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Spain through the looking glass

Spain does not exist

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Dear spainwatch readers,

You may or may not have read about this in the newspapers already, but a little after 9:30 last Thursday morning after a light breakfast of toast and orange juice I formally declared my apartment in Seville an independent republic.

Let me start by saying that I did not take this decision lightly. I spent many sleepless nights seeking a more palatable alternative but the sad fact is that events of recent months have left me with no option but to cut my ties with the country which – until so very recently – I had chosen to call home.

I know my decision may come as a shock to many of you, my dear readers. Some of you will even be angry, and I understand that too. But before you accuse me of treachery, please let me try and explain my reasoning.

Now, the more astute among you will have spotted that the timing of my declaration coincided with Spain’s Constitution Day. It’s not accidental. That magnificent document (here, in English), signed on December 6, 1978, formally ended Franco’s rule in Spain and established the fundamental rights and freedoms that Spain’s citizens continue to enjoy today. Just as critically, though, the 1978 constitution curbed the power of Madrid by creating a Spain made up of 17 autonomous provinces, each with wide-ranging powers to arrange things to suit themselves.

Theoretically, Spain’s 17 autonomous provinces are equal. Of course, a little bit of dynamic tension in the system is to be expected. Some of the provinces are much larger and wealthier (Catalonia) and some have special historical positions (Navarre and the Basque County, for example). But the basic idea is that everyone runs their own show. OK, so there has been some duplication of functions and a fair amount of argy-bargy over the division of tax spoils among all the various regions but basically this federal system has worked pretty well. Until now.

Because it seems that the latest victim of the global economic crisis is Spain itself. Now the provinces are spinning away from the centre like the galaxies after the Big Bang, and the longer the crisis continues, the more Madrid resembles part of a distance universe glowing as feebly with remnant light like some dead star.

Apparently, it’s perfectly OK to be an Andalusian these days, or a Catalonian or Basque, but the business of being just plain old Spanish is increasingly difficult. To be Spanish is to be right-wing and centralist and against the rights of the regions. In short, the only place where it’s OK to be Spanish these days is when it comes to football, and even that is under threat.

At the same time, the provinces – without their father (Madrid) at the helm and starved off his once-famed generosity – have become like a bickering bunch of brothers and sisters at the meeting of a family business. All of a sudden, they want more of a say in how things are run and the eldest siblings have even started to mouth off about taking their client lists with them and establishing some kind of hot-shot start-up company.

For a while I followed this all with dispassionate curiosity. Then this turned to annoyance and finally to despair until suddenly, just the other day, it dawned on me: Spain does not actually exist.

Imagine my predicament! Having spent 38 years never questioning the fact that there was an entity called Spain, and having even chose to live there, I have now been made aware that this nation, like the fabled Sandy Island, is no more than a dark stain on Google Maps. It is, in short, a Phantom Country, a mirage, a myth.

So I was left with no recourse but to found my mini-republic. And I can’t help feeling it’s all probably A Good Thing. I have always, in some essential way, felt myself to be different! We have, after all, so little in common, the Spaniards and I, and as such coexistence is no longer feasible. Our attitudes and opinions on issues as vital as television volumes and dinner time and children’s clothing are so discordant as to untenable. We cannot live together and thus it is with great regret – but with some degree of pride – that I have made this declaration of independence.

To date, life in my little republic in the sun has been quite peaceful. Admittedly only a short time has passed and the future may throw up unexpected challenges. My republic is a relatively small one (at 80 square metres) and this could lead to certain feelings of claustrophobia. I do, however, have leisure facilities, a (small) botanical garden and access to running water and power off the grid, at least until the authorities decide to shut those off. I also envisage no problems with my immediate neighbours and expect daily life to continue as usual. And I will shortly be in communication with the European Union to see if some arrangement can be made for my little nation to participate in that grand theatre, even if this should only be in an observer capacity for now.

Lastly, some of you may demand to know why I did not hold at least hold a referendum before I took this bold step towards independence. Believe me: I did consider all options, including – briefly, foolishly – an informal pact with Gibraltar. However, recent experience in Catalonia shows that going out to the people is not always very clever. They have a horrible habit of telling you things you may want not want to hear. So I have taken a unilateral step into the great unknown.

Soon I will draw up my own constitution. In the meantime, I wish all my former compatriots all the best and hope they will find the strength not to follow the independence road I have chosen for myself.

Yours most humble servant now and always,

George Mills

Duke of Rabbits, Independent State of Francisco de Ariño

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Written by georgemills25

December 13, 2012 at 17:08

Posted in Uncategorized

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