Agustí Molins

Interviewed June 29, 2017 for Catalunya Barcelona docuseries.

First of all, what’s your name?

I’m Agustí Molins i Olmos.

When and where were you born?

I was born in Barcelona. The 29th of July 1961.

What’s your profession?

I’m a physician.

Could you tell us some anecdote from the 88 exhibit, the tragic week in 1909, etc.

I belong to a generation that didn’t learn anything about the history of Catalonia. Due to being in a post-Franco time, the education we received in schools was the history of Spain.

And the civil war wasn’t dealt with much either. Just that ‘el Caudillo’ had won that war.

Everything that was related to the former history of Catalonia, I don’t remember having it in any lesson nor any book.

It’s as if it had never existed. We had been born already under the dictatorship of fracoism.

It’s true that, especially in my line of work, we focus on medicine too much. It takes so much of us that we don’t have many chances to access knowledge spaces.

That’s why all the time up to Franco’s death, it’s as if we hadn’t lived it.

We don’t know it, we don’t have it. Further than not being there physically, we don’t know about it.

Could you tell us about the ‘Sant Pau’ hospital, about its history?

As a doctor, the ‘Sant Pau’ hospital is a delicious piece.

I was instructed in the ‘Hospital Clinic’, but the first time I entered the ‘Sant Pau’ hospital, I was awestruck, wondering how it would be to be a doctor in such a building.

A building from Domènech i Montaner that represents an important part of modernism in our city.

What we really generate is a collection of anecdotes when we start traveling. People from my year start traveling to other countries, going on student exchanges, having grants out of the country.

Then, you’d meet Spaniards and when they come back from holidays, they visit Barcelona, as it’s another city they want to know.

When you take a doctor from anywhere in the country to visit something that doesn’t appear in most touristic guides,

You go up the stair, through the entrance and find that room. You start seeing pavilions and know that each of them represented a service, a speciality. They stand still, they stop awestruck. They don’t continue, there’s a moment that you stop and stare. It’s a spectacular architectonic piece.

Unless I’m wrong, I think it was about to be tore down to build a new… [bell rings]

Unless my memory fails me, I think it was about to be taken down until we managed to keep the structure and have it protected as an important architectonic work, which is what it is.

Could you talk to us about the health system in Barcelona?

In Catalonia, I think that we are people who do stuff, like sometimes, ironically, said the current president of Spain.

We are people who do stuff. We are people who, suddenly, are entrepreneurs. We are people who, suddenly, have this differential trait. I’m not saying that it isn’t elsewhere, but it’s in sync with our character.

Are Barcelona and Catalonia pioneers in the field of medicine?

Catalonia in general is bringing this kind of [pec pec pec pec]

I don’t think it’s something specific that can be highlighted like, for example, we were talking about cancer. In the ‘Vall d’Hebron’ hospital, doctor Baselga’s team is pioneer in the treatment and curing of cancer.

It comes to mind now, for example, the transplant teams in the ‘Sant Pau’ hostpital.

They were, during the 90s, Spain’s highest exponent regarding quality and managing capacity in transplants, and that happened here in Catalonia too.

What were the ‘años del hambre’?

I suspect, I think, that the ‘años del hambre’ is that post war time when people didn’t really have easy access to food. There were rationing cards that you needed to get to be able to wait hours in a queue and get your dose.

I was lucky in that regard. At home, we had a legume store and what I know is that, in a way, at home we’ve always been told that they had never gone hungry. We did, however, take in people who maybe because they worked with family or had a local store could access this legume plate that often was lacking in many places.

The Catalan diet changed in the last 50 years?

To worse. The Catalan diet, the European diet and the world diet, unfortunately has changed.

It’s true that we change, specifically in Catalonia, from a time of hunger, a time where there were no resources, where food was scarce, to a time where we have a terrible abundance.

There’s a revolution point that is when chicken starts being available for everyone. Before, your family tells you that capons were for Christmas and chicken for Sundays.

Nowadays, we eat chicken three times a day. We have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner sometimes.

Obviously that revolutionizes and changes the state [bell rings]

From the revolution that causes the entrance of chicken, the acces to chicken. For example, nowadays it’s still being priorized, it’s even being campaigned, for people to drink milk.

Milk is a proper food to give people who had no other way a needed amount of protein.

However, nowadays we don’t need milk. Everything that milk has, is found in other nutrients.

It has changed to an excessive feeding. A diet of ultraproccessed foods and we are feeling the consequences. We are feeling the consequences with a metabolic sickness. That is causing an increase of diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension.

And, of course, it’s having a very important health cost.

Spanish wine is one of the best in the world, but the beer is average at best. But it seems that the consume of beer increases and that of wine decreases. Why do you think this happens?


It’s interesting from a cultural prespective and what impact in can have in health.

I like red wine a lot. It seems that fashion is making white one ever consider of higher quality.

We are the top of black wine. Besides, my father comes from a small region, Montsant, that in 2011 and 2012 won the first world Parker prize. It qualified it as the best, giving it 99 points.

These wines are so strong that, historically, in times of the romans, it was imported to France to strengthen French wine.

Historically, harvests from this area have been imported from the harbor of Tarragone. There are some varieties of Garnache grape there that have very strong flavor and high alcohol content.

The developing of enology in our country, especially in the last years, because I started to understand wine culture 10 or 15 years ago, when the quality of wine is much more the topic. Priure, Penedès, Montsant.

Why is more beer drunk? Beer, actually, is a refreshment. It’s not drink you look for in a certain moment to enjoy. You stop at any terrace, you’re thirsty in the summer and want something that will make the thirst go away. You forget it has alcohol because it has low proof and you have a beer.

It’s not so bad if taken with moderation.

It has ingredients like hops, for example, that are very healthy. It has a certain diuretic effect. In Spain, there has even been formed an association for the beneficious effects of beer. The same way that there’s an association or are medically known the effects of some kinds of wines, that, due to their content in resveratrol, can have a positive effect as an antioxidant in our organism.

Even though it’s a bit controversial, these properties have been attributed to wine.

What health crisis is Barcelona or Spain facing?



No doubt, the current [economic] crisis has brought a change in diet. Specially in families that have suffered it, there are many that have suffered it directly.

They have lacked economic resources to access better quality produce. Evidently, I can satiate my hunger with a platter of only boiled pasta or I can access local, ecologically produced vegetables and also an ecological protein that is much more expensive than what you can pay for a plate of pasta to make the hunger go away.

There have been some studies that show an increase in infantile obesity, they even had to put important alerts in schools for control because there were families who, in the XXI century, can’t properly nourish their kids.

I think that the obesity crisis is the most important on a medical level right now because the illnesses related to obesity are many, and the changes in diet and lack of education in school on how we should eat. There’s also the easy access to junk food, that is available for a very low price. It’s obviously causing a very important increase of pathologies associated with obesity.

It is very easy to go into any supermarket, any local store, and buying a tray of heart-shaped puffed pastries. Those are full of palm oil, full of bad fats that harm us and they are given to kids as snacks. For a euro you can have a tray full of those things, of course that hurt.

The issue of drugs, I think it has lost strength.

There was a time, during the 70s and 80s, when there were even dangerous ghettos in the city. Dangerous because a whole generation died out because of drugs.

I, for example, had an office where I visited in Cornellà, an important periphery city.

There were two neighborhoods in Cornellà that I remember some patient telling me that there was nobody left of that group of people who had gotten into drugs.

I know for a fact that here too, for example, in neighborhoods like Montbau something similar could happen

It’s decreases, I suppose, due to the police control and the follow-up that has been made.

Even though, there’s still drug in the city. There are still some marginal areas where, if one goes there, it chills your bones to see how people can lose themselves in drugs.

Now we will ask you some historical questions. What do you think of the ‘pacto del olvido’?

I don’t know what it is, I’ve forgotten.

It’s a pact that was made after Franco’s time to…

It’s so big what happened during Franco’s time. It’s so deep the suffering during a dictatorship, especially if you have the fate or disgrace, or bad luck here, of belonging to the side affected by victory, that is the loser, that it can’t be forgotten.

You can’t forget all that people that is dead, buried in a mass grave. You can’t forget all those trials that under a dictatorial tribunal condemned people for their political ideas.

I think that we can’t think in the ‘pacto del olvido’, but we had to keep in mind the recovery of the historical memory.

Today, I heard a piece of news in the radio that there has been a parliamentary agreement that the sentences of all trials held between the 38 and the 78 were considered void. Because they admit that these tribunals were not fit, were not impartial, so all francoist sentences are annulled. I think today’s landmark is interesting.

How do you remember the day of the signing of the constitution?

It’s a time in life that politics isn’t very important, because we are focused in growing professionally, and we have that part of studying and also that part of trying to have fun.

Anyway, we do understand that there’s a big change going on.

I do remember, for example, the day of Franco’s death. That day you couldn’t walk the street with more than three people.

I remember that we made groups of, I think, 3 or 4, but we grouped and went to places separately. The you closed up and there we were all together.

The day of the constitution, all that process seems that it’s a process that is taking us to a freedom, or at least we are hopeful that those hard times are starting to end.

History, or what happened later, would show us that, sadly, much still remains from that time.

The relation between Spain and the armed forces has always been complex, why do you think that happens?

The relation between Spain and the armed forces?


No… All I can tell you is that I was forced to do the military service. That I was forced to kiss a flag that wasn’t mine.

Curiously, back then I felt even proud of being Spanish. Because when I was twenty I went to the military service, it was compulsory. It broke up my career, broke up my life.

It took a year or a year and a half of my personal development. Well, there are interesting things. There, one learns discipline if one hasn’t learnt it at home. Luckily, I had it from home. But you saw your partners evolve in there.

I don’t have much more to say about the armed forces or my reality within them.

Do you remember the general elections of the 93?

Which are those?

The first to be televised.

The ones with Felipe Gonzalez?


Could you tell us about them?

You said 1993. That’s after the Olympics.

The first time you go vote, you feel excited, you think you have the option to influence the outcome of your future, of the country where you’re growing.

One feels responsible, gown up. That’s the way I felt during the first elections I could vote.

In the other ones, you actually tried to push harder for what you believed in, what you wanted. But you felt small, you felt you could only, in a way, influence.

It’s true that during the two terms where there was no absolute majority, right-wing or left-wing, in our democracy, CiU, back then a strong party, did a great job as a hinge party. In exchange of giving the approval for several things on a national level, we obtained a series of personal benefits for our community, for Catalonia.

Are you pro-independence?

Yes, I am pro-independence. I have become pro-independence.

I’ve voted a right wing, nationalist party, ‘Alianza Popular’, from the beginning. Because I believed in personal effort to progress in life.

I’ve been raised in a culture that with more work time and effort, you have more chances of studying and getting a degree, studying and getting better grades, working and getting better benefits regarding income or helping others.

But history has taken me to be independentist because it can’t be dealt with nowadays. When one lives what’s been going on in our community daily, you have no other option but to be independentist.

If I had any doubts due to lack of knowledge, landing on a family that knows the history has made me completely sure. The current situation strengthens it, the current economical situation strengthens that I want to be Catalan before being Spanish to the point of being Catalan without being Spanish.

It is often said that ‘seny’ is an important characteristic of Catalan people. What’s ‘seny’?

Medically no… We have an extra tooth. We haven’t reached that point of ‘cordura’ as it is said in Spanish. The Catalan ‘seny’ is a way to act.

The Catalan ‘seny’ is that common sense that sometimes people, even some of us Catalans, lack.

The Catalan ‘seny’ is that philosophy that, when things are done properly and with the heart, they work out.

The Catalan ‘seny’ is what we’re having in this process and what seem to lack those who are against it.

The failed coup the year 1981 by Antonio Tejero. Could you tell us how it was lived in Barcelona?



Obviously, we lived it in fear.

Let’s not forget that we are a conquered country. We are a country that held on, encircled by troops during many weeks until they finally conquered us.

They had lived a post-war, mother was very young during the war and doesn’t remember it but she remembers the post-war, and they felt that something similar could happen or was already starting to happen.

The doubt of that moment, was something that we lived with a lot of anguish.

I remember that, at home, ever since there has been a pantry that keeps getting renewed. In it, there are always legumes, there’s always oil, there’s always emergency food.

Even now, so many years after that, it’s still there.

We did believe we were going back to a dictatorship. Who had suffered it, of course, didn’t want it and that was the fear that was transmitted to a generation that didn’t understand.

Because, as I’ve said before, our generation didn’t understand what had been going on.

I was born the 61, so when Franco dies I’m a very young teenager.

Could you tell us some anecdote from the 80s in Barcelona? Something that you can relate to the post-francoist time, constitutional monarchy…

I’m bade with dates, but let’s give it a shot. 80, I finish the 88, then…

The students’ demonstrations.

Universities have always been a revolutionary demonstration element. Young people have much more strong ideals. It doesn’t mean that old people doesn’t have them, but youngsters also have the chance to fight for the things they want.

So university, especially the central university building, was a place of demonstrations asking for rights.

There were also the ‘grises’ [lit. grey ones], that’s how the police was called due to their grey uniforms. The demonstrations were dissolved with hits of the club and they were chased and there were stampedes and… We saw that a bit from afar, because we were still a bit young and green, those were the first years of the medicine degree and the medicine students are a bit far from the university campus.

But yeah, I remember it. I remember former school partners who, in a way, were part of that movement that wanted to be independentist.

They also had familiar roots that had been passed down, something that wasn’t common. In our family, for example, we weren’t passed down anything that had happened during the war.

But that group did get it. They went to try and make graffiti and painted them with chalk. They felt chased, as if they had done something very wrong against the establishment and very good and positive for them.

What kind of anecdotes… Because I sure have them, but I get lost in time.

Things like that, when Francoism ended, when the constitution started…

Have you found out about the Xirinacs phenomenon? It’s quite interesting.

Xirinacs was a priest, unless I remember wrong, I picture him as such. He would live for days sitting in the door of the ‘Model’, in Entença street, which was recently closed.

That man, they were there protesting in a pacifist demonstration for the political prisoners there in the ‘Model’.

He would give speeches until it was all dissolved. It wasn’t so much a meeting or a demonstration, but rather transmitting from where he was, protesting because there were these political prisoners. Many people would come over, some to see listen to him, or give him support or even bring him food.

He’s a symbol of the weak fight that was during that time, because we didn’t believe in it or understand it or even know what we had to fight for.

Regarding drugs, could you tell us about the current policies? For example regarding marijuana…

Yesterday it was legalized. As a doctor, I can be in favor of drugs. Neither can I as a person. Sadly, I have close experiences in the group where we grew up as teenagers of people who died because of drugs.

A certain girl, I remember how she ended up prostituting herself because of drugs when she was 17.

That shocks you, and I wouldn’t think about trying it nor can I accept it.

It’s true that there are associations and that, precisely today I heard a piece of news, that some regulations have been approved for cannabis clubs and associations.

Cannabis has important, medically proven properties, for example in oncology patients. But, in my opinion, it should be a medicament, so not… something that can be regulated. Regarding free time usage, there’s a neuronal effect that I’m not going to accept as a doctor that people takes it.

It’s true that we have other drugs that are tolerated like alcohol and tobacco, but I’m against it.

You asked me before regarding how the drug situation has evolved in the city. Truth is that the opening of methadone dosage centers meant an important descent in the chance of treatment of those patients who were hooked up to heroin.

The fact that it is dosed, that you could have emotional support and that what was given to the patient was dosed, it probably caused a huge descent in the number of addicts in the city.

He’s asking that you talk about what happened a month ago regarding independence, with the urns.

Do you want me to read it? From the phone?

The question would be regarding urns, right?

Right now, there’s a firm stance from the government that tries to keep us from exercising our democratic right to vote.

It is obviously becoming a game of chess. The Catalan government, president Puigdemont, according to the rule of the parliament who, in majority, decided that there would be a voting regarding independence, a referendum for independence, and the central government won’t let us. It has to somehow stop us from doing it.

How? To begin with, chasing every kind of organization regarding this, for example the purchase of urns.

This morning I received this, I think it could be funny, if you’re okay with it I’ll read it.

[reads] Pass it along, pass it along. Urns? How many will you want, Miss? I’ll tell you, as it is quite simple. One, to acquire goods or services over 18.000€, the generality needs to put out a tender and every company that wishes to can take part to get it.

Two, the generality put out a tender to acquire 8.000 urns and two companies showed up.

Three, the district attorney’s office, interpreting that the urns would be used for a criminal act (urns, sometimes, are used to hold referendums), presents a lawsuit against our governing councilor, Meritxell Borràs, to prevent the purchase.

Four, the generality decides to leave the tender without a winner for technical reasons.

Five, without a tender there are no urns. And without urns, there’s no chance of a criminal act. The, the district attorney’s office has to take back the lawsuit or look ridiculous for presenting a lawsuit against a tender without a winner.

Six, as there was no company during the tender that fulfilled the requirements to opt for the manufacture and sell of the urns, the generality is now within its full right to purchase them from who it wants, where it wants and when it wants, without press and in a subtle way.

The 1stof October, out of magic, urns will appear from some warehouses in Catalonia, invading schools and electoral colleges.

It’s a game of chess. The game has start and you need to play right. [finishes reading]

What would be the differences between the current autonomic community of Catalonia and an independent nation regarding economy, culture, etc.

I think that, at first, we won’t improve.

There will be a time of transition in state structures, creating new relationships as a new country, that will be difficult.

But even then, we want it.

We want it because, when what is yours and you hold deep inside is attacked, the only need is to go away.

When I talk of that which is yours I mean, for example, language.

They can’t, and they’ve tried historically but Catalan has survived. They can’t attack Catalan, it’s the language you use with your family, with your mother, it is your mother tongue.

They attack it and try to diminish it, when what you should do is try to ensure its survival, because it is a minority language and it could disappear.

And that happens with so many other things. When they try to underestimate you. When you have an entrepreneur character and they clip your wings, you have no other choice but wanting to be you. And to want to be you, I can’t be where I am, I need to go.

The change is important. It’s not an economic change, but an identity change. I want to build a country of freedom. A country where corruption is chased away, punished. And I can’t get that where I am now. There are corrupts here, of course there are. Everywhere where there are opportunities, there will be corrupts.

Each of us are little corrupts when we try to cut on what we have to dutifully pay to Internal Revenue.

That chance, which some have more developed with political positions or otherwise, it is easy that they end up doing that.

I want a country that is able to control that.

A country that fights for freedoms, that fights to accept that others should be helped but I should be allowed to carry on. Where I have a country of opportunities, a different country that is my country, that I can see as something that identifies me.

Why bother being an independent state when you’ve been part of Spain for so long?

Twenty years ago, I was from Castelldefels, that’s where I lived. Then from Barcelona, then Catalan, then Spanish, then European, then a citizen of the world.

Nowadays, I need to be Catalan. I will still belong to the European community, I will still be from Vilassar, that’s where I live now. And I will still be a citizen of the world.

But I can’t be Spanish. Even though I like it and have many friends and family out there, I can’t be Spanish.

First, because I have much more knowledge.

Two, because now, I see myself being vexed, not being loved, being insulted.

I have the luck of having traveled a lot around the country for work reasons. When you listen to radio stations, with all the campaigning during the last 7 or 10 years done against Catalonia, I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be where I’m not loved. And they don’t love me.

They treat me as a thief, as if I steal from them, as if Catalonia has grown because there has been so much immigration.

I don’t want to be in a country where I’m insulted, I’m affronted, and I’m not acknowledged.

I will still be friends with my Spanish friends, of which I have many, and I hope that they will also accept me as such being Catalan.

Are there other examples, like the Mediterranean corridor, of the government’s incompetence?

Here are two things mixed. One is economic interest, to steal. Starting to put money in your pocket for all those stupid projects that haven’t taken us anywhere.

The other is this attempt to continually annoy a country that has push, a country that is engine. I’m talking of Catalonia, engine of a whole state, as it has historically been between Catalonia and Spain.

When you have an airport in Castellò where only toy planes land, when you have AVE stations where there are only 16 people each day while here every day, for an incomplete deficit. They approved that there would be some budget that would be destined to the ‘Rodalies’ networks and that hasn’t happened.

Everyday people are in traffic jams, they are late, can’t catch the train because their work is on the line since it’s every day late. Or they have to leave home an hour early because our railway system is pitiful. When they spend millions in other railway investments with no purpose, that is obviously in detriment of our quality.

This centralism example is also found in the road network. You leave Madrid and, unless you go by a special road, M50 I think, you have a toll.

You have to go to Zaragoza via a two-lane highway, where you could easily go over the speed limit without danger or any issue. Actually, a few years back we went much faster to Madrid, without having to pay a toll until you were 300 kilometers away.

Here we pay them at 30. That is, thirty kilometers from the city whatever direction you go.

Either you take the motorway, to go through town after town or you’re paying up in Martorell, you’re paying in Premià, you’re paying in the Vallvidrera tunnels…

That’s unjust, it’s not right. Because a country that is a born purveyor of good in the country and Europe, we need to be in worse conditions.

We need a much more expensive life cost, that is, living in Barcelona is much more expensive than living in Almería, than living in I don’t know about Málaga, but Valencia for example.

We pay more for the water, for housing, everything. But we have less remunerations.

When suddenly one of the other communities has textbooks for free.

In such stupid things, such as, I could swear it’s in Andalucía, sex change, in transsexual people, is paid by the administration.

That doesn’t happen here. Why? When you are born producer of all these goods and services and you turn out not having them.

I’m not saying that we will be for the better when we go out, that we will be richer when we become independent. What I know is that this state doesn’t love me.

And, even more, history tell me that we shouldn’t be in this country. But today it doesn’t love me.

The question, I was talking before, after so many years together, why go away?

Let’s not forget that we are a conquered country. We are a country that held on, encircled by troops during many weeks until they finally conquered us.

We didn’t want to be part of the country. We didn’t want to be Spanish, we were conquered 300 years ago. We lost the 1714. The 11thof September we celebrate a defeat. It’s not time to amend this defeat and that they allow us to be our own people. That they let us be an identity, to be Catalan which is what we are.

Us and anyone who wants to feel Catalan here.

He’s asking about, for example, the bascs had ETA…

Here we had ‘Terra Lliure’.

In English is possible a word is intelligence. But in Catalan, the word is seny. Cordura, en castellà.

The violence is…

Violence is… a sign of lack of maturity. It’s a sign of believing that things can be achieved by force. Catalan people think that things are achieved with ‘seny’. Doing things properly.

Sadly, in each of these pacifist demonstrations, for the family, where people go with the stroller and their newborn because they have the feeling that they want to demonstrate that they want to be only Catalan.

There’s a phenomenon of riot, I’m not sure it’s the right word in Catalan, of trying to ruin that demonstration. People who are against it come and pretend that Spanish flags are burnt, street furniture is burnt, there’s violence, this one has been beaten up by a group of independentists.

That’s been happening in demonstrations, but there are very clear indications from the organizers, the ‘Assamblea Nacional de Catalunya’, telling them not to fall for the bait.

Because that’s a taunt to show the world that we are not pacific, that we are violent. Despite that, violence is practically nonexistent.

Disturbances on the street, damage on street furniture, they are null. What’s more, the cleanliness after a demonstration of this kind, that is a festive act, is almost impeccable.

There’s no need to pick up tons of cans and sandwich wrappers after one of these demonstrations, the city is basically clean. The civism, the ‘seny’, is what gives that to our civilization or our people.