Dia de la Hispanidad 2017

I have just flown back to Alicante after spending three days with my daughter in North Wales.  On Sunday night, I stepped off the plane at Liverpool airport, having had two and a half hours on the Easyjet flight to read copies of all the main Spanish newspapers.  It took some time to explain the complexities to my daughter, as the BBC and other coverage has frequently fallen into the trap of portraying the attempted Catalan coup d’etat as if it was a legitimate democratic movement!  Far from it.

I do not want to waste a lovely sunny day (or space on my blog) detailing the whole history of this fiasco.  All I will say is that in 1992 I taught English to Jordi Pujol, the godfather of this recent resurgence of Catalan nationalism, and he and his ilk are the most corrupt people in the whole of Spain.  The danger has been that the separatists could have led the country down the path of Slovenia, and the Balkanisation of Spain could have damaged all the efforts made over 40 years to make it a leading democracy with a healthy economy.

It has been a very tense showdown, but the government in Madrid has won, with a very skilled intervention by King Felipe VI, and a climb-down by the idiot “president” of Cataluña, Puigdemont, described in the newspaper ABC today as the leader of the “Groucho Coup”.  (After the famous Marx brother comedy line: “I have principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”)   Hence, the ABC’ s comedy paraphrase of the ambiguous announcement made by Puigdemont in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, and broadcast to a confused world:  “I’m declaring independence.  If you don’t like it, I’ll postpone it.”

Madrid today, the Dia de la Hispanidad 2017

Today is the Dia de la Hispanidad, Spain’s national day.  The military parade in Madrid has coincided with the end of the severest challenge to democracy in this country since the failed military coup in 1982.  The enormous outpouring of patriotic pride and flag waving is quite distinct from the narrow nationalism of the Catalans: it is pride in an inclusive and constitutional democracy which has achieved so much in a short space of time.  As one who aspires to Spanish citizenship, now that another bunch of narrow-minded xenophobes has given us “Brexit”, I join all democrats in this country who are applauding the dedication of the Guardia Civil and the Policia National in protecting the democratic mechanisms of this constitutional democracy.  I am also greatly impressed by the role played by the king, in a measured intervention which never overstepped his role under the constitution.

Felipe VI on 12Oct2017
King Felipe VI at today’s parade in Madrid

So it is with great relief that I flew back from the UK last night, bearing a nice red apple to give to the donkeys: a treat from my daughter Alys.  An apple brought from Wales to this delightful field in the Costa Blanca and presented to them this morning, quartered so they could have a segment each.  Aitana often refuses carrots and has always rejected apples.  She was first to eat her portion, so Alys will be pleased the present was gratefully received!

As I was preparing to upload this blog post, I heard the sad news that one of the pilots involved in the Spanish Air Force fly-past in Madrid earlier today was killed when his Eurofighter plane crashed at Albacete airbase when returning.  The Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy and Minister of Defence Cospedal have gone straight from the parade in Madrid to Albacete.  The pilot was flying one of the planes which trailed the colours of the Spanish flag in the skies over the parade.  There is much tragic symbolism in that, and maybe after today the flags can all be given a bit of a rest for a while.

Resquiat In Pace, Capitán Borja Aybar.

11 thoughts on “Dia de la Hispanidad 2017

  1. Not all pilgrims want to stay in a dorm. If I can afford a hotel, why not? I like my own space and I specially like Paradors! In Tardajos I’m in a “studio apartment”. I still have to walk the miles, and what’s more I had a hip replacement 6 months ago, so I have to take care. I may not come this way again! BTW, I worked at the international schools in Singapore and Vienna before my retirement, so we have something in common.


  2. OK, I just couldn’t remember if you had commented on my blog before, particularly as you seemed to feel confident to come in raising controversies! Have a good walk anyway. You seem to be doing it in luxury style, in paradors and restaurants.

    We pilgrims tend to rough it in the hostels and eat the menu peregrino. The first time I walked the camino was in 1965 with a Spanish uniformed youth organisation. We seemed to eat beans every day. It was a jubilee year. I seemed to be the only non-Spanish person on the camino.

    How things have changed, eh? Still, you won’t find anything too luxurious in Tardajos: if I remember it well enough, there are two scruffy little eating places on the main road, then you head off to Rabé de las Calzadas – which offers little more than a cheese sandwich and a beer – and then you are onto the Meseta.

    So, supper in Hontanas then, in a proper basic pilgrim hostel? 🙂


  3. No I’m not a moderator though I read the forum regularly. The only Australian moderator I can think of is “kanga” who lives in Sydney or Melbourne.

    I’ll look at the video later as I’m in a very noisy bar at the moment in Tardajos.


  4. Margaret, if you are still looking at this blog, something you said reminded me of a very old memory. Tell me:

    Are you the same Australian Margaret who is a moderator on Ivar Rekve’s Santiago Pilgrim Forum? The friend of the South African lady who calls herself “Sillydoll”, also a moderator on that forum?


  5. OK, if you need a simple explanation why the golpista “referendum” in Cataluña is a complete nonsense, here’s the simple version. With your knowledge of the complexities of taxation in the autonomous regions, as expressed above, I’m assuming you can follow this in Spanish?


  6. No, I haven’t seen examples of “police brutality” in Australia. However, we in Western Australia are pretty fed up with the fact that a huge portion of our taxes (primarily from GST or IVA in Spain) goes straight to the Federal coffers in Canberra. WA is a rich state subsidising poorer ones, whilst many of our schools and hospitals need more spending on them. This seems to echo the situation in Catalonia. In fact I talked to a woman on the Camino from Barcelona, who said they felt that they work hard and pay their taxes, whilst in the rest of Spain too many people don’t work and rely on the govt to take care of them.


  7. Hello Margaret,

    Yes you are quite right that I did not comment on the legitimate use of police to protect the Spanish Constitution and prevent an illegal “referendum”. In fact I did not intend a full and detailed commentary on the mad politics of Cataluña at the present, but since you ask I can tell you that the majority of the Spanish population are fully behind the police. How police are used in crowd control in Europe (e.g. the CRS in Paris, or the riot police in Berlin, or indeed on the streets of London at times) is very similar, and it is never pleasant. I appreciate that maybe these situations do not arise so often in Australia and you may be baffled by claim and counter claim of “police brutality” – particularly when those anti-democrats who organised this coup d’etat have milked the publicity for all it is worth!


  8. I am interested in all you say about recent events. I am an Australian walking the Camino and was in Barcelona during the pre referendum protests. You do not comment on the extreme violence of the police against ordinary Catalan citizens attempting to vote.


  9. Yes, I heard about that in a later Spanish news broadcast, and I was moved by his enormously brave altruism. There was a park full of people enjoying the national fiesta in the path of his stricken plane, near Los Llanos airbase, so he stayed in the plane and guided it to crash in a more deserted spot.

    Such a selfless act, and an inspiring contrast to those acting very selfishly – and entirely destructively towards their populance – in a certain political conflict elsewhere in Spain.


  10. …and apparently he didn’t self-eject so as not to crash into an inhabited neighbourhood. A real hero.


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