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Next year, Spain’s three biggest cities battle for the world’s attention, as Madrid takes over as European City of Culture, Barcelona takes its turn to host the Olympics and Sevrlle welcomes Expo 92. Over the next five pages we celebrate the life, culture and cuisine of these three contrasting cities.


Miranda France reports ; on how the country has changed in the sixteen years since the death of Franco.

In 1975, television cameras beamed ac: $5 the world images of the slow

\ Francisco Franco, Caudillo of Spainfor more than 40 years, lay dying in a Madrid hospital, plugged into a variety of life-support machines, while the nation pondered 9 what to do without his leadership. By his bedside languished one of Spain‘s | most revered relics - the arm, complete with growing fingernails, l of Saint Teresa ofAvila. On his bed E was spread the mantle ofthe Virgin 5 of Pilar. He was dying as he had I



lived, surrounded by the relics of religion and militarism which had helped keep his subjects, and his country‘s progress. in check.

On his death it seemed that a swift, efficient machine ofchange swung into action. Almost immediately reforms began to take place. El Pais, Spain‘s first uncensored newspaper since the Civil War, was launched the same year (morally and financially supported by The Guardian). During the next few years, known as the transicion, the foundations of democracy were slowly and tentatively built on a new constitution. Spain resisted a military coup in 1981 and in 1982 they voted in their present government. led by Felipe Gonzalez. Nine years on, as Spain warms up for a year in which it will host Expo 92, the Olympics and celebrate Madrid‘s year as European

City ofCultre and the 500th anniversary ofColumbus’s voyage to the Americas, it is hard to believe that dictatorship is still a vivid memory for most Spaniards and that ten years ago many streets still bore the Generalissimo’s name. Visit Spain and you find a country of

Friends of mine had been beaten lor writing with their left hands and threatened by the police lor ‘displaying allection’ in public.

tremendous cultural, urban and economic sophistication and yet, as recently as 1987, The Sunday Times noted that ‘fear ofa breakdown of democratic institutions continues to overshadow political life‘.

lwent to live in Spain in 1985, where I studied in Salamanca once a Francoist stronghold. The young democracy was stabilising, but there was a palpable tension in the air. One friend kept a packed suitcase

Francisco Franco in 1966 and (lelt) the more jovial mascot ol Seville tor Expo 92

under her bed, in case of a military coup. Franco, who believed himself to be appointed by God, followed the general mould of dictators in that he went to absurd lengths to ban anything ‘subversive‘. Friends of mine had been beaten for writing with their left hands and threatened by the police for ‘displaying affection’ in public. The Catalan and Basque languages and literatures had been banned as well as regional dialects (and even dances). and were now vigorously being reinstated, partly thanks to the many clandestine schools which, during the dictatorship, persisted in teaching children the local vernacular. Rumour had it that Barcelona inhabitants- the first to change their street names back -. were refusing to speak anything but Catalan to their bemused compatriots. The flurry ofchange was exciting— divorce, homosexuality and cannabis were legalised. Abortion (in instances of rape or foetal malfunction) would soon follow suit and pornography,