The drive for self-determination doesn’t appear to be fading in Catalonia, the northeast corner of Spain which accounts for one-fifth of Spain’s economic output and one-seventh of its population.
The region’s ruling party, which supports more autonomy from Spain, suffered a setback in this past weekend’s elections, seeing its total seats in the provincial parliament fall from 62 to 50.
Despite their setback, the governing Convergence and Union alliance said Catalans backed the party’s proposal for referendum on independence from Spain.
Indeed, support for another pro-independence group, the Republican Left of Catalonia, surged from 10 seats to 21, Agence France-Presse reported.
As a result, pro-sovereignty parties from right and left have a clear combined majority.
“But the prospects of them joining in battle for a new nation of 7.5 million people remain uncertain,” the wire service added.
Catalonia has long had an independent streak.
The Stuka dive bomber gained notoriety in the opening hours of World War II when the German aircraft, with sirens wailing, dropped bombs on the Polish town of Wielun, killing some 1,200 civilians in what is considered one of the first terror bombings in history.
Stukas produced a distinctive wail as they dove nearly vertical to release their payload or strafe civilians or military targets with their machine guns. The piercing siren is still a mainstay of World War II videos shown today.
This week, German military divers are working to hoist the wreck of a Stuka dive bomber from the floor of the Baltic Sea, one of the few known Stukas still in existence in any condition, according to The Associated Press.
Divers have been working over the past week to prepare the bomber to be hoisted to the surface, using fire hoses to carefully free it from the sand. They have already brought up smaller pieces and also hauled up its motor over the weekend, the wire service reported.
They are now working to free the main 30-foot fuselage piece and expect to bring it up on today if weather permits, said Capt. Sebastian Bangert, a spokesman from the German Military Historical Museum in Dresden, which is running the recovery operation.
Initial reports are that the fuselage is in good condition despite having spent the last seven decades at the bottom of the sea, he said.
Evidence that Spain still has not come to grips with the atrocities of its 1936-39 civil war may be implied from the fact that a Spanish judge is on trial in Madrid not for being an alleged culprit in the crimes but for investigating them.
Baltasar Garzon is being prosecuted for ordering the investigation in 2008 into the disappearance of 114,000 people during Spain’s civil war and General Francisco Franco’s subsequent dictatorship.
Garzon is charged with overreaching his powers by trying to prosecute the atrocities despite an amnesty agreed to in 1977 as Spain moved towards democracy two years after Franco’s death, according to Agence France-Presse.
While he does not face jail time, Garzon could receive a 20-year ban from the legal profession that would effectively end his career, according to the wire service.
Amazingly, Garzon’s trial marks the first time any Spanish court has heard testimony about Franco-era atrocities:
The first witness, Maria Martin, recalled how in 1936 when she was just six her mother was jailed and then shot dead, and her body dumped into a mass grave on the side of a road in the central town of Pedro Bernardo.
Evidence that Spain continues to grapple with the lingering effects of dictator Francisco Franco’s nearly four decades of authoritarian rule can be found in the ongoing debate over whether his body should be exhumed from its resting place in a mausoleum near Madrid and reburied elsewhere.
An official commission Tuesday endorsed transferring Franco’s remains to a place “designated by the family, or to a place considered worthy and more suitable,” it said in a report.
The Valley of the Fallen is a Catholic basilica and a monumental memorial erected at Cuelgamuros Valley in the Sierra de Guadarrama. It was conceived by Franco to honor those who fell during the Spanish Civil War and constructed on his orders between 1940 and 1958.
The commission of lawyers said in their report that the site should be officially designated as a memorial for victims of both sides in the conflict and Franco’s remains should be removed because he did not die in the war, but rather of natural causes in 1975, according to a Huffington Post report.