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.



Heeren Foundation Seville: Creating Spain’s Next Flamenco Stars Reply

Heeren Foundation flamenco

Seville, Spain (CNN.com)–The air in the small basement room is thick with perspiration as seven young women stamp their feet in the same complicated rhythm again and again, still not getting it quite right. Their hard heels relentlessly strike the wooden floor, throwing up a deafening clatter as they’re pushed to perfection, or almost to the breaking point. The next room, just as sweaty, is filled with another wall of sound, this one created by a platoon of guitarists. Their synchronized strumming intensifies as numbed fingers fly over frets and strings, struggling to match a tempo that keeps getting faster and faster.

And at the end of the corridor, in another smaller room, seated around a twirling dancer, a group claps its hands in time to a mysterious beat. Their formidable instructor regularly halts the class to chide her pupils over seemingly minor imperfections. These are everyday scenes at the Heeren Flamenco Foundation (Avenida de Jerez, 2, Seville, Spain; +34 954 21 70 58), a cheerful blue-walled institution currently housed in the shadow of a soccer stadium on the southern fringes of the Spanish city of Seville. Heeren specializes in schooling singers, guitarists and dancers in the technical skills needed to perform the art that has come to symbolize Seville and the surrounding region of Andalusia. It’s no shock to find that it takes hard work to reach the high standards expected by flamenco audiences in Spain and around the world. What is a surprise though is the number of non-Spanish students hoping to reach this level.


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


Death to ¡Alegria!: New Intellectual Property Rights Legislation Changes the Game in Spain 2

Spain intellectual property

Editor’s note: ¡Alegria! had a near-death experience. Or so it seemed. New Spanish intellectual property rights legislation (the “Google tax”) imposes fines up to 600,000 euros for publishing excerpts from Spanish media online without compensating the original publisher.

This law came into effect on January 1, eight days ago, and it looked like the end for ¡Alegria! The Joy of Spanish Living. Because that’s mainly what we do. We curate and aggregate Spanish-related news and features, publishing quotes from the media then linking to the full stories online. We were close to deciding to close up shop when the youngest, least-experienced member of our team said: “Wait! That law only applies to the Spanish media, and only a small part of our content comes from Spanish publications. So all we have to do is cut out those articles and continue to march. That’s what Google did, eliminate the Spanish media from Google News.”

Here at ¡Alegria! we think that Spanish legislators, perhaps with an imperfect understanding of the Internet, have made a mistake with the new law, which was enacted with the sole votes of the right-wing Popular Party. We think the media worldwide have a symbiotic relationship with Google News and all the other search engines and news aggregators, insofar as it is these services that channel a great deal of traffic to the online media’s own sites.


Clive Martin for VICE.com: Eye-biza Almost Finishes Me Off Reply

Ibiza fun lovers

The Spanish text that accompanies the video refers to “a vacation destination for Anglo-Saxons avid for sunshine and venereal diseases…” The presenter refers, inevitably, to the Ibizan club scene, as “Sodom and Gomorrah,” but it seems to us that this version of Ibiza is to the biblical S&G what Walmart is to Harrods.

Vice.com–Clive Martin presents this video as part of the VICE/THUMP Big Night Out series. For some reason he refers to Ibiza as “Eye-biza,” a detail which sets the tone for the whole show. Ostensibly a program about night life on the Spanish island of Ibiza, this half-hour documentary is also a light-weight anthropological study of the colorful young British adepts of “clubbing,” not as in clubbing baby seals but as in dance clubs promoted by roving troupes of costumed (and not-so costumed) shills called “promo girls.”


La Liga Finally Addressing Its History of Violence; Why Has It Taken So Long? Reply

Deportivo empty stadium

Deportivo closed the stand usually occupied by the club’s ultras in the wake of the recent death of one of their fans in Madrid.

Phil Ball writes for Sport 360.com–I watched the Deportivo v Málaga game on Saturday night. It seemed the logical thing to do after the week’s events here in Spain, after the fall-out from last week’s incident in Madrid when a Deportivo supporter died after a mass brawl with Atlético Madrid ‘ultras’. It hasn’t been a good week for the Galician club, and things got worse on Saturday night when they lost 1-0 on a rainy evening, in a game that they probably deserved to win – but as the Spanish saying goes ‘A perro flaco todo son pulgas’ (All the skinny dog gets is fleas). Malaga’s keeper Carlos Kameni saved a penalty and generally stopped everything else thrown at him. Formerly in the shadow of Willy Caballlero after arriving in 2012 from Espanyol, he deserved a bit of the spotlight on Saturday night, although his saves were not quite as spectacular as the goal Sergi Darder hit first time from 30 metres, after Depor’s goalkeeper Fabricio kicked the ball out poorly from the area. Goal of the week, and just Deportivo’s luck. They huffed and puffed from then on, but never managed to blow Malaga and Kameni down.


Spain Crosses Its Fingers for El Gordo Lottery’s €2.24bn Prize Money Reply

Spanish Christmas lottery

Señora Patricia, the lottery seller who sold the winning ticket to the people of Sodeto

‘World’s unluckiest man’ to release documentary about small Spanish village of Sodeto where all but one shared in jackpot

James Badcock writes from Madrid for The Guardian.com–Costis Mitsotakis was dubbed the world’s unluckiest man when he became the only resident of the tiny Spanish village of Sodeto not to win a share of the €740m (£579m) top prize from the annual El Gordo – the “Fat One” – Christmas lottery in 2011. But even as Spain collectively crosses its fingers Monday for the announcement of this year’s winners of the €2.24bn (£1.75bn) total prize money, the Greek-born film-maker insists that not winning was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to him. “It was like a gift from heaven, as if someone had given me the perfect script,” he said.

For the past three years, Mitsotakis has been working on a documentary following the lives of Sodeto’s 75 farming families who were all touched by Christmas lottery magic after the village’s housewives’ association sold tickets door to door, all with the winning number – 58268.


Cheering the Art of the Dance in ‘Flamenco, Flamenco’ Reply

Saura Flamenco Flamenco

Boston Globe.com–Two “Flamencos” are better than one. “Flamenco,” octogenarian Spanish director Carlos Saura’s 1995 celebration of the musical genre that has long been his obsession, presents an eclectic bill of dancers, singers, and instrumentalists in an unadorned format. It is a delight for flamenco fans and provides a fascinating introduction for those unfamiliar with the music. But as cinema, despite the lush cinematography of Vittorio Storaro, it is lacking.

Not so 2010’s “Flamenco, Flamenco,” which more than doubles the artistry of the first film. With a conceptual structure as inventive as that of Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense” and a use of theatrical effects and staging as ingenious as that in the films of Hans Jürgen Syberberg, the newer film combines images (again photographed by Storaro), sound, editing, and a poetic narrative of sorts to integrate the power of film with the seductive passion of the music.


The Punt: Spanish Bubbles Cause Trouble Reply

Freixenet Chrismas ad

When is a booze ad not a booze ad? When it is a coded political message urging Catalans and Spaniards to stick together, apparently. In any case, secession politics have never been so amusing

Independent.ie–That’s the theory anyway.

Cava-maker Freixenet’s annual Christmas advertising campaign is by all accounts as much a feature of the Spanish festive season as the Budweiser Clydesdales are in the U.S. This year’s special will run from December 9 and features showgirls in skimpy gold outfits tap dancing to a tune called ‘Closer Tonight’.

Ostensibly the ad celebrates the heritage of the brand and its century-long relationship with customers, calling for 100 more “years together”. It’s that line, and pop singer David Bisbal crooning about how he “hates to say goodbye”, that has seen the extravaganza being viewed as a plea for Spanish unity in a time when secessionist tendencies in Catalonia – which is home to the cava industry – are running feverishly high.