••• The International Writers Magazine:Spain 2017 - Reflections on 2016
Quite a Year
No doubt about it! We’ve ended one of the most incredibly tumultuous years this century.
Not that other events haven’t been as dramatic ever since the attack on the World Trade Centre or the Tsunami in the Far East. No, that is not the point. What differentiates it from past years is the rise of the so called populism in politics and the advance of technology, especially the massive proliferation of hand held computers that has turned the world on its head. I’m sure that there are hundreds if not thousands of other journalist reports across the globe that corroborate these statements. I will simply revert to my neck of the woods - Spain.
Political ‘Populism’ has been named the word of the year. Its meaning has yet to be defined in the dictionaries as there are various opinions being bounced around by academics and other boffins in the civilized world. It also depends on what side of the fence you belong in political ideology. Basically, it is a new generation of politicians that preach to an increasing number of captive audiences without really saying anything except to offer a better world and at the same time blaming the past deficiencies and inequality on their opponents. Nothing new in politics one may say. However, the players, mostly young, are expert political manipulators of the new methods of communication and media, especially ‘chat shows’ and social networking. They also belong to extremely radical political parties.
However, at least in Spain, after certain regional and local elections, including the cities of Madrid and Barcelona they are now well entrenched and are changing the daily scenario of life under their domain. The basic brand is the extreme left-wing party under the name of ‘Podemos’ (We can), led by Sr. Pablo Iglesias that has been reported in these essay for years but is now split up into offshoots in many parts of the country.
A case in point is religion. Spain has been a predominantly Catholic nation although the new Constitution of 1978, after the Franco dictatorship declared it a ‘Lay State’. As the ‘Podemos’ politicians are in power in these areas they have literally proceeded to impose this legal status on almost everything that is represented by the church. It was Christmas time and the usual public displays of Baby Jesus in a stable as well as the parades of the Three Wise Kings in Madrid were substituted by non-Christian events that had nothing to do with the centuries old seasonal occasion. Another example was the mayor of Santiago de Compostela, one of the most famous Cathedral cities in the world who refused to attend traditional yearly public ceremony celebrating the birth of St. James. These are just two examples.
Or the anti-violence attitude of the party. The mayor of Barcelona has prohibited all the security forces that include army, police and civil guards from setting up their stand at the yearly children’s massive exhibition show. The mayor of Cadiz wants the US to remove their NATO base in Rota. But the best of all are the statements by their leader Sr. Pablo Iglesias after the terrorist attacks in Germany where he referred to the attack as an ‘event’. The party was the only one that refused to sign the anti-jihadist pact in 2015..
These are just the tip of the iceberg - so let’s move on to other ‘events’ in Spain.
It has been a month of celebrations. The first was the commemoration of the above mentioned constitution on the 6th that included a massive parade in Madrid and was followed by most members of the Royal Family, all political party members, except for ‘Podemos’ and prominent members of the Spanish elite. On the 22nd the annual lottery was held and once again many parts of the country rejoiced with new millionaires although the present government’s tax authorities will take 20% of the winnings. Talking about tax, a bombshell was let loose just before Christmas; that the government was going to raise taxes in 2017. Although Christmas was just around the corner, the nation stood still as not a stone of tax increase was left unturned, except, and we are back to ‘Populism’, beer and wine! Then we had the annual speech from King Felipe VI that carried the usual messages of ‘Hope and Glory’ although he did touch on the dicey issue of Spain’s forthcoming battle against separatism, especially Catalonia. You see, the regional government has literally been taken to court because in September they intend to hold THE referendum seeking independence.
On the 25th was Christmas and despite the nonsensical approach by the ‘Podemos’ politicians the country, once again celebrated to the nth degree the birth of Christ like most other Christian nations around the world.
Finally, as I go to press its New Year’s Eve. And yes, everyone is forgetting about the topsy turvy year that has just gone by and is out to enjoy whatever they have individually or collectively organized to celebrate the birth of 2017. Champagne will still be at 2016 prices!
Happy New Year to all.
© James G. Skinner. January 2017
James Skinner on Spain
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