Friday, June 02, 2006

NEWSBLOG….Obstacles In Basque Peace Process…Death Of Rocio Jurado

The attempts by the Spanish government to initiate a process that brings an end to terrorist activity by ETA have started to hit their first problems. On the one hand judicial action against the leaders of Batasuna, ETA’s political wing, is constantly threatening their leadership with imprisonment. One judge in particular seems determined to be the protagonist in this, after one of Batasuna’s leaders pointed out (quite understandably) that sending their leadership to prison was not going to help a peace process, the judge decided to call him on a possible charge of making terrorist threats. In addition to this, a decision by the Basque section of the Spanish Socialist Party to begin open contacts with Batasuna has given the opposition Partido Popular the excuse they have been looking for to drop any support they had, very tentatively, given to the peace process. Threatening to withdraw support for the government if the contacts go ahead, the PP is now close to returning to their policy of outright opposition on terrorism policy that they had suspended temporarily in the face of the truce declaration by ETA.

Looking at any newspaper in Spain today one of the first things you see is a photograph of Rocio Jurado, the singer and actress who died yesterday after a long battle with cancer and who was buried today in her home town near Cadiz. Not just known for her singing (flamenco and copla), Rocio was a regular feature in the celebrity magazines such as Hola, and in what seems to be an ever growing number of television programmes dedicated to the lives of the famous. Her marriage to a bullfighter provided that classic Spanish mixture for celebrity fame. Her prolonged illness was a constant theme for many of these programmes during the last few months, to the extent that for almost the first time since I came to Spain there has been some debate on the limits of how much television can exploit the suffering of someone who, as we now know, was slowly dying. The Spanish know how to do mourning, and the line of celebrities lining up to pay homage was a big feature of the media coverage today.

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