Sunday, April 20, 2014


My father was born in Nanclares de la Oca (Araba, Basque Country), in 1949. Nanclares is a well-known infamous place for its state prison. In fact, my father was born in prison. His father, from Araba itself, had been recently transferred to the prison as officer. He was in the military and state prisons paid much better than being a Captain in the Spanish Army.

The prison was located near a convent of the Brothers of Christian Instruction (Lamennais Brothers). The convent had previously been a spa and casino. At that time, the prison had political prisoners, debtors, and former nazis hidden in Spain after the Second World War. My grandfather used to play chess with Otto Skorzeny, the Waffen-SS Colonel who led the Gran Sasso raid, the rescue mission that freed Mussolini from captivity, after his fall in 1943.

Conditions in Nanclares prison were appalling. Barracks were overpopulated and some inmates were held in the subterranean wells of the spa. Infections and diseases were common among the inmates. My father's family lived in the former spa building, near those same wells. Both inmates and prison officers received assistance and food from the Lamennais Borthers.

My grandfather was born in Armiñon. He was one of the seventeen siblings in a poor family in Araba. My great-grandfather was a teacher, and used to move throughout Araba working in state, provincial and municipal elementary schools. Most of the siblings were sent to Catholic seminaries and novitiates. Parents couldn't afford their education. My grandfather was in the seminary when the Civil War of 1936 broke out. He immediately left it, and joined the nationalist side, like his younger brother, who joined the Carlist requetés in Navarre. My grandfather remained in the army after the war, and his brother came back to the Redemptorist novitiate.

I've never had a strong identification with my Basque origins, and I can't feel proud of them. However, as I said several years ago, these are also my origins and I have to accept them. Perhaps, even I have the opportunity to correct them.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Israel Is Much More Important Than Catalonia

"Now therefore, if ye will hearken unto My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be Mine own treasure from among all peoples; for all the earth is Mine; and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.'"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

11 hours

A unique experience. Premature death of the Chieftain. A toast. We can eat more. We do eat more. We eat. Everything. Not a special K. Non-boiled wine.

Another toast, post-democracy sales can't compare with those of days of yore. Mr. Ceilings suggests peeing through the window. Mr. Beard protests: there's a monument to Wagner under the window. Chic restaurants should have potties under the table.

We celebrate Jewishness. We eat something more. I need a tea, but I have an argument. I take my gun license--beware. "What do you have in your backpack?" You don't want to know...

"Even the rabble may come to this place, outrageous!" Mr. Beard complains. Money is in other hands, actually, and Mr Ceilings disagrees, "Shut up you fool!" I want to have a toast for ourselves. Is this a woman? The Chieftain built good dams and power plants. I eat much more and I don't care about power plants.

11 hours. Eating. Drinking. Talking. Smoking. A classy restaurant in Veneto. I take my homburg and my cane. My housemaid is a philosopher with a PhD. A Spanish PhD. Not a PhD? He cheated in his dissertation. He's an American doorman. Mr. Ceilings insists. I walk alone in Barcelona. But I'm not worried about that premature death.