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Spain


  • Originally published 09/12/2013

    Farewell to Catalonia?

    Catalonia is its own nation with its own unique history, Catalan president Artur Mas argues, and it deserves independence from Spain.

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Did Coca Cola originate in Spain?

    Locals believe that the Spanish town of Aielo de Malferit is where Coca-Cola originated -- and that the factory which developed the formula that inspired the world's best-selling soda has been cheated of its rightful place in history. Not to mention profits.It's allegedly the birthplace of the world's best-known soft drink, but these days, it's looking a little run-down. Lined with houses that are for sale, the streets of Aielo de Malferit in the province of Valencia are deserted. With the younger generation escaping chronic unemployment and moving to major cities such as Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid, only the elderly still live here.Gray-haired and bespectacled, 74-year-old Juan Micó wears a white lab coat as he pours a brown liquid into a thin glass tube. Shards of pale sunlight filter through the grimy windows of his factory, and a smell of damp wood pervades the air. "The grated kola nut and herbs blended with alcohol mature in a clay jug for a month," he explains. "What happens then is a secret." ...

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Gibraltar frontier conflict causing frustration for locals

    Bobbing on the port captain's launch off the coast of Gibraltar on Tuesday there was no evidence of how this calm stretch of sea could have caused such an international storm. A handful of craft fishermen cast their nets, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 10 metres below their dinghies lay the unlikely catalyst for a political row that has embroiled David Cameron in the UK's bitterest battle with Spain over "the Rock" since Franco.Here, late last month, Gibraltar dumped an artificial reef on a fishing ground favoured by Spanish scallop dredgers. Now the ripples from those dozens of concrete blocks are rocking a 300 year old British enclave that for some is an emblematic imperial redoubt and for others an awkward colonial hangover.On Tuesday Gibraltar said it was preparing for legal action against Madrid over its retaliation for the reef, which has taken the form of a frontier control go-slow that has caused residents to queue for up to six hours in scorching summer temperatures. Gibraltar has accused Spain of inhumane behaviour and is gathering evidence that could be used at the European Court of Human Rights....

  • Originally published 07/23/2013

    Where Police See Looted Antiquities, a Mayor Sees a Museum

    ARANDA DE MONCAYO, Spain — The roads leading to this tiny, hilltop village of 200 inhabitants are so narrow and untraveled that no one has ever bothered to paint a white line down the middle.But lately there has been a bit of international intrigue here. A man, who largely kept to himself but was sometimes seen out at night wandering around with a metal detector, has been arrested.Investigators searched his homes, here and elsewhere, and found more than 4,000 looted antiquities. Most of them, they say, had been dug up from the hill next door, which on close inspection has an unusual array of crumbling stone structures. Two thousand years ago, it seems, a bustling metropolis, called Aratikos, sat atop that hill, only to be destroyed by invading Romans.“You and me, we see stones if we look over there,” said Rosario Cabrera, the mayor of Aranda de Moncayo, as she stood on the village ramparts, nodding in the direction of the Aratikos hill. “But an expert sees a doorway.”...

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    UK bribed Spain to stay out of WWII

    Britain paid millions of pounds to military and political leaders in Spain to ensure they remained neutral during the Second World War, secret files reveal.Some $10 million was paid to one double agent alone to distribute to key individuals, including General Franco’s brother Nicholas, in the hope they would not enter the conflict.But despite the money, intelligence officers later suspected General Franco of ordering his officials to pass on secrets to the Germans.The effective bribes also sparked a row with the US after the Americans froze the money planned for Britain’s “friends in Spain”.The $10 million were to be paid to Juan March, a contact who had served as a double agent for Britain during the First World War, according to the intelligence papers released by the National Archives....

  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Spanish Jews still waiting for citizenship

    MADRID — Six months after announcing a significant easing of the naturalization process for Sephardic Jews, the Spanish government has yet to put the rules into practice, leaving many applicants for citizenship frustrated.The change, announced in November by the foreign and justice ministers, was presented at the time as a conciliatory gesture toward Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled more than five centuries ago during the Spanish Inquisition, one of the darkest chapters in Spanish history.Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said the time had come “to recover Spain’s silenced memory.”...

  • Originally published 05/11/2013

    Why Historians' Memoirs are So Valuable

    Historians of 'Past and Present' by Stephen Frederick Godfrey Farthing, 1999. National Portrait Gallery, London. John Elliott is one of the sitters.Cross-posted from the Weekly Standard.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    How Spain's Juan Carlos fell from grace

    ...It has been a year that has seen the popularity of King Juan Carlos plummet to unprecedented depths - to the point that even die-hard "JuanCarlistas", as his supporters are known, are now openly discussing the need for abdication in favour of his heir, Prince Felipe....The King, long extolled for his role in bringing democracy to Spain following the death of dictator Francisco Franco, had for decades enjoyed the sort of respect and privacy from the press that would have been the envy of his British relatives, the Windsors.The King's playboy reputation and love of expensive pursuits including fast cars and sailing were tolerated even with an annual bill of around 9 million euros to the taxpayer.But a turning point in his popularity came last April when it emerged - after a nocturnal accident that left him with a broken hip - that he had been enjoying a luxury safari in Botswana hunting elephants....

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