The Cataloonies came out in force last night with a big old wingding hoo-haw at the Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona's arena, demanding the return of the "Salamanca papers." We've discussed this many times already; after the Spanish Civil War, enormous quantities of files and papers were stored at the Civil War Archive in Salamanca. A few years ago, the Cataloonies, looking for a divisive issue, demanded that all documents that originally belonged to Catalan organizations (the Generalitat, the CNT, the PSUC, and all that lot) be turned over to the current Catalan government.
Of course, this is a big "Who cares?" It's a bunch of old historical papers from seventy years ago of interest to nobody but a few historians. Besides, the Zap government has already agreed to send them to Catalonia anyway. The big old wingding hoo-haw was held, get this, in order to demand that they be turned over RIGHT NOW.
They managed to get 12,000 people with absolutely no sense of proportion to show up at the Palau Sant Jordi for this. I've never seen 12,000 Barcelonese turn out against, say, the Castro dictatorship or the Burmese junta or Saddam Hussein, but the Cataloonies among them will yell and scream for hours over some files from seventy years ago. The justification repeated over and over at the wingding hoo-haw was, "The papers were stolen from us and we want them because it's a question of national dignity." National dignity is something you earn, not something you demand, and whining en masse is not dignified, but instead rather pathetic.
Pepelu Carod-Rovira was of course the star of the show, with Communist Joan Saura and CiU leader Artur Mas there as well. Of course there was some opening up of old wounds: some descendents of Lluís Companys, the wartime Catalan premier shot after the war (with some justification--he was in charge while 8000 alleged fascists were murdered between 1936 and 1939 in Catalonia), and relatives of wannabe anarchist terrorist Salvador Puig Antich, garroted in 1974 (with some justification--he shot two cops, killing one), were there in order to whip up some anger and indignation.
Naturally, the real function of this wingding hoo-haw was to serve as a political rally, since the general election is coming up in March. The whole thing is really very cynical, as nobody with any sense cares about these damn papers; they might as well stay in Salamanca or be transferred to Barcelona, it really doesn't matter as long as historians have access to them. Besides, somebody should have microfilmed them all long ago, and if they're so important, they could be posted on the Internet to make them accessible to anyone anywhere.
Of course, the highlight of the show was when Sixties leftovers Raimon, earth's worst folk singer, and Maria del Mar Bonet, earth's biggest Joan Baez copycat, sang all the old revolutionary nationalist hit songs, only slightly relevant now that the Franco regime has been dead for thirty-two years.
What I really want to know is: Who paid for this? It must cost a couple of hundred thousand euros to rent out the Palau Sant Jordi for a night. Did this come from the taxpayers' pocket or from the pockets of the political parties represented? If from the political parties, how much of the cash did they get from illegal kickbacks?
Meanwhile, Barcelona's metropolitan area is completely snarled up, since they've closed down the Barna Sants-Bellvitge-Airport commuter train line because of the construction on the parallel high-speed train line, which most certainly won't be finished by Christmas as it was supposed to be. They kept having cave-ins on the commuter train line, and so it will be closed down for, officially, one week. I bet it doesn't reopen for a lot longer than that. They're substituting a fleet of buses for the train, but it's not working very well, and the streets are flooded with cars since people who normally use the train drove into town today.
My old boss, Federico Jiménez Losantos, who is right on some issues and very wrong on others, has dragged King Juan Carlos into his partisan struggle against Zap and the Socialists. I don't like Zap and the Socialists at all, and I heartily hope that they lose the election, but Jimenez Losantos has a big conspiracy theory set up in his brain about a plot between the Zapsters and ETA and Pepelu Carod and those guys to break up Spain and establish a Masonic-Bolshevik regime. Absurd on the face of it, and besides Zap's not that smart anyway. Losantos claims that the Zapsters are somehow using the King as a tool as part of this great conspiracy, and he wants Juan Carlos to abdicate in favor of Prince Felipe. How dumb.
Note: If you thought some items in the old Spain Herald were pretty crazy, you should have seen them before I translated them to English. Once, during a long string of daily attacks on Socialist party hack Gregorio Peces Barba, I sent back a story with the note, "Is this the Spain Herald or the Peces Barba News?" We laid off that subject for a while.