Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 10.12.16

Something else I forgot to say about the Oseira monastery . . . Like many other innocent places around the country, it was used as a prison by the fascists during and after the civil war.

Talking of wars . . .

1. The year 1898 was important for both the (North) Americans and the Spanish. For it was when the former wrested the Philippines from the latter. Thus, the USA got its first colony and Spain lost its last. This disaster has not yet been forgotten in Spain but - the point of this paragraph - I was surprised to read that Kipling's poem The White Man's Burden was dedicated not to the men and women who ran Britain's empire but to the Americans who were embarking on their own. By the way, this seminal event of 1898 accounts in part for the deep vein of anti-Americanism which runs through the body Spanish. Even if it did have some beneficial effects back home. This, for example.

2. Forgetting the Spanish Civil War: This is proving harder than expected by those who survived it, it seems. Which is hardly surprising, given that no attempts have ever been made at reconciliation. And never will be, if the right-of-centre PP party has its way. Too many skeletons. The victors are still writing history here.

In Pontevedra, parents are being taught how to give their kids space and allow them to develop their independence. When I was a kid, there was no bloody choice. My mother recently astonished me with the news that, aged 9, I used to take my 3 younger siblings to school on a bus. Having, of course, been regularly warned not to take sweets from a stranger. She needn't have worried too much, though, for those were the days when the news agenda wasn't dominated by the scurrilous tabloids and the UK wasn't overrun with pedophiles. Except perhaps in the world of soccer.

Finally . . . When I was an A Level student of history, I came across a saying which my teacher disappointingly dismissed as having whiskers: A diplomat is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country. Despite its long pedigree, Boris Johnson, the UK Foreign Secretary, appears not to have heard this. Or, more likely, is happy to ignore it. So pigeons are now fluttering all over the dovecot after he accused the Iranians and the Saudis of fighting proxy wars in the Middle East. We all know this is true but can't, we're told, be said because the Saudis have ploughed so much dosh into London property that the national market would collapse if they took umbrage and dumped it all. Might not be a bad thing, given its ludicrous heights. And then there's all those arms sales which the French would love to have. What price honesty?


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4 comments:

Maria said...

It's curious what you say about the dislike of Americans being linked to the war in 1898. I don't notice it. In fact, I only hear that war referred to as "la guerra del '98" or "la guerra de Cuba." It was when I was going to school in Boston that I found it referred to as the Spanish-American war. The spark that started it, the sinking of the Maine, was also a prime instance of deliberate misinformation. Just like the "weapons of mass destruction" of over a hundred years later.

But I think the Spaniards were secretly relieved to be rid of their last costly colonies at the time. "Good-bye and good riddance" were probably the words most whispered in the government. They were probably also laughing at the Americans for taking on the unruly Filipinos and all the trouble they could give!

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Maria. You forced me to do a bit of research . . . . Here's one relevant item
http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/wcm/connect/1bebe2804f0187e0be08fe3170baead1/047-2005-WP.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=1bebe2804f0187e0be08fe3170baead1

As for public/private perceptions . . . Maybe the parallel example today is Gibraltar. The British government truly resents its existence and its nuisance value, and has been trying for at least 50 years to get rid of it. They thought/hoped progress was being made with Zapatero. But contrast the public attitude, regularly whipped up by the media when the PP is daft enough to adopt Franco-like attitudes and actions. They must despair in London.

Maria said...

Thanks for the article, Colin. Yes, I can understand how 1898 was a starting point for a century of resentment. Though, as the article also mentions, current Spaniards are resentful for latter-day reasons and tend to forget the purely historical. Ask a present-day high school student who is actually studying modern Spanish history about the war of 1898, and they'll probably say, "Wasn't that the background war in the latest movie, Los Últimos de Filipinas?" And they'll probably know little else except for the dates and names they have to memorize. Ask them why they dislike the U.S. government, and they'll probably answer, "Because of the invasion of Iraq."

Colin Davies said...

ROFL. But tru, I'm siure. Will try the experiment today . . .

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