1. Okay, first of all let’s start with a quick history lesson (quick, I swear!)
Early 20th Century. In Spain we had a Monarchy that came after defeating a short military dictatorship (that came after a Monarchy that came after another military dictatorship that came after our first attempt at a Republic). In 1931, a day of local elections in the whole country, the King Alfonso XIII left the country after seeing that republican parties had won in the main cities of the country. Then began our Second Republic, which changed our flag as well.
2. Our Flag went from Red-Yellow-Red to Red-Yellow-Purple
(YES. This is important to my point. I’ll get there.)
3. Then we lived in relative peace until 1936.
In 1936, general Francisco Franco led a the spanish army through a coup d’état against the Republic. The Spanish Civil War started on July 18 and ended three years later, in April 1939, with the victory of the fascists and the establishment of a military dictatorship, with Franco at the head of the government.
The dictatorship cut off a big part of rights, laws, cultural parts from specific regions of Spain… Basically all you can expect from a fascist government and more. More than 500.000 people from both political sides died and were killed and executed during the war and even more dissappeared. We (they) changed our flag as well *cringey sounds*.
4. We lived in dictatorship until 1975.
Franco died November 1975. Before dying, he designed Juan Carlos I, the grandson of Alfonso XIII, to be the head of the government when he died. He said yes, but he had other plans for the country and decided to give power back to the people (which is wonderfully explained in this post). In 1978, we finally got a brand new Constitution and democratic government in Monarchy. Of course our flag changed as well, to the one that we currently have.
5. Now I’m gonna go straight to my point.
We Spaniards love our country. We do. We love our way of life, our culture, our food. But all this happened so recently and hit us so close that we still resent it. Our grandparents and parents fought the war, survived it, got killed by it, were exiled because of it. Everyone lost something or someone in the one, even the people from the winning side.
In Spain, patriotism is kind of a taboo. We don’t hang flags in our porches or balconies, We don’t have a memorial day. We don’t praise soldiers. The flag reminds many people of the dictatorship, and people are accused of fascists if they are seen praising it so much. It’s something that has been craved inside our culture and generation and we can’t help or undo.
6. The corrupted government also doesn’t help.
Corrupted government, corrupted politic parties, corrupted members of the royal family, the highest unemployment rates in Europe, a really deep economical crisis… We keep attacking ourselves. When the terrorist attacks in 11th March 2004 happened, the two main political parties kept attacking each other instead of getting together for the sake of the country and trying to get something done.
We don’t have many good reasons to make us feel proud of being from Spain, even though we love being Spaniards and we love our country. We took the streets once, but they ignored us.
7. But this all kinda changed during the Summer of 2008…
That Summer, our national football team won the Euro Cup for the second time in history. That team had players from all around the country and from rival teams, which didn’t matter at all. You could literally see the people getting more and more together cheering for them. People started to wear the red and yellow t-shirt, hanging flags on the balconies and waving them on the street everytime we won a game. It was wonderful. Wearing the spanish colors didn’t mean you were a fascist anymore. It meant that you were a spaniard who supported your beloved country’s team.
8. And then we won the world cup in 2010.
Which was THE BEST. We celebrated like crazy, we wore red and yellow like crazy and we waved flags like crazy. We had never been this proud of our country. National press sources declared “Not since the Spanish civil war have there been so many flags in the streets.”, and it was true. At a time when the Spanish economy was in a very deep crisis, with the highest unemployment rates in Europe, the country needed a good news story. The players dedicated the victory “to Spain”.
9. So yeah, this was a very big and important moment for us.
Because we went from never wearing our flag to this:
10. And this:
WE HAD NEVER SEEN SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
11. And this was in Barcelona, one of the places where you can see less spanish flags.
12. This is why we are so dependant on our football team.
And, to be honest, on all our other athletes. Rafa Nadal (and all the others tennis players like David Ferrer), Fernando Alonso, Pau Gasol, the basketball NT (which has also been World Champion), the handball NT, Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Alberto Contador, the girls from the sync swimming team, etc… They all bring us joy and might be our only source of good news, and they’re our only chance to get together and forget about our differences and just celebrate our country.
14. Let’s hope this is only the beginning of the end of our patriotic shame.
The history is very recent right now. The war and the dictatorship are still very fresh in a high percent of the population. It is very difficult to change the mentality of all the adult and senior community. But maybe we can teach our next generations a different way of patriotism, one where we don’t need to feel ashamed for the stupid things a short guy made us go through.
Here’s to us!