surinenglish

Dignity forty years on

We Andalusians have to get out that sense of insistence that we've had hanging up in the wardrobe for the last forty years, since the time two million people took to the streets with the simple objective of not being treated as lesser citizens than others. That 4 December 1977, Andalucía shut up those who wanted to be more and be better than the rest in a two-speed Spain.

In Andalucía, nationalist sentiment has never really taken root and “Andalusianism” has oscillated between show and political necessity, because territories always need an epic story to focus people's hope.

Andalusians have always been united more by dignity than by territory, more by hunger than by power, with that apparently carefree air that comes from wisdom rather than pretension. Andalucía is Spain's huge reading room, where the greatest civilisations left their mark over thousands of years and whose legacies can been seen in any part of the region and in our DNA.

The passage of Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, Visigoths and Muslims sculpted the character of an erudite, bright, vivacious people whose history doesn't need to be reinvented in school text books.

Andalucía stands its ground, because it knows about conquests and invasions, because it was an empire and its people suffered under princes, kings and the upper classes. Here, in Andalucía, many have come along to exploit it, as happened with the thriving metal industry, that moved to the Basque Country, or textiles, that went off to Barcelona.

Spain always overlooked Andalucía, and when it didn't, it was because people from here were in charge in Madrid. That's what happened with Cánovas and with González; and a handful of ministers who have always fought our corner. I'm sure. If it wasn't for them the high-speed train wouldn't have reached Seville first then Malaga, nor would we have an airport like we have on the Costa.

Despite this, Andalucía is the region that best fits in with Spain. Perhaps that's why it's down to us to lead the defence of a model of territorial organisation based on solidarity and where all Spaniards are equal. And it's this task that we Andalusians need to turn our attention to just like we did forty years ago. Andalucía can be trusted and shouldn't let Catalonia or the Basque Country, or paranoid governments in Madrid, get away with redesigning an unequal Spain with the pressure of a check book or disloyalty.

The system of financing the autonomous regions is a long battle where much more than a budget is at stake. What is at stake is Andalucía's dignity. And that's when, without all those flags and borders, the Andalusians always rise to the challenge.