Ilivetolearn's Blog

February 23, 2006

23F and the Calvo-Sotelos

Filed under: Spain — ilivetolearn @ 10:40 am

It’s the 25th anniversary of the attempted coup. I’m sure Don Leopoldo spoke about it at the Yale Club dinner, but I didn’t catch most of it. Since he is 80 and didn’t feel up to standing at the podium, he spoke from his seat–with inadequate amplification–and several people at our table (including fluent speakers who have lived here five years or more) had a hard time understanding him. Elliot and I were lost.

Also, it seems that the things I most wanted to know about him are part of the post-Franco conspiracy of silence. In 1975 it was decided that no one would talk about who did what during the Civil War and the dictatorship…Spain would just move on without rehashing the past and pointing fingers. So although I read that the July 1936 shooting of one Jose Calvo-Sotelo, a politician famous for declaring himself a fascist when others were dancing around with labels like monarchist, nationalist, or falangist, was a precipitating factor in the outbreak of war, and that his corpse was deposited in the cemetery, near the tombstone of his brother, Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo…I could find no acknowledgment that the man who was President in 1981 and 1982 was related to those Calvo-Sotelos.

Assuming the present-day Leopoldo is the son, or nephew, of Jose, I looked in vain for some mention of how the catastrophic events in his young life (he was 10 in 1936), as well as the life of the country, affected his later political career. But that is not the way men write history, and not the way Spain deals with its 20th-century past. I wonder how long it will be before some historian breaks the rules and points out continuities between generations of prominent Spanish families.

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