Remembering La Transicion

BritishSpanish Society event in Madrid  by our social affairs correspondent

Remembering Spain’s Transition to Democracy in film and comment was the theme of the BritishSpanish Society’s  latest encounter with its supporters  in Madrid on March 28th.

A full-house registered for the showing for the first time  in Spain of a British TV documentary made in 1977 on post-Franco Spain. This was followed by a discussion involving  a distinguished panel ,  and reception in the auditorium of Gomez Acebo y Pombo who generously sponsored the event.

The documentary –  A Democracy has been Arranged was narrated by the late prize winning historian and TV personality Robert Kee and introduced by BSS chairman Jimmy Burns who as a young journalist worked on the original research and shooting of the film.

The project included unique interviews and footage showing the tensions and hopes unleashed by Franco’s death and the first courageous steps taken towards  democracy in the areas of women’s rights, labour and military reform, freedom of expression, and devolution of powers to Catalonia ad the Basque country.

The panel was made up of the publisher Francesc Guardans Cambo, the author & former London correspondent of El Mundo,  Ana Romero, the  author & journalist Tom Burns Marañón, and the Madrid Reuters correspondent Sarah White.

Drawing from their own personal and professional experiences,  all  the panelists agreed that Spain’s transition could be looked back on, despite its shortcomings,  after fourty years as a political achievement  , which ushered in free elections, other human rights, and a cultural flowering after four decades of dictatorship.

Discussion then ranged over issues such as the rise of Podemos in Spain, the pacification of the Basque country, the unresolved Catalan issue, and Spain’s European identity.

The evening was attended by an enthusiastic guest list of distinguished British and Spanish executives from the world of business, banking, academia, arts, media, and diplomacy, including the BSS Honorary Vice President the  British Ambassador  in Madrid, Simon Manley , the head of the British Council in Madrid, and members of the Old Alumni Associations  of Oxford and Cambridge Universities.