Sunday, 25 November 2007

Gran de Gracia. Barcelona 24.11.07

After the street-fighting at the anti-fascist demonstration last week,
the riot squad were out in force. But this time, I'm pleased to say, there was minimal gratuitous violence.

The squad looked a little bored, the batons, shields and rubber bullets superfluous. Contingents occasionally skipped off, one behind the other, in their manly boots to look for the main body of demonstrators who had disappeared somewhere into the night after burning a white-robed effigy of Duke from a lamp post. Finding all approaches to the bookshop blocked they soon marched back but stood around in peaceful protest till the news came that the conference had been cancelled.

Yankee go home indeed.

Standing around in the cold I was reminded of the photos I had seen of a very different farewell. On October 28th 1938 Barcelona paid homage to the International Brigades, men and women who came from all over the world to fight for the Republic. They were finally forced to leave to comply with the terms of the Non Intervention Agreement. Thousands of people lined the streets as they marched by during the farewell ceremony, by coincidence just a few hundred yards away from where Duke was planning to speak.

But the message then was a little different.

The closing words of Dolores Ibarruri , La Pasionaria's, speech at the ceremony were:

You will not be forgotten.... Come Back.

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