National Day parade row rages on
13 October 2004, MADRID – The row over the controversial parade to celebrate Spain's National Day continued Wednesday with opposition politicians claiming it was an "insult to the victims of Franco".
13 October 2004
MADRID – The row over the controversial parade to celebrate Spain's National Day continued Wednesday with opposition politicians claiming it was an "insult to the victims of Franco".
The military parade featured veterans from both sides of Spain's Civil War, the defeated Republican Army and from the Blue Division, loyal to Spain's military dictator, Francisco Franco and which fought alongside the Nazis during World War Two.
Gaspar Llamazares, leader of the far-Left United Left party, chose to boycott Tuesday's festivities.
He said: "It's like asking a holocaust victim to appear in a parade with a former Nazi."
But the Spanish Defence Minister, Jose Bono, defended his controversial decision to invite all Spanish veterans to the annual event.
"Look, I'm a socialist. I fought against Franco. I don't support the Blue Division but I do support Spain and this is a part of Spanish history.
"On National Day, one should be generous. And think about it - if you left out all the Spaniards you may not agree with: the Reconquistas, the Carlists, the Fascists... You wouldn't have many people left. It's all Spain."
Bono said he planned the gesture as a symbol of reconciliation, of peace and harmony in modern Spain.
But others believe it emphasised the deep political rifts that still exist in Spanish society and that date back to the Spanish Civil War.
The main opposition conservative Popular Party are branded as a bunch of Franco sympathisers by the Left and the Socialist Party, labelled as unpatriotic and disloyal to the Spanish flag by right-wing sympathisers.
In a nod to Spain 17 regions, with their varying degrees of autonomy and desire for eventual independence from Spain, the official words dedicated to Spanish citizens who lost their lives for their country, were changed this year.
A sentence declaring "They would not have died under any other flag" was omitted.
As a result, the long-term regional Catalan President, Pasqual Maragall, decided to attend the Madrid celebrations for the very first time.
But what was celebrated as a coup in Madrid, was blasted in Barcelona by other Catalan nationalist politicians.
Marina Llansana, of the Catalan Left Party, ERC, said Maragall had no business participating in a Spanish military parade.
"Spanish National Day is rancid and out-dated," she said. "It's ongoing evidence that the central government in Madrid cannot tolerate political plurality in Spain."
In the end, this year's National Day celebrations were overshadowed by controversy - and not just on a domestic level.
The annual festivities mark the day Spain's role in the world changed forever - when, on 12 October 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the Caribbean islands during a Spanish-sponsored expedition.
Spain's changing role on the modern world stage was evident during the military parade.
French soldiers were invited to take part, whereas the US marines, present at the event since the 11 September attacks three years ago, were struck off the guest list.
Ever since his election in spring, the new Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has tried to redirect Spanish foreign policy towards Europe and away from the alliance which his predecessor Jose Maria Aznar enjoyed with the Washington.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news