Spain

After Franco

After Franco

After Franco

After Franco

After Franco

January 2, 2016
January 2016
After Franco
A little more than forty years ago, after the death of the despicable dictator Francisco Franco on November 20, 1975, the world’s media began augmenting or opening their news bureaus in Spain. Editors feared that the death would unleash a second Spanish civil war. I became the first (and last) Madrid bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. That war never came. Most Spaniards had become too mature and educated and wise for another awful conflagration like the one that decimated Spain and presaged the Second World War. They now longed to take their place among the democratic nations of western Europe. The path to democracy was led in a remarkable way by two men who turned their backs on the teachings of the fascist dictator who had empowered them. The surprising leaders were young King Juan Carlos and his young Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez. They moved slowly but surely, taking steps forward and backward, somehow making every decision, no matter how wrenching, seem inevitable by the time they made it...

Royal armor and portraits at the National Gallery of Art

Royal armor and portraits at the National Gallery of Art

Royal armor and portraits at the National Gallery of Art

Royal armor and portraits at the National Gallery of Art

Royal armor and portraits at the National Gallery of Art

July 12, 2009
July 2009
Royal armor and portraits at the National Gallery of Art
Suits of armor were once so finely wrought that an attacking lance would glance off their smooth metal harmlessly. But then, as the Middle Ages moved into the Renaissance, European kings demanded that the craftsmen finish the armor with elaborate decoration. All the engraving and embossing upset the surface of the armor. A lance would no longer slip away. But that did not matter. Decorated armor was for show, so that the kings would look majestic and powerful and indestructible, especially in portraits by great painters...

Dalí As You've Never Seen Him

Dalí As You've Never Seen Him

Dalí As You've Never Seen Him

Dalí As You've Never Seen Him

Dalí As You've Never Seen Him

May 15, 2005
May 2005
Dalí As You've Never Seen Him
It may seem excessive, but there are three museums commemorating the life and work of Salvador Dali in the northern area of Catalonia not far from the French border, but what was his life if not excess? The museums are a little off the main American tourist routes in Spain, but they are well worth the trouble to find. The three brim with art and kitsch and reflect the many sides of the artist. Here is a look at them. The Dali Theater-Museum is in Figueres, fitting because the artist was born here in 1904 and died here in 1989. Port Lligat - Dali’s home, which attracts 90,000 visitors a year, is about 20 miles from Figueres -- but it can take an hour or more to drive there. The castle at Pubol tells us a great deal about Dali’s love for Gala...

Spain's Window on the Soul

Spain's Window on the Soul

Spain's Window on the Soul

Spain's Window on the Soul

Spain's Window on the Soul

January 16, 2005
January 2005
Spain's Window on the Soul
The Prado is a difficult museum for a visitor to manage, for it is filled with spectacular mountains of great art. No other museum in the world can rival its enormous collections of Spanish artists such as El Greco, Velazquez and Goya and even of foreign artists such as Hieronymus Bosch. It is easy to get lost in one of the mountains, spending a magnificent afternoon with Velazquez, for example, and having no time left for anyone else. If you have no more than an afternoon to spend at the Prado museum, you can feel a little regretful for missing so much. But curator Javier Portus has come up with an extraordinary special exhibition that leaves you with a wonderful sense of completeness. This exhibition, “The Spanish Portrait: From El Greco to Picasso,” draws on the great riches of the Prado, adds stunning loans from elsewhere and combines them to tell a coherent and satisfying story...

Dancing With the Dictator

Dancing With the Dictator

Dancing With the Dictator

Dancing With the Dictator

Dancing With the Dictator

January 4, 2004
January 2004
Dancing With the Dictator
[OPINION] A little more than 50 years ago, the United States signed a pact with Generalissimo Francisco Franco allowing U.S. military forces to use air and naval bases in Spain. The agreement was a momentous event for Spain, and its repercussions still matter. For Americans, however, the pact, though significant, was a minor moment in the Cold War. U.S. historians barely mention it. The 50th anniversary passed in September with hardly any notice in Washington. Yet, the event should not be overlooked, especially at a time when the president proclaims his commitment to whip up democracy throughout the Middle East. The pact is a bald and astonishing example of how easily the United States can abandon a commitment to freedom -- even one for which almost 300,000 American soldiers died during World War II. What counted more in 1953 -- and probably still does -- was stability and the U.S. perception of what is best for the United States in the short term...

Barcelona for the senses

Barcelona for the senses

Barcelona for the senses

Barcelona for the senses

Barcelona for the senses

October 13, 2002
October 2002
Barcelona for the senses
Painters such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró and architects such as Antonio Gaudí have given this city a reputation as a center of European art. Less known is its role as a musical metropolis. But Barcelona, the capital of the Spanish region of Catalonia, has produced as many virtuoso musicians as artists, and its three houses of music -- the Liceo, the Palau de la Música Catalana and L’Auditori -- are a delight to patronize, or merely to behold. The musical history is distinguished. Pablo Casals, the renowned cellist, founded and directed the Barcelona Symphonic Orchestra until the Spanish Civil War sent him into exile. Pianist Alicia de Larrocha debuted at the Palau de la Música Catalana, a showpiece of art nouveau architecture, at age 7. Until recently, when Madrid’s Teatro Real began staging operas, the Liceo served as the only major opera house in Spain...

Gaudí's Gift

Gaudí's Gift

Gaudí's Gift

Gaudí's Gift

Gaudí's Gift

July 1, 2002
July 2002
Gaudí's Gift
On the 150th anniversary of Antoni Gaudí’s birth, adoring crowds make the pilgrimage to Barcelona to gaze upon the Catalan architect’s astonishing and whimsical works. In Barcelona, a yearlong celebration spotlights architecture's playful genius - the audacious and eccentric Antoni Gaudí. When I first came upon the startling and fanciful works of Antoni Gaudí a quarter of a century ago, I assumed he must have been some kind of freakish genius who created wonderful art out of his wild imagination, without regard to other architects or any artist before or during his time. I also thought that the Barcelona architect now being honored by that city’s "International Gaudí Year" celebrations was one of a kind, and that his fantastic curving structures, shattered-tile chimneys, lavish decoration and bizarre towers stood alone. I soon found, however, that this assumption troubled my Barcelona friends. To them, Gaudí was deeply rooted in the history of Catalonia, their region of Spain, and in the fashion of Art Nouveau that stirred such centers of culture as Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Glasgow, Munich and Barcelona at the turn of the 20th century. I was making the common error of an outsider encountering the greatness of Gaudí for the first time.

Reflexiones de un norteamericano sobre lo ocurrido en Afganistán

Reflexiones de un norteamericano sobre lo ocurrido en Afganistán

Reflexiones de un norteamericano sobre lo ocurrido en Afganistán

Reflexiones de un norteamericano sobre lo ocurrido en Afganistán

Reflexiones de un norteamericano sobre lo ocurrido en Afganistán

January 14, 2002
January 2002
Reflexiones de un norteamericano sobre lo ocurrido en Afganistán
El ataque terrorista que destruyó las Torres Gemelas y causó importantes daños en el Pentágono fue un acto que no tiene justificación alguna y ante el que había que responder. Pero, aunque la tragedia fue de gran magnitud, los Estados Unidos no pueden enfrascarse en una guerra de castigo unilateral contra los países que componen lo que Bush llama el "eje del mal", desvirtuando la actuación internacional contra los movimientos terroristas y convirtiéndola en una guerra abierta de devastación de territorios y poblaciones civiles...

Spain: A Democratic Miracle That Stills Sets a Peaceful Standard

Spain: A Democratic Miracle That Stills Sets a Peaceful Standard

Spain: A Democratic Miracle That Stills Sets a Peaceful Standard

Spain: A Democratic Miracle That Stills Sets a Peaceful Standard

Spain: A Democratic Miracle That Stills Sets a Peaceful Standard

November 19, 2000
November 2000
Spain: A Democratic Miracle That Stills Sets a Peaceful Standard
[OPINION] Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain. For almost all Spaniards, there will be no mourning or commemoration. But there will be celebration, for the date also marks the 25th anniversary of the ascent of King Juan Carlos I to the throne and the beginning of Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy. Spain's transformation into a democracy, one of the most remarkable evolutions in 20th-century political history, worked so smoothly that many have forgotten what a marvel it truly was. Spain first demonstrated to the world that apparently powerful institutions, no matter how frightening and repressive, can prove suddenly fragile and weak when they are not rooted in popular support. I was dispatched by The Times to Madrid a couple of months after Franco died to cover the turmoil that many outsiders and Spaniards expected...

The Star-Crossed Basques

The Star-Crossed Basques

The Star-Crossed Basques

The Star-Crossed Basques

The Star-Crossed Basques

March 15, 2000
March 2000
The Star-Crossed Basques
I spent a few days in Bilbao a year or so ago and found the Basques more optimistic than ever before about peace and prosperity in their little nub of Spain. It was easy to share that optimism. Not only did the glorious Guggenheim Museum of Frank Gehry now hover over a once-nondescript city. But a truce declared by ETA, the murderous Basque separatist movement, was holding...

U.S. Bases: Hangover in History

U.S. Bases: Hangover in History

U.S. Bases: Hangover in History

U.S. Bases: Hangover in History

U.S. Bases: Hangover in History

November 22, 1987
November 1987
U.S. Bases: Hangover in History
History hangs on most Spaniards in ways Americans can hardly understand. That difference is at the heart of the repeated failure of Spanish and U.S. officials to negotiate a new treaty allowing the United States to keep its military bases in Spain after May, 1988. After the seventh round of talks ended in failure early this month, an American spokesman insisted that U.S. negotiators understood the problems posed for Spain by a treaty dating back to the days of late dictator Francisco Franco. But when pressed by journalists to amplify this understanding, the American protested, “Look, you’re talking about something that happened just two years after I was born.” Americans do not like to look back...

U.S., Spain to Continue Talks on Bases : Madrid Sets Deadline of May, 1988, to Negotiate a New Treaty

U.S., Spain to Continue Talks on Bases : Madrid Sets Deadline of May, 1988, to Negotiate a New Treaty

U.S., Spain to Continue Talks on Bases : Madrid Sets Deadline of May, 1988, to Negotiate a New Treaty

U.S., Spain to Continue Talks on Bases : Madrid Sets Deadline of May, 1988, to Negotiate a New Treaty

U.S., Spain to Continue Talks on Bases : Madrid Sets Deadline of May, 1988, to Negotiate a New Treaty

November 7, 1987
November 1987
U.S., Spain to Continue Talks on Bases : Madrid Sets Deadline of May, 1988, to Negotiate a New Treaty
Spanish and U.S. officials failed again Friday to reach agreement on a new treaty to keep U.S. military bases in Spain, sending their negotiations into a critical final phase that will determine the bases’ fate. Both sides sought to minimize their failure and emphasized that they have decided to meet next month for an eighth round of talks on the bases, which grew out of a joint defense agreement signed in 1953, when Gen. Francisco Franco was the chief of state. But Spanish officials said they will formally notify the United States by letter next week that they do not want the present treaty automatically extended for another year when it lapses next May 14. That, in effect, sets a six-month deadline for the two sides to agree on a new treaty...

A Mime Troupe Tests the Regime

A Mime Troupe Tests the Regime

A Mime Troupe Tests the Regime

A Mime Troupe Tests the Regime

A Mime Troupe Tests the Regime

June 17, 1978
June 1978
A Mime Troupe Tests the Regime
Discusses the case of Els Joglars, a Catalan mime troupe convicted of insulting the Spanish Army. Embarrassment to the self-proclaimed Spanish democracy of King Juan Carlos and Premier Adolfo Suarez; Flaws in Spain's attempt at transition from the dictatorship of the late Francisco Franco to a parliamentary government.

Spain's New Democracy

Spain's New Democracy

Spain's New Democracy

Spain's New Democracy

Spain's New Democracy

October 1, 1977
October 1977
Spain's New Democracy
On June 15, 1977, just a year and a half after the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Spaniards elected a new, bicameral Cortes with the authority to write a constitution for Spain. It was the first freely contested parliamentary election in Spain since February 15, 1936, and it produced scenes that Franco would have abhorred: Communists brazenly waving red banners, chanting slogans, and singing the Internationale; the young, dynamic leader of the Socialist Workers Party entering rallies with his left hand in a clenched fist salute, his right signaling V for victoria; politicians exhorting Basques in Euskera, Catalans in Catalan, Galicians in Gallego, all forbidden languages a few years before; and newspapers belittling their government and its leader...