As I have noted so many times, I am not the first American to be fascinated by Spain. And this spring is not disappointing. While the sounds of the Virgen de la Macarena may have died down a bit -- Catalonia tried to ban bullfighting -- the trumpet has been replaced the booming drones of Highland war pipes. It seems the Campbells are coming.
"The Tyrants" in Madrid -- at least that is how the Catalonians fell about them -- have overturned Catalonia's banning of bullfighting as unconstitutional.
The Constitutional Court of Spain overturned a ban against bullfighting on Thursday that had been approved by lawmakers in Catalonia six years ago, a decision that simultaneously outraged separatists in the region and animal activists.
The court voted 8 to 3 against the Catalan ban, finding that lawmakers from the region could not prohibit a practice that the justices said was enshrined in the cultural patrimony of the Spanish state. -- New York Times, Oct 20, 2016
The court it seems just does not get the premise. The Catalonians banned bullfighting precisely because bullfighting is Spanish, and the Catalonians are not. Franco had encouraged bullfighting as a Spanish symbol of unity; and, of course, the Catalonians hate Franco and his memory.
For example, General Franco, dictator from 1939 to 1975, promoted it strongly as the fiesta nacional. Following his death, separatist sentiment, especially in Catalonia (Catalunya), has associated the corrida with centralism and repression. -- Spain Then and Now
But the judicial despots in Madrid have upped the ante. They have banned the former president of Catalonia from holding public office, even in the European Parliament.
Former Catalan President Artur Mas' right-hand man, Francesc Homs, was forced to leave his seat as Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT) MP in the Spanish Parliament at the behest of Spain's Supreme Court. The magistrates had banned him from public office for 18 months for allowing a symbolic vote on independence in 2014. This Thursday, the court not only rejected Hom's appeal but informed him that he can't stand for the European Parliament either since the ban "applies to all areas" -- Catalan News Agency
The Catalonians intend to go ahead with the referendum anyway. However, Spain's desire to keep its country in one piece has led to another crisis.
The residents of Gibraltar want to remain both in the United Kingdom, and in the European Union. Gibraltar cannot seem to decide which of the two divorcing parents to go with. Both Spain and England can now claim to be defending democracy.
Gibraltarians... voted overwhelmingly -- 96 percent -- to stay in the European Union in last year's referendum
[T]he fear ... once Britain is outside the European Union, which guarantees free movement of people, Spain could demand concessions or make the border with Gibraltar harder to cross, effectively isolating the territory. -- New York Times
So with Britain voting for a Brexit, this situation gets dicey. While Gibraltarans want to remain British, they also want open borders with Spain, which has given Spain some inroads.
Alfonso Dastis has said that Madrid must have a veto over any agreements made over Gibraltar, which sits on Spain's southern tip and is an important strategic enclave. The EU's plans for the Brexit negotiations let the two countries argue about the territory, which Spain has wanted back since it ceded it to the British more than 300 years ago. -- The Independent
Some high-strung British politicos have threatened war to keep Gibraltar.
Britain could 'cripple' Spain if war broke out over Gibraltar and is 'three times as powerful' claims ex-Royal Navy commander -- The Sun
Theresa May would go to war to defend Gibraltar in the same way Margaret Thatcher set out to reclaim the Falklands, a former Tory leader has claimed. -- Daily Mail
War?! Who was mentioning war? The Spanish were amazed at the histrionic rhetoric from Britain, comparing the Spanish to the Argentine junta which launched the Falklands War in 1983. Frankly, the Spanish thought the British were muy loco, and told them to take it easy.
Britain needs to calm down over Gibraltar, Spain's foreign minister has said.
"The Spanish government is a little surprised by the tone of comments coming out of Britain, a country known for its composure," [Spain's foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis] said during a conference in Madrid... [C]omparing the dispute to the Falklands is "out of context". -- The Independent, April 3, 2017
It is a sad commentary when the Spanish are telling the British to calm down. Now the fun begins.
The Catalan nationalists support Gibraltar's independence from Spain. as a way to assert their own independence from Spain. This is rather ironic, because Britain betrayed Catalonia to the Spanish during the War of Spanish Succession, in order to keep Gibraltar.
Some British have also called for Britain to support Catalonian nationalism in retaliation. Call the Spanish bluff and up the ante.
Former British MP suggests raising Catalonia pro-independence aspirations at the UN -- Catalan News Agency
Which begs the question: Why didn't the British support Catalan Independence in 1714, when they were supposed to. This would have avoided a lot of problems.
If one thinks Spain is being beset on all sides, those daring Spaniards have a few aces left up their sleeve. The Clans of Caledonia are starting to rise again. The Spanish will call the British bluff of Barcelona and raise them one Glasgow and all of the Highlands.
British and Scottish leaders in bitter clash over independence vote -- USA Today
It seems the EU, which was formerly opposed to secessionist nonsense, may now back Scotland. After all, didn't Britain secede from Europe? What goes around comes around, amigo.
Is Europe softening its stance on Scottish independence? -- BBC
One Spanish politician has stirred up a hornet's nest.
...[The senior Spanish member to the European Parliament] told us last month his country wouldn't stop Scotland trying to get back in if it became independent.
His comments have since been backed up by the foreign minister.
Some Conservatives are furious about this. They think the Spanish are playing an aggressive negotiating game and Scotland has been brought into play. Gibraltar is another example, they think. -- BBC
An aggressive negotiating game?! Ya think?!
Irony of irony, just as Spain's Constitutional Court is trying to squash Catalonia's referendum, Britain's Prime Minister... well...
British Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected demands for a new Scottish independence referendum, saying "now is not the time" for a vote as Britain prepared to begin Brexit talks. -- Daily Mail
The [European Union] resolution also notes Scotland and Northern Ireland's electorates voted remain (bids to have recognition of the results in London and Gibraltar were rejected). -- BBC
The Europeans are bringing in the Irish, now. The second most common phrase in British history is, "We've have finally solved the Irish problem once and for all." The most common phrase is, "What do you mean, the Irish are in revolt, again?"
But given that the Caledonians and the Irish are both whiskey drinking Gaels, the connection is obvious and everyone should have seen that coming, especially since the Irish have suggested to Ulster that leaving Britain to reunite with the South was a way to remain in the European Union, and avoid the economic pain of a Brexit. Looks like the UK is breaking up.
It would seem that the Spanish are winning this tête-à-tête with England. But there is one last option left for the British. It is going nuclear, though.
You see the second most common phrase in Spanish history over the last two centuries has been, "We have finally solved the Basque problem…"
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.