Over hundreds of years southern Tenerife played a supporting role in a society that was reborn after being conquered and colonized. These new settlers have to deal with dry weather and very tough living conditions and held up the whole process of occupation, which was much more active in those places with water resources which made farming easier.
Vilaflor and Adeje, where aquifers were found, developed crops that grow on irrigated lands as much as sugar cane crops. An elite of landowners slowly drove farmers to settle as free owners or as lessees. Fertile lands will provide harvests that made possible to develop a rudimentary society in Granadilla, Arico and later on in Arona and San Miguel.
In the 18th century, due to the reforms on the goverment¿s administration introduced by the King Carlos III, members for district councils were designated to manage supplies and issues of general interest. This anti-trust legislation established basis points for what today is known as a town council.
Arona was willing to become a village with self-management. First step would be to get the economic independence of Arona´s parish church from the main church in Vilaflor, by providing it with funds. This church was founded to honour San Antonio Abad in March 30th, 1796.
People from Valle San Lorenzo (formerly known as Valle del Ahijadero) also wanted to turn the San Lorenzo chapel into a church. Arona demanded its own place of worship, a jurisdiction of its own to manage issues¿ it was just the beginning to remark the long way from Vilaflor to this village and therefore its inability to govern Arona. After a lot controversy about it, it finally ended in March 13th, 1798 when the Tribunal Superior de la Real Audiencia de Canarias (the Canary Islands High Court) granted Arona the right to run under its own jurisdiction. What happened next is easy to imagine: in 1799 and the years after Arona had to elect a new mayor, two goverment delegates, a "síndico personero" (a sort of a lawyer who mediated in neighbours¿ affairs) and a "fiel de fechos" (town clerk).
It wasn´t easy at the beginning. This new jurisdiction had limitations: grazing rights were ansolved because still remains in the air which one out of the two independent districts, San Miguel or Arona, had the right to use a countryside with rich grazing. In the same way, the public barn was still running under the Vilaflor´s jurisdiction.
King Carlos IV reigned in a contradictory age where principles of absolutism lived together with a liberal idealism, came from France. Laws approved by King Carlos III to elect new members of the government became obsolete because these let nobles or plebeians held public posts, so the power of the nobility was gradually increased relative to the plebeians, arrangements that were at odds with the French Revolution´s principles of equality.
The Spanish Constitution of 1812 caused the organization of the islands in different district councils, running under their own town councils. This Constitution made also possible in Arona the election of nine commisioners and they, in turn, elected two "regidores" (high ranking government´s members). In June 4th, 1820 the new Constitutional Town Hall is designated.
In the 19th century most inhabitants in Arona were exclude from having the vote because only the well-off sectors of society have the right to it. A good example of this was the poll of 1862 of members to the Spanish Cortes and to a County Council, where number of representative came to twelve. It wasn´t odd about eleven of them had their own interests to be elected. At that time elections were clearly discriminatory.
After the reign of queen Isabel II, the Spanish politics seemed to be promoted. Electoral rolls were carefully made out. During the "Sexenio" (a six-year presidential term of office) universal suffrage suffered a setback that became decades later a national problem: poll rigging reached high proportions.
Hard economic conditions lashed southern Tenerife, particularly Arona, a very poor area in rain which turns into irregular harvests. Subsistence farming yields limited profits but it was just the beginning of exported growing which will spread all over southern Tenerife. The economic growth didn´t get Arona out from its traditional poverty. On international markets chemical dyes will push aside "cochinilla" (an insect parasitizes prickly pears and from whichnatural dye can be extracted).
Around 1880 public corporations which controlled district councils went almost bankrupt because funds were took over. They couldn´t manage to keep up with government tasks and in 1893 the town council handed in its resignation to the Civil Governorship. Because of district councils, overdrafts, town councillors were impounded their own money and properties. This chaos will lead to a political vacuum and Arona town council will remain dissolved until 1896, when a new and definitive town council will be set up.
Polls of 1870 were different because local councils were divided into two constituencies: western and eastern Arona. In 1881, with the Borbonic restauration, just one polling station will be restored. In 1890, there were back again, two constituencies.
In the 20th century, Arona has been running under oligarchic leader groups: the Domínguez, Frías, Villarreal, O´Donnell, Bello, they held economical and political power. Their leadership wasn´t put to the test until the working class rebelled against this oppressiveness so people went on strike or mass meetings. That was during the republican administration. In Arona, more than 300 people gathered in front the town hall to complain against poverty, unemployment, farming which had fallen into oblivion and economical and ideological declining. To solve crises like this our local government started to build a bypass road, which created jobs and would do help to have good trade relations with other districts.
After the Spanish civil war, during dictator Franco´s régime, new different groups of citizens could represent themselves on the regional elections such as representatives of the public service sector, carriers, traders and businessmen related to our raising tourist activity which began in the 60´s.
When Franco died in 1979, first local democratic elections took place in Arona, where the political party known with the acronym UCD won. The first democratic mayor of Arona was Luciano Reverón Reverón. Another coalition of three parties, PSOE, AP and ATI, won these local elections four years later and a new mayor was elected: Manuel Barrios Rodríguez.
In 1987 PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers´ party) will win the elections with absolute majority and no post-electoral alliance will be needed to govern. PSOE would govern Arona for three terms of office until 1995 when loses its absolute majority and a coalition of parties made a post-electoral alliance and will split Arona¿s mayoralty in periods of two years: mayor Mario Spreáfico García (head of the CDS, former UCD, 1995-1997), mayor Miguel Delgado Díaz (ATI, former MEI, 1997-1999).
Term of office (1999-2003): mayor Miguel Delgado Díaz
Current mayor (2003 -2007): José Alberto González Reverón (CC)
Arona has an extensive legacy which dates back more than 200 years including a vast variety of cultural traditions, a set of beliefs, behaviour patterns and attitudes, that were handed down for posterity to remark and reinforce our identity.
Our heritage should be remembered when facing future challenges because we all are products of our past.