An update from Adriana, a sophomore international studies major and President’s Scholar:
At WorldMUN, the third day of conference is traditionally the most challenging and the most intense. Not only have the majority of the substantive issues been presented before the committee, but also there are two committee sessions that day, guaranteeing six hours of intensive debate and great progression in committee.
Furthermore, it is that evening that awards are decided, so your performance during the sessions leaves the final impression, which may very well determine the award recipients. (In photo: Award winners Nicola and Adriana.)
For me, Wednesday, March 17, 2010, was the day that I had been preparing for, for months. When the lists of Specialized Committees was posted on the WorldMUN website, I immediately knew which committee I wanted. El Consejo del Reino is not only the first foreign language committee at WorldMUN, but also a historical crisis committee. While the majority of the committees at WorldMUN are General Assembly committees, this specialized committee embodied the last government under Franco, his high advisory council of 1969.
In December 2009, I submitted my application to the WorldMUN secretariat and El Consejo del Reino. This application process was rigorous, including questions that intricately dealt with the historical relevance of the committee and its broad topic areas.
I was chosen to represent Gregorio Lopez-Bravo, the minister of external affairs in the Francoist regime of 1969. Not only was I honored to have been chosen as a delegate in this committee, but I was also given a character who had veto power in all decisions regarding Spanish foreign relations. Wow! This was an essential position in a small, specialized committee – I could not believe it! I was incredibly excited, and I could not wait to start preparing. I knew that this was going to be an unforgettable experience in and out of committee.
On Wednesday, March 17, I awoke early, mentally ready to exert my every energy and leave nothing behind. Committee had been steadily progressing throughout the week, and at the beginning of Thursday, we were facing grave issues domestically and internationally.
Within Spain, the ETA, a growing Basque separatist and nationalist organization, was presenting an ever increasing danger, and terrorist attacks were imminent. Additionally, due to Juan Carlos’ immoral behavior, he had renounced his right to the throne, which had been granted to him earlier that year. Therefore, el Consejo del Reino had to make a decision regarding the succession. This was a difficult task, given the lack of eligible men.
Internationally, the dilemma with the British over Gibraltar had yet to be settled, the Moroccans were threateningly advancing toward the border with the Spanish Sahara, and the kidnapped German honorary consul was also yet to be found. Finally, Spain’s application to the Economic European Community had not been responded to, and the country’s standing in the international scene was precarious and greatly depended on the response to and resolution of the above-mentioned issues.
Not only was this looking to be a substantively profound and challenging day, but in order to win an award, I was going to have to be a key player in every movement and decision. As I got ready for the day, I reminded myself that this was the case, but to, most importantly, enjoy the experience. This I repeated to the rest of the team as we gathered a few hours later in the lobby to head over to Taiwanese International Conference Center.
In committee, the debate started almost immediately. There was no time to waste – the country was being attacked from all fronts, and Franco was not pleased. Something needed to be done. First, to counter the imminent attacks on the border of the Spanish land in the Sahara, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco and General Agustin Munoz Grandes mobilized forces.
The small, representative soldiers on the map in the middle of the room were moved accordingly, and the numbers and distribution of the Spanish armed forces were re-evaluated. Torcuato Miranda Fernandez worked in conjunction with Carmen Polo and Licinio de la Fuente de la Fuente to apply the Spanish patriotism campaign in the region, seeking support from the locals. This program had been written by our Council a few days earlier and successfully applied throughout Spain.
I responded to the crisis in Africa by contacting the Spanish Ambassador in Morocco for more information regarding the movement in the country and by reaching out to the international community for support, especially requesting that the United Nations repeal its statement supporting the independentist movement of the region.
While the committee began the day with high spirits, having rapidly and comprehensively responded to the crisis in Africa, we soon received an intercepted telegram that the ETAs were moving quickly. They had established a new training camp in Gibraltar.
This was a problem on almost every level. First, the territory of Gibraltar was being claimed by the British, but we, the Spanish government and people, maintained that the contentious territory was ours. Additionally, the expansion of the ETA organization reflected negatively on the international level, given that the German Honorary Consul whom they had kidnapped had not reappeared. If we did not immediately respond with due force to this threat, our reputation as a legitimate state with control over its people was at risk. Having made this assertion clearly to the committee, we got to work!
Again, Munoz Grandes and Carrero Blanco responded militarily with due diligence, while I contacted the German government, again declaring our continued vigilance and efforts toward finding the Honorary Consul. I also contacted relevant international bodies regarding the lack of British control on the strait of Gibraltar, emphasizing that were the Spanish government given control of this area, the infiltration by ETA would have never occurred. This rhetoric turned an unfavorable reality into a possible benefit in the recuperation of Gibraltar.
However, the resolution was not so favorable. El Consejo del Reino neither managed to locate the Honorary Consul alive, nor did we advance in our control over Gibraltar. This failure infuriated Franco and made him suspect an infiltrator in our committee. His wrath and scrutiny were unbearable. El Consejo was frozen and unable to do anything. Thankfully, it was time for our lunch break!
For lunch, my committee decided to eat together, while vowing to not talk about anything of substantive relevance. We walked over to the Taipei 101 food court and were greeted by the overwhelming options of restaurants. I randomly chose a Chinese restaurant that I had not yet tried, pointed to an appetizing bowl of noodles, and paid the cashier, all in silence. Despite my inability to say more than “thank you” in Chinese, the non-verbal communication was clear and transcended the language barrier.
My noodles were delicious, but the conversation with an animated group of Spanish-speaking WorldMUN delegates was by far the best part of the meal. We compared and contrasted our schools, discussed the current national political situation with the Venezuelans and laughed at how loud we were in comparison to the Taiwanese.
Then, before heading back to committee, I checked-in with the SMUMUNers. It seemed like everyone was having an equally intense, but good day in committee. As I wished my teammates good luck, I headed back to the committee room ready to wrap up the year 1971.
Back in committee, sitting at our U-shaped table, we knew that we could no longer ignore the question of succession. So, I began by evaluating the current situation and our options: Don Carlos was not a favorable candidate in the eyes of France, Juan Carlos’ licentious behavior had equally invalidated him, and the Carlist line was simply not an option, despite Carlos Hugo’s presence on the Council.
So, who remained? Of course, Don Alfonso de Borbon y Dampierre, the recent husband of Franco’s granddaughter, Maria del Carmen Martinez-Bordiu y Franco. This was it. The Duke was to be sent for immediately, so that he could be questioned and prepared. He agreed almost immediately, and with the exception of three council members, the law was amended as necessary, and he was named successor. A final statement of approval by Franco sealed the decision.
But, what about the government? Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco and I shared similar misgivings regarding the maintenance of francoist values in future regimes. In a private conference, Carrero Blanco and I restructured the new government, maintaining many of the same ministers in similar positions, so as to smoothen the transition, especially since Don Adolfo had not been present for many of the decisions of Franco’s regime and was not a confidante of the Council.
This was quietly circulated throughout the Council and signed by more than the majority, instating it as policy, if approved by Franco, making Carrero Blanco the President of the Government and myself the Vice-President. However, this piece of law was never to be considered again because just as we were going to present it to Franco, he stormed into the room.
As all of the ministers took their seats, the silence in the committee room was deafening, and Franco’s angry countenance was petrifying. We knew something was wrong. Our fears were validated as Franco informed us that El Pardo had been infiltrated, and El Consejo was no longer secure. We were shocked! Where would we relocate to? Eventually, we determined that Salamanca was the best alternative. Immediately, the Council was relocated, with sincere consideration for Carmen Polo, La Senora del Pardo, who was shocked, but remained stoic and strong.
The breach of security was immediately being investigated by every intelligence agency in the country, while I ascertained that the movement and the attack were contained within Spain and did not affect our reputation internationally. However, the discovery of the perpetrators was to be made another day. After six hours of debate, a full attack in Africa, a deterrence strategy in Gibraltar, the death of a foreign diplomat, the assignment of a new heir, and the secret relocation of the government, the second committee session for the day was over, and so were the most difficult substantive moments of WorldMUN 2010.
Tomorrow, in a more relaxed environment, we would certainly determine the identity of the traitors, and their punishment would be equal to their crime, no doubt. But for now, I could leave the committee room proud that I had been a significant player in each and every decision of the past days, especially today.