Posts Tagged ‘Spain’


Look for a replay of the 1930s.


Catalonia declares independence as Spain prepares to impose direct rule



700k protest Spain’s referendum crackdown



Columbus letter to King Ferdinand 1493:

“They have no other arms than spears made of canes, cut in seeding time, to the ends of which they fix a small sharpened stick. Of these they do not dare to make use… They refuse nothing that they possess, if it be asked of them; on the contrary, they invite any one to share it and display as much love as if they would give their hearts. They are content with whatever trifle of whatever kind that may be given to them, whether it be of value or valueless… So all came, men and women alike, when their minds were set at rest concerning us, not one, small or great, remaining behind, and they all brought something to eat and drink, which they gave with extraordinary affection… But especially, in this Espanola, in the situation most convenient and in the best position for the mines of gold and for all trade as well with the mainland here as with that there, belonging to the Grand Khan, where will be great trade and profit… Highnesses can see that I will give them as much gold as they may need, if their Highnesses will render me very slight assistance… and slaves, as many as they shall order, and who will be from the idolaters… And thus the eternal God, Our Lord, gives to all those who walk in His way triumph over things which appear to be impossible, and this was notably one…”


Columbus letter to Doña Juana de Torres 1500:

“Now that so much gold is found a dispute arises as to which brings more profit, whether to go about robbing or to go to the mines.  A hundred castellanos are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general, and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid.”

Image of The landing of Columbus at San Salvador, October 12, 14

Lies My Teacher Told Me:

“Diseases new to the Indians played a role, although smallpox, usually the big killer, did not appear on the island until after 1516. Some of the Indians tried fleeing to Cuba, but the Spanish soon followed them there. Estimates of Haiti’s pre-Columbian population range as high as 8,000,000 people. When Christopher Columbus returned to Spain, he left his brother Bartholomew in charge of the island. Bartholomew took a census of Indian adults in 1496 and came up with 1,100,000. The Spanish did not count children under fourteen and could not count Arawaks who had escaped into the mountains. Kirkpatrick Sale estimates that a more accurate total would probably be in the neighborhood of 3,000,000. “By 1516,” according to Benjamin Keen, “thanks to the sinister Indian slave trade and labor policies initiated by Columbus, only some 12,000 remained.” Las Casas tells us that fewer than 200 Indians were alive in 1542. By 1555, they were all gone.

fidel 3

This French film stands out as exceptionally political and amazingly told from the perspective of one nine year old girl.  Little Anna, a petulant, spoiled throwback to France’s heritage of empire and myopia, confronts the turbulence of the 60s and early 70s.  Anna actually represents France, facing the realities of a new age, an uprising of her people, in this case her own parents.  Anna and her little 4 year old brother elevate this film into a realm unseen in American films.  Such deeply political tales aren’t made here, and centered on a nine year old female?  Unheard of.

Anna’s parents are borderline communists, obsessed with fighting against Franco in Spain and for Allende in Chile.  Her grandparents, on the other hand, are moneyed aristocrats and quite unhappy with Anna’s parentals.  Anna prefers the luxury and princess fantasies of the aristocracy, and she cannot comprehend why her parents have moved out of that life to a life of squalor, filled with all sorts of scruffy characters who come and go through their little hovel at all hours of the day and night.

Anna herself must figure out what to make of this confusion, and who is right as the political battles of the day come to a head.

Directed by a woman, the performances resonate.  On the special features I was a bit taken aback, however, at how hard they worked the two children.  The production was grueling for Anna / Nina, who appears in every scene and is the main focus of nearly every scene.  As for her brother, Benjamin, he signed up to do a movie not comprehending what he was even getting into.  According to him, he thought it would last one day!

The perspective of the film calls into relief US imperialism, and its effects on Latin America, particularly Chile, and the coup against Allende.  It plays competing ideas against one another, the communistic notions of dividing up the world’s wealth and sharing it equally against the capitalistic money oriented culture.  Women’s rights are brought in, as are abortion, birth control and the major changes underway at that point in history.


As Anna/Nina is France, dealing with these unstoppable social forces and pressures, she must find a way to accommodate and to adapt.  Anna is rather conservative, but willing to see things more openly than her own grandparents would.  As she progresses, so does France, enacting laws that modernize their health and education systems.

It’s a fascinating allegory.

This is great.



If you’re unfamiliar with the works of Salvador Dali, he’s one of the most original, striking, and brilliant visual artists of the 20th century.  He was also an open fascist, a supporter of Spanish dictator General Franco, and a raving lunatic.  Certainly an interesting case study.

Salvador Dali in New York (54 min.)