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SPAIN: Regionalism, ETA and Catalonia

As WAISers know, I am cold-hearted. But again today I found it hard to hold back tears as I watched Spain grieving over the assassination of Luis Portero, a popular law professor at the University of Granada and the chief justice of Andalusia. A kind and liberal person, he was killed by ETA as he left his home. His university colleagues and the students of the University of Granada were appalled, as was not only all of Spain but all of Europe. A delegation of the European Human Rights Commission came to Granada to attend his funeral.

In the Basque country, ETA members, speaking to French television, showed no regrets at killing innocent people. That their killings appalled almost all Spaniards made no impression on them. They made it clear there would be more.

From Barcelona, Miquel Strubell i Trueta has sent me a long message complaining about changes in the design of Spanish car licence plates to conform to the new EU usage. He views it as part of a scheme to blur Catalonia's identity.

"Many Catalans traveling round Spain have woken up to find their car scratched, or their side-mirrors broken. Animosity against Catalans continues to run high, though I prefer to regard such views (and deeds) as those of a minority. The question remains: according to Spaniards, are Catalans Spaniards or foreigners? If they are the former, then why are we/they often badly treated, resentfully?"

My comment: Without taking sides in the licence plate dispute, I hope both sides will not lose their sense of proportion. The dispute is petty if comparison with the terrible job of stopping ETA killings.

Ronald Hilton - 10/11/00