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The Quality of Health -Las Hurdes



     When I arrived in Madrid in the winter of 1931, Alfonso XIII was the target of public abuse as a man without a social conscience. Las Hurdes, an isolated region in western Spain, was often quoted as an example of Spain's woes. A recent posting referred to the efforts of the present government of José María Aznar to rehabilitate the despised monarchy. It showed a film of King Alfonso XIII visiting Las Hurdes with the physician Gregorio Marañón and promoting the development of the area. It is probably the film to which Ana Eccles refers, although there was no mention of a French writer. The film looked old and must have been taken before Alfonso quit the throne in 1931. Incidentally, many books make the mistake of saying that Alfonso abdicated. He just left. After he was gone, the republican government was dismayed to find it had failed to set him to sign an act of abdication. Ana writes:
     I remember reading a few decades ago about the trip, I by King Alfonso XIII and a French writer, to Las Hurdes. They were horrified when they saw most of the inhabitants of this isolated region with grotesque swollen necks that rendered the place with surrealism. Marañón explained that due to the absolute lack of salt the population has developed "bocio" an augmentation of the thyroid gland in the anterior part of the neck. Being short in stature probably looked in a quasimodian fashion.
     But I know that today Las Hurdes in fantastic place to visit with its impressive passages and valleys. I visited this region via Internet and I saw the breathtaking pictures. Have a look!


     My comment: I wonder if this was not tourist propaganda, possibly true, put out by the present government.

Ronald Hilton - 5/13/00


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