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SPAIN: Barcelona and Madrid

The relationship between Barcelona and Madrid is complex, as is evident from the September 2002 Bulletin (in Catalan) of the Association of Catalan Speakers of the Washington, DC Area. The bulletin is subsidized by the Catalan government. Barcelona is an ancient, beautiful city; it resents "domination" by relatively modern Madrid. Castilian scholars try to soothe the feelings of the Catalans, Pedro Laín Entralgo (1908- 2001), a well-known Spanish scholar whom I knew during the Franco period., wrote a piece trying to flatter the Catalans by attributing to Barcelona a key historical role. Although Laín Entralgo was a respected historian, he distorted the facts in a silly way- An article in the bulletin shows that its author was not convinced. She ends saying that. while Spaniards feel that Spain would not be complete without Catalonia, Catalonia would be complete without Spain.

She does not mention that Catalan hatred of Castile became intense during the Franco dictatorship. Nor does she mention Laín Entralgo's role in it. When the Civil War broke out, he escaped to Pamplona and joined the Franco movement, becoming a member of the Falange and writing for Franco publications. My guess is that Catalan intellectuals hated him and that he flattered Barcelona in order to regain their approval. I find this very sad. While I love Catalonia and Barcelona, unless the situation is handled with care (as I think the Madrid government is doing) there could be another civil war, or Spain could become balcanized. The Basque ETA terrorists do not realize this. I hope Catalan nationalists do.

Ronald Hilton - 11/2/02