In Muddy Fields, Spain’s International Brigades Live On Reply

Patricio Azcarate Diz

Roland Lloyd Parry writes for Mysinchew.com, Morata de Tajuna, Spain (AFP) — Through the mud and olive trees, Scotsman Andy Crawford trudges over the Spanish fields where eight decades ago his grandfather William fought and died. A Communist pipe-fitter from Glasgow, William was among tens of thousands of foreigners who fought in Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war as part of the International Brigades. Fearing the spread of fascism in Europe, they tried in vain to help Spain’s Republican army fend off Francisco Franco’s Nationalist uprising. “There were no medals to be won, no wages to be earned and they were frowned on by half the world,” said Andy, 66, standing on a hilltop near a stone monument to the brigades.

Along with 300 relatives and friends of the former “brigaders”, Andy marched on February 21 with flags waving to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Jarama, named after a river southeast of Madrid. In that three-week bloodbath in February, 1937, the International Brigades helped block Franco’s drive to cut off the strategic road linking two Republican strongholds, Madrid and Valencia. “People gave up everything just to come here and help,” said Andy. “You’ve got to hope you can instil them principles into your own family.”

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Witness: The Day Troops Held Spain’s MPs Hostage Reply

Antonio Tejero Molina

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.

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Spain’s Civil War: The Opening Act 1

Marina Ginesta 17

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.

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The Relentless Vision of an Old Spanish Anarchist Reply

Spanish Civil War

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 Federico Arc osmost 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.

Federico Arcos anarchist

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Elias Castillo: Junipero Serra Sainthood Belies Cruel History Reply

Fray Junipero Serra

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.

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The Top 10 Cultural Holidays in Spain Reply

Cantabrian caves Spain

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

It’s been a huge year for Cantabria’s prehistoric, World Heritage-listed Altamira Cave. For the first time since 2002, the original cavern (rather than the replica) has been opened up to five randomly selected ticket holders each week, making it an exceptionally exciting time to visit. But it pays to dig deeper into Cantabria’s lesser-known caves, which is easily done with the independent Caminos by Casas Cantabricas “Short Break Cantabria” itinerary. Its cave-focused option also covers El Castillo (for the world’s oldest cave art) and the eerie Eastern Caves in Ramales. From £240pp for four nights’ b & b, including car hire, Altamira tickets and app guides to the area. Flights not included (01223 328721; caminos.co.uk). Isabella Noble

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The Tragic Week, Spain 1909 Reply

Tragic Week strike

Murray Bookchin’s history of the “tragic week”: a spontaneous workers’ uprising in Catalonia which was isolated and crushed by the government, leaving hundreds dead.

The collapse of the Catalan unions after the general strike of 1902 shifted the center of conflict [between workers and employers] from the economic to the political arena. In the next few years, the workers of Barcelona were to shift their allegiances from the unions to Lerroux’s Radical Party. The Radical Party was not merely a political organization; it was also a man, Alejandro Lerroux y Garcia, and an institutionalized circus for plebeians.

On the surface, Lerroux was a Radical Republican in the tradition of Ruiz Zorrilla: bitterly anticlerical and an opponent of Catalan autonomy. Lerroux’s tactics, like Ruiz’s, centered around weaning the army and the disinherited from the monarchy to the vision of a Spanish republic. The Radical Party was not merely a political organization; it was also a man, Alejandro Lerroux y Garcia, and an institutionalized circus for plebeians. On the surface, Lerroux was a Radical Republican in the tradition of Ruiz Zorrilla: bitterly anticlerical and an opponent of Catalan autonomy. Lerroux’s tactics, like Ruiz’s, centered around weaning the army and the disinherited from the monarchy to the vision of a Spanish republic.

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Lorca Mystery May Soon Be Solved But Much of Spain’s Past Remains Buried Reply

Federico Garcia Lorca

Archeologists believe they may be close to finding body of playwright and poet killed by firing squad in 1936 but campaigners say searches of more than 2,000 mass graves around country are becoming increasingly difficult to carry out

The Guardian.com–In the hills overlooking Granada, forensic archeologists buzz excitedly around a cordoned-off site. A blue tarp sits in the middle, marking the spot where they believe lies the answer to one of Spain’s great mysteries of recent times. Since mid-November, the team has been working from sunrise to sunset to locate the remains of playwright and poet Federico García Lorca.

It is on this barren patch of land, just up the road from the tiny village of Viznar, that the author of Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba is thought to have been shot by a right-wing firing squad in 1936.

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Exploring Andalusia’s Islamic History Reply

Alhambra Granada Spain

The majesty of southern Spain is testament to a history peppered with cultural and religious differences. Today, those are celebrated as part of its beauty.

Arwa Aburawa writes for Aquila-Style.com–The story goes that when the ruler of Granada, Muhammad XII of Granada, was forced out of the city in January 1492, he took one last look at the Alhambra and wept. Though nobody will ever know for sure what thoughts were running through his mind as he fled into exile, I’d like to think that he shed tears not only because of his bitter defeat, but also because he couldn’t bear to leave the beauty and charm of Muslim Spain – Al Andalus. After almost 800 years, Muslim rule had left an undeniable mark on the rugged, mountainous and fertile lands of southern Spain, but that was now all over.

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BBC News Spain Country Profile Reply

Barcelona panorama Spain

Located at the crossroads of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa, Spain’s history and culture are made up of a rich mix of diverse elements.

BBC.com–Through exploration and conquest, Spain became a world power in the 16th century, and it maintained a vast overseas empire until the early 19th century. Spain’s modern history is marked by the bitterly fought Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, and the ensuing 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

After Franco’s death in 1975, Spain made the transition to a democratic state and built a successful economy, with King Juan Carlos as head of state. The constitution of 1978 enshrines respect for linguistic and cultural diversity within a united Spain. The country is divided into 17 regions which all have their own directly elected authorities. The level of autonomy afforded to each region is far from uniform. For example, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia have special status with their own language and other rights.

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