Alfonso Chiscano MD is a cardiothoracic surgery professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and president of the Friends of the Canary Islands Foundation.
This piece was orginally published in The San Antonio Report. The photo is by Al Rendon, the words by Alfonso Chiscano.
We have more than 2,000 Canary Islanders in San Antonio – you would be surprised at the number of people living in San Antonio who do not realize they are related to the original Canary Island families. In 2018, we will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the first Missions in San Antonio. The Canary Islanders came a few years later – in 1731.
They arrived here with instructions from the King of Spain to establish civil government. They established the village of San Fernando de Bexar, built the governor’s palace, the Casa Real government building (City Hall), San Fernando Cathedral, and La Plaza de las Islas, what we now know as Main Plaza.
The Canary Islanders have tried to retain their identity through the centuries, and remain an active part of the culture and lifeblood of this amazing city.
I was raised in the Canary Islands. I moved to San Antonio after completing my medical training in Houston, where I heard Henry Guerra tell the story of the Canary Islanders in San Antonio.
For the 35 years I have lived here, I have tried to make connections between San Antonio’s Canary Islanders and the present-day population of the Islands and Spain.
We have hosted the government of the Canary Islands here for Fiesta and we have had persons from our community visit the Islands. We have two sister cities in the Canary Islands, and more people are traveling to and from the Islands.