A liberal 4-year old political refugee? Or a pondering 84-year old adult?
My father, Haroldo Díes, was a Spanish-born official assigned to the French office of the Spanish National Ministry of Tourism. My father and my mother, Pilar Angulo, moved from Madrid to Paris in December of 1935 when he assumed that post. I was traveling incognito in my mother’s womb as I was conceived in Spain, but born in Paris in March of 1936.
On July 18, 1936 a group within the Spanish military initiated an attack against the legitimate republican government that had been elected democratically in Spain on April 14, 1931, following the deposition of King Alfonso XIII, thus starting the Spanish Civil War.
My parents were politically liberal: they voted for the Second Republic and against the monarchy in Spain, and they actively opposed the military coup. The Spanish Civil War ended with the victory of General Francisco Franco and his allies in April of 1939. My parents would not have been allowed to return to live in Spain, at least not freely. So, they stayed in France for a few months until they could board a ship that took them and me to México. We were welcomed as Spanish political refugees thanks to the generosity and foresight of the Mexican president General Lázaro Cárdenas. We have been forever grateful. I guess I didn’t know it at the time, but at the tender age of almost 4, in January of 1940, I was already a liberal and a political refugee!
I grew up in México in my parent’s home. Most of the family friends, almost all, were liberal Spaniard refugees like us. I became, or remained, a political and social liberal with considerable animosity against Franco’s regime and by extension all other fascist political groups or parties in the world. However, I wonder how many degrees of freedom does one have in order to evolve as an independent thinker? Is the imprint of our early years from family, friends and school so strong that it determines how and who we are as adults?
In my family I have what may be as close as one can get to a controlled test. I have two brothers who are identical twins. They grew up in the same environment I did, yet their adult personalities are quite different from each other and from me. From a political perspective one of them is a centrist, leaning conservative, and the other is a leftist liberal. Politically speaking, one of them is to my right and the other one to my left.
I am almost sure that the right answer to my question is, as is the case almost always, that both early development and life experience play roles in how we come out in the end. This has been the case for me and my brothers. Also, we all know of people whose political, social and economic views evolve with age and circumstances during their lives.
This is my story. How about yours? Or, as Barbara Furlow would say, “What do YOU think?”
Contributed by: Federico Dies
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