The City of St. Augustine and the City of Cádiz, Spain recently embarked on what most agree will be the beginning of a long friendship all because of a shared past history.
Nearly 200 years ago, on March 19, 1912, Spain’s first constitution, guaranteeing certain rights and liberties along with powers of self government, was signed in the Cádiz. It was a very important event not just for Spain but throughout its colonies worldwide, including St. Augustine which was still nearly a decade from becoming part of the United States.
One immediate impact on St. Augustine was a directive to all Spanish municipalities to build suitable monuments in their central plazas in honor of the constitution and to name their plazas after the document. St. Augustine was faithful in its obedience and today, nearly two centuries later, St. Augustine has a monument to the Spanish Constitution of 1812 standing in its plaza still named the Plaza de la Constitución.
But over the years, St. Augustine’s monument has become a rarity since such monuments and plazas were ordered to be renamed following the collapse of the constitution a few years later. But in that case St. Augustine was not so obedient and did not destroy the monument or change the name of the Plaza. The result is a unique connection to Spanish history and a unique connection for St. Augustine to next year’s bicentennial commemoration. Those connections have brought the two cities of St. Augustine and Cádiz together.
During the last weekend in February, St. Augustine Mayor Joe Boles met with Juan José Ortiz Quevedo, Vice Mayor of Cádiz, who was representing that city’s mayor, in a joint signing ceremony of an Agreement of Collaboration committing each office to encourage their city governments to develop programs that include cultural and educational exchanges and promotions of commerce and tourism.
Mr. Ortiz is Cádiz city council member responsible for the organization and management of the commemoration known as “Cádiz 2012.” Cádiz will be the center of international attention, especially throughout Latin America having been named the Latin American Capital of Culture in 2012 by the Union of American Capital Cities. The city will also host the XXII Latin American Summit of Heads of State and Government.
Because of St. Augustine’s unique historical connection to the Spanish Constitution through its monument, the city’s inclusion in the bicentennial commemoration is seen as an opportunity to reach a current day market of Hispanics who may not know that this unique segment Spain’s history is in St. Augustine.
The constitution bicentennial is the first of four commemorations the City of St. Augustine has contracted with First America Foundation to produce before 2015. In addition to the bicentennial in 2012, there are the 500th anniversary of the landing of Ponce de Leon in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 2014, and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine in 2015. During Mr. Ortiz’s visit, the First America Foundation hosted a presentation that he made to the foundation’s board of directors and which had a luncheon in his honor.
To read the text of the Agreement of Collaboration, click here.
For more information about the visit by Mr. Ortiz, contact the City of St. Augustine, Public Affairs Department at 904.825.1004.