Category Archives: Spain

A Slight 500 Years Late, But Amends Made!

In August, 1492 as Columbus got ready to sail the ocean blue, the last ship carrying Jews into exile from Spain preceded his departure. After 500 years, the Spanish government decided it was time to acknowledge the crime committed against Jews in their nation. The civil code has been amended to grant citizenship to members of Turkey’s Sephardi Jewish community whose ancestors left their Spanish homeland in search of security within the Ottoman empire. According to the new code, Jews of Spanish origin are considered a “special case.” They will be granted Spanish citizenship without having to endure a two year residency requirement. Sephardi Jews living in Turkey simply have to produce a document issued by the Chief Rabbinate which attests to their Spanish origin five hundred years ago.

It is estimated over 100,000 Spanish Jews opted to enter the Ottoman empire where they were granted citizenship by the government. Many Turkish Jews will undoubtedly obtain Spanish citizenship because it grants them the rights of a citizen in the European Union.

A bit late, but certainly a humane approach to dealing with an ancient crime.

Trouble In Africa Translates To More Immigrants!

The remarkable success of the European Union over the past few decades has resulted in hope among Africans for an opportunity to participate in the rise in wealth. Each year thousands of immigrants from Africa make the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean in search of the dream of a new life. Last week, there was a coup in Mauritania when members of the military threw out the president and took power. Spanish authorities immediately made note of a sharp rise in the number of immigrants from Mauritania seeking to migrate to their land. Within a week after the coup, authorities intercepted at least 333 people who fled Mauritania in hope they can find work and a decent life in Spain.

The usual route for migrants from Mauritania is heading toward the Canary Islands and then finding a way to get to Spain. Another route is across the Sahara Desert which has resulted in the death of untold numbers who never complete the journey.

Thousands will continue to flee until nations of the world focus on economic development in African nations. Violence invariably leads to flight as witness over a million Zimbabweans who have fled to South Africa. It is time for economic programs that produce jobs in Africa.

It Reigns Women Politicians In Spain!

For the first time in European history a nation is being led by more female politicians than male. The new Spanish cabnet sworn in by socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has nine women alongside eight males including Spain’s first female Defense Minister. Spain is the nation whose exaggerated adherence to masculine values added the word, “machismo” to the English language. Under the dictatorial regime of General Francisco Franco, women couldn’t even open a bank account or sign a contract without permission of their husband. The idea a woman could serve in the armed forces was unheard of in Franco’s Spain, but today they constitute 20% of all members of the miltiary. The Conservative daily newspaper, El Mundo, was furious at what it termed, “an exercise in political marketing” that offended the values and traditions of the Spanish military by subjecting its members to be led by a woman!

Prime Minister Zaptero pushed through legislation which prohibits more than 60% of the candidates of any political party from being male or female. As he once described himself, “I am not only anti-machoist, I am a feminist. The most unfair domination is that of one half of humanity over the other. The more equality women will have, the more civilised and tolerant society will be.” Actually, the concept of female political equality is even more engrained in Scandinavian nations where the idea of ‘every second seat” being held by a woman is now accepted practice.

Ironically, America which claims to be a leader in democracy has fallen way behind other nations in terms of female political equality. Ity is doubtful if such legislation as that proposed by Zaptero would ever be accepted by the United States Congress.

Basque Violence In Spain May Escalate

There is considereable concern within Spanish security services that Basque separatists are planning a summer campaign of violence which could include attacks on tourist resorts. During the past weeks there has been an assassination of a former politician and car bombing of a police station. There apparently is determination on the part of Basque leaders to exert tremendous pressure on the government of Prime Minister Zapatero to force accepting their demands. Anti-terrorist police experts believe Eta’s next target may even be the prime minister himself. Zapatero in his first years in office attempted several talks with Eta leaders for a compromise but they invariably ended in failure.

During the past few hundred years, nationalism has triumphed in most parts of the world, but that success has never quelled local feelings by those who stand apart from the sense of national government. The nation of Spain has been around for 500 years, but withing the Basque community there still remain those who seek restoration of what they believe existed prior to the emergence of Spain. The question also is– did that era really exist?

Spain Will Officially Recognize Franco’s Evil Dictatorship

For the first time since the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, a bill will be introduced by members of the Spanish Socialist party to condemn the evil dictatorship of Francisco Franco. The “Law of Memory” will state for the first time that Franco committed atrocities and killed thousands of people without fair trials. The opposition conservative Popular Party opposes the bill because it reopens old wounds and will divide Spanish people. Socialist MP Diego Lopez Garrido noted: “The law will provide a definitive reparation and recognition for those who suffered in the civil war.” In declaring actions of military courts which condemned thousands to death and prisons as “unjust” and “illegitimate,” the law will allow family members to sue for reparations.

For many of us raised in the thirties and forties who hated fascism and Nazism, this law is a long overdue action. Conservatives are correct in stating the law will divide people, but so did American laws which condemned slavery or incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. The price we pay for confronting evil is to make supporters of evil feel uncomfortable. Which is more important — recognizing evil done to people or worrying how perpetrators of evil feel?