El Búho: La batalla del relato (podcast)

 

Dejo aquí el enlace al último podcast del programa El Búho,  espacio de reflexión y análisis con José García Domínguez, Eugenia Gayo y yo misma. Los últimos podcasts los encontrarán en el mismo lugar, en Ivoox.

Cataluña: La batalla del relato: http://www.ivoox.com/21565803

 

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Barcelona, 8th of October

Barcelona, 8th of October

By Cristina Losada

I never imagined that I would attend a demonstration where I would shout: “This is our police force!”. Neither would Isabel or Elena, from Barcelona, whom I was with, ever imagine having their picture taken with a policeman, with a cop! A young national police officer behind the police station of Vía Laietana was witnessing, in an emotional state, from his two meters of height the continuous passing of people that were shaking his hand while telling him “you are not alone” and were taking photographs with him. What else could they do after they had been called “animals”, after they wanted to evict them like unscrupulous people would treat dogs, after their kids had been harassed at their schools, after they had been called “occupying forces”. All of this, because of a single reason, they were the representatives of the law.

I do not think anyone could have imagined what they were going to see in the centre of Barcelona on Sunday the 8th of October. On Thursday, when I realised I had to be there and managed to get a train ticket, all I knew was that I wanted to be there. I didn’t know much more after the thirteen and a half hours of train journey separating Vigo from the square of Urquinaona. Except for the fact that we were living one of those rare moments that are called historical moments.

But, how was history going to be weaved in the streets of Barcelona? Would we miss the opportunity to say “this is enough!”? What if this call, almost without notice and summoned by a small and resourceless organization, ended up with just a few thousands of “botiflers”? (this minority of resilient members of the resistance that have for some time now deserved this -in their case – noble title of traitor).

It was ten o’clock when, while having breakfast in Paseo San Juan, we saw the first people’s flooding in. They came from the tube and train station. Trains were arriving full of people most of them wrapped in their Spanish flag, carrying it folded around an improvised mast or already flagging it. Those who were also carrying another revolutionary flag in this city that has now been taken for years by the “esteladas(1): the “senyera(2) weren’t just a few. It seemed the smooth breeze was meant to be.

A couple of buses stationed near us and more people with flags got off. I did not know where they were coming from, but I assumed that, as me, they were the “foreigners” whose arrival was being denounced by the separatists. The demonstrators are “not from here”. Grandad Llach had asked the night before to those who are still listening to him to stay at home on Sunday not to see the aliens invasion that was to come. How scary!

“They are not from here” has always been the motto of the separatists. Hence, it was clear that those of us who came from other places of Spain for the 8-O were not going to “integrate ourselves”. Integration is demanded to all that come from outside, to those who “are from outside”, even if they have been here all their lives, to those who are not from here, even if they have been born here. However, “integration” in what exactly? In what must a Spanish citizen in Catalonia be integrated?

The devout separatists that did not follow Llach’s advice and went out on Sunday in Barcelona must have been rather shocked. They must have not recognized the city as, simply put, it was no longer theirs: it stopped being their exclusive property. They mustn’t have recognized the strange species that wandered the streets. They were not aliens, fascists, freaks (well perhaps one or two of those, so what?). Those who wandered the streets in Barcelona were the most unrecognizable species for a nationalist, they were citizens. No matter if they were from Sabadell or Lugo: the citizen, for a nationalist, is always “from outside”.

On our way to Urquinaona we saw more and more of them. More citizens. More constitutional flags. More home-made banners. A young man with long curly hair came towards us and as an introduction he said “I have never done this. You are José García Domínguez and Cristina Losada, aren’t you? I follow you”. He introduced himself, we shook hands and he left,  but by then Alex had said something that was etched in my memory: “I have never done this before”. Because this was the same for all us there. We had never done anything like it. Nothing like this had ever been done in four decades in Catalonia.

It must have been half past eleven when all became clear. There was such a crowd in Urquinaona and surrounding areas that it was not possible to walk. When we realised our number, we all wanted a panoramic view that was only, and partially, available to those taller than meter and ninety centimetres. Near the traffic lights, on the pavement, there was a stand just taller than a meter height. People were trying to climb over to see how many of us were there then. An elderly gentleman, walking stick in hand, tried to climb it. Luckily, his wife dissuaded him.

Half an hour later but only a few meters away, as we were moving at the pace of a tortoise, there were two young lads on top of another stand with Spanish flags and punk hairdos having a chat. One of them had dyed his short and spiky hair in red and yellow. The sun started to burn. A lady and her husband sought the shade of some bushes. We started to chat. “They have gone too far”, she said. “We had to do this”.

The more you looked around, the more differences you could see. Ages, social classes, styles. Everything was different but there was something in common. Something in common and worthy whose symbol was bore by many and it was the key and urgent reason of us being there. That common and worthy thing was Spain.

At one o’clock, turning into Vía Layetana we could see the panoramic view down street from a small promontory on the pavement. Packed. Up to the sea. From a portable stereo came the rhythm to sing: “¡Lolololololo, que viva España!“. Manolo Escobar’s song was an urgent antidote for separatist’s protests with pots and pans. We did not know the lyrics but it was sung nonetheless, as the national anthem was hummed, although Escobar’s one made a better hit and had more connection with the festive atmosphere of that people’s gathering. We were not there to be sad.

Groups of youngsters having outbursts of laughter went by. What irreverences and heresies were they unleashing from their loudspeakers? It is a shame I could not hear them. Good mood was reflected in their faces though as, despite the seriousness of the occasion, we are not known to be a damp squib; we are who we are. Good humour and creativity was in the banners, so varied and individual, hand-made and exhibited in the complete disorder and explosion of creativity that the 8th of October was. We may fail in other things but we give our best improvising. Sometimes, disorganisation brings out the best in us.

“We are not IKEA nor is this your house to proclaim an independent republic”, said the banner that a smiley girl was carrying. Before, I saw the one carried by Roger: “I only watch TV3 when Arcadi Espada is there”. Some of the banners were real manifestos. A man was carrying as a sign a photo of a magazine with Kennedy and some text of one of his speeches. A girl with blue finger nails had drawn a heart with the Catalan and Spanish flags and the words “All united”.

There were people coming out to their balconies amidst celebration. Like the one of a grandmother and her granddaughter (we assumed) that were watching the demonstration from a balcony decorated with the Spanish flag at the beginning of Vía Layetana. By the way, it was mentioned that many “esteladas” flags had disappeared from the buildings from one day to another. In the flat next door, one with a large balcony, there were half a dozen people waving flags and even umbrellas with the Spanish flag. In front of this, in a huge rooftop terrace of an old building I first saw a man shaking a red towel and shouting to the demonstrators. I wondered what he was saying. After a short while, from that same wonderful rooftop they deployed lots of Spanish flags. They had just bought them. Cheering and ovations followed from the street.

The chants that were called out were not continuous and they would follow one another viva voce from here and there. Not of all them would succeed. However, the most successful and vehemently repeated was: “prison to Puigdemont!” It seems that Borrel did not like this and scolded people a bit. Come on, no need to be so sensitive. After all that has happened, after all that the nationalists and separatists have done. Moreover, after all that the ones that should have opposed this haven’t done. Scold your own party, Mr Borrel. Go and scold the absentee Iceta.

Incidentally, I would like to tell Borrell what a lady told me at the beginning of Vía Layetana. Her whole family was there. They caught my attention because her daughters, two teenagers, had incredible voices. The mother looked intensely to me and then said with the same intensity: “We are well pissed-off. They think they are the only ones in charge. What about us?”.

This was the most accurate manifesto I could find in the massive citizens gathering of the 8th of October in Barcelona. This was the summary of what had happened and what was still happening. This is why we were there. So, that those who believe that Catalonia is theirs, that them and only them are the ones in charge, could clearly see that this is not the case.

It was necessary to do what had never been done to see if the nationalists stopped doing what they have always been doing. The Catalonia that has been exiled from the public sphere has come out. The Catalonia that was muted and silent has spoken out. Nothing will go back to how it was. It will be best if they understand this. This is it, they are not in charge.

 

 (1)esteladas”: it means starred flag. It is Senyera with a white star superimposed on a blue triangle at the top. It is an unofficial flag waved by supporters of Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

(2) “senyera”: the official flag of Catalonia

* Originally published in Spanish with the title “Barcelona, 8 de octubre” on 10th October 2017 in:

http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/cristina-losada/barcelona-8-de-octubre-83387/

Translated by Laura Cano Lérida

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A selfie with ETA

A selfie with ETA

Cristina Losada*

 

 

 

 

What do they like about Otegi? I am asking those who during the separatist demonstrations on the day of “Diada” approached him smiling to have a selfie taken with the former leader of ETA whom is still unrepentant of the crimes of this terrorist organization. Moreover, as Secretary-General of Sortu, he is there, in the separatist demonstration, for being this: an unrepentant terrorist. He would not be the chief of the successors of ETA if he had rejected or declared repulsive this criminal legacy. Therefore, I am asking those dazzled with the guest of honour to the separatist show what it is that they find so admirable in him. Perhaps his membership in ETA during its bloodiest years? His lack of condemnation, repentance or help to solve the over 300 assassination cases still pending for justice?

The admiration shown for Otegi was not exclusive to those that could find an excuse in their young age and ignorance. There were grey-haired people amongst the ones shaking his hand and having a selfie with him. Indeed, it is possible that some people may be delighted to have their picture taken with a celebrity no matter who, and that this fascination for the celebrity takes them to lose face for having a photograph with a serial killer that has been on the telly. I am considering. I do not rule out such stupidity in this case.

I wonder if the enchantment with Otegi comes from his background amongst ETA gunmen or from the laundering of this background that he himself, his people and others have been doing. A laundering that goes as far as presenting Otegi as a providential man that put a stop to that killing machine. They are not just whitening his past, they are sanctifying him.

The selfies with him requires a psychological study, but him being invited by the organizers must be understood as a political act. This was a sign of friendship and complicity with the successors of the terrorist organization. I do not know if it was deliberate, it looks like it: this has coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Hipercor attack, the biggest slaughter in ETA’s history. Twenty-six people dead and forty-six injured. It was the 19th of June 1987 in Barcelona. They placed 27 Kilograms of ammonal and 200 litres of flammable liquids. The Spanish Audiencia Nacional explained it like this:

A ball of fire burnt everyone in its path and at the same time created a large amount of toxic gases that asphyxiated those in the vicinity. Several people were atrociously burnt and mutilated and had no possibility of escaping the black smoke and flammable materials adhered to their bodies as the composition of the explosives was such that made these materials impossible to peel off and to extinguish them as their auto-combustion did not require from the atmospheric oxygen.

At that time, Otegi had been in the terrorist organization for about ten years. Otegi joined ETA when Franco’s dictatorship was almost finished. He belongs to those that developed their criminal careers against democracy. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of the attacks and assassinations of ETA took place while in a democratic regime.

This year 2017, the one of the 30th anniversary of the slaughter in Hipercor, Otegi wrote on twitter that he shared “the pain of the victims” and that “it should have never occurred”. Perhaps this was to prepare his landing in the demonstration of the “Diada”. He did not write for example: “We should never have put that car-bomb nor any other”.

“It should never have occurred”. There is no subject. No one is responsible. Nothing new either can be found in Otegi’s so-called condolences. After the attack in Hipercor, ETA sent a press statement saying that they had made “a serious error” and this was followed by another one from Herri Batasuna where they lamented “the high price in human lives and injured people that this tragic accident had generated”. Accident. They use the word accident because the warning call, that gave a wrong time for the explosion, was not followed by the evacuation of the supermarket, and hence they make responsible the company and the police.

The shock caused by this slaughter forced ETA, and its political wing, to that unheard of and brief self-criticism. It was so brief though, that six months later they committed another slaughter. A car-bomb killed eleven people, six of them under-aged in a home barrack of the Guardia Civil in Zaragoza. Needless to say, neither ETA nor its political wing lamented the cost in human lives of those attacks nor any of the ones that killed army personal, policemen, civil guards, including their relatives, those unfortunate bystanders and so many others.

TV3 with fine judgment to select its guests made the most of the presence in Barcelona of such a prominent actor in this terror history to interview him. Those involved in this program mentioned in social networks that they had had a great time with him. A friendly chap with whom to have a laugh and take some selfies. When they took their photographs with him the Catalan separatists have photographed themselves. Not a very flattering photography.

Following Batasuna’s press release regarding the “accident” of Hipercor, La Vanguardia editorialised: “The press release that we all have had to read exceeds outrage and causes us something deeper: disgust”. Old hat. Nowadays, Otegi can walk like a rock star in Barcelona, the same place as that and other slaughters. Not even the fact that terrorism, in its jihadist form, had just used its scythe in this city made his hosts and admirers ask him about his past. A past, and this is the key point, that is still part of his present.

*Originally published in Spanish with the title “Un selfie con la ETA” on 13th September 2017

in: http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/cristina-losada/un-selfie-con-la-eta-83158/

Translated by Laura Cano-Lérida

 

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Dual power in Catalonia

Dual Power

Cristina Losada

One of the main problems that most of the Spanish political elite has is failing to believe that a coup d’état was possible, and that it could prevail, a coup like the one instigated by the de facto powers from the Generalitat (1). A coup that,  as if it wasn’t enough,  not only is a blow to democracy but also an attempt to put an end to the State and the nation. By its very nature this is, as any other coup is, a breakage of the law. One cannot attempt a coup within the limits of the law, or a little bit inside and a little bit outside its limits.

It was a comfortable yet suicidal belief to think that what happened on October 1st was another show, alike to the 9-N (2) one, and that the following day, after venting the rage of the procés (3), one could go back to some kind of institutional normality. This belief has already been proven wrong by all that has been happening in the shameful Catalan parliamentary sessions from the beginning of September to today. It was a preposterous naivety to think that there was any trace of respect for democratic laws and sense of responsibility left in those squatting in the Government of Catalonia. In fact, maybe not completely preposterous as it was wilful blindness as well. It was closing our eyes to what it seemed unavoidable before October 1st: the fact that the State had to use all its legal and constitutional power, including the legitimate use of force, to stop the coup.

In Catalonia, we have a situation of dual power. This was clear weeks ago, and has become even clearer now. The still serving autonomous government is outside the law not only de jure but also de facto. Its disobedience to court orders has trespassed the line of sedition promoting the riotous occupation of so-called polling stations as well as the streets in an attempt to establish the control of the territory by the insurgent power.

A measure of their moral standards is found in the fact that they have encouraged the presence of grannies and children as human shields despite them knowing that force would have to be used to evacuate the polling stations. They also knew that the regional police force would not enforce the court rulings and hence would not close them down. It is this intervention (or lack of) by the Mossos (4), ordered by its officials, that aggravates the situation of a dual power.

One might think that after the events of October 1st the self-satisfying naivety was going to dissipate and that the wilful blindness would lead to a clearer if unpleasant view of what is at stake, and of the situations that we will have to face to avoid the promoters of the coup d’état imposing their power on the lawful and legitimate state. This is not the case.

There are politicians advocating for the dialogue with the coup leaders, therefore offering them a reward. There is a faction of the Government that believes in small favours to return to normal. Both groups of our political elites have a clear reticence to use the constitutional powers to avoid, at least, the Generalitatbeing used as the headquarters of the coup.

Unlike many people, I do not believe that having applied weeks ago article 155 could have saved us from the riots in the streets nor the attempt to celebrate a so-called referendum: in fact, a mass protest to declare the secession. By this I do not mean that article 155 shouldn’t had been applied. What I mean is that we should not be naive enough to think that the coup followers would abide by it. Moreover, if it was enforced now – it should be and as soon as possible – one must expect that Puigdemont and Junqueras do as they did with the court ruling regarding the 1-O (5). They will refuse to follow orders. Let’s be certain of this.

No, to enforce article 155 won’t be as easy as sending a document by fax. It will not be a matter of approving it and that’s it. However, the government and the main opposition party will have to enforce it if they do not want to go down in history as those who allowed a gang of corrupt fanatics to put an end to Spain as we know it. They must enforce its application. This will not be easy nor pleasant but if they do not do this it is the secession that will be enforced instead. I will add a note for PP and PSOE. Not that this should matter at all to the Spanish people but just in case it is of utmost importance for them: if worse comes to worse, these political parties and its leaders will not survive.

 

(1)   Headquarters of the regional government of Catalonia under the current statute of autonomous region.

(2)   9-N: 9th November 2014, illegal referendum in Catalonia.

(3)   Catalan for process. It is understood as referring to this process of independence.

(4)   Regional Police Force in Catalonia

(5)   1-O: 1st October 2017, illegal referendum in Catalonia

 

*Originally published in Spanish with the title “Doble Poder” on 2nd October 2017 in: http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/cristina-losada/doble-poder-83319/

 

 

 

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The nationalists are the problem

The nationalists are the problem*

Cristina Losada

I do not believe the nation is sacred. Nor I consider its borders fixed. I identify myself with the stoic acceptance of the unavoidable that Vaclav Havel stated in his memoirs regarding the breakup of Czechoslovakia. And with his sadness about it:

I repeat what I have already stated: there is no doubt that something like this happening was positive; however, the separation had a grotesque aspect. If we have suffered any loss this has been no doubt a cultural loss: today our nations have a disproportionately smaller possibility of enjoying their cultural expressions and they have even stopped understanding each other in their respective languages. Our homeland, in a cultural and spiritual sense, has been reduced and impoverished, this cannot be denied.

It seems to me laudable the political thrust that was captured in the Canadian Clarity Act which as opposed to what some people say does not recognise the right of self-determination of the people of Quebec. The Supreme Court ruling, the previous step to this law, clearly affirms that “the right of self-determination cannot, in the current circumstances, be the basis of a right for unilateral secession”. Dion explains this well here.

In this sense, I would consider legitimate -  and it is of course legal – that a proposal to reform the Constitution was presented so that the whole of the Spanish people could decide whether the inhabitants of Catalonia can be given the capacity to express, within legal procedures, if they do want to stay or not in Spain. And one must remember, as this is often forgotten, that this legal path was deliberately rejected by the Catalan nationalism from the very beginning of their separatist drift.

I can subscribe, to a certain extent, what José María Ruiz Soroa said in an article in 2014:”The secession is not a right (it is not a “we want to and that’s it”) but it is a reasonable demand that some of the citizens may pose to their State”. The problems start when we go from “las musas al teatro”; when we translate the possible ways and paths to satisfy a secessionist demand, as reasonable as they may be on paper, to reality. When we take them from the laboratory to apply them in a real scenario: a scenario that we know how it is and how it has been and therefore we know how it is likely to be. Hence, the problems start when the nationalists appear.

As it turns out, it is the nationalists, and no others, that have created the demand of secession in Catalonia. It is the nationalists, no others, the ones that have created the demand for a referendum for the separation of Catalonia. And it is the nationalists, whom during decades of hegemony and in a boundless way during the five years of separatist process, have done this: silenced, marked and intimidated those disagreeing; instigated the hate to Spain; excluded from public life the language of half the Catalan population; rejected that a rich region like the Catalan one would contribute to the development of other poorer ones; fed a supremacism from which they consider inferior other Spaniards.

This is not an exhaustive list. But I do believe it constitutes sufficient and verifiable prove that these nationalists pose a threat to freedom and civil rights. That they are a threat to democracy. Does anybody think they would behave like perfect democrats and that they would respect the rules and fair play if there were authorized to go ahead with their demand for secession? Can anyone, considering these nationalists historical track record, believe such a thing? I am willing to listen to them.

On this issue, I have no doubt. If ways to further progress this demand, of which they are creators and protagonists, were made available, they would win. They would do so and much more because of what they have already done. Moreover, when I think about how their nationalist nation would be, a nation based on identity, not plural but uniform, a nation where freedom and rights will be empty words, a nation where corruption would be left unpunished, I reaffirm myself.

I reaffirm myself in that I would be willing to consider a demand of secession if those asking for it were not the nationalists. But the damned reality is that it is only requested by the nationalists. And as it happens it is not the demand for secession that is a problem. The nationalists are the problem. These nationalists are the problem.

 *Originally published in Spanish in http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/cristina-losada/el-problema-son-los-nacionalistas-83289/

Date of original publication: 28th September 2017

 

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