July 23, 2021

"The attractiveness of Gibraltar is that it is British and its rarity" | Culture

"The attractiveness of Gibraltar is that it is British and its rarity" | Culture


It could be a vindication of plural Spain. And it is. Also a literary response to you procés. And there is something of that, because it was written in the heat of the independence movement. Or a travel book through the bent corners of Spain that somehow continues the path of its successful The empty Spain. And so it is. The new trial of Sergio del Molino, Places off-site (Espasa)It's all that and something else. Because the author is above all a writer, as well as a journalist, and can not avoid telling stories.

Account how Boris I, of Andorra, reigned a few days in the principality until the bishop of La Seu d'Urgell sent to the Civil Guard in 1934, or popular worship, as if it were a saint, the leftist mayor and republican of Ceuta, Antonio López Santos, the opposite of Millán Astray. It also describes spaces as extemporaneous as the Rock Hotel of Gibraltar, British Empire style, where Winston Churchill stayed in World War II, and stops at the voluminous literature generated by a space as small as Rihonor de Castilla / Rio de Onor, a only town composed of two, united on the border between Portugal and Zamora.

"This book, on the one hand, is not a continuation of The empty Spain because it has different themes and scope; but, on the other, it is so insofar as it follows lines of reflection that I started: A look at the country from a non-obvious axis, from which to look for other conflicts. And it is also a travel book, "explains Del Molino, in a café in Madrid near the brand new embassy of Andorra. To this small country traveled the writer charged with some prejudice and returned with a more weighted vision, with the addition of discovering the past of Nazi spy of the man who wanted to reign, Boris Skossirev.

His adventures also took him to Melilla, Ceuta and towns such as Olivenza (Extremadura of Portuguese past) or Rincón de Ademuz (Valencian territory located in Teruel). "I think it's a fairly complete journey through this misplaced geography, conditioned by the idea of ​​a frontier. I really like to go out there, take the car, talk to people, "he says about the winning book of the last edition of the Espasa Essay Prize.

Instrument to live

"Unlike many, I see Spain as a very useful political product to live together. It is an instrument that, if we break it and destroy it, it will go more badly than good. It is logical to claim it from the edges. It is true that it has many miseries, that it comes from a cruel history, from tyranny, like other countries, but we have been able to build something useful. We are going to try to improve it instead of destroying it ", says Del Molino, a collaborator of EL PAÍS, and resident in Zaragoza. Is your vision of centralist Spain and Jacobin? "I do not consider myself a Spanish nationalist. I have found contempt in both of them. Spain matters to me as a framework and as a place of coexistence, and a walk. I believe in its plurality and also in the constitutional patriotism of Habermas, "responds quickly this 39-year-old writer, who jumped to the forefront of literature in 2013 with the novel The violet hour, where he narrated the illness and death of his son Pablo.

The chapters dedicated to Gibraltar, Melilla and Ceuta are the pillars of the book. You can see the attraction that the "absolute strangeness" that the rock holds on the author. "I get a lot of the roll British It is a unique place. It is wonderful as a window to the past. There is no where to take it or understand it, no matter how many times you go. The attractiveness of Gibraltar is that it is British, in its rarity, and that's the way it should go. "

Past mistakes

It is not about defending the status quo, that everything remains the same, but to know how to coexist with "the historical errors inherited from the past" and avoid changes that could "worsen the situation in such a mixed society." In the book he recalls the first time he went to Melilla in 2005 to informatively cover the massive leaps of the fence and how he left thinking that Spain should cede the territory to Morocco because it was not worth "wasting so much money to maintain the privileges of a handful of citizens so far from the peninsula." "Today I think, "he continues in the essay," which is luckily there are places like Melilla, tiny errors of history in which there is no room for hypocrisy, where all contradictions and dilemmas are exposed and oblige to think about the human condition and its social expression without abstractions or opportunistic philosophies (…) ".

The portrait of Abd el-Krim, the politician and Rifian military leader who led the resistance against the Spanish and French administrations, and the hardships suffered by the Muslim population, and denounces the unjust treatment of Amazigh, a language that is not He teaches in schools (neither in Melilla nor in Morocco), despite being spoken by millions of Berbers.

The visit to the El Príncipe district in Ceuta is also very eloquent. "It has been the best of the trip, it is amazing, there is no similar neighborhood in Spain, there is no water, there are no pipelines … It is left out of God's hand, you see lots of children in the street playing. of abandonment of a community that only has itself, is terrible, you read the reports of the Elcano Institute [centro de estudios estratégicos adscrito al Gobierno] and they are very alarmed by the dangers of Moroccanization in Ceuta and Melilla. And it is quite the opposite. What they want is to be much more integrated into Spanish society and they are constantly denied. "

The cosmopaletismo madrileño and the defense of the provincial division

In his trip through "the corners folded" of Spain, Sergio del Molino refers at one point to "cosmopaletism", which he defines as follows: "It is a very centralist vision and the belief that everything happens, for example, in four streets of Madrid. Outside the almond of the M-30. We have to explain to the people of Madrid, well, to a part of it, things that to the rest of the Spaniards seem to us everyday. There is a very serious ignorance. "

It can also surprise the defense of the writer of the partition by provinces of Spain in 1833 and the portrait he makes of the one who designed it, the politician, playwright and translator Javier de Burgos. "When a character or his work is so reviled unanimously, I think there must be some mistake, which is mental laziness. There are cursed characters. Nobody has stopped to think who was Javier de Burgos, half exiled, Frenchified. It's very interesting. "

The one who does receive a good banter in the essay is the writer Joan Fuster, who was a benchmark of Valencian nationalism, which he calls racist, for his book Nosaltres els valencians (1962), in which he advocates the construction of a Valencian identity based on the Catalan language. In front of him, he situates the integrating vision of the writer Francisco Candel in Els altres catalans (1964). "I perceive something improper and very ugly in a figure of its size," says Del Molino de Fuster. And can not he give a vision taken out of context and schematic of his work? "They are contemporary and personal readings. I take it out of context, of course and I bring it to my vision. "

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