Follow US:

Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Democracy

Difficulty: 0



[Narrator] On February 18th, 1981,

weeks after assuming the office of Presidency of the United States,

Ronald Reagan stood before congress,

discussing a new set of reforms,

what would later earn the nickname,


While in Spain, a week later,

on February 23rd,

history seemed on the verge of repeating itself,

as another military coup,

like the one undertaken by Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923

and Francisco Franco in 1936,

had been launched,

seeking to upend the country's latest stab at democracy.

[Narrator] For Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina,

it was his second coup attempt in three years.

His last, codenamed Operation Galaxia,

was hatched in 1978,

with the aim of halting the transition to democracy

by kidnapping Prime Minister Adolfo Suárez.

Operation Galaxia had only gotten as far as the planning phase

when it was discovered,

earning Tejero a seven-month prison sentence.

His coup, in 1981, however, dubbed 23F,

since it took place on February 23rd,

was something else.

This time he'd caused a national crisis.

I remember my mom telling me about it when I was a bit older.

How everyone was really nervous

that there was going to be another dictatorship

led by another military general.

[Narrator] Spain's army, at the time,

contained 11 regional divisions,

and only three were fully committed to preserving the new democracy.

Many high-ranking members of the military still

took a dim view of the transition to democracy,

and remained resentful of the legalization of communist parties.

As a result, most divisions chose to sit on the fence,

waiting to see how the events in Madrid and Valencia played out.

[Narrator] In the end,

nearly 30 military officers

were convicted for their roles in the coup.

Tejero received the stiffest sentence.

30 years, of which he served 15.


[Narrator] In Barcelona, the conservative Catalan party,

Convergence and Union, or CIU,

had the run of the newly-restored regional government,

the Generalitat of Catalunya.

They'd won the first regional elections since 1932

by the slimmest of margins,

beating out the local chapter of the socialist PSOE,

and the communist PSUC.

CIU, from the start, had a Catalan nationalist identity.

It came into being through the merger of two local parties,

the Democratic Union of Catalunya, which had gotten its start in 1931,

and the Democratic Convergence of Catalunya,

which had been founded in 1974 by Jordi Pujol i Soley.

Pujol had been a local hero for decades,

recognized for his role in the Franco resistance.

With CIU's electoral victory in 1980,

he'd been made President of the government of Catalunya.

Pujol would serve in this role for more than 20 years,

winning reelection over five successive terms.

For Catalunya, this new, democratic Spain,

with a local government headed by a Catalan nationalist party,

sparked a rediscovery of Catalan culture

and ritual celebration.

It had been a long time in coming.


[Narrator] For all the attention paid to democratization

and culture in the 1980s,

the greatest focus, and, arguably,

biggest challenge, was restoring the native language.

The regional parliament, in 1983,

passed the Law of Linguistic Normalization,

in the interest of making Catalan legal, and prominent,

in education and all public spheres.

This presented a very basic problem, however.

Since the language had been illegal for so long,

spoken only in homes,

there was no pre-existing curriculum to draw from,

nor even professionals with experience teaching it.


[Narrator] Pasqual Maragall i Mara,

the grandson of lauded Catalan poet, Joan Maragall,

was named mayor of Barcelona in 1982,

a position he would hold for 15 years.

His predecessor, Narcís Serra i Serra, in 1980

had proposed hosting the 1992 Olympics,

which was not without precedent.

Barcelona had made several attempts in years past, without success.

It had come close in 1936, but lost, ultimately, to Berlin,

games remembered for the towering athleticism

of America's Jesse Owens,

and for its opening ceremony, hosted by Adolf Hitler.

Mayor Maragall believed the time had come for his city,

and took it upon himself to bring the dream to life.

In October of 1986,

the International Olympic Committee announced that Barcelona

had gotten the most votes, more than Paris, Brisbane or Belgrade.

I think Barcelona changed very much because of the Olympics.

I remember when Barcelona won the contest for the Olympics.

My mother was really happy.

I was only 7 years old

and I didn't understand why she was so happy.



[Narrator] In the afternoon of June 19, 1987,

Olympic fever was suddenly, and tragically, interrupted

when a bomb exploded in the parking garage

beneath Barcelona's Hipercor shopping center.

It was planted inside a Ford Sierra

that had been stolen in the city of San Sebastian,

in north-central Spain.

The 200-kilogram bomb killed 21 people,

and injured 45.

It was the work of Basque separatist group ETA,

and would be remembered as the deadliest attack in the group's history.

[Estela Fernandez] I heard though that my uncle was in the Hipercor

just minutes before the bomb went off.

So it was just sheer luck, I guess

that he just left the Hipercor just minutes before.

I think a lot of Catalans were a bit confused

that we were getting bombed,

of all people in Spain, you know.

Because we also wanted independence, and

"What are you guys doing bombing us?"

"We didn't do anything to you."

Because the bombing was obviously by ETA,

which is a separatist group from the Basque Country.

And so, I think it was a mistake that they did that.

They certainly lost a lot of sympathies,

a lot of support maybe from Catalan people.


[Narrator] Preparations for the 1992 Olympics, meanwhile, continued,

and the populace rallied around the project.


The beach was a wasteland.

It would never occurred to you to swim in those waters.

And they created the beaches artificially

I believe by getting sand from the bottom of the sea and putting it

on the shore to make the shore bigger and therefore, create a beach.


[Estela Fernandez] Other things that changed were like

some subway lines became extended,

there were also new lines.

There was the new tram built as well

that covers from Francesc Macià to the outskirts of the city

and also to Poble Nou.

So that was good.



During the celebration, at the Olympics inauguration,

what I found most impressive was the running and passing of the torch.

My favorite basketball player at the time,

Epi, [Juan Antonio San Epifanio Ruiz] was the last of them.

He was just walking or running with the torch in his hand.

Followed by the archer,

notching the flaming arrow,

letting it fly, to ring in the Olympic Games.

It had an impact on me for sure. It was a fantastic moment.

I even bumped into this runner, Carl Lewis, and I have an autograph.

[Narrator] Barcelona's 1992 Summer Olympics

took place from July 25th to August 9th.

Spectators, in the stands,

and through television screens around the world,

watched a unified Germany compete

for the first time since 1964.

They marveled at the original basketball Dream Team,

which included court legends

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Patrick Ewing.

And, perhaps ironically,

these games they were viewing were the first, in 20 years

that could truly be called a global event.

There were no boycotts by the likes of the United States or Russia,

something that hadn't happened since 1972.

And for Barcelona,

it marked a new chapter, leaving pride,

opportunity, and, in many ways,

a new city, in its wake.




The Description of Democracy