Catalan author Jordi Cantavella talks to the Catalunya Barcelona Film team about the Lincoln Brigade.


Jordi Cantavella

Interviewed June 7, 2017 for Catalunya Barcelona docuseries.

My name is Jordi Cantavella


My father was a republican. He loved the tricolor. [Spanish Republican Flag between 1931 and 1939]

He emphasized on the paper schools played. He went to a modern school.

The Republic was innovative in many aspects, such as gender equality and sexuality.

It was a really modern time. Spain was probably the modernest country in Europe. I remember my father emphasizing on his teachers.

He remembered them fondly. However, this changed when the War came to an end. The new teachers either were deportees

or wounded-combatants. They were full of hate, and so (hate/it?) was the only thing they could teach.


Have they told me anything? Not long ago, I found a membership card for the CNT from 1934-1935

that belonged to my grandmother. It was prior to the work. She was very young, and

she has kept it all this years. The first thing she did when Franco died, was the CNT membership card.

She appears as an old lady.

Things my parents or my grandparents have told me about anarchism… Well, now that I think of it.

My mother’s family was anarchist. My great uncle, Pascual Cusó Almendrado fought in the Aragó’s front.

He was an important anarchist major. For this reason, when the Republic was losing the War, and the fascists were invading Catalunya

My family had to run away to France. They were sent to the concentration camps in Algeria. Long after that,

he fought against the Germans. He was a part of the Maquis, a band of French Resistance fighters.


The Barcelona bombings… There were a lot. I could tell you a couple of families’ histories, one from my mother’s family and one from my father’s family.

My mom was very young, My mother was born in December,1936. In 1938, one of the worst bombings took place.

My grandmother lived in la Sagrera back then. Dying from exhaustion, she said: “Look, if they have to kill us, let them kill us. I’m done.”

Two things happened: a bomb fell near their house and a window passed by my mother’s face.

They didn’t shelter, and that’s what saved their lives. That day, a lot of people went to a shelter that wasn’t ready.

The stairs were made of mud. They were struck by a flood and the stairs melted. People tried to escape, but they all drowned.

My father told me that every now and then, the Italian air force bombed the city. Because of this,

his neighbor installed a machine gun and knocked down some Italian’s airplanes. I don’t buy it/I don’t believe a word.

My father shelter himself underground, in Mercat Nou metro station. It was near their place.

The bombings were so common that it came to a point were they didn’t know whether the air force was done or just waiting for reinforcements. It was horrible.

I can talk about the post-war. My father lived next to Sants’ train station. He told me how optimistic people were.

They’d see the volunteers that went to Aragó’s front, off.(or “they’d say goodbye to the volunteers that went to Aragó’s front”??)My father told me how stinky the atmosphere was(or “how funny they smelled”?)

because of the gangrened flesh. The wounded persons were laying on the floor. He [my father] always compares this scene with one from Gone with the Wind.

You can’t imagine how many people committed suicide once the War was over. Everytime they [my grandfather and my father] saw someone folding his blazer next to the railways…

They would rush out as fast as they could to stop the person. They [the victims] would usually put their heads on the railways, take off their ties and well, you know the rest.

There are more histories, but it’s better not to tell them.


My family? It was terrible at my father’s house. My grandfather was one of the first ones that fought in the front.

He was in Madrid’s front and in the Battle of Guadalajara. He never say a word about the war, just a couple of times. It’s stuck in my mind.

I took some ideas from him to write El Brigadista, a book dealing with the Civil War.

My grandfather was in the death row. He was imprisoned in a factory converted into jail in Poble Nou. He didn’t go to El Castell de Montjuïc.

In theory, he had to be executed by a firing squad. However, at the beginning of the war, my grandmother and he, hided a priest.

He was nice and not guilty of anything, so they saved his life. That said, once the war was over, he [the priest] refused to talk(to say a word?)

At the end, they made him talk. Don’t ask me how. My grandfather was freed thank to his confession.

It was difficult to live under Franco’s reign. ???

They would look for him at home. He was imprisoned, tortured and then released. He came home looking like shit(is it too colloquial? in a bad shape)

When the II World War was coming to and end, my father was 14.

A year later, he was speaking to his father in Catalan in the streetcar. Suddenly, a Falangist came closer.

He was a midget (not in the literary sense) wearing the typical blue shirt. He slapped my grandfather in front of his own son, it was humiliating.

He said: “Animal! You’re an animal because you speak like one. Speak the language of the Empire!” And my grandfather,

a man who killed people in the front, had to remain quiet. He had to bite his lip. My father, age 14, got cocky and tried to punch him [the Falangist] on the face.

My grandfather told him: “No, no, no, sit down” Then, he said [to the Falangist]: “As you wish, sir”. I suppose this humiliations went on during all Franco’s rule.

I didn’t experience much of that period because Franco died when I was 8. I was born in 1967 and this jerk(dick? douchebag?)died in 1955.

I just remember the fear. How afraid my family was, how afraid they were of who I would talk to, of which songs I would sing. My classmates and I, would sing a song that goes like this: “Franco, Franco, se tiró del barranco” [Franco, Franco, threw himself over a cliff]

They [my parents] would tell me: “Don’t sing this song in front of everybody”. And I thought: “Well, that’s weird”. I wasn’t aware that we were under a dictatorship. I though he was the Spanish president.

At the end, I realized who this figure was.


Let’s see. There’s a moment in the book where the main character, an old war veteran, let’s the cat out of the bag. He explains that

he was part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. He says: “Everybody talks about the war, except for the ones that have done it”.

“The ones that have done the war, will shut their mouths and try to forget”. My grandfather has said this, that’s why I wrote it in the book.

Even though my father loved the topic, my grandfather refused to say a word. One time, during Christmas, he [my grandfather] drank more cava than he was used to. He got tipsy.

Didn’t he talk that day. He explained us atrocities. He used to carry a Maxim gun. Imagine how many people you’re able to kill with that.

He told me how he defeated the Italians in the Battle of Guadalajara. They would take his clothes and his shoes off so they could wear it. They wanted to take one as a hostage, but he unlocked a grenade and killed himself.

He exploded. The Italians, and so the Moroccans? would tell them that, the Republicans would torture them to death.

That was false. Keep in mind that there was a small Italian civil war, a small German civil war and a small Irish civil war here. I wanted to tell you something.

I always tell people: “Please, talk to you families. Talk to your grandparents”. Because their memories, is your treasure.

It’s your genetic history. Two years before my father died, we were watching a movie. A French one, I believe. They showed how Italian pilots were hided at houses,

and then released to make them cross the Swiss frontier in France. My father said: “Look, that’s what I used to do”.

And I was like: “What? You did what?” He explained that, in Miquel Àngel’s street, here in Sants, pilots from

the Allies were hided. The Resistance made them cross the Pyrenees to Barcelona.
The pilots, dressed in plain clothes

were taken into the British Consulate, the American Consulate or to the harbor, to see if there was a neutral ship or one from the Allies.

These pilots were taken out in different ways. Maybe a girl would take his arm to pose as a couple, or a kid would held his hand.

My father was one of these kids. Back then, he would be 12 or so. I know this because he let it slip when we were watching a film.


I was thrilled. I might even have a Constitution badge over there. It’s huge and tasteless, but nice.

This Constitution is messing up/spoiling Catalunya. I feel like we are living under a constitutional dictatorship. Of course it was exciting back then.

The dictatorship was over and the new laws where, in theory, democratic. But, if you look it closely… This Constitution is outdated.

The politicians that created it were intimidated. They were afraid that a soldier would point his gun at them at any moment. So yes, this Constitution was fine at that time but it’s 40 years old today and

it’s time to change it. Memories of that time? I remember the first day of the Constitution, the first 11th of September that was held in Barcelona.

The first one was in 1976 in Sant Boi. I remember the second one, in 1977. I went to the demonstration with my family. My cousin and I didn’t have Catalan flags,

so we did them by ourselves. We ripped some sheets and we painted them with crayons. The flags were pretty heterodox.

We waved them and so we painted everyone red and yellow. That period was full of hope, hope that has disappeared along with the years.


When I was my kid’s age, my parents sent me to a sort of English school because it wasn’t religious.

They wore ties and my parents thought: “Well, it must be an English school”. Weren’t they wrong. It was a fascist school. Franco was alive back then

and so they would paint him wonderful. I was a kid so I believed them the same way I believed in the Three Wise Men or in Santa Claus. One day, I was sitting at the back of the car, my father driving,

and I said: “Yes dad, Franco saved us from the bad guys!” My father, who had never turned around while driving, did that day. He said: “Eh, Jordi, we are the bad guys. What are they teaching you?”

I explained him everything, even the formación de espíritu nacional. My father took me out [from the school] and he enrolled me in a school ruled by Catalanist’s priests.

The Piarists. I remember how teachers would hit us. They would slap you, hit you with a rule on the hand, but they would never beat us up.

La letra con sangre entra [Spare the rod and spoil the child], or that’s what they say. Of course, it wasn’t any close to what my parents lived the few years they were in school.

Holy cow. It’s different. My children go to a public school and I feel like their teachers are respectful, and moreover,

they are educated as citizens, as caring people. I’m very happy with the education my children receive. The faculty (teaching staff?) is very humane.


At the beginning, everything was in Spanish. I was kind of old when courses in Catalan such as Catalan literature or Catalan language were introduced.

I wasn’t able to write properly in Catalan, even though I was a Catalan speaker and it was the language I used at home with my family.

I wrote way better in Spanish. If I wanted to write a diary, I would write in Spanish. Otherwise, it would be filled with spelling mistakes. I passed the exams, I finished schooling.

The first book I wrote was unpresentable. Every page had 20 or 30 spelling mistakes.

My writing was awful. I got my act’s together and I started to go over Catalan grammar. I studied it maybe a couple of years long ago. I can’t remember.

I had to self-study it again. Nowadays, I’m a copy editor of other writers. I’m fluent in my own language,

at a written level, too. My father wasn’t able to read any book of mine, even though he was a Catalan speaker. He was used to read in Spanish.

My mother, yes. It took her some time but now she’s able to read the novels her son writes. She couldn’t, and that was very hard. That you steal people its own culture…



I was just a child when Franco died. History wasn’t yet taught to me. Franco had been dead for a couple of years when I first studied history at school.

The teachers I had in the Catholic school were leftish. They used regular books but they would teach us Franco’s real history .

Instead of “the nationals”, he [the teacher] would say “the fascists”. I agree. So one faction was national, yes. And the other? What were day? Foreigners? Both of them were Spanish.

They were the supporters of the coup, the rebels, the Franco’s supporters, the fascists. Call them what you want, but nationals.

The version of Franco you get as a kid in school is up to the teacher.



I wasn’t supposed to study history as a kid. We only studied the history of Castile. When it came to geography,

you would only study the Guadiana, Guadalquivir and Duero rivers. I didn’t know anything abut the Llobregat or Ter river.

You didn’t study Catalunya’s history, but in case you did, it was in Spanish. It was basically Castile’s history.


I was able to write. I’m bilingual, so I can write in Catalan and in Spanish. Not in English or French, even though I can speak a little.

But why in Catalan? Because it’s easier for me. My brain thinks in Catalan, even if it’s harder for me to write it.

I just had to get up to date. I might be writing in Spanish and suddenly change to Catalan.

It’s just that I’m used to. I prefer to write in Catalan and translate the books into Spanish by myself. Then, I bring them to my literary agent

and she decides what version works better. I did write a book in Spanish. It was a biography commissioned by Editorial Planeta.

I wrote it in Spanish and I was delighted to do so.

The first screenplay I wrote was in Spanish. Now I’m writing one in Catalan. I don’t have a special feeling towards any of these languages.

They are both communication tools.


Not really. I’d probably always consider Catalan my own language because it’s the one I speak with my parents and my family. Then again, Spanish is a beautiful language.

It’s a language I’ve mastered. I enjoy Catalan, its poetry and its literature.


I was young and I had the time of my life. It was great. Teenagers could drink alcohol everywhere and no one would tell them a word. But now that I think of it,

it’s kind of awful. The thing I did… Fun times, though. I was freer because places didn’t close as early as today.

Barcelona was more swine, more dirty, more interesting. The ‘80s were crazy. Keep in mind that I was 18 in 1985.

Moreover, I moved to Madrid during that time. I had a great time there, too. Everything is awesome when you are 18.

Well, if girls pay attention to you. Otherwise it is terrible


I’ve never been into nightclubs. Never ever. I did go every once in a while because of my friends. I quickly discovered places

that had a magic atmosphere in the older part of the city. I usually went to El Barri Xinèx [Chinatown], today known as El Raval.

We’d go to the Barri Gòtic [Gothic Quarter] as well. The places were filled with history. I’d always go to a bar called El Nus. The owners changed a while ago.

I found inspiration in those bars when I opened mine with my grandfather?. It lasted 21 years.

You leaned against the wall and that was part of the Roman Wall. Some others still has the gas lighting installation. There’s this bar from 1870 called El Mirall that

is still open. Some bars are historical jewels. It’s a pity they shut down.


London has a special charm. If there’s a thing London does, is to take care of its historical pubs.

They are wonderful. I guess it’s the same in other places around the UK. The pub were Dickens went to is still standing. It’s intact. That doesn’t happen here. The business shuts down, the building is demolished and a new building ugly as sin pops up.

This is awful. We lose our history and our culture. Leisure is culture, too. We should take care of it.


Money, cash, dough. Same old history. Why did the Government allow companies such as Núñez y Navarro to destroy the xamfrans [bevel?] in Barcelona?

They replaced Modernist buildings for graceless ones that get uglier as time goes. Why did they allow this? Because of money.

The Government is capable of anything in order to feather their own nest. Anyone is.

I have a neighbor that rents his flat to tourists. Why? Because he makes his living. In a country that undergoes an economic crisis like ours, money is a real treat.

There should be a law regulating the rental market. Otherwise it will come a time were locals won’t be able to pay for anything. Why did the first real-estate bubble exploded?

Because people couldn’t afford a flat. If you don’t buy or rent an apartment, you don’t buy household appliances nor furniture.

The country goes down the pan. It’s happening again. We haven’t learnt the lesson. Now we have tourist’s apartments and the increase of rent.

We shouldn’t blame tourists. They come here to enjoy the city the same way we do when we visit Dublin, Paris, New York… We also rent apartments there.

They are not the ones to blame. We just need more laws.


Imagine how it was. People were locked in jail for nonsenses. You asked yourself: For God’s sake, why is that person in jail? Imagine how jails were in 1977.

Terrible, I suppose. Guards should have been torturers. What did we shout during the demonstrations? Yes, It was: “sí sí, llibertat total. Amnistia total. [Yes, yes, total liberty, total amnesty]

We wanted the political prisoners to be freed. Today, the Model [prison] has shut its doors. There are only 20 prisoners left.

From now on, it will belong to the City Council and to the people. This prison is a symbol. My great-grandfather and my grandfather were locked in there, along with many others.

Of course amnesty had to be done/was necessary.


I don’t agree. Franco was a swine, a killer, a monster, an animal. He was in power because people were too afraid.

He didn’t know the meaning of empathy. He executed his relatives because they didn’t agree with him. I don’t believe someone like him is so

easy to manipulate. Was he a puppet every once in a while? Was he bribed? Probably yes. He was powerful enough so that his wife would enter a shop and say: “I like this pearl’s necklace, give it to me”.

And she wouldn’t even pay. Jewelers created a society to pay for her whims. So, I don’t believe he was a puppet, I just don’t buy it.

Nowadays, politicians are puppets. Puppets of the banks, of the big companies they work in once they retire from politics. That’s why we pay this much for the light and for the water, because they are sold.

I don’t know if Franco was actually sold. He was a bastard, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t call him a puppet even if he was probably bought and helped out people.
No, no, no, I don’t think so.

He wasn’t the banker’s puppet. He held all the power, just as Mussolini and all the big dictators. Stalin a puppet? Dare to call a guy like that a puppet. He had a lot of faults.

He was a killer, but not a puppet.


There were different powers during those times, most of them fascists. Ones were the Falangists and the others, the Carlists. What did they do? They united. They created a sort of new political party.

Like mixing water and oil. That’s why he posed with a blue shirt and a red beret like the requeté [Carlist militaryman].

Did he took advantage of the Church or did the Church took advantage of him? I don’t know. He executed 600 priests in the Basque Country. To which extent could the Church dominate him? He held all the power.

He might have been a hick, and an ignorant but he was clever. He put people in his place. Rotten to the core, yes. Corruption is a part of this country. He wasn’t a puppet,

he ruled everything.

He could execute anyone. It has been told that he made them execute his own brother and the leader of the Falange, Primo de Rivera.

He held all the power.


A lot of people were afraid to go to school, but I did. I remember Tejero’s coup as it was yesterday. I went to school, but classes were cancelled. Half of the class was there

A third part of the class, I guess. There was a priest listening to the radio while muttering: “oh, if they kill the people, if they kill the people…”. A classmate stood up and said: “Excuse me, this is history,

we came here and we’d like to know what’s going on”. The priest, an idiot, switched the transistor on and we all sat around it listening what was going on.

It was an historical event.


Hipercor’s bomb killed a lot of people. It took place in Sant Andreu, just in front of my grandparents’ street, on Dublin street.

From their house you could see the entrance of Hipercor, and the smoke. The firefighters went in and out and so people full of blood.

My grandparents could have been one of those people. Terrorism is not justified by any political ideal. To put a bomb like this,

that kills random people… To leave kids crippled. No one is entitled to do something like this. The only thing I felt was disgust.

The hell are you doing? Have you gone mad/Are you nuts? It doesn’t matter how well you can get on with Basque’s independency, violence is out of the table. And you know what? At this juncture/at this moment in time, Catalunya is closer to independence than the Basque Country.

What have they achieved after all the violence? Nothing. Violence doesn’t lead you anywhere, unless there’s a war decelerated.

War against civilians is just a dirty war. I don’t respect it.


What changed in Barcelona? The Olympics put Barcelona on the map. Barcelona was cleaner, some neighborhoods disappeared, the banks speculated etc.

A real bargain for some, that’s for sure. I was working in the airport back then. I first started working in Iberia in 1989 and then, in 1992, I moved to British Airways.

The British company. During the Olympics I saw American passports, Australian passports, Canadian passports, Japanese passports…

Barcelona was known within Europe but not within the world. The world discovered an interesting city.

Even though it was more interesting before the Olympics. During the ‘80s, the city had more freedom when it came to leisure. From then on, the business hours started changing.

Live music, whatever. Barcelona lost its authenticity. On the other side, the city got ready and that’s the Barcelona we know today. It was the beginning.

We have a lot of tourists, people speak more languages, we can enjoy the company of people that wouldn’t have come here if it hadn’t been because of the Olympics.

Everything has its good and bad side.


My wife is French and one time, while his uncle, an 80 years old man, was visiting us,

said: “I came to Barcelona and I’ve found an European city”. And I was like: “Well, what do you expect? This is Europe.”


Barcelona has been a very modern city thanks to the proximity with France. Catalans emigrated to France and, when they came back, they would bring all the new ideas.

During Franco’s reign, people would go to France to but books and to watch films. It’s just 2 hours away. That’s why I think Barcelona is a modern city.

It wasn’t during Franco’s reign because it was castrated and suffocated. But the world didn’t know us until the Olympics. It was Gaudí’s boom.

We already knew who he was. We knew what la Pedrera and la Sagrada Familia were, and we showed them to foreigners. But the boom was thanks to the Olympics.


I don’t know. My son does. I actually think we live in a country full of mediocres.

Live music is almost forbidden. It cannot be played anywhere. Any American musician that plays on New York’s subway is worth a hundred times more than any famous one here.

There’s a cult to mediocracy. People don’t appreciate that a person had been playing music or writing books for 10 or 15 years. This industry is ruled by money.

People don’t care about musical or literary quality. The only thing that matters is how profitable it is. For this reason,

there are so many famous people publishing books, even if they don’t know how to write. Writers with experience are not supported

in any way. They don’t even appear on the media. We have everything wrong. Why isn’t Catalan cinema getting anywhere?

We is Catalan literature in an impasse? Why Catalan music…? For God’s sake, it’s pretty weak.

Because people aren’t taking good care of culture. My kids have artistic interests. The older is a musician and he has a gift with the guitar.

I think he’ll go far at a musical level. But that’s because he’s taking private lessons. If it was only for the school… Of course, they might have arouse his curiosity.

Even though he had it from home. I think art and music should be a more important subject, not just for teaching the basics.

The same when it comes to languages. This country has a serious problem with languages. We don’t speak English here, we speak other languages.

We find it hard here. But well, it’s better now.


There’s a lack of money, yes. Money is always helpful when it comes to education and culture. Unfortunately, it’s said that Catalunya gives the State more money than what it gets.

It’s probably true. But shoot (?), if all the taxes we have paid in Catalunya and Spain would have gone where it had to go… This country would be rich.

But they have stolen from us. It’s a very poor country in a lot of ways because some thieves have stolen everything. Corruption is what’s going on.

If this had happened in the ’36, they [the politicians] would be dead, all of them hanged. This is unforgivable.

They have killed people. If hospitals are the way they are, saturated, it’s because of them. The money has gone to their pockets. They have bought properties and detached houses.

They have sent the money to Panama, to Andorra.. it’s disgraceful. They spent 3 years in jail and once they get out, they are rich.

What a deal, right? 3 years in jail and you are multimillionaire. Amazing. Something bad will happen soon. I don’t understand how any desperate hasn’t killed any politician.

The way we’ve been scammed and stolen… If we knew the real numbers of everything that we have been stolen… We would be gobsmacked.

Of course we need the money, it belongs to us.


I’ve published 16 books, most of them humorous, caustic humor, politically incorrect. I teased politicians.

I killed politicians in some novels. The first novel I published was El Manuscrit de Nova Patria. It dealt with 17th century Dutch pirates that

came to 21st century Barcelona. What happened with this pirates? That they were anarchic.

They were used to behead people. They spend their time killing fascists. It’s something very wrong, you cannot say it. But everything is allowed in fiction.

I went much too far. To write El Brigadista in found inspiration in history. The main characters are fictitious, but the secondaries are real.

I even include photographies. In this book I deal with politics at a serious level. There’s a thing that surprises me from North-Americans.

I used to ask to Americans: “Do you know Oliver Law?” And they didn’t. He was the first African American to lead an integrated military force in the history of the United States.

The first one. And people don’t know him! It’s mind-blowing. The Americans are usually so mythomaniac with their heroes and heroines.

They even make films of gangsters because they lack heroes. How have they forgotten someone like Oliver? This man risked his life

for white people freedom. I found him such a generous person that I had to write a novel. People didn’t like humor books? Then I’m going to make them cry.


Let’s see. Around 4,000 people from The Brigada Abraham Lincoln came during the Civil War. They came from the States and they were a part of the International Brigade.

Half of them died in combat. We’re talking about 2,000 people. What happened to these tropes when they came back to the States?

It was the first time in history that American fighters weren’t welcomed by his own country. Why? Because they fought the fascists.

Most of them were communists, and, well, keeping in mind that USA is the most capitalist country in the world. Most of them were considered suspects,

and anti-American activists. There was a witchhunt and some of them went to jail/served some time in prison(?) They couldn’t fight in the II World War.

They were punished for fighting in the Spanish Civil War. I think it’s one of the darkest part in the history of USA.

Both the witchhunt and what hapened to the Brigada Abraham Lincoln.


One of the Hollywood Ten was Alvah Bessie. He wrote a film called “Objective, Burma!”, starred by Errol Flynn. Both of them appear in the novel. He

raised more than a million dollars for the Republican cause.



I can’t consider myself a victim of Franco because I haven’t been beaten up by the police nor imprisoned.

I didn’t experience censorship because I was a kid. What is obvious now, is that we mustn’t allow it to happen again.

Never again. I can see how the Government is scaring people again. They have created a new law called Llei Mordassa (Gag Rule Law?). We are returning to Franco’s reign. The people who govern in Spain

are Franco’s grandchildren. They are fascist. They won’t say it out loud, but it’s not necessary.

Aznar, all this people.. They sympathize with Franco. How can it be that a country like Spain is still funding the Fundación Francisco Franco?

This is shameful. Artists such as writers, musicians and scriptwriters should never be quiet. We need to be brave. What if someone reports us and we are sent to jail because of the Llei Mordassa?

It’s our job. It’s incredible that this is happening nowadays. That someone has to pay a fine because of a joke she made on Twitter… She could even go to jail!

This country is shameful. As George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (I think he’s wrong when he says karl marx). We are going back in time here.

Europe in general, but here…


The Llei Mordassa law was a law made up by PP’s government. PP is a right-wing party, not to say far-right. I think it’s still inspired by Franco.

They have the same faults as Franquism. There are people inside who are pro-Franco. They make really fascist statements on Twitter. In their meetings

you can still see the Spanish flag used during Franco’s reign, the one with the eagle. This people made up the Llei Mordassa, a law that doesn’t allow you to criticize, record a police officer,

say some things out loud, demonstrate without permission, which, by the way, is not usually given.

Everything is very comfortable for them. They are trying to eliminate criticism. So, be careful if you joke on Twitter or Facebook.

It’s risky. You can get a huge fine. You can take a picture of a police officer beating up a kid, or of a police car parked in a forbidden area.

You can gent into trouble. There are intellectuals, specially left-wing, that have had to pay a huge fine because of some criticism. They have even been threaten with jail. On the other side, a far-right group can

ruin a Catalan cultural reunion. Why is justice political? Franco’s heritage is still alive. Spain still has an Empire mentality.

We have to clean up this country, otherwise the relationship between Catalunya and Spain will get harder.


In my opinion, the best film that has been made about the Civil War is Terra i Llibertat, by ken Loach. The best film about the Spanish Civil War is made by an English. Isn’t it funny?

He hit the nail on the head. And I think that they didn’t have much of a budget. It’s great. He was able to portray the fuss of the Civi War.

This is the best film ever made about the Spanish Civil War. I really feel like watching Incerta glòria. The book, which I haven’t read, is amazing.

But yes, Terra i Llibertat is the film I would recommend to people who don’t know anything about the Civil War. La Colina del Suicidio served as an inspiration to write El Brigadista.

He was the commander in the Brigada Abraham Lincoln and he wrote one of his biographies. It’s a great book, very interesting.


Almodóvar is a mirror of the ‘80s. The ‘70s were a decade of fight, against censorship and against Franco. The ‘80s, on the other side, were crazy.

We were free, no longer covered in dandruff. Let’s enjoy our lives, let’s laugh. It has been enough. The ‘90s were the beginning of the mediocrity, of boredom.

The Government started limiting the opening hours of places such as bars. Easy there. That’s what we said. Schools should promote culture, and musical culture, otherwise we will be mediocres. We’ll give you money if you sing in Catalan.

But we won’t if you use another language? What’s the deal?(Not sure of the equivalent expression: their cheque books got them on board.)Culture should be more accesible to students. If someone has something to say at a writing level, him him scholarships, help him.

I started writing a novel a couple years ago but I have to let it unfinished. Why? Because
I’m unemployed. I have to teach, I have to write poorly payed reports, and so I have no time to write.

Writing doesn’t give you enough money. About today’s time.. The film Pa Negre portrays the post-war life. This darkness summarizes the claustrophobic atmosphere.

Hunger and misery years. Pa negre is a film that says a lot about the Civil War.

It’s also a book, by the way.


The writer that has inspired me the most… Keep in mind that I come from humor. Pere Calders is the one. I consider him a genius with an unexploited potential. He was such a great character.

At all levels, a genius with a capital G. It’s a shame he’s not recognized internationally. The problem with Catalan artists is that we are the only ones to know them. “Write in Catalan, then” one might say.

Listen up, translators do exist. You can publish in other languages. I guess it’s behind closed doors. In my opinion, the best Catalan writer is Pere Calders. His humor was funny

and attainable. Boris Vian has inspired me too, but he is French.


If Franco had lost the war, Spain would have entered the II World War. We’d have probably been invaded by the nazis. We’d have fight Hitler.

War would have ended earlier because they [Germany] would have had another country against them. The Americans would have freed Europe, including Spain. We would have been in the Marshall Plan.

We wouldn’t have spent 40 years isolated from the rest of the world. We would be a part of the II World War winners. The country would be very different today.

The heritage of Franco’s is such, specially at a corruption level. The corruption that has impoverish would be different.

Spain would possibly be one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, along with Germany and France. It’s a rich country,

but the pirates are the ones controlling the money.

Maybe the city would have been destroyed by the German’s air-force. The Sagrada Familia wouldn’t even exist. It would be an uglier city, more modern. I wouldn’t have been born.

How could the world have changed… I actually do this exercise with my students in creative writing classes. I say: What would have happened if…? Changing history is a technic.

Colón wouldn’t have “discovered” America. They would have discovered us.


I had a bar in a gypsy neighborhood, Gracia. They are the best ones when it comes to speak Catalan. His Catalan is the most beautiful one. The Catalan rumba is gypsy.

At a musical level, they have a lot to say. But also at a literary level. Did you know that Joan Salvat-Papasseit was half gypsy? He’s one of the best poets in Catalan language. Some of his poems are adapted by Joan Manel Serrat.

He’s one of the best singer-songwriter. People tend to identify gypsies only with music. No, no, no. They are everywhere. Their community got here 500 years ago.

They are as Catalan as me, as any non-gypsy. They have enriched both Catalan culture and society.


We criticize all the time, specially the Government. But we criticize everything, actually. People don’t stay inside because it’s hot outside, we have a mediterranean climate.

You feel like going out for a breath of air. It’s our tradition, we sit in the squares, the agoras, as the Greeks said. Why do people like Gracia neighborhood? Because it’s full of squares.

We don’t have a lot of them here in Sants. We are jealous, yes. But we meet on the streets to talk. Catalan hospitality has always been

on the streets, so the mediterranean. Why? Because it’s hot. When you want to take someone out, you take them to a barbecue, to have a glass of wine. A table can both feet 4 or 24.

That’s what we do. In colder countries, hospitality is a hot meal, a whiskey. It’s hospitality as well but different.

You drink a vermut outside and there’s always someone to talk to. I guess this is it. The Catalan people from Barcelona are probably more reserved than the ones from a small village in Garrotxa.

They are even more open.


Vivències d’un barceloní emprenyat was commision. I wrote it long ago. It was probably the third or the fourth book. The publishing house doesn’t exist any longer.

It’s out-of-print. It was commissioned by a member of the CIU, the catalan right-wing. I’m far-left. But they were offering me to publish a book. I had to criticize the socialist government.

What happened is that I considered the socialists right-wing. I did criticize it. I made up some histories. It was composed by short stories.

I took advantage of the situation. It was an impressive critic against the socialist city council. When the man that commissioned me the book read it,

said: “This is not what I asked. But you’ve done a good job, bastard”. He had to publish it my way. It was a double win: I published and I published what I wanted. It’s not a book about Barcelona’s neighbors. The one you are talking about

is called “Els barris de Barcelona and its streets”. It was published by Edicions 68.