Franco’s shadow still hangs deep in Spain

by , under All categories, Enrique

“Democracy is shit!” a former Spanish diplomat in his 70s told me at a Madrid bar. “Democracy does not work. The socialists have destroyed Spain!”

A small lapse of silence as he gathers some wind for is arguments: “Our foreign policy is in tatters (because Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero defied George W. Bush by pulling Spanish troops from Iraq in 2004).”

I listened for a while longer and remembered an old couple in the 1960s that lived in exile in Paris from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). There names were López and Angelina. I remember López very well because he fought for the Republican Army and told me a little about the horrors of that conflict.

After López’ and Angelina’s image faded in my thoughts, I responded:

“In Argentina one of the problems we had before the 1916 elections was that voting was only a privilege of the few,” I said. “This is what messed up Argentina for close to the seventy years.”

I was surprised that still in Europe there were people who thought so lowly about democracy. But if we look at the conflict in the Balkans and the persecution of minorities like the Roma, it’s unfortunate that a large minority of Europeans don’t appreciate Western democracy.

Our discussion on whether democracy was good or bad for Spain ended in an instant. Even so, such a discussion would have never been possible under dictator Francisco Franco’s regime (1939-75).