Sunday, March 14, 2004

From Atocha to Socialism

Amazing how the timing of the terrorist bombings of trains in Madrid changed an election. Fascinating, too, to see how sentiments differed in the two countries- the US and Spain- that have had the most severe attacks, Israel notwithstanding.

Prior to the bombings, Spaniards were set to elect Mariano Majoy, the hand-picked successor to Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and both members of the Popular Party. That party is referred to as 'conservative', although Spain's estimation of a conservative would have made Karl Marx grin. In a sweeping turn of events, Socialist José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been elected Prime Minister, and his party has claimed a near majority of Parliamentary seats in this kingdom. By the way, Spain's estimation of a socialist would also have made Karl Marx grin.

But it is interesting to me how the things are perceived. The US embraced George W. Bush in the wake of 9-11-2001 in a way he was not after his election. Spain's Popular Party was repudiated just days after their 3-11, and largely because Spain was one of the US' strongest supporters under Aznar. The Spanish people in essense, blame the United States, with the Popular Party guilty by association.

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Socialism? Be pissed at the United States if you must, but why doom yourselves to worse than the 25% unemployment your country already has? I first had admiration for the Spanish, who took to the streets to express their anger at the terrorists. I now have real dismay.

Having taken the trains into Atocha just six weeks ago, the memories are fresh. As an American, I was treated exceptionally well by the Spanish people I encountered. I can't help but wonder if this will be so the next time I visit. I believe my son is safe in Rota. I talked to him today, and learned that he found out about the attacks 48 hours after I did, so it clearly hasn't reached that remote outpost, which is good. Still, I want him in a friendly environment, and have good evidence that Spain could be less kind to Americans, and is certainly less warm to good sense.

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