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The Shadow

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Shadow

[Translation of La Sombra by Marius Carol published in La Vanguardia Digital on 24-Mar-2006.]

To be a man without a shadow is bad, as the film director Paul Verhoeven showed, but worse is to be a man with two shadows, as illustrated by the politician Mariano Rajoy. The president of the PP (Partido Popular) appeared before the press to make a declaration about the announcement by ETA (of their permanent cease fire) and he did so with one eye on Aznar over his shoulder, as if to reassure himself that he was not departing from the script or diverging from the party line. The PP, through the bearded mouth of their leader, downplayed the announcement and demanded that the government pays no political price (for peace). We saw a different Rajoy, but the same Aznar who has been stuck in this rut for some time.

The main message of the leaders of the other political forces in the country, of the other world leaders and of the principle communications media of the planet has been, “prudence” and “hope”, but the PP has been warning against paying “a political price”. This phrase isn't wisdom, it's a slogan. What does it mean? Has there been any peace process in the history of the world that hasn't involved a political price? To what literature are the PP referring? How do they think that they would have pushed the peace process forward with Aznar as president?

It's not going to involve the demolition of the state, and no one is talking about being blatantly unconstitutional, but obviously gestures will have to be made. If we apply the label of political price like a bar code to any political change it is obvious that the PP will be able to gain a political advantage, but at the same time it will be torpedoing what everyone hopes for.

Rajoy has a unique opportunity for demonstrating his political stature and institutional generosity. Nobody will question that the PP has contributed decisively to the current situation. But the peace process must not be seen as an electoral pawn because politics should never be so petty. It is not going to be easy for the president of the PP, harassed by the voice that presided over Spain in the bad old days, by the pen that tries to re-write history via the press and by this shadow, which in spite of its being thrown by a short man, is becoming progressively longer at his shoulder. The PP is supported by ten million voters and its leader should be generous at this time so that he can be seen as a statesman. Although peace can be achieved without these voters, it will be much easier if they are on board. With utmost prudence, but also in hope, Rojoy has to make his own position on the future clear, parting company with his [other] shadow. It isn't necessary to have read Torrente Ballester (Gonzalo Torrente Ballester: celebrated Spanish writer, died 1999, wrote Los gozos y las sombras - Joys and Shadows) to know that joys give more satisfaction than shadows.


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