BBC.com–Six years after the death of Spain’s dictator General Franco, the country remained a fragile democracy. Political tensions continued despite free elections and a new constitution. Moreover the army was not fully behind the new democracy and some in uniform remained loyal to Franco. In February 1981, as parliament sat to swear in a new prime minister, 200 Spanish civil guards burst into the chamber and took all 350 MPs hostage.
Joaquin Almunia – who later became an EU Commissioner – was one of the MPs trapped in parliament as the civil guards, led by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero, fired into the air. Mr Almunia spoke to Witness about that dramatic day.
Witness is a World Service programme of the stories of our times told by the people who were there.
A history of the first head-on collision between Europe’s major conflicting ideologies
Economist.com–The Spanish civil war, which began in 1936, three years before the second world war, was far more than a local scrap between reactionary Roman Catholic traditionalists and domestic left-wingers of multiple shades. To say it was the Vietnam, Korea or Afghanistan of its time is to sell it short. Yet the global war that followed drowned out the echoes of what was, in effect, one of its principal opening acts.
Richard Rhodes, a Pulitzer prize-winning American popular historian, reminds readers that this was an international war from the start. Hitler and Mussolini made decisive contributions of arms and men to the future dictator, General Francisco Franco, a man who boasted of preferring blood and bayonets to “hypocritical elections”. Stalin, with less enthusiasm, backed the republic, while the Soviet-controlled Comintern channelled communism’s global ambitions. The most shameful absence was of the eventual victors in the 20th century’s long war of ideologies—the fence-sitting liberal democracies led by Britain, France and America that failed to support an elected republican government against Franco’s military rebels, thereby emboldening their backers.
Huffington Post.com–Federico Arcos — “Fede” as he’s known — is 94 years old and currently in a Windsor, Ontario, hospital recovering from a recent heart attack. Federico, an anarcho-syndicalist, is a living link to one of history’s most remarkable episodes, the Spanish Civil War, and one of the most remarkable stories within this history: How the Spanish Anarchists, with a sizable following, were able to run a number of towns, villages, agrarian collectives and the entire city of Barcelona along anarchist lines, subscribing to anti-authoritarian principles. It didn’t last long — barely a year and wasn’t entirely successful — but it demonstrated some possibilities: If you removed the coercion inherent in any modern state (for example, cops) folks wouldn’t necessarily be at each others throat.
MercuryNews.com–Pope Francis has announced that he will canonize Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra when he visits the United States in late summer. How does that reconcile with a papal decision made 15 years ago when Pope John Paul II apologized for 2,000 years of violence by the Roman Catholic Church against indigenous peoples, Jews, heretics, women and gypsies? In the case of California’s missions, the coastal Indians paid a high price for their interaction with the church. Serra, who arrived in 1769, created a harsh and unforgiving regimen that would ultimately claim the lives of 62,000 Indians and devastate their civilization, including the extinction of a number of small tribes.
I have spent the past seven years researching life at the missions through historical documents at Santa Barbara Mission Historical Archives, Mexico’s National Archives in Mexico City and numerous university libraries. I have studied images of documents written in Serra’s hand and little-known letters and reports from Serra and other Franciscans, documents from Spanish governors and military leaders, eyewitness accounts from travelers as well as academic research. The truth is painful and not widely understood.
Telegraph.co.uk–Our experts’ pick of the top 10 cultural holidays in Spain for 2015, including the Dalí Triangle, the Chopin music festival and the best cultural activities for families, in destinations such as Madrid, Costa Brava, Majorca and Malaga
1. Cantabria’s prehistoric caves