Monday, November 25, 2002

The Vanguardia instituted a new policy a few months ago. The paper, which is fun to read because of its many local quirks though often maddening, has been around since 1881 in the hands of the same family. Anyway, they started printing letters to the editor in Catalan. Before, even if you had written your letter in Catalan, they printed it in Spanish, I suppose because they'd always done that way. The following letter from today's Vangua breaks a trend. For about the last eight consecutive days they'd published at least one thing that was horribly anti-American. Today there's no Yankee-bashing; today it's the Brits' turn. The interesting thing about this Brit-bashing letter is that it's written in Catalan. Anyone who would use Catalan to write to a publication that's 99% in Spanish must be a pretty serious Catalan nationalist; that person is using Catalan out of context and you only do that if you want to make a point. But this letter upholds Spanish claims regarding Gibraltar, which is really weird for a Catalan nationalist, since being pro-Catalanist automatically implies being anti-Spain around here and often implies being either a Francophile, a Germanophile, or an Anglophile. I'm confused. I think the letter-writer is, too. Here goes. It's in italics.

After the English betrayal of Catalonia (1714), as payment for their services, Castile ceded them the occupation of Gibraltar so that they could defend the Strait with their powerful Navy as long as they considered it necessary, and then return it without transferring it to a third party.

This was confirmed in the Treaty of Utrecht, in which it was specified that Gibraltar could only be occupied by the British Army and Navy and that no civilian could reside there. Therefore, the current inhabitants are squatters with no right to self-determination or anything else. And even less so the Moroccans, the Indians, et cetera
, who the British brought there when Franco closed the frontier in response to Churchill's new betrayal; he had promised that if granted a little more Spanish territory to build an airport, when the war against Nazism ended, they would return the Rock to Spain, but they forgot about it. And now Spanish airplanes are not even allowed to land there, while they illegally overfly Spanish territory whenever they feel like it.

In the end, Gibraltar has become a cave of Ali Baba, where, without paying taxes to anyone, every souvenir stand gives out the address to open up hundreds or thousands of fictitious companies that launder money and traffic
in drugs and then invest the enormous profits in land all over the Costa del Sol.

If the British had any common decency (vergonya, literally "shame"), something they've never had, they wouldn't have a colony within a European state like theirs which is even in NATO.

Platja d'Aro

Note the entirely made-up history--France was Spain's ("Castile's") ally in the war that ended in 1714, not England; the war ended with the French royal house, the Bourbons, on the throne of Spain. The English had given some support to the Catalans, many of whom opposed the Bourbons, but when the general war ended in 1713, a peace treaty was signed at Utrecht, England got Gibraltar (among other things) as a victorious power, and the Catalans obstinately held out. The British washed their hands and the Catalans got stomped. Some betrayal. And I seriously doubt Churchill promised Franco anything other than a swift kick in the ass if he didn't do as told, since after it became obvious in 1943 that the Nazis were going to lose Franco was hanging by a thread. The Allies seriously discussed ousting Franco as a consequence of World War II. Also note the conspiracy theory about Gibraltar as an important nexus of cash and illegality, the ridiculous resentment at the English "illegally overflying" Spanish territory, the antidemocratic assertion that those who live in Gibraltar have no rights, the racist-sounding statement that "Moroccans and Indians" have even fewer than no rights, the persnickety legalism about strict adherence to insignificant clauses of a 1713 treaty, the intemperate insult about the British lack of vergonya, and the nationalist fury behind the whole letter. This guy is angry because Britain has dissed Spain by not giving up Gibraltar when politely requested to, so he hates the entire British people, in his eyes just a bunch of poca-vergonyas and hijos de la Gran Bretaña.

In Spanish, hijo de la gran puta means, literally, "son of the great whore" and figuratively "motherfucking son-of-a-bitch". Hijo de la Gran Bretaña is obviously a play on this. That's what they call you guys around here, Des. Do you like it?

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