Friday, October 13, 2006

REMEMBER BACK IN 2003, when Zapatero still was the opposition leader and, in the parade on Spain's National Day on October 12 (the equivalent to July 4th, so to speak) he conspicuously remained seated when the American flag was passing by, and said "Why should I stand up? it's not my flag?" (see a picture at this post) This, and the abrupt surrender pullout from Iraq the day after he was sworn in after his surprise victory on March 14 (three days after the horrific terrorist attacks in Madrid) put him at odds with the US. And rightly so: the flag incident was not merely an offense to the Bush adminsitration at a time of a heated argument over the war in Iraq, but an insult to the American people as a whole.

The following years the US was disinvited from the parade (Cuba and Venezuela were in the parade instead in 2004 and 2005). But yesterday, Zapatero thought he'd play nice, or perhaps he was trying to get that phonecall he's been begging all along, which -good for Bush- he still hasn't got, so he allowed the US flag and a couple marines march. In the middle of a small representation of the contingent from other countries in the NATO force in Afghanistan, but at least it was something. The truth is that this year he wasn't going to be able to sit down because, unlike the guests' stand, as a Prime Minister he was in a special area with the king, queen and the rest of the royal family and there simply were no seats there. Of course, all eyes were on him, since everyone wanted to know what his reaction would be. I thought he might put his fingers in his mouth and gag, but I always think of the worse...

The flag passed, and the broadcast on public TV -the only one to carry the parade, and which I followed out of morbid curiosity to see what he would do- wisely kept away from showing Zapatero at the precise moment when the US flag marched in front of him. All the servile papers rushed to publish a picture of it all in their front page, with the idea of "see? all solved, Zapatero is a statesman" [as an aside note, you have to consider that if it wasn't for the government subsidies and the full-page paid ads that official entities buy in the newspapers for one reason or another, all of them would be bankrupt, so they have an incentive to "help." Which they would do anyway out of ideological reasons, but still.] The picture is this:

All fine and dandy, eh? Except... except there was another picture that really shows that he wasn't even looking at the flag. He had his face turned away:

Of course, you could argue that a still picture doesn't prove anything; but all the accounts I've heard from people who were there (some talk radio is still willing to talk about these things here) say that indeed, Zapatero was standing up still and did his best so as not to look at the "flag of the empire."

I may even have a video soon, but I can't promise.

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