Letter From Valencia: Iraq War Still Has Hold on Spain

Letter From Valencia: Iraq War Still Has Hold on Spain

VALENCIA, Spain -- An outsize effigy of George Bush was burned here in the annual Fallas festival Tuesday, reflecting the president's unpopularity in Spain, and the country's continued preoccupation with its past involvement in the Iraq war.

Every year in this Spanish coastal city, Valencia artists make hundreds of large, Carnival-type figures for the ancient three-day spring festival. But it's hardly a carnival atmosphere, as the long Fallas weekend culminates with the figures being set on fire.

Satirical themes abound, but the satire is even-handed: Pope Benedict XVI and Spanish Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero were also featured in Valencia this week and, like Bush, went up in smoke. The burning figures are supposed to represent getting rid of the cares of winter. But it will take more than a series of bonfires to dispel Spain's current political edginess.

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