Just a little more than an hour ago, we got our ADSL connection established in the place we're renting here in Carboneras, Spain. To celebrate, I plan to inaugurate a new series of "Letters from Spain," aimed at telling U.S. readers what I think my countrymen might want to know about the many things happening, very rapidly, in this country. Beginning next Monday, I intend to post such an essay weekly, to attract some new readers, to interest those I already have, and to come to a better understanding of Spain myself.
There are several reasons why Spanish politics and cultural dynamics should interest U.S. readers. Since 1492 the country has been the most powerful node amplifying and retransmitting currents between Europe, Asia, Africa and America, and a large part of its internal turmoil has to do with the static from all those currents. The topics I plan to take up here (one at a time or in combination) suggest how wide are the effects of Spanish political and cultural events. These topics include:
• Immigration (from Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe) and the dilemma it presents to the social equality and civil liberties agenda of the Socialist Party.
• The water crisis, and the urgency of strengthening Spain’s weak instruments for water management and conservation.
• Depradations of the consumer society: the paving of the coast and countryside and the corruption of municipal governments, more blatant here than in most places (except maybe Italy)
• Church, state and civil liberties: in the face of Catholic tradition and (possibly related) tradition of machismo, Spain is pioneering laws against domestic violence and facilitating abortion, divorce and homosexual marriage
• Confronting terrorism: ETA, Al-Qaeda, and Spanish troops in Lebanon and Afghanistan.
And much else. For starters I want to say something about immigration -- which is more of a political than a demographic problem.
But first, a clarification of an earlier note. Some of you have taken the trouble to look up this town (as I suggested) in Google Earth, and were wondering exactly where to find our building project. These are the coordinates: 37˚00'32.22" N, and 1˚53'12.12" W.