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Trouble in Catalonia



     News from Catalonia is disquieting. The latest case of unrest was in Girona, where students were arrested for violating minors. St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of students. Curiously, the Saint has two feast days, March 7 and July 18, and in addition students seem to celebrate him early in February. The excuse of the students was that they were turning the festival into carnival, another perverse secularization of a religious feast.
     More serious was the meeting of the nationalist leaders of Catalonia, the Basque provinces, and Galicia, who issued a "Declaration of Barcelona." It was quite unreasonable. It complained that Madrid was not sensitive to regional problems; in fact, the central government has shown every consideration. Clearly at Basque insistence, the declaration said Madrid had no right to ban the meeting of the Kurd government in exile in the Basque parliament. This would be in fact a much greater provocation than the Italian government's refusal to exradite a KPP leader to Turkey; it simply expelled him.
     The Spanish parties were aghast, to the point of using crude language. Even the unflappable Jose Maria Aznar said it was "una patada en el nilo," an expression I have never heard. Can some hispanoparlante enlighten me?

Ronald Hilton - 02/12/99


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