26 jan Meet undemocratic Spain
You may think you know Spain because you have been there on holidays or have tried to learn Spanish in Barcelona or just because you like Real Madrid. Spain, a warm kingdom, member of the European Union, modern and open. But you will be surprised what you find out when you really get involved with this country. I am not talking about the economical crisis (plummeting house prices, bankruptcy all over in property land, huge lack of jobs for the young), but about the lack of democratic values, not to say of democracy tout court. A few very recent examples: Baltazar Garzon, a famous judge, is in court for having tried to open investigations into crimes committed during the 1936-1939 Civil War and ensuing Franco dictatorship. While former Franco supporters live in peace and more often than not held high positions after the end of the dictatorship, Garzon is considered a danger for the kingdom. He is too open, too much interested in the facts behind the disappearances during Franco, too uncomfortable for the Spanish high society, that would rather forget its recent history than face it. Mr. Garzon has fought injustice for many years, attacking corrupt elements in business and politics and questioning some of the state methods used to fight the terrorism of ETA, the Basque separatists. In Madrid, the conservative stronghold, the other judges don’t like Mr. Garzon, who they consider to behave like a star, humiliating the traditional and nationalist courts. If considered guilty, Mr. Garzon, who is 56 years old, will be excluded from the courts for 20 years. This would de facto mean the end of his career. A heavy penalty for being an honest and compassionate judge, but this is Spain…
On a more personal level: I have recently written a book on a coup attempt in the former Spanish colony Equatorial Guinea (Rich, Betrayed and Lonely. PREG Publishing, 2011/l’Harmattan 2012) and I am trying to find a publisher in Spain. But because I have written a few critical sentences on King Juan Carlos, no publisher dares to print my work. The king is holy and His not-so-democratic Holiness would personally interfere and make life very difficult for the publishers, so they said at Planeta publishers. La Vanguardia, the Catalonian newspaper that was considering to pre-publish a few chapters, also retracted out of fear to be accused of royalty bashing. Interestingly enough, the colonial chapter of Equatorial Guinea (not a very clean history, obviously) is not mentioned in any history book in Spanish schools. Why, no one could tell me until now. Ask youngsters on the streets and they will never have heard of Equatorial Guinea. Did you say historical consciousness?
Travelling through Catalonia I am finding out once again how the local people despise the oppressive way they are being treated by Madrid. Says the owner of a news stand in Cadaques on the Costa Brava: ‘We are like the Indians in America. We have no rights. We are not even allowed to speak our own language. Yes, we are republicans, but so what? If we would live in a free country we would have a chance to create change. But not here. Franco is back and I know what I am saying, I fought in the Civil War…’ He is proud of his yellow and orange Catalonian freedom flag on his car. Yesterday night Barcelona played Real Madrid in the quarter finals of the Spanish soccer cup. In Catalonia they know for sure: the umpire has been bought by Madrid. The Madrilènes cannot accept another loss of face against the Catalans. In Franco’s days the best players of Barcelona (remember Di Stefano? ) were forced to come and play in Madrid. It was matter of honour. Now that is something they know all about in modern Spain as well. Except honouring democracy that is.