Thursday, May 08, 2003

Here's the transcript of Bush and Aznar's press conference from Fox News, just in case you're interested.

The Vanguardia's take, in its page two editorial signed by José Antich, the director (editor-in-chief, I guess), is that the addition of the ETA's political puppet, Batasuna or Euskal Herritarok or AuB or whatever their name is this week to the American terrorist shit list, plus the possibility of holding Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Madrid, are at the very least the quid pro quo Spain deserves for cooperating with and helping the Alliance. Antich points out that the US has already helped Spain quite a bit in its anti-ETA struggle with high-tech assistance, and there was, maybe still is, an FBI team of computer experts supporting the Spanish anti-terrorist cops in their efforts.

The major consequence of the American adding of these guys to the terrorist list is that it will make blocking terrorist transfers of funds much easier; it will also help when Spain takes the illegalization of Batasuna / AuB to the European Union in order to get them illegalized in all twenty-five countries.

Antich's conclusion is, "Aznar has made an almost personal crusade of the struggle against the terrorism of ETA and its allies, and Bush has understood." This is a nice feather in the cap for Mr. Aznar, as were all the attractive photos that are in the newspapers and on TV of the Spanish Prime Minister being treated as an equal by the President of the United States during his visit. Give the man a couple of more political Brownie points. The two things that Spanish voters are historically very concerned about (the war in Iraq briefly broke into this top two, but has already fallen back out as everyone forgets about it and as Saddam's minions keep getting hauled in) are unemployment and terrorism. Well, unemployment is down no matter how you measure it, the economy is cruising along in decent shape, and the ETA hasn't done anything nasty in a long time, at least partly because the government has been arresting their guys right and left. The PP is going to hold its own in these elections, folks.

I mentioned this briefly a while back; Aznar's government has managed to get AuB / Batasuna outlawed. They will not be allowed to run in the May 25 elections. This has been upheld by the courts.

The Socialists' reaction to all this was muted--all they can say is, "Uh, good, guess we're in favor." The Basque Nationalists, the United Left, and Batasuna's responses were that this is all government propaganda. Arnaldo Otegi of Batasuna, the "political party" that has supported the killing of nearly 900 people by ETA, called Aznar and Bush "the murderers of thousands of Iraqis." I'm normally against violence but I would love to go into the ring with Otegi, no holds barred, lumberjack style. None of this Marquis of Queensberry crap.

The other bit of international news related to Spain is that the US has unilaterally lifted its economic sanctions against Iraq, and the US, UK, and Spain are going to back a UN resolution to lift international sanctions.

FC Barcelona update: Presidential elections will be June 15. Being president of the Barça is like being president of the Rotary plus the Leawood Country Club plus the Shriners plus the Jayhawks Booster Club plus the Chamber of Commerce plus the United Way, all at the same time, in your typical American small town. That's how big the Barça is in this here big small town.

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