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Spanish politics

Separatist protest against Spanish military deployed to Pamplona during the current pandemic

Resentments against the central government are strong in some parts of Spain, even in these difficult times.

Spain soon will have 200,000 reported coronavirus cases and the death toll is supposed to exceed 20,000 today. Just two days ago it lost its top position regarding the highest death rate per capita to Belgium, which claims that the new numbers are due to a very transparent and accurate information policy. That might actually be true, and therefore Spain should have kept that dubious distinction and will probably regain it soon.

Therefore, it’s worth mentioning that two weeks ago, Spanish military deployed during Operation Balmis to check confinement procedures and carry out disinfection measures in Pamplona was met with the intense sound of banging saucepans in the old town neighborhood. The northern Spanish city is famous around the world for its annual San Fermín festival, when bulls are let loose in the streets, and described by Ernest Hemingway’s in his 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises”.

This hostile act against the armed forces and other security organs in the capital of the Chartered Community of Navarre was organized by EH Bildu, an extreme left pro-independence Basque political party headed by Arnaldo Otegui, a former unrepentant terrorist with a criminal record. It ruled the city during the last legislature and was only recently voted out. These resentful politicians have repeatedly expressed their rejection of anybody who represents what they call the repressive Spanish state.

EH Bildu considered it “unacceptable and intolerable” that, in spite of “its responsible and exemplary behavior”, Spanish soldiers were “controlling the population” in what they call a “clear case of abuse of authority, as the inhabitants are asked to identify themselves”. It also stated that “this type of persecutions doesn’t contribute to alleviate and eliminate the grave consequences that the coronavirus is having for Pamplona and, on the contrary, creates a uneasy mood among a considerable part of the population”, calling it a “mere propagandistic maneuver that proves the armies are in charge”.

According to the left-wing autonomous government formed by Socialists and less radical regional forces, the military also had the mission to transport beds and lockers to a residential home that was being turned into an emergency shelter. In Navarre, which has a population of 640,000, 348 people have died of the virus so far, eight of them during the last 24 hours. While 892 persons have been discharged, 460 remain in treatment.

Meanwhile, the daily vespertine balcony clapping at eight, in support of all those fighting the disease in Spain, but especially of medical personnel, continues unabatedly. As I live in front of the Valencia harbor, each night I can also hear several big ships blowing their horns, which gives this touching display of national solidarity a very maritime note.

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