On September 7, 1999, José María Aznar traveled to his homeland, Valladolid, to the Palace of the Marquis of Villena. I had a date with history. And this time it was not a cliché. He had arrived at the building where Emperor Charles V used to spend the night to give a speech that would found the current of conservative demand for a history “without complexes.” Before the guests at the palace where the exhibition was inaugurated The time of Carlos V and Felipe II in the history painting of the XIX century, gave a speech with which he reconquered the memory of the invasion of America. “It is necessary to clarify topics and legends that so often hide from us the real dimensions of the history that precedes us,” he said at the start of his speech.
Ayuso in the Americas: crusade against “indigenismo” and clash with the Pope
Aznar warned that, thanks to him, Spanish imperial history would be recovered and rewritten. He wanted to reconstruct a history free of “interpretations as narrow as they are useless.” He continued with his harangue: “It is necessary that the teaching of history be clear, rigorous and free of prejudices and interested distortions, so that it can be assumed by all Spaniards.” There were a few months before he achieved the absolute majority and managed his second term without parliamentary hassles and the then president of Spain and leader of the PP, at the zenith of his career, proposed to intervene in the historical account to indoctrinate the students with a new story that erase the bloodthirsty torture and massacres that were committed in the new world.
By then, the former president had already disguised himself as Cid Campeador in a report published by El País Semanal, in 1987, with photos of Luis Magín. Its purpose was to return “the truth” to the classrooms and to the story that the left had left sullied by its bad conscience. Aznar demanded from historians an “unapologetic” history that would show the world what that Spain truly was: an implacable cultural machine. The propaganda that the conservative government spread throughout America and Spain, between 2000 and 2004, is that there was more art than blood in the conquest.
The neohistory of the PP
The Government of Aznar put a lot of effort in writing and disseminating the neohistory. Also, a lot of public money in the creation of the Spanish myth as the origin of global modernity. According to the account of the PP, Spain became the civilization that illuminated the lands that it was invading. If the French could vindicate the Enlightenment, the Spanish conservatives wanted to do so with Hispanity. The previous heir of Aznar in the PP, Pablo Casado, picked up the glove of his mentor many years later, by assuring, a few days after the celebration of the 2018 National Holiday, during an intervention in Malaga, that Hispanicness “is the most important landmark of the man, only comparable with the romanización “.
Of these, 15 million came to the accounts of the State Society for Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX), a propaganda body created by Miguel Ángel Cortés – then Secretary of State for Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, father of the Valladolid Clan that wrapped up Aznar and muñidor of FAES – whose objective was a copy of the Francoist Council of Hispanidad that tried to defend “the continuity and effectiveness of the idea and the works of the Spanish genius”.
SEACEX did not depend on Culture or Foreign Affairs, but on the Ministry of Finance, which is why it was blessed with a budget much higher than that allocated by Culture to aid policies for the arts in Spain. Of the 20 exhibitions that were mounted between 2000 and 2004, ten were dedicated to the imperial era and the Golden Age. The most ambitious and insignificant was installed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in New York, a museum that, previously A payment that was never made public (although it is estimated that it was close to one and a half million euros), made a niche for this collective of 19 young talents of contemporary Spanish art. The title was The Real Royal Trip, Alluding to the fourth voyage of Christopher Columbus. The curator of that exhibition, Harald Szeemann, could not disguise the truth and declared: “Columbus brought syphilis, Catholicism, slavery and a lot of bad things.”
Isabel, the Catholic
If Franco – supported by Ramiro de Maeztu – sought in the imperial story the perfect symbol to raise the myth of the unbeatable nation and to insist on the parallelism between the epic of 1492 and the coup of 1936, the PP of Aznar used the empire to claim as heir to a cultural legacy forged in language and the arts to veto the memory of invasive violence.
Twenty years later, the former Secretary of State for Communication and Government Spokesperson with Aznar Miguel Ángel Rodríguez is Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s Chief of Staff and has recycled the Hispanic formula to turn the president of the Community of Madrid into a luck Isabel la Católica modern and create a new evangelizing story: she will reconquer the Spain of the Government social communist who wants to break the unity of the country. It is the female version of Santiago Abascal’s speech. Already with Rodríguez as Díaz Ayuso’s campaign manager, the president said in an interview with The world who identified with the monarch, wife of Ferdinand II for “the project of unity of Spain and what it represented … I like women who have broken the glass ceiling.”
The breeding ground for the recovery of the false enemy that wants to end Spanish culture “without complexes” was the illegal referendum of self-determination on October 1, 2017, when the intellectual and political rights hardened the language and recovered the exaltation of Hispanidad . María Elvira Roca Barea, essayist and defender of the Spanish empire against the black legend, published that day 12 an opinion column in The world titled “Hispanidad with a future”, in which he declared Mario Vargas Llosa “prince of Hispanidad” and claimed “self-esteem” and “appreciation for one’s own self” against “self-hatred.”
Hispanidad is, according to the author of Imperophobia, the antidote to “that harmful story of us” that “tears us apart from the inside and forces us to rebuild ourselves over and over again.” For worshipers of Hispanity there is only one remedy: “Embrace the empire that engendered us”, as Roca Barea has written in an attempt to return to the past doomed to failure. Even so, José María Aznar tried every October 12 since 1997 when he established the military parade in the Plaza de Colón (converted into an emblematic synthesis of reborn Spanishism).
The denial of the indigenous
The super-Spain that Ayuso defends has added a component to the Hispanic formula: hatred of indigenous peoples and the movements that defend them and the governments that represent them. Ayuso’s Hispanicity vindicates the mixture of native peoples with the invaders, just as Nacho Cano’s musical will defend. A story of love, not violence. Even the Hispanicist Hugh Thomas went so far as to declare that “miscegenation was the greatest work of art achieved by the Spanish in the New World.” Hispanidad is mestizo, but not indigenous. The original peoples have no place in this new Hispanicity of Ayuso, which has censored the words “racism” and “restitution” in the exhibition of the Peruvian artist Sandra Gamarra, in Alcalá 31.
The art historian Jorge Luis Marzo has investigated the politics of the Hispanic image and believes that Hispanicity responds to a complex of inferiority in Spain when it fell out of modernity, at the end of the 19th century. The term “hispanidad”, says Marzo, is a provocation because it is a word completely erased from the map of postcolonial scientific studies. It is similar to when the far right uses “crusade” to refer to the coup d’état of 1936 and subsequent war. “Basically, Hispanity legitimizes itself by ensuring that it does not abandon the defeated, even if they reject them,” he says. He defines it as a “culturalist counter-model.”
The “Hispanidad” festival that Ayuso has just inaugurated is a good example of this. In almost a hundred activities there is no trace of indigenous cultures. It is a model opposed to the cultural celebrations arranged under the presidency of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which with the festival Long live America held between 2007 and 2011 a folkloric march of Latin American migrants through the center of Madrid.
Isabel Díaz Ayuso’s culture team, led by Toni Cantó and Marta Rivera de la Cruz, vindicate the Spanish at their festival. The will to praise the importance of Cervantes, with 500 million speakers, is a Francoist aspiration, as recognized by the historian Javier Moreno Luzón. In his book Centenary mania (Marcial Pons) tells how, for Francoist circles, the author of the Quixote He was a Catholic committed to the Spanish monarchy, a military man and a hero of the Battle of Lepanto. Hispanidad celebrates the shared language by force.