He was an important figure for the 20th century history of Málaga and for the Spanish political stage. Rafael Benjumea Burín supported this new political and social strategy, claiming that new industrial development of the city and the improvement of existing services could be achieved by means of energy supply, upgraded by novel hydroelectric systems, as it was done in the north of Spain thanks to Juan Urrutia. The Province of Málaga was perfect for this kind of industrial progress due to its terrain and farming, which was constantly threatened by unstable rainfall pattern and long droughts.
Benjumea was sure that development founded, above on, on electrical power would triumph over colonial expansion based on static survival on rents that had maintained Spain for ages. His main interest was the possibility of building a big hydroelectric power station, counting exclusively on national funds.
Hydroelectric Power Stations
The appearance of Hydroelectric Power Stations on the Spanish social stage at the beginning of the 20th century was a great technological progress in the field of electric energy supply without the use of hot and noisy steam machines. New businessmen from the companies that implemented hydraulic machines were worried about science progress. The building of dams and precipices for hydraulic energy generating was supposed to satisfy the necessity of cities and villages for new services and to supply industries with energy, or please increasing transport demand, firstly, for trams, and then railways too. This is why hydraulic energy supply companies were regarded by all social classes from the beginning.
This was the case of Salto Hidraúlico del Chorro (Hydraulic Precipice of El Chorro), created in 1903 by Rafael Benjumea to supply Málaga City with electric power, but as well to provide potential farming industry of the area with cheap energy of good quality that would make its existence and development possible. Until then, the City of Málaga had obtained power by two foreign companies (one was German and the other English), which had steam machines and, shortly after the hydroelectric company had been opened, were substituted by this national company.
The importance of this project was huge for that time. On one side, high quality electric power supply was achieved at the best prices. Moreover, the company profit could be used to buy Málaga’s tram company from Belgian owners and to finance the building of the Guadalhorce dam that was made to water wide territory and because of which Alfonso XIII appointed Rafael Benjumea Count of Guadalhorce.
Today, beauty spot Desfiladero de los Gaitanes is the place where hydroelectric precipice stands, surrounded by dazzling scenery.