Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tension in Barcelona

Opposite our hotel
Though I wasn’t looking for it, I couldn’t avoid politics during our three days in Barcelona. My wife leaves all the trip planning to me so I booked the little Hotel Bagues based its proximity to the Gothic Quarter and the sea. We could walk to places of interest along La Rambla, a popular, tree-lined pedestrian boulevard. It’s very popular and it appeared there were tourists from just about everywhere else in the world.

There were mimes, tourist shops, and restaurants with sidewalk tables along La Rambla. Above the first floor restaurants and shops were residences with small balconies overlooking the streets and nearly half displayed political banners, flags, and posters draped over them calling for Catalan independence. Tourist literature called our section the “nerve center” of Barcelona — the city which is itself the nerve center of Catalonia.

We were sipping wine on our little balcony our first night there when we heard chanting in Spanish getting louder by the minute. Then demonstrators marched out of the street across from our balcony which connected La Rambla to the Gothic quarter. They carried Catalan flags and signs and chanted a phrase neither of us understood.

Last October, Catalonia tried to hold a referendum declaring independence but Spanish authorities violently disrupted the vote. According to CNN: “Police fired rubber bullets at protesters and voters trying to take part in the referendum, and used batons to beat them back   using rubber bullets.” Nine hundred people were injured.

Across from our balcony was another owned by a local woman with a Catalan flag and another banner I couldn’t read. Our bellman told me she is a leader in the independence movement. Last October counter demonstrators gathered on the street below and tried to get her to come out, but she wouldn’t. “They would have killed her,” said the bellman.

As if that weren’t enough, the previous August, another kind of political violence flared up when Moroccan Muslim immigrants mowed people down along La Rambla with a rented van. Sixteen people were killed and more than a hundred wounded. Our bell man told me three people died under our balcony and a dozen more lay gravely wounded. The door man pulled out his phone to show me videos too gruesome to show on television. The night before, an imam blew himself up in another area as he tried to construct explosives with gas cylinders.

Last Saturday in the Gothic Quarter very heavy drumming filled the air of a plaza where we were eating breakfast at a sidewalk cafe. Heavy base vibrated my sternum as it bounced off the stone buildings on all four sides of the plaza but I couldn’t pinpoint its source. We paid our bill and walk up the front steps of a gothic cathedral across the square where many people milled about. Looking over their heads, we could see the drummers surrounded by people holding banners and flags. When it stopped, one man with a banner told me they were rallying to keep Spain united.

Below our balcony
Saturday night six motorcycle police gathered there and two vans of heavily armed soldiers with automatic weapons positioned themselves below our balcony at dusk and hotel employees said that wasn’t unusual for a Saturday night. Going to our cruise ship Sunday, there were more soldiers with automatic weapons deployed at the waterfront. 
Two days later in Naples, Italy I saw an even heavier military presence soldiers with two very alert soldiers with automatic weapons were deployed every fifty yards along a pedestrian walkway in the center of the city. On Friday we’ll be in Nice, France where two years ago a Tunisian Muslim driving a cargo truck killed 84 people and wounded 458 others. Clearly tension is high in heavily-trafficked pedestrian zones of Mediterranean cities.

Truck Attack in Nice
A huge, 13th century castle dominates the Bay of Naples where our cruise ship tied up, built by the French when they dominated the region. It’s a reminder that political conflict is nothing new here as it’s been besieged many times. Muslim navies terrorized the entire Mediterranean for centuries. The last Muslim armies were expelled from Spain in 1492, the same year Columbus discovered America.

Castle Nuovo in Naples
Castles and other material fortifications are useless, however, against the kind of terrorism plaguing the region now. The European left encourages Muslim immigration, while the rising European right wants to cut it off, especially in eastern Europe. The right claims Muslims don’t want to assimilate, don’t want to become Spaniards, Italians, Germans, or French, and have a long-term strategy to take over Europe by demography. Demographic studies indicate that native Europeans are not producing offspring in numbers sufficient to maintain population. Meanwhile, immigrants are having large families.

Europe is changing but it’s still possible to travel peacefully, for now.

(ANSA) – Naples, April 26 – State and Carabinieri police arrested a Gambian national in an antiterrorism operation in Naples on Thursday, sources said.
The arrest comes after investigators found evidence the suspect was planning an attack, the sources said.
Alagie Touray, 21, admitted to investigators that he had received a request to drive a car into a crowd, the sources said. The evidence against him includes a video published on Telegram in which he allegedly pledges alliance to ISIS leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi.
He was detained as he left a mosque in Licola, in the province of Naples. Touray landed in Messina along with over 100 other asylum-seekers in March 2017….
We were there Tuesday. Touray was arrested Thursday. The first sign one sees when arriving in Naples by sea quotes Pope Francis and pleas for no borders. Let everyone come who wants to.
Europe is committing suicide.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have been to Barcelona three times. It's her (not my) favorite European city.

For those interested, here's a post about the pros and cons for Catalan independence:

With the political violence and Islamic jihad taking place throughout Europe, thanks to the Marxist elites who call the shots on immigration, we've boycotted traveling there. Our country
has so much to offer so we prefer exploring it rather than the 70 or so we've already seen over the years.