Monday, August 21, 2006

Curioser and Curioser

The fires that have consumed large swaths of Galicia were put out last week, but the controversy over who started them—and why—blazes on. At first it was the odd woman found in the woods, matchbook in hand, then the town drunk, then a few out-of-work firefighters who were arrested. Now, there are more than 30 people behind bars—ages 17-70—but no one seems any closer to an answer.

Which hasn’t kept anyone from voicing suspicions. In addition to the reasons we discuss here, a lot of academic-types are floating the idea that the fires represent a form of social protest, with modernization (whatever that means) as the likely culprit. The 20,000 people who showed up in Santiago yesterday to protest against impunity for “incendiary terrorists” (and broke out their old “Nunca Mais” t-shirts for the occasion) suspect something else is up: a vast conspiracy of greedy developers eager for the land.

And then there are those who argue that there isn’t anything new going on here at all, just regular Gallegans solving their land claims and petty jealousies and village outrages the way they always have. Very Fuenteovejuna-esque. As one anonymous Guardia Civil told El Pais last week. “Galicia is a culture of fire.”

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