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granada la bella blog

About this blog

Here you will find my personal view about selected events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible', Granada, 'la bella y la bestia', and particularly about the city's uneasy relationship with its greatest son, Federico Garcia Lorca, who alternatively loved and loathed it.

Celebrating the Conquest of Granada: a “gesture of universal magnitude”?

la bestia Posted on Tue, January 29, 2013 15:37:54

The fall of Moslem Granada on 2 January 1492 to the victorious armies of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile (sound like characters from
“Lord of the Rings” don’t they?), otherwise known as the Catholic Monarchs,
should be recognised for its great historical importance and declared a
national cultural asset.

This proposal has been made by the municipal and provincial governments
of Granada, both controlled by the right-wing Popular Party. To support their
proposal, they argue that the celebration has taken place annually since 1493
“without any known-of interruption”. That day in 1492, they go on, ad nauseum,
when the royal standard of Castile was unfurled above the city from the
Alhambra’s Torre de la Vela de la Alhambra, the (Christian) Reconquest of
(Moslem) Spain came to an end and with it the end of the Middle Ages in Spain.

The promoters of the proposal intend to strengthen this popular
tradition “without wanting to enter into polemics with other sectors of
society”, calling it a “commemoration” rather than a celebration. In today’s
free tolerant democratic and pluralistic Spain, there’s room to promote such a
unique and transcendental historic event which the Fall of Granada to the
Catholic Monarchs undoubtedly is, they claim.
Besides, argue its promoters, the tradition of celebrating the Fall of Granada
is supported by more than 90% of the city’s inhabitants and has been actively
celebrated for years as a matter of course, it being seen as a symbol of the
national unification of Spain.

Arguments against celebrating The Fall of Granada in 1492

The claim that the celebration has taken place annually since 1493
without any known interruptions sounds a bit dubious, if not to say
far-fetched. Referring to its continuity, it is certainly true that dictator
General Franco restored the
2 January celebration in favour of one on 26 May in honour of the local
nineteenth century liberal heroine, Mariana Pineda, which was popular during the Second
Republic (1931-1939). For some time now, an initiative, Granada
Abierta, has been campaigning to get the 2 January local public holiday
substituted by a holiday on 26 May (a much better time of year for a day off,

Overwhelmingly popular and celebrated as “a matter
of course”? A spokesperson of the city council said of the 2013 celebrations:
it had been “a bit
noisy”, with groups of the extreme right and extreme left confronting each other, but
there had been “no problems”. In fact, recent years have shown how the
celebration nurtures
neo-nazis and neo-fascist groups, with fascist symbols and xenophobic and
racist slogans merging in with the existing folklore. A placard reading “Por
una nueva reconquista” (for a new re-conquest) has appeared year after year at
the event, while an afternoon rally of neofascists at the statue of Isabel La
Católica at the end of the Gran Via was given permission to go ahead. By way of
contrast, the Platform against 2 January say at the previous year’s
celebration, 17 fines of 301 € were handed out to antifascists and their banner
that read “NO to racism, no to fascism, and no to the Toma (Fall)” was

The following images give an idea of how the Fall of Granada was celebrated as “a matter of course” and with “no problems”.

Is there not room for an innocent celebration of a
unique colourful historical event? Well, the ethnic-religious cleansing
of Jews and Moslems can hardly be considered a harmless, historical fact.
Besides, celebrating the Fall of Granada is a bit like celebrating the victory of William the Conqueror
at the Battle of Hastings, but with a fervour and bipartisan enthusiasm at odds
with the neutral historical facts. Ferdinand and Isabel the Conquerors have an
ideological dimension that is being kept alive today, one that William of
Normandy clearly doesn’t.

It was a historic event: the end of the Middle Ages, and a great day in
the history of Granada. The local poet, Lorca, in 1936, countered this at that
time conventional school-book view, saying “it was a dreadful day, a day when a
wonderful civilisation was lost to us, and with it its poetry, its science, its
art and architecture, to give way to an impoverished and oppressed city where
today the worst bourgeoisie in Spain holds sway”. And a day that was to lead in
the Spanish Inquisition, he might have added.

The Popular Party proposal did not prosper, by the way.

Sources: E. Press
Granada Granada Hoy 15.01.2013; Plataforma Contra el 2 de Enero Press Release 30.12.12; Valme Cortes Granada El Pais 2.1.13 Lorca interview 10.7.1936, six weeks before he
was murdered in Granada – by “the worst bourgeoisie in Spain”.

Granada Airport hits rock bottom

Airport Posted on Tue, January 29, 2013 15:03:21

2012 has been another bad year for Federico García Lorca Airport
Granada/Jaén. As were 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008. (I wrote about it in #post15.)
The number of passengers passing through the airport has fallen year by year
since 2007 reaching the lowest number for eight years. This chart shows clearly
what has been happening:

In 2004, before low-cost airlines started using the airport, 590.931 passengers
passed through Federico García Lorca Airport in Granada. In 2005, Ryanair
arrived on the scene like a fairy godmother and the numbers shot up to 875.322,
an increase of 45,4%. Things continued to go well with a peak of 1.467.625
travellers being reached in 2007. The number of users fell by 3.1% in 2008 and
since then they have been in a state of practical freefall. In 2010 they dipped
for the first time since 2006 below 1 million line. The crisis set in when
Ryanair left in search of greener pastures. It was exacerbated by the collapse
of Spanair in 2011. Of the 872.752 passengers who passed through Granada that
year, at least 136.400 were on routes operated by Spanair, accounting for a
good part of the loss of 144.324 users that occurred compared to 2010.

Thus, in 2012, with only 728.428 users, Granada hit rock bottom, that is
to last place among the five Andalusian passenger airports. It had fallen
behind Jerez de la Frontera in 2010, and now it was overtaken by Almería whose
749.712 passengers were 21.284 more than those using the Federico García Lorca
Airport of Granada y Jaén.

The key to the continued demise of Granada Airport lies in its current
dependence on national tourism, which in the crisis has been more badly
affected than external tourism. In Granada 97% of air passengers start or end
their journey inside Spain.

The sad demise of the airport has an odd footnote in the appearance and
disappearance of Hispania Airways, possibly the shortest-lived airline ever,
hardly lasting 15 days. After announcing flights between Granada and Madrid,
Barcelona, Rome, London and Paris and its intention of flying 80,000 passengers
into and out of the city in its first year, plus its plans to set up one school
to train flight attendants and another for pilots, on 21 December 2012,
presumably because it realised it had no chance to get anything like sufficient
bookings, Hispania Airways cancelled all its flights from Granada Airport
before it had even started, mumbling something about re-considering the
situation and the possibility of resuming (resuming?) its activities at an
unspecified future date.

When Hispania declared its good intentions, Mayor José Torres Hurtado commended
the airline for putting its faith in Granada with no more institutional support
than its promotional tourist campaigns. This was a side-swipe, a bit
unfortunate as it turned out, at Ryanair, who pulled out as soon as
“institutional support” (in the form of subsidies) was withdrawn.


Guadalupe S. Maldonado 19.01.2013 + A. González Vera 09.01.2013 Granada Hoy