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IBERIA: Spain and Portugal

I traveled all around Spain and Portugal in the 30s. The Portuguese hated and feared Spain, while Spaniards poked fun at Portugal. Portuguese hatred went back to the time of King Philip II. Things have changed, thanks largely to the present king, Juan Carlos. What the Portuguese think about the Spanish campaign to rehabilitate King Philip I do not know. The change began with the 1994 celebrations of the quinquecentennial celebrations of the Treaty of Tordesillas (at which, according to the Theory of the Secret, the Portuguese fooled the Spaniards!). Then the Spanish government began pushing the word "Iberoamerica," which implies that Spain, Portugal and Latin America form a bloc. The meetings of the bloc leave some doubt as to now real it is.

In any case, relations between Spain and Portugal have improved enormously, thanks largely to King Juan Carlos, whose four-day visit to Portugal has been a great success. His father lived there in exile, and the Juan Carlos grew up speaking Portuguese. He made several speeches in excellent Portuguese, including one to the Portuguese parliament. There was a ceremony in Braga devoted to Santiago, St. James the Major, whose shrine at Santiago de Compostola is across the line in Spain, the implication was that Santiago is their common saint.

In Spain, the King's presence has been a great boon to civic peace, as has been the performance of Spanish politicians, beginning with José María Aznar. They are handing the ETA thugs, who tried to kill the King, in a very judicious manner. That just below the surface the old hatreds are latent is evident in the sharp responses to our posting on Spanish history textbooks. From this exchange I still do not know if there is a depository of Spanish history textbooks, both national and regional.

As I have said, the collapse of the Spanish Republic was due in part to the irresponsible froth hiding the work of the serious people of the period. This froth included Garcia Lorca, Pio Baroja, and Salvador Dalí, all of whom I knew. Dali, a man who squandered his immense talent, was an incurable showoff. Polymath John Gehl says Dali gave the world's shortest speech. He said "I will be so brief I have already finished," and he sat down. Enough said

Ronald Hilton - 9/14/00