Spain To Host a Changed World
JUST as mapmakers have been kept busy over the past year remaking the world, so the planners of next year's Universal Exposition here have had to keep a close eye on international events.Since countries were first assigned plots for pavilions at the fair, East Germany has disappeared as a country, but South Africa, having renounced apartheid, has returned to the community of nations. Germany redesigned its building to reflect its new unity, and South Africa will mark its reemergence with a pavilion. But war-ravaged and splintered Yugoslavia, although it has a piece of land waiting for it, will probably be absent. "We still have to read the international pages every day to see if anything will be added to all the incredible events that have already affected us over the past couple of years," says Antonio Quijano, international spokesman for Expo '92. Even the Gulf war, which earlier this year caused a flurry of concern over how it might affect attendance, had an effect on the fair's physical layout. "Before the war, Iraq and Kuwait were set to share a joint pavilion," says Mr. Quijano, "but obviously that became unacceptable. We had to work out something else for Kuwait." The fall of the Berlin Wall and moves away from communism throughout Eastern Europe led to the complete redrawing of several countries' pavilion plans. "A pavilion is supposed to project an image," says Quijano, "so most of the ex-Soviet satellite countries decided they needed to change the plans envisioned by the old regime. They want Seville to help them project a different face." As of now, 110 countries are set to take part in Seville - up sharply from the 77 represented in Osaka at the last universal exposition in 1970. "What makes this a universal exposition is our theme, 'Age of Discover- ies, says Quijano. "It's a topic that applies to our times and to every corner of the globe." The theme coincides with the 500th anniversary of Columbus's 1492 voyage to America, and in that spirit the exposition will offer four "theme" pavilions: the 15th century, navigation, discovery, and the future. Yet Quijano says the record number of countries taking part in the fair can't help but boost its "universality." Nearly 500 miles northeast, in Barcelona, the same attention to international events is paid, understandably, by organizers of the 1992 summer Olympic Games. "South Africa will take part for the first time since the '60s, and the two Koreas will march under the same flag," says one Olympic official. "Those are just two examples, but we like to think of Barcelona as the games of reconciliation." In fact it was Barcelona Mayor Pasqual Maragall who first spoke of the games of "peace and reconciliation" in 1989, but even his expectations may have been surpassed. At the beginning of this year, the Barcelona organizers were counting on 165 participating countries - up from Seoul's 158 - but today the total stands at 171. "We're quite proud to include the Baltic countries," says Adrian Mac Liman, international spokesman for the Barcelona '92 Olympic Organizing Committee, "not to mention the fact that these will be the first modern games where there are no boycotts." In the case of both Seville and Barcelona, the events they are sponsoring are more than a chance to bring countries and people together. They are also an opportunity to give their cities and regions a boost into the future, and to prove that Spain has emerged from its isolationist past to join the international political and economic community. "The combination of the Olympics and Expo is the chance to carry the message that Spain no longer fits neatly into the stereotypes of laziness, bullfights, and long siestas," says Quijano. "That is why it is so important that the two events be impeccably organized and proceed without a flaw." And beyond a mere image boost, both Seville and its region of Andalucia, and Barcelona and the Catalonia region as a whole, will have used the two international events to their physical improvement. More than $5 billion will have been invested in and around Barcelona, while double that figure will have been spent in Seville: on roads and mass transportation, new airport terminals and train stations, new housing and parks. A fast train linking Madrid to Seville and cutting travel time from more than six hours to four, will begin service in April. Both cities will enter 1993 with whole new neighborhoods meant to boost their region's quality of life. "This is the third occasion where Barcelona has used an international event to expand and improve," says Albert Baille, the municipal government's counselor for decentralization. International expositions in 1888 and 1929 also transformed Barcelona. "The most significant aspect of the Olympic development is that it is replacing an abandoned industrial zone along the Mediterranean with a dynamic, living, and working neighborhood," says Mr. Baille. "It is allowing Barcelona to rediscover the sea." In Seville, the Guadalquivir River's Cartuja Island, where Expo opens the Monday following Easter (April 20), will become a study and research center once the exposition closes next October. Several multinational corporations, including IBM, Siemens, Rank Xerox, and Alcatel plan to maintain research facilities on the site. It's this long-term boost that Seville and Andalucia are counting on. "Andalucia is still the second-poorest region in Spain," says Expo's Quijano. "If all the money spent didn't represent some hope for the future, there would be a serious moral question," he says. "We're not planning to leave behind a shiny ghost city, however, but a region better equipped to face the challenges of Europe 1993 and beyond."