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Spain: The Basque provinces



     Henry Ford reputedly said "History is the bunk". It might also be said that history is a curse, since it keeps old hatreds alive. Jews remember the Inquisition, Catholics persecution. One good thing about the earthquakes in Turkey and Greece is that the two have put aside their ancient hatred and are cooperating against the common disaster.
     There are some curious twists in such hatreds. Fuenterrabía is a Basque town (hence the spelling Hondarribia) close to the French border. The French besieged it in 1638 for two months. The Spaniards relieved it on October 8, the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in whose honor a parade is held every year. Incidentally, if you have a friend called Lupe, give her a kiss on this her feastday. The Virgin of Guadalupe, whose shrine is in Extremadura, is the symbol of La Hispanidad, the historic Spanish domination of much of the world, including the Basque provinces.
     The annual parade should be a demonstration of Hispanidad. However, the men parade in red boinas, the symbol of nationalism. They carry arms, but the women in their red boinas parading behind them are allowed to carry only staffs. This year they protested against this male chauvinism and demanded the right to carry arms. The result was a serious scuffle, in which the women attacked the men. Presumably some women beat their husbands. The men responded in kind, while no doubt the Virgin of Guadalupe shed tears. A blind passerby was badly hurt and taken to hospital. Here is a conundrum for chauvinists, male and female: who started the fight?

Ronald Hilton - 09/08/99


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