerife)
On this day three
decades ago our island was confronted with an event that was as sad
as it was unexpected. Although a long time has passed since that
afternoon when Tenerife and the rest of the world had to come to
terms with such misfortune, it is still alive in our memory and has
left a deeply felt scar. Nobody could ever have imagined that a
situation of this kind would deeply touch our hearts - least of all,
the passengers who were travelling on both planes that day.
Many lost their
lives, while those who survived, despite the magnitude of the
catastrophe, have been forced ever since to live with the constant
reminder of an event in which they never imagined they would be
involved. The circumstances are the same for the families of the
victims, who have invited us to this event to pay tribute to them
and to pay our respects to them and show our consideration.
I am convinced that
it is extremely difficult to face up to a destiny of this kind.
Perhaps, people with less integrity would have chosen to forget in
order to ease their pain and help them to carry on. However, the
members of the association have chosen to keep alive the memory of
their relatives, those who were dear to them and who one day
disappeared forever due to a tragedy.
For this reason,
today were are going to unveil a monument where justice will be done
to their memory, so that from now on, when people come to see it, it
will inspire them to dedicate a thought or even a prayer. This work,
created with skill and affectionate dedication, represents much more
than art and it transmits a message of hope to us with its stairway
leading up to heaven.
The Tenerife Island
Government, as the institution representing the island, has accepted
with pleasure the official handing over of the sculpture to us by
its promoters and was just as pleased to participate in its
installation at a carefully chosen site. We are sure that Mesa Mota
meets all the conditions both in location and geographical
characteristics so that it will fulfil its mission as a symbol of
On a day like this,
when memories become the main protagonist, I would like to recall
the response of all the people of Tenerife to the accident on 27
March 1977. Without doubt, it was a display of solidarity against
adversity and altruistic devotion in an attempt to alleviate as far
as possible the enormous damage produced by the catastrophe. The
people of this island and its institutions did their utmost to help
those who needed it most at the time and to attend as best they
could to the requests that came from beyond our frontiers.
Tenerife was directly implicated in one of the saddest events ever
to occur and it could not remain impassive. All the resources
available on the island back then were mobilised. From the people
and organisations who volunteered their help to the health services,
the Armed Forces, the police forces and the island’s institutions,
nobody hesitated to join in the common effort to restore the
situation to normal, a situation which had taken us all by surprise.
It was an example
that we wished we had never been forced to set but we were driven to
it by the circumstances. Today we would like to repeat that kind of
behaviour by paying tribute to those who unfortunately met the end
of their days on the island. They remain in our memories and to
their families we offer our recognition and sincere friendship.
Thank you very much.