After César’s return from New York in 1968, Lanzarote began to develop its tourist industry. Troubled about the possible implications and consequences of that business, which he himself in conjunction with Island Council President José Ramírez Cerdá had helped spur, he expressed his concerns in the media on several occasions: ‘I’m a little worried about the impending avalanche of tourists we’ll be seeing in Lanzarote’ (1965).
Lanzarote was firmly on its way to becoming a tourist service economy and Manrique realised that, given the value and beauty of its landscape, it would soon become the island’s primary source of wealth. He also knew, however, that in light of its extreme fragility, misguided action could compromise that resource irreversibly.
In keeping with those concerns, when hotel construction began to intensify in the mid nineteen seventies and especially the mid eighties, Manrique participated in protest marches against the erection of tourist compounds and on countless occasions alerted to the risks of indiscriminate growth of Lanzarote’s accommodations offering.
That activist attitude is essential to understanding Manrique’s persona and portrayal as a social artist with public and emblematic influence in the community. His involvement, his open condemnation and direct confrontation with authorities and developers, his commitment to the island’s cultural and scenic values, made him a symbol, adding to his creative personality a social and political dimension unprecedented in Spain’s artistic universe. That purposeful and denunciative stance co-existed with his profile as a complex and multi-talented artist.
In 1986 he wrote (in ‘Lanzarote se está muriendo’ [Lanzarote is dying]): ’Rampant insensitivity allied with the total lack of enthusiasm are annihilating what started out as love. All that matters to them is to sell by the tonne and earn millions, wholly oblivious to the source of it all. That such clumsy wholesale trafficking should capitalise on the allure that we created in Lanzarote is outrageous, for without our contribution, they would have nothing to sell. This is terribly demoralising: it’s like cutting off our nose to spite our face.’