Monday, October 17, 2005

The Tragedies of a Dictatorship

To give a really fast synopsis of Spanish history in the 21st century from 1936-1939 there was a civil war between the Nationalists (Fascist) and Republicans (Socialists and Communists)which resulted in the 40 year rule of the Fascist Dictator Francisco Franco. Since Franco´s death in 1975 the country has been converted into a democratic monarchy and has greatly developed.

That may all sound pretty textbookish on paper but now that I am in Spain and getting to know the culture and people it is starting to impact me a lot more closely and I am learning exactly what living under a dictatorship can mean. It was a really bloody time and many intellectuals were murdered and also many people who had any connection to the Rebulican party during the civil war. But everyone was affected; for example, my profesor of politics (who is around the same age as my dad) this morning told us his experiences under Franco´s rule. He became involved in the opposition of Franco early on and it resulted in much persecution from the Guardia Civil (the national police force) including his imprisionment and the murder of his girlfriend. It really brought things into perspective for me. The dictatorship ended not quite 10 years before I was born...this is really recent history.

All this makes me wonder when the dictatorship of Fidel Castro will finally be over and how long it will take for that country to reunite and some other form of government that allows all persons to have the truly equal rights. I have just finished reading the memiors of Reinaldo Arenas, ¨Before the Night Falls¨, he was a Cuban writer who was severly persecuted (jailed, enforced to do slave labor, beaten, etc.) for his political beliefs and homosexual lifestyle for more than 20 years before he was able to escape from the island and move to the US as a refugee where he spent the rest of his life in near poverty although he was already a world reknowned author.

Now I´m reading a book called Blood Diamonds about the diamond trade in the Sierra Leone and the total abuse of the people there by enforcing them to work 14 hour days in the mines for pennies and chopping the hands off those who won´t comply. It has been kind of a depressing week so far. Next time I´ll have to read something uplifting.


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