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SPAIN: The Regional Problem – Whither, not whence



As the Basque elections approach, the atmosphere becomes ever more heated. Even the normally unflappable former Minister of the Interior, Jaime Mayor Oreja, reportedly the most respected politician in Spain, speaks with unaccustomed vehemence. He left the Spanish government to run for the post of head of the Basque country because everyone realizes that the election may decide the future of Spain. Were the Nationalists to win decisively, the push for independence might become irresistible, and other regions might follow. The word "independence" is almost taboo. The Nationalist candidate speaks of "our goal". The big problem is the large immigarant problem from other regions. To win their support, he says all are welcome in his party; the issue is not where people came from, but where we are going. Unwittingly he was quoting Ortgea y Gasset, not a favorite author among the Basques, who said that what creates a nation is a common goal.

In sum, the presence of many immigrants is an irritant, as it is in Catalonia. Curiously, some children of immigrants become nationalists (a tricky word) as defensive coloration. Here is the question I hope some Spaniard will answer. Yesterday in Zaragoza, a boy was stabbed to death by another boy reportedly for having said "Viva Espaёa" or some such thing. What exactly happened?

Ronald Hilton - 5/5/01


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