Madrid, 2004 April 13, Saturday

   
    A couple of days after the worst terrorist attacks Spain had ever seen the Spanish Government was spinning things and saying it had been ETA.  The fact that the government was obviously and blatantly withholding information, if not plain lying, was IMHO crucial to how things developed.  While the government-controlled media was insisting it was ETA, SER and CNN were broadcasting new evidence which pointed to Islamists.  The government, rather than ackowledge what was happening, decided to cover it up and lie.  The minister of foreign affairs gave instructions to ambassadors to assert categorically that it was ETA and this in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  In the UNSC Spain presented a resolution blaming ETA and other countries balked and proposed condemning terrorism.  The government of the USA became a part to this lie when it supported the resolution when they had evidence pointing to Islamic terrorism, and, in fact, it was in the interests of the USA that it was Islamists and not ETA.  Spain asked the US government for support in passing this lie in order to get reelected and the US government complied knowing they were lying.  Spain and the USA gave their assurances that they knew it was ETA and on that word the resolution was passed.  Today (16), Spain has presented a letter of apology to the UN for this although it blames faulty information rather than the evident truth that it was a deliberate lie. 
    Saturday afternoon and evening the mood in Spain was one of rage with the government.  People were watching SER and CNN saying there was evidence pointing to Islamists and the government media was still pointing at ETA in spite of all the evidence.  People in Madrid began gathering in front of the HQ of the PP demanding information.  Mobile phones started buzzing as the message was passed on with SMS.  "Pasalo" (pass it on) became the byword and the message was passed aorund and soon there were thousands gathering at the PP party HQ in calle Génova.  That is how I found out.  I got an SMS on my mobile saying to tune to CNN or SER and that people were concentrating at the HQ of the PP. "Pasalo".
    The PP were getting alarmed as they saw they could not control the information or keep spinning it.  Their candidate Rajoy made a huge mistake: he went on TV and said those concentrating in front of their HQ were anti-democratically trying to influence the elections.  You could feel the insecurity and fear in his voice.  A few hours or days earlier he was counting on victory and now he felt it was slipping away.  Well, if there was anybody left who did not know about what was happening, now they knew.  And the government sounded insecure which is the last thing you need in a time of crisis.  People kept converging there and so did riot police.  There was some apprehension that the government might use the police but the whole thing was peaceful and the government did not make the mistake of trying to use the police to dissolve the demonstration.  At about 11 PM the people decided to march to the Puerta del Sol where the local government is located.  When I left at 1 AM the demonstration was still going strong. 

Saturday 13, mid afternoon, people begin to concentrate at the PP HQ and by 9 PM the demonstration is massive.

It looks like the riot police might be getting ready to act and the
demonstrators start to sit down on the road but the police did not act.

At about 11 PM the demonstration moved to Puerta del Sol
where it continued into the small hours of the morning.


   
    Aftermath


    The PSOE socialist party went on to win the elections.  The PP and its leader, Aznar, had totally miscalculated how serious the opposition to the war in Iraq was in Spain.  Aznar let the power go to his head and in his final years became detached from reality and from the Spanish people.  Suporting the invasion of Iraq was a very stupid move and the PP party paid dearly for it, as they should. 
    Every country has a its share of assholes but the USA has plenty more than its fair share.  After the terrorist attacks and the elections I had a couple of American friends call me to tell me how the Spanish people were cowards for giving in to terrorists.  Needless to say these people are no longer my friends. 
    In my view Spain did the right thing which means stiff upper lip and let the rule of law take its course.&nbps; Those responsible for the attacks who were caught by the police were tried in open court and punished according to law.  As it should be.  There have been almost no xenophobic reactions from the authorities, as it should be. 
    Contrast this with America which just went berserk after the Twin Towers terrorist attacks.  They gave up the very principles they say they stand for.  They were unhappy and they just wanted to make sure no one else was happy.  The crimes committed by the American Government are appalling.  The indefinite detentions and torture at Guantanamo, the invasion of Iraq, the razing of Fallujah and multiple other crimes are blots on the conscience of any decent person and have only made matters worse with those cultures we say we are superior to.
    The first thing the government of Zapatero did was to give the order to withdraw all Spanish troops from Iraq.  That is what they were voted for and it was the right thing to do but that was one of the very few things they have done right.  They ran the economy into the ground and have been a general disaster for Spain.  They were right being against the war but now Spain is in such bad shape financially and the Government in such weak position that they have to take their orders from Berlin and Washington which means enthusiastic support for military operations in Afghanistan and Lybia.  A disgrace.