Tag Archives: Spain

Is Francisco Franco Finally Dead?

To those alive in the 1930s, the rise to power of dictator Francisco Franco was a death blow to the idea of freedom for the people of Spain. Franco was assisted by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in overthrowing a legally elected government. The ensuing Spanish Civil War was brutal, and atrocities were committed by both sides, but those of Franco far surpassed anything implemented by the Republican government. The Spanish Bishop of Vitoria celebrated a memorial service in which he asked forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s collusion with Franco in murderous events of the civil war. He specifically noted the church remained silent at the death of 14 priests by Franco’s forces, and even refused to give them a funeral. “The silence with which officials of our church surrounded the deaths of these priests is not justifiable nor acceptable for much longer. Such a long silence was not only a wrongful omission, but a lack of truth and an act against justice and charity, for which we ask pardon.”

It has taken over a half century to take notice of the murder of innocent priests, but, at least the Catholic Church is finally coming to grips with its behavior during the Spanish Civil War.

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.

European Union Debates Immigration Policy

The world wide immigration which has witnessed over 200,000,000 people move from their homelands elsewhere in the world remains a topic which has caused differing views to emerge among European Union members. French President Sarkozy has proposed stricter and more uniform approaches to dealing with the issue of illegal immigration although not all member nations agree with that approach. In 2005, Spain’s “regularization” of 700,000 illegal immigrants did not meet with the approval of other member states. Many immigrants to Spain come from Latin America whose leaders are furious at the immigration change which allows detention for up to 18 months and then expulsion for a period of up to five years. The president of Argentine said the law recalled times of “xenophobia,” and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez charged it “legalized barbarity” and promised economic retaliation against the European Union.

Some EU nations such as Sweden have a more flexible approach to immigrants which are needed in its nation while France is concerned about the growth of its Muslim population. It is estimated there are up to 8 million illegal immigrants in the EU and already this year about 200,000 were arrested although only 90,000 were actually expelled. Europe’s aging population requires immigrants and that reality will have to be confronted.

Spain Launches African Aid Program

Each week thousands of people atempt the perilous journey from the African continent accross the Mediterranean in an effort to find economic opportunities in Europe. The Spanish government has decided to address the issue by focusing on economic development in Africa in an effort to provide work opportunities so that people will not be forced to migrate. Spain is providing over a $100 million to several African nations. Deputy prime minister, Maria Teresa Fernandz de la Vega announced: “With this plan, Spain hpes to relaunch agriculture, fight desertification and promote appropriate management of water resources, along with marketing fish, farming products and renewable energy.” She emphasized the importance of helping African nations deal with climate change issues which impair their economic development.

Menawhile, the Andalucia Ombudsman, Jose Chamizo, raised questions whether the detention of illegal immigrants who have not committed any crime, but are only guilty of an administrative offence, is legal. It is estimated about 20,000 illegal foreigners are now in detention centers.

The Spanish effort actually should be part of a massive European Union plan to help develop the economic resources of northern African nations in order to allow their inhabitants an opportunity to find success at home rather than leaving family and friends in search of work.

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?

Spanish Socialists Gain Victory

Sppain’s Socialist Prime Minister Jose Zapatero won a convincing general election by capturing nearly 44% of the vote. Although his party is several seats short of a majority in parliament. Nearly forty years after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, there still remain forces within Spain who want a return to the ideas of the dead leader such as ending the rights of women to control their bodies. The victory is an indication the people of Spain agree with Zapatero’s plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, introduction of social lreform such as gay marriage and cession of more power to local regions.

There are still issues remaining which must be addressed in Spain such as its large scale immigration and rights of the Basque people, but Zapatero intends to move forward in addressing the future of Spain.

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?