Wednesday, October 06, 2004

U.S. troops are no longer welcome in Spain’s national holiday parade now that Washington and Madrid have fallen out over Iraq. Instead French soldiers have been invited to march in the Spanish capital on the big day.

American troops have taken part in the Oct. 12 military parade every year since 2001, when the government invited them in homage to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, according to Spanish media.

But since then a new Socialist government has come to power, reversing its center-right predecessor’s pro-U.S. foreign policy and angering Washington by pulling Spanish troops out of Iraq.

Defense Minister Jose Bono told a radio station on Tuesday there would be no Americans in this year’s parade marking Spain’s “fiesta nacional” to commemorate the day on which Christopher Columbus sighted land during his first westward journey of discovery.

“(Oct. 12) is not the national holiday of the United States, and no one is under any obligation to see the flag of another country in the parade, though it is a friend and an ally for sure,” Bono told Cadena Cope radio.

“This is in no way an insult nor a sign of contempt towards the United States,” the minister said, adding that Spain was “no longer subordinated and “kneeling” before Washington.
So it's supposed not to be an insult or sign of contempt, but the words are insulting and full of contempt.

Nothing new for Zapatero and his guys in the Socialist party: in last year's parade (when the controversy around Spain's support for the coalition was in full swing), Zapatero conspicuosly refused to stand up in respect when the American flag was passing in front of the stand where authorities and personalities watched the event, unlike everybody else. Take a look:

Asked later why he did that, he answered: "Why should I stand up? It was not my flag."

But no, he was not insulting.