ALB family members meet with Spanish Consul about Madrid monument

July 9, 2013
By
 (L. to R.) Inigo Ramirez de Haro Valdes,Carol Smith, Nancy Wallach, Georgia Wever, Hon. Juan Ramon Martinez, Sue Yellin, Abby London-Crawford


(L. to R.) Inigo Ramirez de Haro Valdes,Carol Smith, Nancy Wallach, Georgia Wever, Hon. Juan Ramon Martinez, Sue Yellin, Abby London-Crawford

On July 8, a delegation organized by Friends and Family of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade met with Juan Ramón Martínez Salazar, the Consul General of Spain and Íñigo Ramírez de Haro Valdés, Attaché for Cultural Affairs, to follow up on the letter to the Ambassador protesting the removal of the IB monument in Madrid, which was signed by several FFALB family members as well. Present at the delegation were Nancy Wallach, Georgia Wever, Sue Yellin, Abby London Crawford and Carol Smith. Penny Demas and Jorge Carballa, who were unable to make it for the meeting, joined us immediately afterwards in support.

We introduced our reasons for concern and connection to the International Brigade monument, as immediate family members of Lincoln Veterans who had either risked their lives and even died in Spain, as well as the book for young people on the Abraham Lincoln Brigade co-written by Abby’s late husband Marc Crawford and William Loren Katz. We explained that many of us we had been present at the dedication of the monument in 2011, and contributed funds to this honor to the IB, along with people from all over the world and even the governments of Norway, Russia and Cyprus. As educators, we were also concerned that our history and Spain’s part in world history be available for future generations. Carol Smith mentioned the plaque at City College commemorating the students and professors who had gone to Spain to fight fascism. We also pointed out that the monument was erected in compliance with the Law of the Recuperation of Historical Memory, which is still in effect in Spain.

We explained the significance of the IB three-pointed star on the monument to the Consul for Cultural Affairs, who remarked on its resemblance to the Mercedes Benz logo. We pointed out the international solidarity and inclusiveness the star and the monument commemorate, which he felt needed an explanation to those encountering the symbol for the first time.

We are heartened to report a very positive development in our dialogue with the Consul General. He felt there was a way to resolve the technical questions regarding the permits for the monument, and suggested we follow up by directing our next letter to the mayor in Madrid. We thanked him for his encouragement and suggestions, expressing our feelings that it would be a shame for Spain’s image to be diminished in the eyes of the international community due of the removal of the monument.

The Attaché for Cultural Affairs expressed offense at what he termed the patronizing suggestion that this action of Spain’s diminished its’ stature in the eyes of other nations. He considered Spain second to none in the area of human rights, citing their acknowledgement of the 600-year-old abuses of the Spanish Inquisition. He also suggested that the IB monument was an internal affair, which was more properly the concern of the people of Spain.

However, we politely reasserted that the removal of the IB monument, an international symbol, was an affront to our own immediate family members and we hoped to find a solution.

We ended on a more positive note, with the Ambassador again assuring us there was a good outlook for preserving the monument, and urging us to follow through on our letter to the mayor of Madrid.

We were very pleased to play a small part in the international efforts to protect the monument to the International Brigades at University City Madrid.

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One Response to “ ALB family members meet with Spanish Consul about Madrid monument ”

  1. Nancy Wallach on July 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Author’s note: Marc Crawford was incorrectly identified as Ted Crawford in the report.

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