Monday, 8 February 2010

Spain: Fascism's last refuge in Europe

Toni Strubell, the Coordinator of the Dignity Commission, has sent the following letter to the international media condemning Spain's refusal to eradicate the remains still present in many villages and towns of the dictatorship of General Franco, Europe's last fascist government and ally of Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy. He also decries Spain's obstacles to inquests into crimes committed during the dictatorship and it's opposition to any kind of official inquiry or truth commission.

Dear Sir,

I would very much like to call your attention to worrying events coming from today's Spain. Last February 4th, Spanish newspapers reported that a National Audience judge, Baltasar Garzón, is to be put on trial and possibly suspended. What was his crime? Having dared to try and open up an investigation into the mass graves and other crimes perpetrated by the Franco regime (in Valencia alone, mass graves holding over 26,300 post-war Franco victims have recently been discovered). That very day the newspapers also informed that the huge fascist monument honouring the cruiser Baleares in Palma bay (the pride of Franco's fleet sunk by the Republicans after having shelled thousands of fleeing refugees on the coastal roads of Andalusia) is not to be demolished. It is to be conserved. What must Spanish democrats and relatives of the victims make of this? Can anyone imagine the same occurring with a monument dedicated to a Fascist-manned warship in any other part of the democratic world? Furthermore, on February 5th newspapers informed that the Basque Parliament, where Spanish Constitutional parties at present hold a majority (due to the illegalization of the Basque left party) voted against instating a Truth Commission (such as the one established by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in the early nineties) to discover the truth about the crimes of Franco. What in heaven's name is happening in Spain? I think it is high time democrats all over the world be informed about the huge democratic deficit that exists today in Spain. Europe largely ridded itself of Fascism in 1945. The one place it lives on is in Spain, where 56 streets in Madrid still bear the names of Franco generals. The sooner the whole world knows the truth about Spain, the sooner we can start to put an end to so much iniquity and disgrace.

Toni Strubell i Trueta
Coordinator of the Dignity Commission

The former head of State, General Franco (left), with his successor to be, the then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain, at his side at a Fascist rally in Madrid in September 1975


Candide said...

Strubell does not care for Spain. He is a Catalan independentist.

Maybe he is an independentist because he sees Spain as a fascist refuge. But it is nothing else than hypocrisy when he demands that "the sooner the whole world knows the truth about Spain, the sooner we can start to put an end to so much iniquity and disgrace.", because he has already excluded himself from that "we" he pretends to speak for.

He wants the world "to know" not with the aim to change Spain, but with the aim of gaining some sort of understanding for his secessionist ambitions.

His view of Spain is fundamentally skewed. And he takes foreign journalists for fools with this all too transparent maneuver.

YuriBCN said...

I am also an independentist, as you will doubtless have gathered from having at least a quick scan of my posts and links. And like Strubell, I also have a "skewed" view of Spain, as does absolutely everybody else, yourself included. It is a fundamental of mankind that we make up our view of the world around us depending on how we have acquired our knowledge of it.

I was not educated at a Spanish school but at French and British schools and thus have an otherwise slanted viewpoint of world, European and Spanish history, as will any who have acquired their viewpoint in, say, a Spanish school.

And via this blog, I hope to offer an alternative, non-Spanish-nationalist outlook of Catalan history and current affairs and to skew it right, as I see it.

Unfortunately, as Winston Churchill once said, "history is written by the victors" and not by the vanquished. Unfortunately, the Catalan people have more often than not, and of no fault of their own, found themselves on the wrong side.

It would be a more just world if the losing side's story were also considered, not as a story told by constant whiners and whimperers, as the Catalans are often depicted, but for the alternate and simultaneously true account of this people's history.

It is as true as Spanish history as accounted for in Spanish school books for example, those that have almost completely sidelined the Catalan viewpoint of history. And this is why most Spaniards simply do not understand what the Catalans are complaining about.

Rather than ridiculing one or other side of the story, it would be best for all if a broader outlook were taken of the situation in Catalonia and Spain. Unfortunately, as I lay out in How much is enough?, Spain has a serious problem with acceptance of diversity, be it linguistic, national or political, within what is perceived as the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation", interpreted by too many Spaniards as uniformity. Independentists like myself move, therefore, that Spain's solution, for both the Spanish and the Catalans, is Catalan independence.

Candide said...

As a true philosopher, you have made a lot out of a single word. But let's keep it simple: "skewed" has to be understood within its context. The text represents a slanted view because its author does not care to improve the situation he decries. Which brings us to the main word: hypocrisy.

On to more important stuff. Yes indeed, there is a confrontation between Spanish and Catalan nationalisms. I reject both. The situation is complex, but it is not beyond repair. A lot has been gained in the last decades, and I agree much more should be achieved.

It could as well be achieved by independence, depends on what you want to achieve. If you want more recognition for Catalan identity, independence could turn out to be counterproductive.

If you simply want a state called Catalonia, independence is the way. Says nothing about the living conditions in that state, though.

I'd rather opt for a not so confrontational solution. Needs patience, but is much less risky.

From an autonomous self-government to (other) state laws, the means are there. But if you want the comprehension of the rest of the citizens of Spain, while they always hear that "Catalonia is not Spain" and therefor have to think that any rapprochement only fosters the independence of Catalonia, you can try but you will always fail.

You criticise that Spain has never understood Catalonia, but it is also true that Catalonia has never arrived in Spain.

And if we talk about Catalonia and its independence, we are talking about the "Catalan lands". At least that is how the most accepted reading of that matter goes. If Spaniards feel that as (an even major) threat, I'm entirely with them.

In conclusion: not only is it good to empathise with Catalonia, one should also have understanding for Spain. And may I also put in a word for legality, or does such a thing sound too demanding nowadays?

Nin said...

Really Candide? An independent state would be couterproductive? What, with the national anthem and flag at the olympics and world cup I guess no one would notice right? How about international cava sales where the label would read "embotellat per __________ Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, Catalunya", or official recognition of Catalan and the Senyera in the EU and the UN? Would anyone really say that those changes are counterproductive to international recognition? Malta is better known internationally than Corsica, even though it is a smaller island. Why? It's a State and Corsica isn't yet.

Don't worry about the living conditions in independent Catalonia, with the 10% of the GDP not going to Madrid but instead staying right where it belongs, the country's standard of living would easily meet the european average.

Why does Catalonia need to "arrive" in Spain? When Catalonia was annexed to Castile and it's liberties and institutions were abolished by force, no one asked Catalonia if they felt this was fair and no one asked them if they wanted to stop being Catalonia in order to form part of Spain.

I'm not sure what you mean by the "catalan lands". Obviously, a State delimits an identifiable territory, this would imply that some land be catalan, just as some land is andorran or german. (In Catalonia's case there would be Catalan waters as well seeing as they have a coast and all). It is also common to find entries such as this one in the Enciclopedia Italiana. V. IX [Milano. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana. 1931. Pp. 418-9. Entry listed as “Catalogna”]: "Il territorio catalano si estende a occidente del Mediterraneo da Salces sullo stagno di Leucate in Francia (dipartamento dei Pirenei orientali) sino a Santa Pola a Guardamar (Valenza). Esso comprende inoltre le Isole Baleari, le Pitiuse e la città di Alghero in Sardegna.” Which translates into: The catalan territiry extends from Salses on the Leucate pond (department of the Pyrénées Orientales) all the way down to Santa Pola and Guardamar (Valencia). This also includes the Balearic Islands,the Pitiuse Islands and the city of Alghero in Sardinia.

Therefore, according to the Enciclopedia Italiana, Catalonia's identifiable territory is the one described above. I doubt that such a prestigious publications would get it wrong.

Candide said...

You can be counterproductive by being too narrow minded. Worked on me; I'm totally what you would describe as "new Catalan", but I do not by a bit into Catalan nationalist myths.

Catalonia does not "have to" arrive in Spain. But it's a point that is has not when it's about to leave Spain.

I surely worry about the living conditions in Catalonia, for that is where I live. May I not? Shall I ask Montull first? Or Luigi?

"Catalan lands" is the translation of "països catalans". New to you? May I really not ask what geographical borders will the aspired for Catalan state have? I mean, there's a real dispute going on! Where do you live???

And in this context I could not give less about the waters, sorry.