As you have probably heard, the Basque Parliament voted in a surprise on December 30 to pass what is called here the Ibarretxe Plan, named for Basque Country prime minister Juan José Ibarretxe of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). They got the support of the ETA's political wing, Herri Batasuna or whatever their name is this week, which holds three seats in the Basque Parliament and normally abstains from voting. The details of the plan don't matter, because it's never going to happen, but the main plank of the platform is a referendum within the Basque Country on Basque "sovereignty", whatever that is. Now, this is clearly unconstitutional and there's no chance it's going to happen.
Zap is actually handling the crisis reasonably. He's called up Ibarretxe and arranged a meeting, at which he might make a couple of mild concessions, but he will attempt to convince Retch that this whole thing is dumb and a waste of everyone's time. Zap won't convince him, but he'll be able to say he offered dialogue. Then the Retch Plan will go to the Spanish Parliament, where it will be shot down with both the Socialists and PP against it. Then, if it somehow gets past the Spanish Parliament, of which the possibilities are about the same as those of legalizing gay marriage in Saudi Arabia, Zap will take it to the Tribunal Constitucional and they'll declare it unconstitutional.
So nothing is going to happen. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Some bunch of experts decided that it would be a good idea to send the Generalitat de Catalunya archives from the 1930s to Barcelona from Salamanca, and so Zap is going to follow their recommendations. The Cataloonies are jumping up and down in joy. The Spainiacs are spewing fire and brimstone. I, personally, don't care. It's just symbolic. I would certainly hope that the Catalan government is going to pay for the transfer of the files, but except for that I don't see how this affects anybody or anything. I mean, I assume all these files are on microfilm or maybe even on-line anyway, so they can be consulted easily by any historian or researcher who needs to consult them. If they aren't, maybe that ought to be a higher priority than actually moving the damn papers themselves around.
Just a few sentences from today's La Vanguardia, all from the news pages:
"Washington's growing protagonism is seen in some circles as an attempt to deprive the United Nations of relevance, besides the evident political interest in improving America's image in Asia and prevent the crisis from feeding political radicalism--Islamist, in the Indonesian case--in societies already very unstable...The absence of the Democrat ex-President, Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been extremely critical of the war in Iraq, was widely noticed...The Administration suffered criticism due to the timid initial response to the catastrophe, above all when one remembers the avalanche of sympathy toward the US after the September 11 bombings..."
Now, wait a minute. I was here in Spain and there was not even a ripple of sympathy toward the US after the September 11 bombings. The general attitude in the media and among too many ordinary people was one of "those goddamn Yankees had it coming", with some honorable exceptions. What I remember was "The world awaits Bush's revenge", or whatever the exact wording was, as the main headline on El País's front page. That's what I remember.
"The presence in the delegation of the President's brother is officially justified by his experience in managing emergencies, like the hurricanes that often strike Florida, but there are also those who speculate that this might be a way to promote his status regarding future political ambitions, including the Presidency...The United States, India, and Australia to a lesser degree Australia are playing a geopolitical game in order to extend their influence through the region through aid...It is only fair to recognize that the American people has a long philanthropic tradition that is taught in school and that is very present in everyday life."
Well, that last comment is more than fair and quite generous. I'm not so sure about the other five, though.