The Shame in Spain

It is a time of shame in Spain. Shame of our past and our present, of the old wounds that are not allowed to heal. Ashamed of the image we are giving to the world with this travesty of justice. The international reaction to the Garzón case has been puzzled and concerned in the blogosphere, reflected even in the mainstream media.

This Opinion piece states:

The real crimes in this case are the disappearances, not Mr. Garzón’s investigation. If, as seems likely, these were crimes against humanity under international law, Spain’s 1977 amnesty could not legally absolve them. The suspected perpetrators are all dead, and Mr. Garzón long ago halted his investigation, passing jurisdiction to local Spanish courts in the areas where the victims were exhumed.

Fortunately, most foreign commentators understand that Spain is not going back to old habits, but rather coughing the last lung steak of 40 years of dictatorship up and out of the collective system. Right now we’re in the nasty retching stage, in which the loogie is being loosened and positioned for expulsion. Oh, mighty will the cough be! Heads up!

Wishful thinking? Probably. Indeed universal Spanish author Francisco Ayala located the origins of the civil war “in the hearts of men”, not in the color of their flags. Not to mention Spain’s florid history of inquisitions, mass expulsions and conversions by sword and fire. But I have other reasons for wishful thinking. Such as having lunch with a dear friend, someone I respect and share many convictions with, and discovering that our respective grandfathers had fought against each other during the civil war. His, on the winning side; mine on the other. How can a war our grandfathers fought have any effect on ten years of friendship? Answer: it doesn’t. Our generation basically agrees that the war was a crime and it must never be allowed to happen again. But we cannot live out our grandparent’s blood feuds; to us it is history of a Spain that no longer exists and which we never knew.

What we want is for our children to inherit a land free of mass graves. We want those who have waited more than 70 years to bury their dead as human beings, not as reds or blues. And we want a Supreme Court that doesn’t shelter war crimes. And these things we want not because our grandaddies told us so, but because we’re human beings first and everything else second.

That is why we feel shame.

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