The National. Catalonia independence movement causing pain in Spain. 02.02.2013
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Llegeix la traducció de l’article al català The National 02.02.2013
It seems strange for a nation famed for its exuberance, but Spain’s national anthem, La Marcha Real, is one of only two wordless anthems in the world.
While odd, this reluctance to declare what Spain stands for and where it came from speaks volumes about the country’s discomforting recent past, and its increasingly volatile present.
La Marcha Real was not always wordless. Until the country’s fascist dictator, Francisco Franco, died in 1975, it was full of the patriotic bombast that characterises most national anthems. The words were removed in 1978, during the country’s uneasy transition to parliamentary democracy. As a mark of this uncertainty, nothing was written in their place.
In 2007, ahead of the Beijing Olympics, amid a resurgence of national confidence bolstered by the so-called Spanish economic miracle, a nationwide competition was held to find new official lyrics for their athletes to sing.
The winning entry began with the words “Viva Espana” (long live Spain) and immediately became so controversial – in part for its erasure of regionalism – that the plan was hastily set aside.
In terms of unified national meaning, Spain is, a young man named Carlos told me, “a desert”. But for more than 30 years, it had been an entirely habitable desert – one in which the country’s vibrant, distinctive regions, with their own unique cultures, histories and languages (most notably in Catalonia, the Basque Country, and to a lesser extent, Galicia), have happily coexisted.