I was watching the news with Ana a few days ago, and something came on about members of ETA as elected representatives in el pais vasco. I was confused by this, since itś my impression that most people don’t support/approve of ETA, and she said that thereś a lot of extortion; a vote-us-into-office-or-we’ll-attack-your-families sort of thing. She described this as una vergüenza (a shame, shaming). I found it horrifying. Spain is a modern democracy, not some one-party ‘democracy’ or country run by a military junta. Admittedly it hasn’t been a democracy for terribly long; it only became one thirty years ago or so. But itś been working very hard to catch up ever since, and it feels like a modern, first-world country where no one is being pressured into voting for a terrorist group.
I’m not so much of a stary-eyed idealist to believe that no one in first-world democracies is ever pressured into voting for Candidate X, ever. And I’m sure that there are people all over the world who sell their vote. But while I don’t approve, the latter is their right, and if it puts food on the table, at least they eat that day. And the former – what can you do? But the idea that a terrorist organization can scare or persuade enough people to get into power (on the actual support base that I perceive them to have) – that terrifies me.
The news lately keeps reporting captures of ETA leaders, mostly through cooperative efforts by Spanish and French police. I do find this somewhat encouraging, but it also depresses me, because I know that there are always more extremists who will step into those roles, and that terrorism in general isn’t a problem that can be solved by just cracking down on it hard enough.
The news in general is depressing, actually; here in Spain, where the television is on almost all the time when Pepi and Ana are home, I have reaffirmed my belief that I really prefer to get my news from the radio and newspapers. The commercials are distressing, to, though often in different ways than the news.
I should mention that paper correspondence ought to be directed to my Philadelphia address or my Smith address.
And I’ll be home January 3.