Tag Archives: eta

When will the PP condemn Francoism?

As the election draws near, Graeme at South of Watford has been investigating a series of different factors which could change the outcome of the vote. The economy and terrorism are important considerations for many Spaniards, as are problems with the national infrastructure, education and immigration.

The right-wing PP, keen to regain power after two terms of PSOE government, have been hammering on about terrorism more than anyone else (plus ça change…!), and recently, Spanish Catholic bishops raised their voices in support of Mariano Rajoy’s moribund campaign. One of the key points agreed on now by the major parties is that there shouldn’t be negotiation with political parties who refuse condemn ETA bombings, past and present. People who tacitly ‘approve’ of terrorism.

But the PP have a history of tacitly approving much worse movements than ETA will ever be. Born out of the ashes of Franco’s fascist dictatorship, the PP are the standard bearers for a type of neo-fascism, shrouded in the clothing of democracy but with no great love for democratic institutions, self-labelled of the ‘centre’ but retaining ultra-conservative views, explicitly in favour of the constitution yet permanently opposed to rescinding fascist-era legislation.

In fact, the PP fail their own test by refusing to explicitly condemn the atrocious crimes carried out by Franco’s regime (which, by the way, did not end in 1945 as some would have you believe). Claiming that it’s better to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, the PP argue that nothing would be gained by their formally condemning Franco’s regime. So why not come out and do it? The answer is that the PP want to have their cake and eat it: they want to contest democratic elections and then disseminate lies about the results; they want to claim to represent the ‘centre’ while constantly appealing to the hard-right of Spanish politics; they claim ‘solidarity’ with the victims of terrorism, but only talk to the ones who are members of one of their own grassroots campaigns. They talk about looking to the future and still refuse to remove Franco as ‘Honourary Mayor in perpetuity’ of the city of Salamanca.

I couldn’t vote for a party with such a short-sighted view of history or such a terrible record of equivocation.

Church to catholics: don’t vote!

A gang of bishops (yes, this is the formal collective noun) yesterday called on Spaniards not to vote for a party who ‘negotiates with terrorists’, in a clear sign that they want their fold not to vote at all. As everyone here knows, all of the main political parties in Spain have negotiated with terrorists over the last decade, meaning that loyal sheep have no choice but to either abstain or vote for one of the several Falange parties jostling for the fascist-fetishist constituency.

On the other hand, the bishops may have been suffering from the same collective memory failure that the PP have shown symptoms of. This debilitating sickness has led the right-wing party and its supporters to lash out at any suggestion that talks be held with ETA or Batasuna, even though this was precisely their own policy when they were in power.

My point of view: if the bishops don’t keep their big noses out of politics, perhaps we should have one of those traditional anti-clerical carnivals which happen here every now and then. Religion has a place in some people’s hearts but it has absolutely no place in democratic politics. We should all support the cutting away of any parasitic agency which seeks to pervert our democracy.

AVT demo in Madrid: pure class, again

The BBC deigned to report on the AVT’s demonstration in Madrid at which between 7,000 and 110,000 activists marched against the early release of José Ignacio de Juana Chaos, after he wrote threatening articles which named some judges. What’s interesting about the way the protesters and the BBC presented this demo was that it was somehow to do with de Juana Chaos’s previous offence, the murder of 25 people during his career in ETA. Ostensibly, however, that was not the aim of the march at all. After all, de Juana Chaos has served 18 years of his sentence for that crime and, were he any other prisoner would be out early. So yet again, a demonstration called against one thing ends up being really about another thing completely. Or a multiplicity of things, as there were the usual banners around alluding to some kind of Zapatero involvement in 11M.

The AVT has no credibility as a politically independent pressure group.

It was nice to see the 7,000 enjoying the sunshine in Madrid’s streets. Nice to see them waving their flags (some of them replete with fascist emblems). Nice to see their Nazi salutes while they sang the anthem of the armed forces. There’s no doubt about it: the AVT rent-a-mob are a classy bunch.

One more thing: does anyone have any recent opinion poll stats on this topic? I haven’t been able to find anyone but was reliably informed by the BBC’s north American Spain correspondent that ‘the vast majority of Spaniards are against de Juana Chaos’s release’. That’s fine if it’s backed up with statistics… I just can’t find them. Much obliged to anyone who can enlighten me.

The new ‘anti-nacionalismo’

Spanish-language blog, El Siglo de las Luces, has a well written and interesting post about moves by the Spanish right to expand its influence by forming and supporting supposed NGOs and pressure groups around the country. These groups traditionally start out as single-issue before becoming more and more embroiled in the two topics which seem to excite the political extremes in this country: left versus right; and the question of nationalism (this term usually only referring to Catalan and Basque nationalism/separatism.

The classic example of this is the AVT (Association of Victims of Terrorism). Ostensibly formed as a support/pressure group for victims of ETA and their families, the AVT long ago became a sort of rent-a-mob for high profile, low impact demonstrations in Madrid where protesters gnash their teeth and do the whole Two Minutes Hate thing.

I’ve written about the AVT before (I stand by everything I wrote six months ago) and currently words fail me to describe how bitterly I dislike their nasty mixture of pressure politics, rhetoric and sheer anti-reason. There is simply no point in attempting an ordinary criticism of the AVT because they are so astoundingly out of it. Sometimes, I think it’s part of a clever plot to utterly confound critics: where do I start? they’ve opened a battle against logic on so many fronts that I get headaches just trying to list them.

Instead, I recommend reading that blog post at El Siglo de las Luces. And consider that even though it may not be working that well, the PP’s strategy is pretty clever. By politicising members of the Spanish working class (nominally against one thing they don’t like, e.g. subsidies for Catalan language, ETA, etc), the PP have forged a plan which, should it eventually start working, could well extend their platform of support and – more importantly – their political influence throughout Spain.

The PP loves victims of terrorism

During their time in power as well as during their disgraceful period in opposition, the PP have put nearly all of their energy into dividing Spain. Their constant jibes and threats – targeted against not only the left-wing but against distinct national groups within Spain – have changed this country and have increased tensions between Catalans, Basques, Spaniards, immigrants, conservatives, liberals and socialists.

This is a typical modus operandi for a one-policy party. Political entities of this type have no real philosophy or plan behind them other than the manufacture of fear among the populus. And they’re very successful at it. Intelligent, reserved Spaniards and Catalans whom I know are hesitant to pursue their own political goals because of a perceived threat that if modernisation of this country ‘goes too far’, the right wing will ruin things again.

The PP use this fear to divide the people of Spain. They use it to radicalise Spanish politics. These methods only ever benefit the PP and are all the more disgraceful because they are merely a means to attempt to regain power: as we have made very clear before, the PP does not believe in anything except its own right to control Spain.

To try and derail peace talks between the government and ETA, peace talks which the PP have already agreed to, purely in order to win political points, is the most abhorrent and repulsive act so far committed by this party. Their aim is clearly to gain power at all costs: even if it means that the streets of Spain run with the blood of more victims of terrorism. To call the PP simply power-hungry and divisive is to miss the point. The PP care so little for the people of Spain that they would rather see them dead than alive; if it meant that they controlled la Moncloa. So the question now is whether you’d like to see more victims of terrorism or fewer. The PP know which they’d prefer, and that’s why they’re trying to provoke more violence.

Nationalism and Catalonia (Part I)

Nationalism plays a major part in Spanish politics. In the press, both here and abroad, nationalism in Spain nearly always refers to Basque or Catalan separatist movements. Doubtless this focus is due partly to the violent campaign waged by armed Basque group ETA; and partly because perceived nationalism amongst minorities makes a shriller sound than the deep underlying drone of majority nationalism.

This majority nationalism – Spanish nationalism – is probably the single strongest political force in Spain today. Nearly half of all voters here can be accurately described as at least sympathetic to the Spanish nationalist agenda – that is: cetralised power in Madrid, no further autonomy for the regions, Spain is one nation: indivisible.

Opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy recently travelled around Spain collecting signatures of people who wanted a Spain-wide referendum on whether Catalonia should be allowed to claim more rights of self-governance. He managed to collect 4.5 million names. Putting aside for the moment more general criticisms of Rajoy’s politics, this is clearly a large number of people. Considering that there must have been many who would have signed had they had the opportunity to, or if they’d been pressed to, we can see that Rajoy’s petition – while not ‘the single largest political movement in democratic Spain’ as some right-wingers claimed – had the support of wide swathes of the Spanish population.

While the focus here in Catalonia is always on the two major Catalanista parties (ERC and CiU) and one increasingly Catalanista bloc (PSC), little time seems to be spent considering the reasons behind the growth of the separatist movement. As Giles Tremlett ably points out in Ghosts of Spain, almost anyone you ask about the issue has trenchant views on the debate. Whether in favour of independence, against independence, or sick of the entire question (this counts for a lot of people), Catalonia and Catalan independentism are seriously hot potatoes.

I reckon that the key arguments behind Catalan independentism are actually not nationalist, per se. Of course, political parties who are ostensibly in favour of greater autonomy often use nationalist rhetoric to win votes. To a greater degree though, the ‘nationalist’ tag is usually applied by opponents of the movement, often by the same people who can be accurately described as Spanish nationalists. The main arguments I hear over and over again are historical (some Catalans still feel that their land is occupied by the Spanish), left-wing (Catalonia has developed a rare breed of business-savvy socialism which doesn’t marry at all well with the aims of certain Spanish political parties), and a sense of difference, so difficult to describe that I’m going to have to come back to it at a later date.

All nationalism is stupid, more or less.
More next week…

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On a related note, just a couple of thoughts about politicians. Of course they’re all there to gain power for themselves, to some degree. But this doesn’t mean that none of them  have any values. It seems that if we dismiss all politicans as liars, all parties as morally bankrupt and all political philosophy as bunkum then not only do we damn the population as stupid (which I find an abhorrent attitude), but also we end up with politicians and parties who fulfill our worst expectations.