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Letter from Spain #31
Pedro Sánchez v Tucker Carlson and retired army generals ... plus TBC notes & research
As expected and predicted last week, Pedro Sánchez was officially voted in as Prime Minister again on Thursday, without any of the protesters (including some fascists and ‘Cayetanos’) getting near enough to the parliament house to storm it, much to their frustration I imagine.
They were mostly kept to the nearby Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo (sometimes referred to as the Plaza Neptune), next to the Hotel Palace - a block away from my old flat in Lope de Vega, in the wonderful and crazy days of A Load of Bull. Apparently a few protesters threw eggs at some of the socialist MPs as they left the Spanish Congress, but other than that, the protests were peaceful enough.
Not so peaceful in the Calle de Ferraz, however, where demonstrations outside the PSOE headquarters have been taking place for over two weeks now, and look set to continue. This week, we’ve had the regular neo-Nazi groups, other protesters holding up blow-up sex dolls, and even the alt-right hero and conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host, making an appearance.
Carlson was in town to ‘interview’ the far-right Vox leader, Santiago Abascal. If you can stomach it, you can watch the full hour of it on ‘Tucker on X’. I only lasted for the first 55 seconds, because this is a transcript of what he says at the start …
‘Spain is a relatively small country in Western Europe, but what happens here tends to act as a preview for what’s about to happen in the rest of the West. So when a couple of weeks ago, the founder of the populist Vox party, was shot in the face here in Spain, we paid attention. The shooting came at exactly the moment when the left in Spain is trying to take over the country extralegally, pardoning terrorists, offering amnesty to terrorists, against the Constitution, in order to take complete control. Something very much like this happened in the last century, in the 1930s, when tens of thousands of people, mostly Christians, were slaughtered in the aftermath, shot in the head, buried alive, which was the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. So we thought it would be worth coming to Spain to see what’s happening here. We went to a protest, and we spent a great deal of time with the leader of the Vox party, Santiago Abascal …’
I don’t even know where to start dissecting this utter bullshit, so I’m not going to. What’s worrying, however, is that Carlson’s got 10.7 million followers on X (formerly Twitter) and the ‘interview’ has already been viewed over 9 million times. Many of those who have left comments seem convinced that ‘most of Europe, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand are descending into tyranny’ - that ‘the leaders of these nations are in bed with globalists’ and that ‘they’re all corrupt traitors’. I sometimes feel I live in a different world.
Dozens of retired Spanish military officers clearly also live in a different world - their own little world. Many of them signed a manifesto this week urging Spain’s armed forces to oust the newly re-elected Sánchez.
The 56 signatories to the letter, ranging from ex-generals to colonels and captains, have been embroiled in other scandals in the past, related to their fascist stances.
This latest manifesto expressed concern about the state of Spain, suggesting that all branches of government and the judiciary have been corrupted and that Spanish officials disrespect the armed forces, fail to defend Spain’s borders from immigrants, and have been illegitimately manipulating the law to pardon Catalan criminals.
Citing Article 8.1 of the Spanish Constitution, which says the armed forces must defend the constitutional order, which the retired officials said is in ‘grave danger’, they urged ‘those responsible’ to remove Sánchez from his post and trigger fresh general elections.
El Pais reported that the manifesto had caused discomfort among active military personnel, annoyed that the retired officers were presenting themselves as if they were their spokespeople. Retired Major General Rafael Dávila wrote on his own popular blog: ‘Do not use the military as a defence of your interests in the face of the clear failure of your ideas.’
The saga continues … as does the polarisation in Spanish politics.
The Barcelona Connection - Research
I’d previously mentioned the Hotel Arts which appears in Chapter 36 in Letter from Spain #29 of The Barcelona Connection - and the hotel appears again in Chapters 39 and 42 - with the latter being personally one of my favourites, bringing together a bunch of characters who coincide in a somewhat surreal setting, with Benjamin’s reaction to them all.
US Secretary of State Chuck Patterson Jr and Lisette (‘call me Dixie’) Dijckhuijsen make an appearance here - and I’ve certainly met a few ‘call me Dixies’ over the years.
One thing I’m specifically proud of in the book is that I believe it includes a complete cross-section of everyone you might ever meet (or be wary of) in Barcelona - every ‘social class’, although I don’t like that term. As one reviewer has said: ‘You will see great differences of wealth and class, beginning with the major character of the Marquès de Guixols, who has not much left other than his title and a huge masía … then there are squatters, eco-activists, and sleazes in lowlife hotels, as well as self-promoting politicians …’
Benjamin himself also sees one specific section of Barcelona society at the Hotel Arts:
While praying for Elena to answer the call, he gazed around at the other guests. It looked like a snap-shot of Barcelona’s in-crowd or jet-set, with many glitzy and glam women looking bored stiff alongside identical men in light-blue suits and beards talking too loudly, all running their fingers through their hair or slapping one another on the back.
Previous links to my research notes are here:
The Barcelona Connection - Reviews, News & Events
Links to reviews & articles
A review of The Barcelona Connection by Michael Eaude has been published in the October edition of Catalonia Today.
‘Short, fast-moving scenes and the deft joining of two completely different plots … the novel is not just breathlessly rapid and action-packed, but overflows with humour and satire.’
‘The excellent plotting, the local knowledge, the surreal humour, the political satire and the speed of events … it’s an admirable and very readable crime novel.’
Here’s the link for a review of The Barcelona Connection by Dominic Begg that came out in La Revista, a publication of the British-Spanish Society.
‘The Barcelona Connection is a fast-moving page-turner with a helter-skelter plot.’
‘The background to this thriller is realistic and familiar to those who know Barcelona well. It’s a world of cynical, ambitious politicians; civil servants promoted via enchufe; friction between Spanish and Catalan investigators; disruptive anti-capitalist activists; bumbling US dignitaries and security guards; the continuing influence of old supporters of Franco; the soulless 21st century, exemplified by apartment hotels seemingly without human staff-members …’
Here’s a link to a review of the book by Eve Schnitzer published by the Spain in English online newspaper.
‘Tim Parfitt very cleverly weaves together two parallel though quite different stories, set against the background of a contemporary Barcelona that is even busier than usual with major international meetings.’
‘Two plot lines interweave, with some highly ironic as well as suspenseful results … this book has a lot to offer the reader, from pure entertainment to solid information and, possibly, a fuller understanding of the complexities of Spain and Catalonia in particular.’
Here’s the link to an article I was asked to write for The Art Newspaper about my research on Salvador Dalí.
You can also click here for the Kindle edition of A Load of Bull - An Englishman’s Adventures in Madrid.
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