Where’s the threat?

John Barrass’s editorial on Barcelona Reporter is unduly critical of Catalan national sentiments, and of the groups committed to further autonomy for Catalonia. Indeed, the piece urges readers to ignore threats by a top Spanish military officer that the army would have to intervene should Catalonia – as irrelevant, all the while pointing out that it is Catalan seperatist elements who are the real threat to democracy.

What worries me about these claims is that I don’t believe it’s wise to discount the growing far right sentiment in Spain as unthreatening. The PP have successfully radicalised a large percentage of Spanish conservatives, via groups like the fictitious AVT (Victims of terrorism Association, dedicated to campaigning against PSOE policies and filling PP rallies), via highly suggestive rhetoric (the so called ‘Balkanisation’ of Spain) and by openly referring to ‘the socialists, communists and anarchists’ when what they meant was the centre-left PSOE government. The words ‘communist’ and ‘anarchist’ have a particularly powerful effect on Spaniards of a certain generation.

Barrass also drags up scraps of data about various local initiatives put in place to redress the inbalance caused by nearly forty years of brutal repression. TV3, the regional broadcaster, comes in for special attention. Apparently, it receives ‘far too much funding’, and yet it and 33 are the only watchable channels on Spanish television. What’s the problem with a strong regional broadcaster? The PP invested over five times more in Madrid than in Barcelona when it controlled the central government. Would it be preferable to return to that imbalance? I don’t think so.

Yet again, efforts are being made to ‘split the vote’ in Catalonia, suggesting that non-Catalans living here are somehow at risk of being disenfranchised (or even persecuted!) by the Govern de Catalunya. Needless to say, this is scaremongering. What Barrass is absolutely right on is that the rule of law and democracy must always prevail. Catalonia and Spain share a shameful history of corruption and nepotism. Before anything can really be improved, this culture should be changed.

6 thoughts on “Where’s the threat?

  1. I was ready to follow your argument, but you lost me at the “fictitious” Association of Victims of Terrorism. You can claim that they have a political leaning but, what do they have about ‘fictitious’? This is one despicable characterization. Their dead relatives, or their own injures they’re surviving with, have absolutely nothing of ‘fictitious.

    And they deserve to be heard; at least as much as Cindy Sheehan does. If she has an “absolute moral authority” because she lost a son in Iraq, the AVT victims also have that moral authority because they lost a son, or husband, in the Basque country, Madrid, Barcelona, Seville or wherever.

  2. I referred to the AVT as fictitious because almost none of them are actually victims of terrorism. The group classifies a victim of terrorism as basically anyone who lives in Spain, because ETA and other groups have affected us all (well, that’s the idea anyway). When I was a boy, we used to have to check under our car every day for bombs, so I suppose that makes me a victim of terrorism too.

    AVT is a political organisation which was formed to capitalise on the fear of terrorism. It is generally dedicated to preventing freedom of speech, pressuring government into not holding talks with ETA and filling buses with people to attend PP organised events. Indeed, it is practically a part of the PP.

    The very concept of terrorism is misleading. Does the AVT offer support and assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people directly affected by state terrorism under Franco’s dictatorship? Of course they don’t. Terrorism is a term which is almost only used in a subjective way, to inspire fear in the reader. For this reason, the very act of using the term terrorism may in itself be an act of terror.

    As to Cindy Sheehan, I don’t believe that she has an ‘absolute moral authority’. Indeed, I don’t believe that anyone does. Just because someone has lost a loved one to terrorism, it doesn’t give their opinion any added value. In fact, I’d say that because someone has been directly affected by terrorism, their opinions on the issue are clouded and thus worth possibly less than someone who can approach the issue more rationally.

  3. “I referred to the AVT as fictitious because almost none of them are actually victims of terrorism. The group classifies a victim of terrorism as basically anyone who lives in Spain, because ETA and other groups have affected us all (well, that’s the idea anyway).”

    that is simply not true. Some people have joined in solidarity, but most members are victims or direct relatives of murdered people. Ask Alcaraz, whose brother was murdered. Or ask Irene Villa. I mean ask her if she’s a victim, not for a dance; she has no legs after a bomb destroyed them when she was a kid.

    “AVT is a political organisation which was formed to capitalise on the fear of terrorism. It is generally dedicated to preventing freedom of speech, pressuring government into not holding talks with ETA and filling buses with people to attend PP organised events. Indeed, it is practically a part of the PP.”

    Of course, all other parties have ‘abandoned’ them; of course they go hand by hand with the PP, since it’s the only one supporting them. Plus lots of apolitical people like me, of course. They deserve our support, and the shame is that lots of political figures have turned their backs against them.

  4. However, this does not change what the AVT now exists as. As a politically partisan organisation, the AVT cannot hope to be treated as humanitarian. The way it has moved to become so close to the PP must be either the result of the PP wooing them with promises of representation and assistance, or the fact that the AVT has a broadly right wing world view. You clearly are of the opinion that the first reason explains things, I am not so sure.The problem for the AVT is that their partnership with the PP has been disastrous. I can think of no other political party in Europe which has done so little to prevent acts of terrorism over the last ten years. Their ‘steadfast’ policy of no dialogue brought more bombs and more deaths. The PP’s hugely unpopular policy of invading Iraq undeniably brought about the horrific bombings in Madrid.

    As far as I can see, it would be much wiser of the AVT to abstain from any party affiliation. Other groups around the world with similar aims have been able to maintain this separation.

  5. “The problem for the AVT is that their partnership with the PP has been disastrous. I can think of no other political party in Europe which has done so little to prevent acts of terrorism over the last ten years. Their ’steadfast’ policy of no dialogue brought more bombs and more deaths.”

    Have you ever looked at the statistics of terrorism acts and casualties. I bet you haven’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be saying that. More bombs and more deaths? Prove it.

    “The PP’s hugely unpopular policy of invading Iraq undeniably brought about the horrific bombings in Madrid.” I can’t deny the war was unpopular, but saying that it brought the madrid bombings conveniently ‘forgets’ that by the perpetrators’ own confession, the planning started before any Iraq war talk; they only used Iraq as an argument afterwards, knowing gullible people would buy it.

  6. More bombs, more deaths: I am not a statistician. I didn’t say “in comparison with all the years before…” the statement I made is true. People died, there were bombs.

    You fail to answer the main point which is that the AVT have made a mistake by pinning themselves to the PP. As I said before, no matter what they were formed for, the AVT have become inextricably linked to that party… and that is an unenviable position.

    By the way, I’m Tom. Who are you?

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