During them month when we commemorate the crime against humanity that was the Bombing of Guernica, the President of the Republic of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has addressed the Congress of the Kingdom of Spain.
He explained the tragedy his country is living through, having been invaded by the Russian army on the orders of Putin’s government, and asked for aid and, more importantly, courage from democratic countries, to defend democracy and international law.
He drew comparisons to what some cities in his country, which have been or are being ruthlessly razed by Russian troops, with what befell the sacred, and martyr, city of Guernica.
The parallelism wasn’t limited to the destruction of the city, or the systematic massacring of the civilian population. It also includes the complete denial by those intellectual and material perpetrators of the massacre of being responsible for the same.
There is another similarity. In both cases, the aggressors believed that the war was going to be a “military stroll,” and that was false in both cases, by a long shot. We can only hope that Ukraine will have a happier ending than the Basque Country did.
And signs are there that it will be because, unlike in the Spanish Civil War, Western democracies are taking a strong position of support of Ukraine. This is the opposite to what happened with the Spanish Republic in 1936, when Western democracies took a non-interventionist approach that was actually an implicit support of Franco’s rebels.
We must admit that we had the feeling that this reference was going to be made in the Ukrainian president’s speech. The bombing of Guernica is a universal representation of what totalitarianism can do in its deranged drive for power. It’s a very useful image to explain what Ukrainians are living through today.
What’s more, we knew that if he made that reference, some Spaniards were not going to like it at all, especially those who feel close to Franco the satrap. Already, one journalist, and politician who made up part of the board of directors of the party that Mario Conde made up to try to get out of jail, has said something along the lines of “the comparison was not to his liking, because in Guernica, the bad guys weren’t so bad, and the good guys weren’t so good.” We’re sure she’s convinced that those murdered by Franco’s bombs in Guernica were stained by a kind of “original sin,” because they were Basques and didn’t defend fascism.
About a month ago, we’d prepared a video, along with our friends at the Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea, with the collaboration of the Editorial Periodística Oiga, comparing Ukraine and Guernica. We created it because we were so awestruck by how what happened in the Basque Country 80 years ago was being repeated in another corner of Europe.
Today, we bring it back with updates, including the words President Zelenskiy spoke about Guernica in his speech.