Wednesday, February 25, 2009


“Increíble pero cierto. Los carnavales de Cádiz, en otros tiempos cuna de la libre creatividad crítica y de la indomable rebeldía popular ante el poder establecido, no han producido ni una sola letra crítica en su versión de 2009. En la España actual, con 4 millones de parados y con una clase política que escandaliza a la ciudadanía a diario con sus despilfarros, abusos, corrupciones y desatinos, hay materia y razones más que suficientes para que la crítica carnavalesca, en una tierra antes libre, como Cádiz, hubiera sido feroz, pero los carnavales gaditanos han sido castrados por el eficaz y omnipresente poder político andaluz.”

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am an avid follower of the ‘Voto en Blanco’ website of respected journalist Francisco Rubiales. As you will see above this week he questioned whether the performers at the Cádiz Carnaval had been gagged.

Well there is no British comparison for the Spanish form of Carnaval of which the Cádiz Carnaval is unique. We do have a reputation for irreverent satire often aimed at our political masters. The carnaval acts I have seen over the years have been risqué, political, barbed and hilarious, often tilting at the windmills of every day life.

I must admit I haven’t seen any of this years acts but Francisco quite rightly reckons that with four million jobless, corruption rife plus numerous fiascos in public life then the ‘comprasas’ and ‘chirigotas’ who perform on stage at Cádiz’s Falla theatre had a rich vein of material to draw on.

He believes they dodged the challenge. Why he asks – was it because it was transmitted by Canal Sur, which is controlled by the PSOE run Andalucía government or because those who hand out the grants have their own agenda?

I don’t know! Yet what is certain is that in a free society, be it in Spain or Britain, we need to defend our right to speak out and ridicule our masters when they deserve it – and nobody can deny that right now they do truly deserve it.

In 2012 Cádiz celebrates the 200 th anniversary of ‘La Pepa’, the constitution that is considered in the Spanish speaking world as the ‘Magna Carta’ of nations. ‘La Pepa’ was drawn up and signed by the Cortes Parliament that was then sitting in the city of Cádiz before being suppressed by Napoleon. It would be cruelly ironic if in the year of its commemoration by leaders of Hispano-American nations that the Cádiz Carnaval was by then so neutered that it had become a meaningless parody of itself.

Behind ‘La Pepa’ was the cry of freedom and the regeneration of democracy. Both freedom and democracy are now under threat and we rely on such celebrations as the Cádiz Carnaval to remind ourselves and the wider world we are both free and democratic!

1 comment:

PROSPERO said...

I wonder what the local, village, carnivals will be saying? Mind you, Carnival in Cádiz was certainly gagged during the Franco era.
About La Pepa: when I was being brought up in Argentina somewhere in the middle of last century (gawd!)there was a popular expression: ¡Esto es un viva la pepa! meaning 'this is a mess' or thereabouts. I had never understood where it came from until I began seeing references to the Constitution last year, after living in Spain for almost twenty years. Now I know.