Without throwing the house out the window, the Catalans have commemorated the thirty years of the Olympic Games that put Barcelona as it is today with a little more enthusiasm than here we have evoked the three decades of the Universal Exhibition that transformed Seville and that put it up to date in infrastructure after years of neglect.
1992 was for the capital of Catalonia the death rattle of that open and cosmopolitan city that during the forty years of dictatorship was a kind of island that connected us with Europe and with the world within the gray and dandruff Spain of Francoism. When the lights of the Montjuic stadium went out after the closing ceremony, three decades ago now, Barcelona accelerated the path that had already begun towards the decadence that Pujolism imposed on it. Since then things have gotten worse. Turned into a kind of theme park for cruise tourists looking to take selfies with the towers of the Sagrada Familia in the background, its evolution illustrates better than anything else in Spain the drift of an irrational and short-sighted nationalism. And as a symbol of this new Barcelona are the two institutions that exercise their power from there: the Generalitat and the City Council. Pere Aragonès and Ada Colau, president of the Catalan Executive and mayor of the city, are the most genuine representatives of this way of understanding Catalonia and its capital. They, among others, have made us forget that dynamic and advanced city of late Francoism and the first years of the new democracy. When nationalism became strong in the Catalan institutions, it began a policy of withdrawal, of abandoning the signs of modernity to promote those that most separated them from the rest of Spain.
The mechanisms used were the school and the media; above all, regional television. When he came to power in 1980, Jordi Pujol is expected to have in a generation a social majority that will face an independence project. The results of the process are visible and in 2017 that policy reached a crisis with the attempted secessionist coup that was about to break national cohesion. To achieve this goal, it was necessary to Catalanize society and something like that was incompatible with that Barcelona that was open to cultural and social avant-gardes from all over the world. The process of destroying that cosmopolitan and exquisite world was methodical and conscious, and when the Olympics arrived it was already in an advanced stage. But it was the last time that Barcelona approached modernity. From then on its decline was accentuated and today it is not even a shadow of what it once meant in Spain.