What is your name?
My name is Jordi Pèrez Carbonell O’Shea, that would be with an English pronunciation.
In Catalan, it would be Jordi Pèrez Carbonell O’Shea. That’s because I am
half Spanish, originally, and half Irish.
That’s how I used to define myself, although now it’s…
gone a little bit more towards being half Catalan and half Irish.
Where were you born?
I was born in Valencia, which is three to four hours south from Barcelona.
It’s in Spain, it’s not in Catalonia.
Some people in Catalonia consider it’s part of the Catalan countries. Some people in Valencia think so too, but they are a minority there.
What’s your profession?
I’m a conference interpreter.
What is that?
Well, I… I work in conferences that are multilingual and when there are people speaking Spanish, I do simultaneous translation of that into English
Do you have a familiar relation with Catalonia or Spain?
Well, my father is Spanish, from Valencia. I was born there, I grew up there ’till the age of ten.
After that… Together with my parents, my mother is Irish.
As a family, we moved to Luxembourg and then to Brussels.
Because my parents worked for the European Union for a number of years.
And after that I went to college in England, and then I came to Barcelona, which I thought was part of Spain.
And, I guess, it was and it still is. At least officially.
But there’s a very complex reality that I was to discover over the course of the years.
You’ve spoken of a famous quote by Jordi Pujol regarding Catalan identity. Will you state it and tell us what it means to you?
So, this is a very famous quote.
Jordi Pujol, who was the president of Catalunya for…
23 years I think it was, so throughout the period at the end of the dictatorship
and up to, I think, the year 2002 or so.
He said that anybody who lives and works in Catalonia is Catalan. Or, at least, this is the way
most people have heard of this quote.
Reading, I recently discovered that the original statement is that anybody who lives, works and has the will to be Catalan.
Which I found very interesting for myself, as I did not consider myself to be Catalan up to, really, a few months ago.
And, although I lived for 18 years in Barcelona, I’m a Spanish speaker, I considered myself, nationally, cosmopolitan, and, if anything, Spanish.
But, recent events have made me embrace, I guess, Catalan identity.
More on a political level of being part of a democratic political project
than on a more of a primary identity based around language or folklore, or that kind of thing.
That has also drawn me closer to Catalan identity in the cultural sense, as well.
In the sense that I have become… I have… become more interested in it, I have read more about it,
and I am, I mean, my language skills in Catalan have been improving and I’ve been working harder on them, and
using Catalan more on a daily basis, when the option is given.
Because, here in Barcelona, we use Catalan and Spanish. Most people use them all the time, changing from one language to the other depending on which…
on how comfortable people with who they’re speaking to, what is their first language, and so on. So,
for a Spanish speaker in Barcelona, normally, you just speak Spanish because it’s…
your Catalan is going to be not good enough for you to be perfectly fluent, so if you want to get a point across of any complexity, you’re just going to be more comfortable in Spanish
and that makes learning Catalan, or becoming really fluent in it, a difficult process.
I, as a let’s call it immigrant Spanish in Catalonia, have been working more on forcing myself to speak Catalan.
I completely branched off there, I don’t know…….
When your name came up in conversation… I have a friend who came from being in Podemos to being a full fledged independentist. What is Podemos and what is their statement about the indicative of political change?
For me, that has meant that…
What is that yellor ribbon you’re wearing? What does it represent? Why are we seeing people wearing the yellow ribbon?
This yellow ribbons stand for the release of the political prisoners.
That is, the leaders of pro-Catalan independence social society organizzations, who have been imprisoned, as well as the former vice-president of Catalonia
and most members of the former government of Catalonia.
Except for those who left the country, effectively they’re all imprisoned.
As is also the speaker of the Catalan parliament.
So, they’ve been imprisoned since…
most of them since October, November,
on the basis of trumped up charges, really, where you’ve got state prosecutor that took the lead
and was followed by… that lead was immediatelly followed by judges in the Spanish high court and the supreme court,
who are using…
Who are using the law to impose their ideology. And in their ideology, in their conception of public life, there is one principle that stands above all others.
And that is the unity of Spain.
So, because this Catalan leaders posed a challenge to the unity of Spain, They have contorted and twisted the criminal code
to put these people in pre-trial detention. And…
When you look at what the criminal code says, they are being charged with rebellion…
The crime of rebellion requires violence, of which there has been none.
The only violence has been the violence exerted by the Spanish state on referendum day, when they charged on voters and beat-up innocent, peaceful voters.
So, this whole… this people are in prison. They represent, they are the legitimate representers of the Catalan people, and they have been prevented from taking office, even though they were
reelected in the elections that were called for by the Spanish
government. And, so, we wear these yellow ribbons you will see around Barcelona.
People, I mean…
Even my… Okay, I had these before, but I’m even wearing these sneakers in the sense of… it’s also a statement.
The Spanish state has reacted very negatively against these yellow symbols.
They went so far as to banning them from football stadiums, like people wearing yellow t-shirts or scarves had them removed by the police because
they stand for, well, basically a protest against these political jailings.
And the Spanish goverment is just… when they hear…
Not only the Spanish government, I mean, even media comentators, politicians, when they hear the term policial prisoners, they go,
“no, no, there’s no political prisoners in Spain”.
But, obviously, these people are imprisoned for political reaons.
One thing was that, the first question we asked you was about Podemos, and what you said was awesome. But, we still, as Americans, don’t understand why your new position is considered to counter being pro-Podemos. Like, when I hear it’s like Bernie Sanders, when I hear anything like that, I think, okay, it’s very progressive, its very left. And, of course, in light of the fact that there’s so much draconian repression of catalanism here, it seems aligned, like what you’re saying about Podemos seems aligned with what you are now. So, how is it different?
It is aligned. But…
I came to a point when I was speaking about Podemos, and how Podemos emerged,
and what it stood for, and I was getting to where it failed. But then, I actually forgot. In your question, I wasn’t sure to what extent the linkage there was with…
So I had to explain my ideological transition. So I’m going to do it now, alright?
So, Podemos emerged in 2014. In 2016, well, in December 2015,
there was an election. And then, we had a repeat election in 2016.
I had very high hopes for Podemos.
In the end they not only failed to muster the strengthe necessary for,
not get into power themselves, but even to force
the socialist party, which is the equivalent of the democratic party in the US, to put it simply.
To force them to veer to the left. They were incapable of having that kind of influence.
And, then we had a repeat election and they got an even weaker resuly.
And, in the end, I was really, I felt despair, because if even in these circumstances we cannot see a change in Spain, when will we?
How can we bring about that change that we so badly need?
Now, on the other hand, during this same period,
the Catalan independence movement had been very active.
I had always thought that this is, basically, dividing forces where they should be united.
So, I felt not antagonistic towards the independence movement,
but I didn’t have very much sympathy for it. It was also seen for a long time, by people from the, let’s say, Spanish left,
as a trick whereby you keep people… whereby the Catalan ruling elites, or the..
the Catalan business, basically, has people involved in this independent movement, whose very goal is to self-perpetuate and never goes anywhere.
The first of October changed that, because we saw that there was a real commitment on behalf of the Catalan government. A commitment that has taken them to be put in prison and having to leave the country not knowing when they will
get back. So, as a left wing person, I cannot belittle that and just say,
oh, they’re just, you know, the bourgeoisse.
No, they have taken on personal risks, and they are suffering the consequences.
Then, we had that mobilization in september and october 2017, before the referendum and after.
And, the way the Spanish state behaves towards people, and also the reaction I saw in the rest of Spain towards what was happening in Catalonia,
for me was a huge let down. Even from the left.
I did not see, I did not see much sympathy.
It seemed that people who were, even Podemos voters or supporters. Friends of mine.
When it came to beating up, when the state was beating up Catalan independence voters, protesters, they seemed to look another way. As if this didn’t really matter, because it wasn’t part of their struggle. And, to me, that was
a huge let down, in the sense that we’re talking about basic, what to me are basic human rights.
And Resolving this question in Catalonia, democratically, I think is, continues to be a necessity.
When you have 1 million people taking the streets consistently, every year, for six years running, to demand the referendum.
And 70 to 80% of Catalan society, agrees that there should be a referendum.
And the only answer from the Spanish state is, We have this document, from 1978, which was a deal between
the francoist dictatorship stablishment and a weak democratic opposition. And here it says, and that’s article 2,
which is, actually, as far as I know, the army were in the room next door and basically handed the drafting of that article.
To the, well, to our, the drafters of our constitution.
So, that’s the only response. Spain is something that can’t be divided, and that’s it.
I think the Catalan people deserved to have that referendum. And I think it was brave decission to say
even if the the Spanish state tells we can’t, we’re going to do it anyway
because it’s our right.
The Spanish reaction to that, and the lack of sympathy to the violence, and the repression that followed…
I’m talking about the lack of sympathy even from the Spanish left.
For me was a huge let down. I felt…
I had always felt Spanish, I guess. But there, for me it reached a point where I felt ashamed.
I felt very much ashamed to see the police beating up people of all ages, of all walks of life.
People who are peaceful. And to see a country who, Spain, who are basically
they’re Catalan, you can beat them up. That’s fine. That’s a bit how I felt
and, ever since, I think…
on the one hand, the lack of… the failure of change in Spain
and, then, the strength and the dignity of the Catalan independence movement; have made move from one to the other.
I’m still a Spanish democrat. I mean, I still
would very much like for Podemos to win the Spanish elections,
for there to be change, deep change in Spain.
But… It’s not going to happen. Maybe the one thing that can make that happen, the one thing that can trigger that,
is if Catalonia becomes independent.
Because that would force a huge crisis in Spain.
Catalonia always plays this role in Spanish politics, whereby
whatever party can wave the anticatalan flag the strongest, gets the most votes. So, in essence, Catalan politics
pollutes Spanish politics, it poisons it
and it prevents, I guess, other debates from taking place. So,
Catalan independence might be actually the key for the kind of change that Spain actually needs.
Did you vote on October the 1st? How was your voting experience?
On October 1st I was due to travel, I had a flight to catch at midday.
I hoped to vote. My polling station is the school the school that’s right across the road from my apartment.
And, over the weekend, you might have heard… Because there would be an attempt
by the police to close down polling stations –
which are schools – people organized activities starting from the Friday evening.
The vote was going to be on the Sunday, so starting from the Friday evening
people kept the schools open by organizing activities that ran from Friday night, all of Saturday and then all of Saturday night.
So, myself and my girlfriend joined those activities and we were, actually, on guard in the school from 3 am, on the night from Saturday to Sunday,
until 6 am, which was the time when, supposedly, schools would have to be shut. So,
in those early hours of the morning, we were expecting the police to come at any moment and to have to do some kind of
non-violence resistance to prevent them from actually shutting down the school.
So, we were there from 3 to 6, and then we went home for a while, to have some breakfast,
watch on tv what was going on and then go back down to vote.
By this time, there was already a huge queue that had formed in front of the school, so,
we took turns in that queue for three hours so. And it was so slow, because the…
the IT systems were being notched down by the Spanish police.
The networks weren’t working, and they had created this universal census, so even if schools were shut in some places, people would be able to vote from anywhere. But that required
IT systems to be working properly,
which made slow things down hugely. And in the end, I queued for about three hours, again, and then I had to, actually,
go and get my flight, so I wasn’t able to vote.
Which is, you know, some people say you could actually vote two or three times because the system wasn’t properly set up or
whatever. So, in my experience, in any case, was that after three hours queuing up I had to leave and I hadn’t been able to vote.
So, there you go.
Do you have recollections from September 20th, 2017? The day that the Guardia Civil invaded and arrested government officials and seized pro-independence propaganda?
So, On the days leading up to the referendum the…
there was this standoff, whereby the Spanish government was saying: “This referendum will not take place”.
And the Catalan government was saying: “Yes, we will have this referendum.”
A couple of laws were passed by the Catalan parliament,
which were the law for the referendum.
Many say the referendum was illegal, but there was,
actually, a law adopted by the catalan parliament that provided coverage for the referendum. And then there was a law for
transition to a… the new republic, or whatever it was.
I don’t remember, exactly, how it was……
So, starting on October 6th and 7th there were laws adopted by the Catalan parliament that provided
a cover, a legal cover, for the referendum to take place.
After that, the Spanish government started sending police force, police,
from the rest of Spain into Catalonia.
So, in Catalonia there’s the Catalan police, but here they were sending the Guardia Civil
and the Policia Nacional from different parts of Spain.
And there was a number of measures that were taken.
They were looking for the ballot boxes, they were looking for the ballots.
They were looking… So, they were searching
printing shops and the likes.
And then, on September 20th the Spanish police raided the Catalan ministries, the Catalan conselleries of the Catalan government.
In my opinion, this was… Personally, this was a turning point.
Before that, I was going to vote on the referendum.
I wasn’t clear what I was going to vote. I actually was probably was going to vote. I was probably going to vote
for Catalonia to remain in Spain.
But seeing how the Spanish government was behaving, I thought,
This is just… Screw this.’ I mean, this is just not acceptable
and, so, now they… you know, I’m…
For the first time, I seriously started thinking that an independent Catalonia might actually be a very good idea.
I started giving it serious consideration. I hadn’t about it like that before.
I always felt Spanish, so, you know, on a very simple level,
let’s stay together, why separate?
The question of democracy was part of this decision.
For… To be Catalan, or for Catalonia to be independent, or to remain within Spain.
When they raided the Catalan ministries, having lived here for 18 years, I know how much…
how attached Catalan people are to their institutions. These are institutions that have been there since the middle ages.
They’ve always kind of been crushed by Spain, but have managed then to…
You know, Spain has never been strong enough to completely crush Catalonia, and Catalonia has never
been strong enough to break free from Spain, but there’s always been that kind of…
That kind of tension, where… That unresolved tension, let’s say.
But Catalan institutions are extremely important to Catalan people.
And the way the Spanish police just went in as if…
as if it was like, let’s go in like a drugs raid. I mean, this is like, was, a complete lack of respect
for what those institutions mean for people here. So,
there were spontaneous protests after that, at the different ministries.
That was a very important date for the independence movement, because it felt attacked.
And it felt that things would get rough, but there was also a reaffirmation of “We’re going to go through with this anyway.”
Subsequent to what happened on that day, where there were these spontaneous protests…
Also, goverment officials were arrested.
Oriol Junqueras was the vice-president, he’s now in prison, in Madrid.
But his whole team, who had been organizing the referendum, they were all arrested that day.
They were held for 24 hours or so, but…
In hindsight, this doesn’t seem like a big deal, because all of these people are in prison and have been in prison for months,
but at the time, it was… People felt outraged.
And… So, you had all these spontaneous protests, which later led to these charges of… which were subsequently instrumentalized
by the Spanish judiciary to create these charges of sedicion and rebellion, and try to, by any means possible, depict
the independence movement as being violent. Which it never was. And,
let me say this. It takes a lot of restraint, in terms of being non-violence,
to see how your mother or father or
[???] people around you. Or a man seeing his girlfriend grabbed brutally by the police,
and flung on the ground and to not react violently to that, takes… I mean,
a huge amount of restraint. So, when we say that the Catalan independence movement has been peaceful,
I mean, it’s been beyond peaceful, it has been pacifist in
the sense of being actively very, very peaceful, when normal human behaviour would take you somewhere else.
One of the things, thinking about politics, one must assume that the Partido Popular are proffesional politicians. As a proffesional politician you should know that if you play this game with this really strong arm, with all you’re talking about, that ultimately what happens will you, changing from vote no to vote yes is going to happen. So, innevitably what you’re doing is push people to the side that you don’t want to win. Why might they have done that? Some people say, no, the PP are stupid, they’re not involved politicians. On the other side, they know that the more strength they show in Catalonia, the more votes they are going to get at the next election, because they’re ruling as a minority on coalition. Thoughts?
So, why has the Spanish government, the Partido Popular, Mariano Rajoy, why have they pursued this repressive attitude and policy in regards of the Catalan independence movement?
It’s a hard question, I don’t know. On the first hand…
Firstly, I would say that these are extremely mediocre politicians. Extremely mediocre.
They are not politicians who have risen to the top as a result of a competitive political process.
You know, these are parties that are ruled by a small clique where power is handed from the presiding figure in the party
to whoever he choses to be his heir. So…
And there’s a direct line to Franco even, with this. So, the Popular Party was founded by 7 francoist ministers.
Right, so, the Popular Party, the Partido Popular, was…
When the dictatorship ended, there was a transition to a…
Let’s call “democratic system” that we have now.
The democratic opposition that was acceptable to the economic stablement, formed the socialist party.
With some backing, some international backing from the US and Germany and so on.
And the alternative party came directly out of the hard line francoist fascist establishment.
They created the Popular Party.
So, their leader was Manuel Fraga, who had been minister for the Interior under Franco.
And Seven former ministers of the fascist regime created Alianza popular, which became the Partido Popular.
Fraga handed power down to Aznar in his day, who was the
president of Spain for 8 years.
And then, Aznar handed power over to Mariano Rajoy.
So there’s a direct line that links, in terms of… From person to person. The evolution of,
somehow the Francoist regime, part of it morphed into…
On the whole it morphed into current Spanish democracy.
A part of it, the hard core part of it, morphed into the Partido Popular.
These people stand for…
very conservative values, so they have…
If you look at their track record, they opposed every democratic change that occured in Spain, they opposed.
I mean, at the time they opposed the constitution.
They opposed divorce, they opposed abortions, they opposed…
Every democratic progressive change that has benefitted a larger number of citizens, they have been against.
They get their support from central Spain,
where there is a notion of Spain that goes back to the Spanish conquistador.
Right? These guys who went with horses and with big plated armor and with big swords and imposed their will on the native
americans of latin america. Of what today is latin America.
That is what they think of in terms of…
That’s the former greatness of Spain.
And their political culture is very closely linked, then, to what the political culture of Francoism was.
Which is also part of a far longer tradition of absolutist, dictatorial power in Spain.
Like, you might have heard of the Spanish inquisition.
That actually existed for many, many years, and it prevented Spain from having the kind of liberal, enlightened culture where
freedom of thought and science can thrive.
Think of a famous Spanish scientist or philosopher from the 18th or 19th century.
It’s going to be hard to come up with any names, because thought, in Spain, has been historically repressed.
And the Popular Party are part of… Their core values
are, let’s say, the values of the conquistador or the values of the…
of the inquisition. We’re seeing that now, that they’re jailing their political oponents.
That’s why they prefer to jail their political oponents than to have a debate with them,
and maybe negotiate.
Right? So, anybody would have thought… We’ve seen processes like…
like the Catalan one in the UK, where Scotland had a referendum.
Or we’ve seen it in Canada.
I guess anybody would think, you know, when you have an important part of a country which wants to create a country of its own,
if that… all the more so if this is the most industralized part of the country and…
the source of much of the wealth of that country. Of the larger country.
That you would want to negotiate. And if these people want to leave, you would…
If you were in power in Spain, you would say, “Okay, well, what do you guys want? What’s the problem? Why do you want to leave?” Right?
We might want to talk about it.
But here, it’s like no, there’s something that’s the unity of Spain. And the unity of Spain,
is a value that is superior to any human right. To any notion of… This is…
It goes back to that, it’s the former glory of Spain
is what is kind of in stake here.
And it’s… Spain is something that cannot shrink. It’s just inconceivable. And whatever we need to do to prevent that from happening,
we will do. And because… There’s even a religious connection to this.
It’s not something that can be negotiated. Rajoy always says, when the question of negotiating with the Catalan comes up,
if he is asked, he says: “That is not something that I can…” it’s “I will not do it, because I don’t want to.
But, it’s not even because I don’t want to, it’s because I can’t because I’m not allowed to.”
He means he’s not allowed to by the constitution but, really, what he means is something deeper. It’s…
The unity of Spain as a value stand above anything else.
Get into the church a little bit.
In terms of core Spanish values, right?
You’ve got the conquistador, and the conquistador had the big sword, and the horse, and firepower, obviously.
And the cross. And the… catholicism.
The foundational myth of Spain as a country is the union between Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille.
They married, bringing together their two kingdoms and a few years later, conquering the remaining
muslim stronghold of Granada.
That same year, Christopher Columbus reached America and the whole expansion into the American continent that made Spain into a global power followed.
These were called the Catholic kings, Ferdinand and Isabelle, and
what they did was, on a religious level, was, basically, they banned…
Spain, up to then, there had been a mix of Catholics, there were muslims and there were jews.
They decided that Spain was to be solely Catholic.
So jews and muslims were basically told, either you convert or you get out. And…
Many of them converted and some left. And then, the inquisition was set up to ensure that those who had converted had really converted.
So, you can see this process whereby people had to forgo their identity and culture and religion, in order to remain in the country.
And this also goes in hand, hand in hand, with a culture of corruption, whereby you can say that your neighbor is still a practicing jew in secret.
And that might mean certain political rewards, or you might end up with your neighbor’s riches, one way or another. And this
is a very drawn out process in Spanish history, which moves from that period to a period whereby, in order to work in public administration, for example,
if your… who your grandparents and greatgrandparents were would be looked into.
And if there was any jewish ascendancy, that would be grounds for exclusion.
So, that’s catholic culture in Spain. That doesn’t mean that there are… that there isn’t a positive side to catholic culture also in Spain. I mean,
there are church organizations that cater for the poor, and the sick, and so on. That exists too.
But the catholic church became really closely interlocked with the Spanish state already in the late 1400s.
And that is something that has remained throughout. I mean, the Spanish inquisition as such was the first
And it was disbanded, I think, in the 1820s or 30s. So that, I mean, that’s a long time, right?
And, ever since, the… throughout that period and after it, the catholic church here… I mean…
The hierarchy of the catholic church in Spain, linked to the vatican hierarchy, have wielded huge political power.
That has meant that they have had a very strong foothold in the education system. Historically.
That they get tax relieft. They are the biggest property owner in Spain.
They pay no taxes on their properties. They…
If you look at all the benefits they get from the state together, it’s a huge amount of money and a huge amount of power.
They have their own media, which is subsidized.
It’s state subsidized catholic church media.
And… The kind of… interpretation of reality you get out of it is…
You know. They hate… they’re homophobic. They hate Catalans. They hate immigrants. They hate women.
I think you’ve got a… there’s a culture that’s similar to this in the US and other places, so I think people in other places would be able to relate to what I’m describing to.
But I mean, that’s catholic, the catholic tradition in Spain
has been largely built around this. I often think that Spain is that super-catholic country that has,
historically, been kind of the… militarized arm of the church. And, it’s that super-catholic country where there are so few real catholics.
So, you know, everybody gets baptized and communion, and…
But then they go to church and they go to communion once in a while, maybe to meet… Who knows.
Their future husband, or… It’s more of a social thing that allows one to be part of, I guess…
Part of… good society, or respectable society. It’s more that than anything related to a deep sense of faith or spousing the values that Jesus Christ promoted.
I, myself, I’m an atheist right away. But that does not mean I think that all religions are bad, or anything like that. But in the spanish case,
it’s funny, because I think there are so few real Catholics.
And the tragedy of this is, I guess, the lack of a moral system to ground a civic culture.
And I think that is the greatest sin of catholicism in Spain,
that as… it has been a brand of catholicism that has always sided with the powerful.
Tried to use the state to expand its own power, and has really been very dismissive of the needs of the needy, let’s say.
And of any kind of… proerly christian values. It has… In a country that effectively wiped out other religions, it’s left the Spanish people orphan in terms of…
ethics or moral values in a sense. that’s a pretty hard statement.
We’re still collecting anyone’s experience in voting the 1st of October. Do you have a story from any friend who voted or something?
I’m not sure that I can… I’ve heard many anecdotes, many stories from people, but I’m not sure that I’ve…
heard them enough to be able to, or in enough detail that I can remember this, them in enough detail to make them actually…
It would be, you know, I know a friend of mine was part of the organizers in a polling station, and she was,
I guess, in charge of the recount on some level. And then, the police broke into that polling station
and they took away the ballot boxes, and she was extremely… she was furious about it.
I cannot… I remember this much about this story, but not more that might allow me to give it more of a graphic sense, or…
Do you mind telling that again?
So, in terms of like…
I’ve had friends with so many different experiences….
when they went to vote, on voting day.
Some had no problem. I mean, those who I think went in the afternoon, when things had kind of
calmed down. This police violence was mainly, well, I think it was by and large in the morning.
And I think the Spanish government, at some point, realized that they were going to have, internationally, very bad press come off of it.
That allowed things to proceed sort of peacefully for the rest of the day.
So, my friends who went to vote in the afternoon had, I think, no problem, really.
My girlfriend, who I had been queuing with in the morning, when I wasn’t able to vote because I had to leave at midday,
she was able to vote perfectly at the afternoon.
One friend of mine was at a polling station
where she was actually, she’s…
I mean, she’s an independent activist, I think she’s been one for as long as…
I know her. Anyway, for many years. And she was part of the organizing group that was in charge of the polling station and the ballot boxes.
And her experience was traumatic because they had managed to make everything work smoothly. People had been
voting. I don’t know what time of the day it was, but people had been voting. And before they were able to close the ballot boxes and seal them and take them off for the
recount, I don’t remember well this process, how it went, but the police actually went into that polling station
and just took away all the ballot boxes with the ballots inside.
So, she was obviously distraught by this, and furious that it had happened.
There was another friend of mine who told me about the tension he had with his own father.
So, my friend is like, I guess he’s 43 or 44, and his father is in his mid to late 70s.
And the tension between them as to whether they would be in first line with the risk of the police beating them, or,
you know, kind of, you know. His father telling him, you know, look, we should be safe.
And I want you to be safe as well. And my friend saying, you know, well, I’ve got to be in first line because, in a sense, it’s my duty as a
middle aged male.
So, those are stories that I can… You know, I’ve heard so many of them, but it’s hard to, so many months later, to re… explain them in much detail.
What happened with your 43 year old friend and his father?
I don’t really remember. I just remember he describing the… he had a…
Well, there was tension between them and his father told him he had to get out of there, and my friend in the end stayed, and…
But that’s as much as I remember.
Do you have any recollections from manifestations?
There’s one that I’ve…
It’s the 27th of October.
The 27th of October, simultaneously, the parlament finally declared independence, and then the Spanish state triggered
article 155 of the constitution, which allows them to intervene in the regional autonomy of Catalonia
and, basically, suspend autonomy in Catalonia,
remove the government from office,
disband the parlament and call elections.
Those two things happened on the 27th of October.
And I remember…
I live not too far from the parlament. I remember going down there with my girlfriend
after the declaration in the parliament had taken place
and there were crowds all around the parliament.
And then, people were making their way up to the Sant Jaume square.
Now, Sant Jaume square is a square that’s not too big, in the old part of Barcelona,
where, on the one side, you’ve got the official government building of the Catalan government,
and right accross from it, you’ve got the city hall of Barcelona.
So, it’s like the core of political power in Catalonia and Barcelona.
And, so… This is where like… It’s a square that’s not too big, but big political events, somehow,
end up happening in the square.
So, when there’s being a…. Anyway.
We went to this square along with everybody else. It was… the square was so packed, it was…
We really had to push our way in and, actually, something that had never happened to me, I have this…
In my handbag, my… the zipper from my handbag actually managed to click in with somebody else’s.
As we crossed each other trying to get into the square, this is how tight we were, like, right?
When we were in the square… you know, the declaration had taken place in the parliament. Which is like a mile away.
And in the square, everybody is chanting the Catalan national anthem, and a number of chants. And one of them is:
“Fora, fora, fora, la bandera espanyola” Which means, out, out, out, the Spanish flag. So…
At the top of the building, you’ve got the three flags that you have in all official buildings. I’m talking about the buiding of the Catalan government, so there’s,
you’ve got the Catalan flag. Not the Catalan independence flag, the Catalan flag, right?
Which is the red and yellow stripes. The independence one is the one with the blue triangle and the white star in it.
In addition to the red and yellow stripes. So, you’ve got the Catalan flag, the European flag and the Spanish flag, as you have it atop every official building in Catalonia.
Well, in many small towns they removed the Spanish flag and put up the independence flag, but anyway.
That’s what you see normally in Barcelona.
So, people are chanting, “Fora, fora fora, la bandera espanyola”, so, it means basically, okay, we’ve declared independence, we’re going to get rid of this
Spanish flag and put up the Catalan independence flag.
And then, you’ve got the balcony in the building where, everybody here in Catalonia has seen the pictures,
of president Macià and Companys who, in the 1930s declared independence.
The same squre, you’ve got black and white pictures, it’s full to the brim and, you know, independence was declared.
And… So, people are chanting this and the…
I just remember, like, the mood of…
You know… This expectation whereby, People seemed so happy, I don’t know. I was very concerned about what was going to happen. I was…
I was, frankly, very worried. And, I think the Catalan political establishment was too, I think.
But the people in the square was just delighted. Everybody is, like, opening bottles of sparkling wine, and…
You know, There was a stage, there was a band, and there was dancing, but…
In the end, the Spanish flag never came down. Puigdemont, the Catalan president, was expected in the balcony.
Never came out in the balcony. And, I guess, that was an omen for what was to come, which was inevitably… Even though you’ve declared independence, you don’t have
you know, the control of the army, the police, and what gives any state the force to be a state, which is
to be able to monopolize the instruments of violence on a territory.
So… It’s a rethorical declaration of independence, which has been made so many times before historically, in Catalan history.
And it’s this sort of thing that every generation seems to have to go through it, and in the end it’s a…
So far, anyway, it’s part of this loop where independence is declared but never becomes effective.
Maybe this time. But… I just remember those…
You know. The fact that the flag was not removed.
The fact that Puigdemont didn’t come out.
And yet, the fact that everybody was so happy. I… found it quite…
They were happy just to have gotten as far as the declaration, I guess. Because I don’t think anybody believed that…
You know, out of declaring a republic it actually comes into being. That’s not enough when you’ve got a
state against you.
Some interview subjects refuse to describe Spain as a democracy. Would you? If not, why isn’t it a democracy?
So, is Spain a democracy?
More than Morocco, would be my answer. I…
I don’t think it’s a yes or no question. I think a country can be more or less democratic.
It’s not clear in my mind where the threshold is in terms of
being able to say yes or no, so it’s a question of degree of democracy.
If there’s a threshold, as far as I think, I don’t think Spain meets the conditions, because
in its purest sense, democracy is… comes from demokratos. Demos is the people and kratos is power, and it’s the power,
where the power is held by the people. That means you need to have mechanisms
that translate the will of the people into something that is politically effective in order to
make laws and carry out collective decicions
that are real. And that link, in Spain, I don’t think it exists.
I… So, no. Now, there’s another idea, a more basic idea of democracy where you have…
you know, you need to have freedom of speech, and of thought, and of associations, and these are like the basics of what you need in order to build, then, that
system of power that translates popular will into political decision-making. I think much of that exists.
But it is taking some very serious blows, at the moment.
So, you know, you have rappers that are being jailed for their lyrics.
You have, hm… Without talking about Catalonia. Where, clearly, I mean, you have an elected government that is just
told to stand down and kind of you’ve got the judiciary saying who can govern and who can’t.
But, in terms of political and civil rights, Spain is going througha very regressive period.
There was a law enacted called the
“Citizen Security Law”. And, basically, it means that if you’re at a protest and you see a police officer beating somebody else,
and you make a video of that, you’re in trouble.
So, you’ve got all these things that have been going on, limiting freedom of expression in the public space at many levels. And, so,
you know, I think… I mean, I still feel
like I can speak my mind. When you’re in social media,
sometimes you feel like you need to be a little bit careful. But then, you also feel like, wait, we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated, because it’s just not…
You know, you’ve got a civic duty to speak your mind. Because if people start being afraid of speaking their minds, where does that lead us?
You have lived in Barcelona for 18 years, the city has changed.
Well, I would never describe Barcelona as a modest provincial town.
18 years ago, Barcelona was… a city with… You know.
It’s metropolitan area is over 5 million people. Its [???] has been the second city of Spain. Sometimes even the first.
And, I guess, within the Spanish speaking world anyway, a publishing capital, on the par with Madrid. A cultural capital. So, no. I would never say Barcelona was a provincial town.
Now, it has become far more international in terms of…
Far more cosmopolitan, as a result of… I guess…
of it becoming attractive to people from different places. And, so, there are many foreigners from all, from, well, many parts, most parts of the world, I would say,
living in Barcelona at the moment. Far more than 18 years ago.
It has also become an extremely tourist…
touristic city. To a degree that it’s damaging for the social dynamic of the city, for it’s own, I guess, feeling comfortable with itself. As a city.
And, that’s creating tensions. I don’t know now how many millions of tourists come to Barcelona every year, but it’s having a huge impact on the public space.
How it is occupied, who is everywhere. Not that… You wouldn’t have anything against tourists, normally. But, it does…
There is, on the one hand, you have a kind of tourism which is a party tourism, so you have
people who think, Oh, it’s Spain, we can go there and have a lot of fun, thrash the place.
And, when you’re a local, well, that’s not necessarily too nice.
It also drives up prices, and as we’ve a very hard economic period for the last… 10 years, really,
tourism has led, simoultaneously, in a rise in prices for housing. And not only housing, for many things that
make local Barcelonans not able to afford to live in the city where they were born and grew up. And that’s… that’s quite sad.
So, yeah. I don’t know, is this where I guess you were expecting me to go?
Just as an example. We’ve only been here for 8 years…… You see this class dissconnect between the wealthy and lowe middle class. Historically there’s a lot of anger, there’s money going to the Franco Foundation. There are also statues of Cambó, who supported the dictatorships. There’s a lot of right wing catalanists. Do you have any thoughts on this?
So, it’s… You know, you’ve got this thing called catalanism.
Which is a bit like, what is it, really?
So, at the moment, I would say that… I don’t want to be… delude myself here. I mean, we just had…
we’re just having a new president put in place, taking office in Catalonia, and he is…
Well, ideologically he’s closer to the right, let’s say, and closer, I guess, to a political tradition
which is the Catalan right which, when push came to shove, stood by the Spanish right in order to defeat the more mass, working class movements of the left, historically.
So, many of the historic leaders, the conservative leaders of the Catalan
nationalist movements, historically, did side with Franco and Primo de Rivera, who was the dictator before him.
So, it’s not all black and white in terms of spousing Catalan…
the catalan independence movement. Or what has traditionally been called catalanism.
Catalanism was, historically, an attempt… Was a political movement. First a cultural movement and then a political movement
that sought to gain a strong negotiating position for Catalonia within Spain
in order to wield political power in Madrid and to attempt to shape Spain the self image of a more progressive, liberal, advanced Catalonia.
And, at the same time, to guarantee autonomy for Catalonia.
That project has ended. Now we have… Now there’s an independent movement in Catalonia that seeks independence.
So, that’s a full break with Spain.
Obviously, the component parts of the movement in terms of social sectors and…
are the same as those that made up catalanism in the past.
And it goes from the far left to the far right. To the far right, that’s a strong word.
I would say the fact that it’s been built now around republican values.
The fact that what is declared is a republic where…
I think many people, people like myself, want to put more the emphasis on the word republic than on the word Catalonia,
where the Catalan republic is… The noun is the republic and Catalan is the adjective. Rather than what would be Catalonia as a…
Republican Catalonia. Or something like that. But putting the emphasis on the republic, means putting the emphasis on civic values and on democratic values.
As opposed to values that, people here don’t like the term but I dare to use it once in a while. Ethnic, ethnic values that might relate more to what language you
speak, what are…
to a number of… to folklore, to certain aspects that identify a people on the basis of some traits of those people
as opposed to on the basis of forming part of a political community.
So, I personally think that the only way Catalonia will gain independence is if the emphasis is really in the republican aspect.
Because a lot of people in Catalonia, who are from an immigrant background from the rest of Spain,
are very distrustful of a movement which they consider to be built around
cultural Catalan values, that see Spain as something alien.
So, the only way… you know, at the moment, the Catalan independence movement is, let’s call it, it’s 50% of Catalan society.
The other 50%… We need, I think, 5 or 10%, maybe one in every five of those who do not spouse independence at the moment to join.
And those people are mainly of Spanish origin. And for them to join, we need to present a project where the idea of building Catalonia around Catalan…
class traditional identity, moves from that to building Catalonia around a republican identity that embraces also Spanish culture in Catalonia as part of what Catalonia is to be in the future.
I guess I branched off.
What of the theories that like the reason why Ireland couldn’t break away from England is they could never agree…. How likely is it that something similar happening in an independent Catalonia?
I’m more worried about the ethnic thing.
So, you’re asking me about Catalonia if it gains independence?
About it being able to hold internal peace internal peace and unity and moving forward as a new country
without falling apart internally.
What I… One thing that I’ve seen is very good and we’ve seen in the independence movement,
is it’s capacity to… to bring into play from the bourgeoise right to the anticapitalist left.
Have them negotiate and reach common ground in order to move forward in the independence process.
I think we’ve seen that not only with the independence process as such, but
legislatively, in the Catalan parliament in recent years,
they’ve been able to reach agreements.
Which gives me a lot of hope in terms of what the future might hold
as opposed to what you see in Spain, which is… on a Spanish level, which is…
even, like, the parties that are in favor of the unity of Spain, they cannot have
a civilized debate, unfortunately.
So, I am hopeful as to the result of a Catalan independent state because of this, partly. I think there’s a civic culture
that’s… it’s also part of what Catalans pride themselves of being their values. Like, historically,
the word “pacto”, which is covenant, is part of the Catalan political culture, going back to the middle ages and…
at least in a mythological sense. And… when you have these positive myths to look back on as your self image, I think it gives
a people strength for moving into the future.
And I think that’s all good. What I’m more worried about
is the interplay between people… people who are part of this Spanish unity culture,
for whom Spanish is a value above all others, and…
it’s not only them inside of Catalonia, it’s the support that they receive from, will receive from the rest of Spain
for that narrative. How that can play out
with Catalonia breaking… becoming idependent. The relation between, let’s say, culturally Spanish Catalans,
and the rest of Catalan society. And for those who are more militantly Spanish with the support…
to what extent would they get it, I don’t know from a Spanish government or conservative Spanish unity movements from the rest of Spain.
That’s where I see… I’m quite scared of that. Quite frankly.
Quite scared, because… the Spanish right are…
You know, there was a… Jiménez Losantos, hugely famous talk show radio host, was calling for bombing Barcelona.
Yesterday I think it was, or the day before yesterday.
For bombing Barcelona. Literally, that’s what… that’s the level of discussion. Obviously, I mean, these people are not in power and they are not going to be in power,
but there could be a ground swell of support for more radical positions. And that has been the case across Spain. I mean, I was in Madrid recently
and there’s more, I think there’s more Spanish flags hanging from the balconies than there are independence flags in Barcelona right now.
And that’s as a result of the Catalan independence movement. That’s people in Madrid
hanging a flag out of their balcony, saying, I’m proud to be Spanish
and… even if that means that… you know, screw self determination. I mean, Spanish unity is a more important value. I mean, never in my life have I seen Spanish flags hanging from balconies
not in Valencia, where there are also at the moment, nor in Madrid or other parts of Spain. It’s never been…
You know, since Franco is actually… Because that was Franco’s flag, the Spanish flag,
people were not, like, too happy about the flag.
There was the republican flag, that has the purple stripe,
and that would have been associated more to democratic values
and the left. So, you know, in my lifetime I hadn’t seen Spanish flags hanging off balconies, because, in a sense,
it was a flag that resulted from the fascists defeating the republic
in the 1930s… So, symbollically what it means it’s nothing that democrats can be too comfortable with.
Yet, today, they’ve coated Madrid. I mean, there’s flags all over the place.
So… if Catalonia actually gets independent and there are political elites that play this divisive game of saying, no, but we’re being…
I don’t know.
It’s… I’m very scared of these political elites because they will seek…
They seem to be ruthless in therms of manipulating and…
It’s these political elites but also the media. They’ve been pushing in the rest of Spain
a very strong narrative about Catalan…
Spanish speakers getting, being somehow oppressed, or living in an atmosphere that is suffocating in the face of all this
independence movements and… Out of small anecdotes,
building huge generalizations that completely misrepresent reality. When you think that Spain is, well,
46 million people, Catalonia is 7 and a half, so, you know.
They’ve got the political power, they’ve got the military, they’ve got the…
And they’re building up this kind of… well, I would say hatred against Catalans, really.
It’s… That’s scary, yeah. Definitely.
Any thoughts on Europe in all this?
So, I’m not gonna talk about Europe as such.
So, the European Union, which is falling apart at many levels.
You know, the British want to leave, there’s… the crisis in the mediterranean with the refugees from the middle east and Africa, which is just a tragedy and
Europe is turning its back on basic human rights there.
Even, you’ve got this democratic regression in Poland, in Hungary, and in Spain.
The European Union is a club, a group of member states. They pull the weight of their populations and their economies, basically.
And they take decisions collectively.
There are no instruments for the European Union to really protect the rights of European citizens. I…
When they are infringed upon by a member state.
There’s been talk of triggering this article 7 in Poland, which would suspend voting rights in the European council
for a country that does not comply with what they call the European values, which I think are in article 2.
I’m talking about the treaty of the European Union, the Lisbon treaty.
I think, I’m not sure about this, but I think, in order to trigger this article 7 to suspend voting right,
I think you need all other 27 member states to agree.
So, you know, imagine Spain and Poland or just Poland and Hungary,
agree that they want to protect each other.
They could effectively… and, at the moment, you have three countries
who are way out of line: Spain, Hungary and Poland.
In Spain, I mean, Spain has effectively suspended democracy in Catalonia, and that’s completely…
Spain is not obeying it’s own law, because even if its own constitutional court
is missinterpreting in an extreme manner the country’s constitution, because you’ve got a bunch of judges who are politcial appointees,
and their core ideology is fascism, to put it bluntly.
And the European Union is not going to get involved. They say, it’s an internal affair.
And Spain is, you know, it’s the 5th economy in the European Union, they’ve got power, so they’re needed to vote on other things.
You know, the UK isn’t saying anything because they don’t want to upset Spain, because they’re in the middle of Brexit negotiations.
And on it goes, so…
The European Union is basically a bunch of states horse trading.
They’re not going to stand up for human rights.
I don’t think it’s likely to happen. I think there’s…
It’s a project that by centralizing political power where you have disconnected civil societies,
somehow removes power and… from people, and de-democratizes
the component parts of the European Union.
There are some good aspects to it, so maybe I would think
if there’s some leadership coming from Germany.
So, if Angela Merkel…
I don’t know. If she’s as shrewd a politician as some people make her out to be,
she’ll find a way of pressuring Spain into behaving itself.
Also, because anybody who thinks about the European project
in the medium to long term, should know that
Catalonia can be a good contribution.
I don’t mean only economically, as a net contributor, as Catalonia is to the European Union.
But I mean it in terms of the kind of political and civic values that Catalonia con continue to strengthen in Europe.
They’ll be good for Europe. So, you know, the tragedy is that Europe turns a blind eye.
Accepts that Spain does, the Spanish government do whatever they like.
And… If we look back at history, there are some original sins, right? So, when you have the end of the Second World War,
if the defeat of fascism had to be, was to be pursued to the bitter end,
why wasn’t Spain part of that, right? So, you know. Hitler was defeated, Mussolini was defeated.
And Spain was left to rot under Franco for another 30 years.
You know, Franco was, got into power, he defeated through his coup and the civil war,
he defeated… he defeated the legitimate democratic government of the time,
with the military support of Germany and of Italy. So, Hitler was
a big reason why Spain had a fascist dictatorship for 40 years.
I think Germany should, you know, people in Germany should think about this.
And, in other parts of Europe as well, as to what kind of.. relationship we built amongst the different states and peoples.
And I guess, you know, fundamental rights? If we do not have a Europe where…
We have European Union citizenship and passports, and we should be enjoying, at least, the same basic rights.
And that definitely needs to include the right to elect your own government.
And… You know, whatever the judge says.
Who is the judge to tell us who can be the president of Catalonia? That’s something that has to be decided
by the Catalan people throught the parliament, and the European Union should protect us.
They’re probably… Well, for the moment it isn’t.
But… Who knows. It’s still, I think it’s still early times in this game.
My name is Laia Otero, at this moment, I’m working in a third sector entity that focuses on studying third sector entities, at the communication’s department.
I’m very passionate about communication, I’ve worked at the communication of companies for quite a long time now, and also, I’m very interested in politics, I’ve always stayed informed, above all because of my experience as a journalist, but also because I’m interested in that.
What’s your position on Catalan independence?
Well, my opinion is that Catalonia’s independence is something that I’m quite excited about nowadays, I think it is very interesting, that it is a political moment that I’m very happy to live through.
And actually, I’d like it to become true, even though I don’t see it clearly right now.
Do you see your generation’s view on independence, and Catalanism, as different from that of your parents’ generation? If so, how?
Well, in my case, well, I think it can be generally said too, but in my case, let’s say I have a more enthusiastic view… I think young people are willing to change, to have a social transformation and then, we can agree more with this whole process.
And in the case of earlier generations, my parent’s, they’re a little bit more reticent because I think that, apart from the fact that it is more or less proved that as people grow older, they get to a certain type of conservationism, well, also, my parents they both depend on pensions, they’re retired right now and then, a political change of this kind what provokes in them is insecurity, if they’ll get their pensions or not.
And then, well, let’s say they’re not quite excited about the idea of a change like this.
Let’s say that I think that, in general, people from earlier generations, older people, they’re more ‘pro-establishment’ so to speak, that newer generations want to break with the Spanish State, in this case.
Do you recall any stories that may have been passed down to you describing life under Franco?
Yes… a lot of them.
My parents were both very active politically, let’s say they were in the Francoist resistance in different political movements.
My mother was active in the PORE [Partido Obrero Revolucionario Español], that was one of the Trotskyist branches of the period.
And my father was also connected to libertarian movements in Barcelona.
And well, they’ve told me about political actions they did above all, about how they used to organize meetings… different kinds of meetings, one of them that I think it’s quite funny is, for example, that they decided a place, everyone was pretending, for example, at a train station and everybody was pretending to be on their own and at a certain moment, someone would pick a whistle, made it sound and then, everyone’d run, throw papers with the slogan, with the manifest of the moment and then, they would dedicate themselves to distribute them, to throw them until there would sound another whistle and then, everyone would disperse and go back to where they were.
They’ve also told me how they’ve run many times in front of the police, in front of ‘the grey ones’, as they were called then, in order to escape from the possible repression for participating in protests because it was forbidden the freedom of assembly, the right to demonstration and then, everytime they did a political action, they were afraid of the police arresting them and sending them to prison.
And so, they’ve told me many stories of this kind.
And then, I’d like to share a story I find specially relevant.
And that is that my father used to have quite a curious appearance in that moment, he had a beard, a pretty long hair, he used to wear glasses.
And once, he was walking in his neighborhood, which was Nou Barris back then, and a police car stopped, they took him, got him into the car without giving him any explanation, he didn’t know where they were going, then they stopped at a pharmacy, showed him to the pharmacist and asked him ‘is it him?’ and the pharmacist said ‘no’, and so they left him there and then they went away.
And he stayed there very surprised and deeply scared.
And it was because they were looking for Txiki, an ETA member of the period and I guess they both looked alike.
I mean, it was actually very lucky that the pharmacist didn’t confuse them and tell them it was him because then, they executed [Txiki] by firearm.
Then, I wouldn’t be here if we wouldn’t have been that lucky.
Many people we’ve interviewed have explained that they are, at once, Catalan, and not Spanish, but simultaneously are against independence from Spain. Will you explain this nuance, as it is an important distinction?
I think the reasons may be twofold.
On one hand, it may be that part of the people that claim that have attained a quite high standard of living, that own businesses… and probably, they are connected to the rest of the state and the fact of being at a state inside the European Union is beneficial for them.
And then, I consider that probably, although they feel Catalan, once again, I talk about what we’ve already discussed about earlier generations, and that is the fear of rupture, the fear of what is going to happen when independence is declared, it is a completely unsure scene.
Then, above all, people that have any kind of dependency [on the state], either in my parent’s case, because of a retirement pension or either because of businesses they own.
I understand that the scene of being an independent country is not something they really want because they believe it would be something negative in order to keep their standards of living.
And well, rupture isn’t something they really want.
And on the other hand, I also understand there are people that may think that the creation of a new state is not the answer, right? That creating more borders means… Many times, what is being sold from the pro-independence discourse is that the creation of a new state would mean improvements for society, right?
For example, laws that have been approved in the Parliament but then have been killed in the Spanish state, as an argument in favor of independence.
Then, I understand there are people that believe that… For example, sometimes I’m in that position myself, I don’t have a solid position, I flow a little bit… so, people that think that if a capitalist neo-liberal state inside the European Union is what is going to be created, just as the Spanish state is, then it doesn’t make sense doing it, right?
Let’s say that if that is to be in a state that is the same, then there’s no need to separate.
Do you have recollections from September 20th, the day that Guardia Civil invaded, arrested government officials, and seized pro-independence propaganda from local print shops…?
Well, I wasn’t in the streets that day but I guess that, like many people, I followed it through the media, in my case through radio, many others through television probably.
And I remember it was a tense moment of not knowing what was going on and of asking ourselves why this kind of repression was happening.
Well, not exactly why… because it was clear that it was because there was the will of holding a referendum and the Spanish state didn’t want to allow that.
But I do remember that tension I felt when hearing all that was happening.
I also remember watching videos of the gathering in front of the CUP’s office, they [policemen] wanted to get in to move propaganda away but they couldn’t make it because they didn’t have an order.
And there were people like me, I also thought about going there but well, I was working and finally, I couldn’t go… let’s say that when I could go, it had faded away, right?
But I remember that gathering, I remember how people were quite angry and thinking about what was that, that it wasn’t a rule of law to arrest people for wanting to vote.
And also, [arresting] someone who was at the economy ministry, right? That let’s say that is quite important to an autonomous community, or in this case, to a state.
What is Spain’s Gag Law, and how does it impact journalism?
The Gag Law is a law that was approved by the Popular Party and that, actually, it is an unfortunate censureship law that more than journalism, although it also affects it, what affectates the most is activists.
It is a law which Green Peace protested a lot about because they do many actions in buildings, for example, they climb them and hang a poster in the top of the building…
This kind of actions are punished by the Gag Law.
Also, there was… with the arrival of smartphones and all that, there is a very big movement of whenever someone sees a police assault, they record the police in order to inform on that assault.
With the Gag Law, what it says is that one can receive a fine for recording a policeman and so, you cannot record it to inform on an assault, then we were left out like orphan without our defensive weapon against the state’s violence.
If we had already few weapons because a policeman’s word is always worth more, then with this law we had even less power let’s say.
And then, all the repression that comes from social network that it doesn’t make any sense, that anything like this hasn’t been seen in any European or western country, that is imposing fines or giving people a prison sentence for posting in Twitter, for example.
Or artists for making an artistic representation like the well-known case of ‘the puppeteers’ that was due to this law that they went to trial, they had been sued for making a play with puppets, let’s say, mocking the police, the church, the king… right?
Let’s say, what political humorists have done all their lives.
Well, these people had very serious consequences for expressing artistically.
There have always been cases of musicians, of rappers that have been arrested for the lyrics they’ve written.
Also publications, ‘El Jueves’, which is a satirical magazine, well-known in Spain, it has had to move its magazine away a couple of times, they had to go to trials.
To me, it is simply a sign of how little democratic the current government of the Popular Party in Spain is, the kind of laws they create in order to restrict the freedom of expression and above all, to limit the freedom of expression to all those that they decide.
Because then, there have been complaints for fascist attacks, let’s say, about desiring the death of people that defended certain left-wing things, and there have been no consequences.
Then, not only it is a law that restricts the freedom of expression in general, but it limits the freedom of expression of certain kind of population.
Why are people wearing yellow ribbons now?
Well, the yellow ribbon is a symbol that asks for the freedom of the political prisoners of Catalonia that have been arrested as a result of the process of independence of Catalonia.
Currently, in prison, there are the ‘Jordis’, [Joan] Puigcercós… no, not the Puigcercós, [Oriol] Junqueras is, the Jordis, and then, there is the economy one… how is he called…?
Well, currently, we have political prisoners as a result of the independence process, and let’s say, we have two people that didn’t belong to any political party for easing the voting on the 1st of October, they are the Jordis, they belong to associations, let’s say, popular associations, ANC and Òmnium have been platforms created by civilians.
Then, political parties have joined it and I think even associations, business, City Halls…
But its basis is popular, then, people are very indignant that these people are in prison… also, they have families, they have children… and the thing is they are imprisoned without bail, they don’t even have a bail to… while waiting for the trial, but they have to stay in prison.
And well, when we walk the streets of Barcelona, in this case, we can see many, many people either with yellow ribbons or either wearing yellow scarves too.
And here we can appreciate the people’s expression of indignation.
Did you participate in any manifestations? If so, can you provide an anecdote that, perhaps, puts the viewer of this film right there with you?
I participated in the manifestation of the 2nd of October, after the repression that people suffered for voting, for going to vote.
And the truth is that it was a very impressive protest.
I’m used to going to manifestations and normally, there’s hardly a soul there.
Then, it was very emotional to me going to such a multitudinous protest.
I remember we went to the Jardinets de Gràcia that are, let’s say, in the upper part of the center of Barcelona and we couldn’t move.
We were waiting and waiting weather the protest advanced but it didn’t move at all.
In the end, we snuck among the people and tried to advance and not to stay there because we wanted to walk for a while, and walk with the protest, right?
But… but it’s not that we started walking because the protest started to move, but we started walking along the lateral in order to get to the areas where people were walking already.
And curious anecdotes… well, for example, a very emotional thing that happened is that there was a boy in the protest with a flag of Spain as a kind of cape, let’s say, and he had a poster addressed directly to the president that said ‘Rajoy, I feel Spanish but I’m against violence’, right?
That day… look, I get goosebumps.
That day, people not only went out on a massive scale to ask for the independence, although a lot of shouts of independence could be heard obviously, but they went out to condemn that totally inappropriate repression that old people suffered, that people that was going to vote peacefully suffered and that there was barely no violence on the 1st of October.
I mean, it is true that some images of some vandalized police cars have been seen but as a general rule, it was people with ballots against nightsticks.
Then, it was a very emotional protest, a very multitudinous protest and I have good memories of it.
What was your voting experience on October 1st?
Well, although I live in Barcelona, I’m still registered in Cerdanyola del Vallés, a city that’s just behind the mountain of Collserola, next to Barcelona.
And so, I went there to vote in the polling place I had been assigned.
And I remember that I voted in the morning, then I went back to my parent’s, I had lunch with them and I started receiving all the outburst of news, of images of what was happening in Barcelona and other villages… also, very small towns of Catalonia in which there had been very serious, violent scenes and it was really overwheming to see them.
I remember being very, very worried and thinking ‘I cannot stay at home while they are doing all this to my fellow citizens’.
Then, after lunch, I went to some polling places of Cerdanyola, I did kind of a route because we still were unsure whether the police would show up or not, because there was no criterion for the Civil Guard to appear in a city or an other.
And then, there were many people at all the polling places protecting the place, that is, a human barrier, forming human chains so the police couldn’t get in.
I remember being at a polling place in Cerdanyola and hearing rumors that the police was coming, and so we all formed a line, we took each other’s arms to avoid that they could get in and take the ballot boxes.
Then, the police didn’t come, finally, it was a quiet day in Cerdanyola, no one came but it is true you could feel that tension.
And so, in the polling places that I went to, it is true that everyone was… well, on one hand, happy, excited with the whole process because a lot of people were involved, but on the other hand, a little bit of fear of the possibility that something similar to the images that everyone had seen somehow could happen.
Can you relate any anecdotes about friends’ experiences voting in Barcelona?
Well, yes, the truth is that all my friends participated in it in one way or another.
I have friends who went to the polling places to sleep.
I remember that a friend went to the polling place that is at Travessera de les Corts at night, and they used kind of a code in case there was a secret police there.
And they said ‘tonight, we’ll play three games’, and they divided it into hours, I don’t remember which ones were exactly, but like from 8 to 12, we’ll play pachisi, and that meant that whoever wanted to play pachisi had to go there and so, people that was staying there from 8 to 12, went that way.
From 12 to 5 we’ll play poker, and so, all those who ‘played poker’ went that other way.
And then, from 6 to whenever it was, well, there was an other game… and they had to bring snacks for all those who had stayed to sleep there and all that.
And then, I have two friends that live in Barcelona, one of them lives near Sant Pau’s Hospital, and it’s very close to a polling place, and he told me that he woke up at 6 or 7 in the morning because of the applauses, shouts of ‘we will vote, we will vote’.
And well, he said that well, considering the bad part of people waking you up on a Sunday, that he was very happy because of that excitement that people was having in that moment.
And then I have an other friend that was at Indústria street, near the Sagrada Familia, and well, that he kept moving from one polling place to the other because they were very near to each other, and that because police vans were getting closer.
And he told me he guesses that seeing the amount of people that were there protecting the places, that also being so near to each other, people kept moving from one to the other.
He thinks that they didn’t charge because of that, because police vans had been getting closer but they didn’t actually get out of the vans at no time, luckily, but he does remember the tension of moving from one polling place to the other, and so.
And also, as an anecdote, that he was there, he spent the night at the polling place, and so he was there first thing in the morning, and that he found out that the ballot boxes had arrived because everyone started clapping, but that despite being there, he didn’t see how the ballot boxes arrived there at all.
And it is curious because this proves to what extent they had everything planned and very well prepared.
Many Catalans flew to Belgium during the first week in December. Why?
Well, they flew to Belgium because one of the most important things that a state that wants to be independent needs is international recognition.
And after the declaration of independence, we got almost no recognition, from any country.
Then, on one hand, it was a show of force and a show… well, a request to Brussels, precisely, because there is the EU’s headquarters, and so it was to ask for that international recognition to the EU states above all, which are states that are near us.
And also a show of supporting the current president of the Generalitat, that is Carles Puigdemont, who went to Brussels due to the judicial hunt he’s suffering in the Spanish state, and so, avoiding being arrested as other politicians have.
Will you talk about the reactions of the European political community since the referendum crisis began?
Well, the truth is that reactions have been very conservative, supporting the Spanish state and its president a lot, Mariano Rajoy.
We got almost no recognition at all.
It is true that some secretaries from some countries, they’ve asked for… well, that it be a debate, it has been debated at the Parliament of Flanders if I am not mistaken, which is also an area that has cultural differences with the country it is in.
I’d also say that it was discussed at the Parliament of Scotland, which is also an area with hopes… some people that live there have the hope of becoming their own state.
Then, let’s say the most positive reactions we received were from those places that can empathize with the Catalan situation.
But the rest of the European states… it is true that some of them condemned the violence that voters suffered on the 1st of October but none of them made a challenging declaration towards the Spanish government, but rather, on the contrary, they have been supporting declarations.
Will you discuss your experience on election day December 21st?
It was a quiet and regular experience, I guess because as these elections were organized by the Spanish state, they didn’t send policemen to repress people and so, there was no problem at all.
Well, a part from that, I followed the counting very interested after the voting.
I found remarkable the level of participation, which went up to 80%, which is a lot.
Normally, there is not that much participation, it was a subject that people were interested in, actually.
And it had been showned, let’s say, through the people that received more votes, parties that didn’t take a stance as En Comú Podem, that decided that its discourse was ‘nor independence, nor 155’, which is the article the Spanish state has applied in Catalonia, the economic intervention of the autonomous community.
Then, they condemned both roads.
And this party, for example, had an important descent regarding votes.
The ones that have won in votes are, on one hand, Ciutadans, a quite right-winger party, more right than what I think people believe, and they clearly bet on the union of Spain, so there was no independence, among many other right politics.
What I found very sad is that laborer neighborhoods, working-class neighborhoods, voted for a party that actually, goes against their own interests.
And then, on the other hand, it is true independence won, but no pro-independence party won the elections because they were divided into three parties: ERC, Junt– Sorry, they’ve changed their name many times and now… PDeCat, yes and CUP.
Then, joining these three political forces, they’ve won, they’ve clearly won the elections
But well, the truth is that I found it quite… I was very surprised and I think that everyone was, that PDeCat got so many votes, ERC was expected to be the first pro-independence force instead of PDeCat
And that quite disappointed me, I have to admit, because PDeCat is clearly more right-winger than ERC, and so, it was evidence that this movement doesn’t look after social matters and people are voting for the right more than for the left
CUP, which is the radical leftist party, for example, it also lost votes
Pro Independence parties maintain a parliamentary majority. What do you think will happen next?
Actually, I don’t know, I can speculate but i have no idea what will happen
I think that whoever says he/she knows what’ll happen, is lying because we’re in an entirely unknown scene, and we cannot predict it
But well, my negative part thinks everything will be the same, that repression will work because also, not long ago, PDeCat’s president, Artur Mas, who was the leader of Convergència Democràtica back then, as they used to be called, he started all this independence process, and he said that the independence movement wasn’t strong enough to impose itself
Then, let’s say this movement is quite discouraging to me, and I think that if I had to say something, I’d say we won’t see independence, not in the short run
Backing up a couple of years, will you explain what 15-M was all about, and what your personal experiences were in the context of that movement?
Well, 15-M was a popular movement that rose up by surprise a little bit, I think it surprised everyone, but it was a very beautiful movement, in my opinion
In this case, it was a really leftist movement that was asking for a social agenda inside the political agenda, that what wanted…
It rose up, above all, for example, from movements like PAH, that is the platform anti-evictions, that what demanded was that it couldn’t be possible that business that owned a lot of properties in Barcelona, or that banks keep people’s houses and they would be evicted because, with the crisis, a lot of people was unemployed, they couldn’t pay the mortgage, they couldn’t pay rent…
And then, what banks did was evicting them through the judicial procedure, obviously, and then, these houses either were empty or either for sale
And also, people that had been evicted from their homes, inherited the debt they had with the bank
Then, this was one of the driving forces of this movement, which was… the motto was ‘there’s no way there are houses without people and people without houses’, the problem is not that there is no room, but it is a problem of real-estate speculation, it is a problem of flat prices are very high, that there’s an economical crisis, that salaries are very low, that there is a lot of people that are unemployed and no one is doing anything to help these people
And then, there were a lot of petitions at a social level, health service improvements, here in Spain, we have public health but there has been a quality deterioration, hospital floors have been closed, waiting lists are increasingly long, then, not enough money is destined to public education from the state, it was also one of the protests of that movement, that it cannot be possible that there were children that were being taught at barracks because they couldn’t use their classrooms because there wasn’t an investment to improve those classrooms
And what people did as a protest was occupying the squares of the cities of all the country, of all Spain in this case
And I vividly remember it because at that time, I was studying at university and well, I remember I went to work in the morning, then I used to go to the university and when I finished it, I went to the assembly that was held at the village’s square, the 15-M’s assembly of Cerdanyola, I still lived in Cerdanyola back then
And then, I went to Plaça Catalunya all the weekends and slept there, in Barcelona, where there were assemblies too, they were divided into commissions to making decisions, and there was a beautiful atmosphere, it was a protest environment but intergenerational also, old people that talked about the fights they’d been through, young people talking about their experiences of not having a job, of having…
Also, one of the complaints was that we’re a generation that is very well prepared, we have university degrees, we have masters, and we don’t have jobs, this was one of the complaints they made
And well, they were beautiful months of political hope, and well, I wouldn’t say it hasn’t led to nothing because I think a lot of people that wasn’t politically active, started being involved due to 15-M
But it is true we didn’t get what we wanted, which was a change of government and a change among the people in politics, of investments of the state, that more would be invested in social subjects and less in… well, the military expense
And let’s say, other subjects where all the money is spent in apart from all the corruption of the party that is in power right now, the Popular Party, that is shameful the amount of cases that have been proved that these people have stolen state’s money for their own benefit
And then tells us, the people that there is no money to invest
Would you talk about its connection to Occupy Wall Street?
I remember that soon after the 15-M’s emergence, in the US the movement of Occupy Wall Street rose up, that also… well, let’s say, the protest method was very similar to the 15-M’s, it was occupying public areas and protest peacefully, because also, it was something that both movements had in common, they were people whose only resistance was their own bodies, therefore, they didn’t practice any kind of violence comparing to the repression they suffered later
Because in both the US and here, there was repression by the police
And I remember I was very excited because I thought ‘I believe this is the first time that we’ve inspired something to the US and not the other way around’, normally, we inherit many things that come from the US, we receive all its culture, all Europe in general
And for once, we initiated a political movement that also spread throughout many countries, among them, the US and I consider that well, it was absolutelly magical to me, right?
And it was set in the political agenda, no matter how many things we did obtain, but we were on all the media, one, 15-M, as such as the other, Occupy Wall Street, everyone was talking about that, and they talked about their petitions, which was also the resistance’s intention
What was the Bologna Process, and what was your involvement in the protest against it?
When I was at university, I think I was… I don’t remember if it was my second or my third year of student in the career, well, there was all the implementation, the subject of the Bologna Process, which was a university syllabus whose purpose was to equalize all the studies at a European level
Let’s say, up to that moment, there wasn’t any European law about education, and this was the first one
And I remember it was… There were many protests, above all in my university, which is the Autonomous University of Barcelona, that also is one of the most well-known universities for its political activism
I remember we blocked off the freeway every week as a kind of protest
We didn’t have lessons for two or three months, I’d say
We occupied all the classrooms, we wouldn’t let people take classes or the ones that were taken were to talk about the Bologna Process
Many assemblies were held, people slept there, there was, well… we cooked there…
And I remember that actually, although there were no classes, there were some months in which I think everyone learn a lot of things, above all, we learnt about politics, democracy, about fighting for our rights
And well, the Bologna Process… I guess if someone hears we were so against it, he or she may not quite understand it, right? Because well… it was a plan that created more reduced groups in class, theoretically, what was written in the Bologna Process was reduced groups of class, less hours of class that implied dedicating more hours of study at home
Credits were understood to be ‘x’ hours at university but it was understood that we needed to do ‘x’ hours at home too, of study and investigation
It appeared to be a university syllabus to encourage the investigation at home, well, the autonomous study, let’s say
And it was also very linked to companies
That is, if companies had a wider professional demand in a certain field, there would be more jobs in that field
But what did this mean? That if companies didn’t ask for professionals of other fields, those careers were either removed or well, they disappeared, actually, some of them have disappeared nowadays
Or well… yes, they basically had no place in the university
Then, our protest was for many reasons
One, a change like that asked for a very big investment from the state in power, in order to fulfill all the principles of the Bologna Process, that investment wasn’t going to be done, and effectively, it hasn’t been done
Two, it implied a rise in the credit’s price, university careers have risen their prices a lot
Actually, I don’t know… I guess I would need to ask my parents, as they were the ones who paid for my career, but I don’t know if I could’ve studied nowadays because of the price
Actually, some news have come out about people that had to drop out school because they couldn’t pay for it, people that could’ve studied before but now they cannot
And then, finally, this commercialization of university
I mean, it’s like saying that we were… Like losing the university values of knowledge, right? All careers of humanities that all they want is philosophy, humanities, that what they want is to increase knowledge, to increase the culture, there’s no room for them in companies, there’s no room for them in capitalism
And then, they were removed, then, that was very serious for us, that capitalism had entered into a institution as the university in such a way, and theoretically, it is to acquire knowledge, and not to… right?
The concept we have nowadays that ‘no, no, university is for being able to work as…’, well, in theory, or what I do think is that it is true you can take advantage of it and that many people study and obviously, this knowledge provides a basis to do specific jobs later
But university is something more, right? And all this… this extra thing that knowledge has, of culture, of critical thinking, they were removing that
And that’s why we protested about, once more, without the results we wanted but well, it was a good experience
You talked about the Gag Law already, but there were some censureship that occured during the lead up to the elections, wasn’t there? I thought I heard talk about not being able to show certain things on public tv… What kind of censorship were imposed during the lead up to the elections?
When the elections were convened, actually, with the implementation of the 155, one of the threats the Popular Party did was that together with the autonomy and economy interventions and the autonomy’s accounts, they were going to intervene in the public media, that is, Tv3 and Catalunya Ràdio
Then, there were many complaints, it is true that in that sense, internationally, there were wake-up calls, they said ‘well, this is one more step…’
And finally, this intervention didn’t happen, at least formally
But it is true that showing the yellow color was forbidden, yellow ribbons, as we said before, were for supporting the political prisoners
The state forbidded that these symbols were shown on public television at all
And also, something happened, that is polemical everytime there are alections, and it is about the percentage of screen time
The state election committee imposes that during an election campaign, parties should appear on the news of public media in proportion to the number of representatives they have
That is, parties that currently have more representatives in the Parliament, had more time, and those that had less representatives, had less screen time
This method has been denounced by journalists of the public media many times
Actually, during the election campaign, they don’t usually sign their pieces of news as a sign of protest
But also, let’s say that in this elections, it was even more exaggerated than it used to be
When there was, in Tv3, the Catalan public television, a tracking of the protest in Brussels, that obviously, well, as a journalist, inside the journalistic criteria, I consider that it is a newsworthy element and it is something that has to be on a public television
If part of the population goes to Brussels to protest, it is something that needs to be showed
So they got a report from the election committee and well, this demand still needs to be solved, but they were absolutelly controlled and let’s say that each thing that was done in Tv3 or Catalunya Radio, then it had a consequence, either with statements or even that, with judicial claims
A part from this, there were more, but let’s say this was the most flagrant one because also, after the protest’s news, they talked about Ciutadans’ electoral campaign, about PP’s electoral campaign, the PSOE’s, that they are the three unionist parties, clearly
But in spite of that, the election committee didn’t think that was enough, Tv3 appealed against the demand saying they had accomplished obeyed these sections they’d been forced to do, let’s say
But still, without being formally controlled, that is, without being controlled by the article 155 as they wanted to do, it is true it has been a pretty chilling control of public media
And a constant critique, above all, that I think it’s quite pitiful for a government that also has created a totally partisan public state television
When there was the PSOE’s government, they tried to make changes… well, they changed that the directors of the public television weren’t chosen by politicians, but that there was an other method to chose them, that politicians wouldn’t interfere in the contents they made
But when the Popular Party won the elections, all this changed and currently, we have a public state television totally humiliating that directly, it ignores the subjects of political present and of general interest that don’t benefit the government
Then, they wanted to do the same with the Catalan television
I won’t deny that sometimes it does have a partisian touch in favor of independence, but it is much more objective than the Spanish television, clearly
Somebody got in big trouble for posting something [about Carrero Blanco], (could you talk about the justice problems that people have had for posting things on that subject?)
About the Gag Law, that attacks against comments on Twitter, there is a very chilling subject that is the repression that has been towards a girl called Cassandra Jiménez [Vera], that tweeted a joke about [Luis] Carrero Blanco saying he was the first Spanish astronaut
To contextualize and so you can understand the cause of the joke and the posterior repression
[Luis] Carrero Blanco had to be [Francisco] Franco’s substitute, the dictator, when he’d die
Franco was very old and actually, I think he’s one of the few dictators of Europe, if not the only one… no, he’s been the only one that has died on bed, that no one kicked out but he died on bed governing Spain
And his substitute, the person that had to come after him was [Luis] Carrero Blanco
Then, in that period, the armed band ETA was very active, that it is an armed band that put bombs and attacked as a kind of protest in order to reach the independence of the Basque Country, but above all, in Franco’s period, they were a violent anti-Francoist resistance, against the dictatorship
Then, they attacked on the 20th of November, of December, sorry
The bomb exploded under the car in which [Luis] Carrero Blanco was and it flew and ended up on a flat roof
Then, let’s say that there’ve always been jokes on this fact, all my life I’ve heard all of the possible jokes about this
Why do people make jokes about it? Apart from the fact that this happened many years ago, it is because we’re talking about someone that what he did and what he was about to do, specially afterwards, was to repress the Spanish state, to deprive the state of democracy and to keep with a dictatorship that was also very violent and that caused more deaths after the Civil War than during the Civil War
I mean, it wasn’t just a simple thing, let’s say
Then, what I’ve said before, right? It is curious how making a joke about this fact is not allowed, which actually, well, nowadays it’s not affecting anyone
They sent that girl to trial, that also it turns out it was a transexual woman, they humiliated her in the trial, directly, they would refer to her as a man, although not only she defined herself as a woman, but also phisically and all, she represented herself as a woman
And actually, there was… it was a very, very unfortunate trial, what this poor girl had to be through because of a joke on Twitter
I mean, I don’t… I don’t understand it at all
And the most unbelievable part is the she’s not the only one, she’s been the most covered by the media because of the kind of trial she had but there’ve been other people that had to go to trial for making jokes about this person, who was a terrible person actually
We interviewed seminal Barcelona drag queen Sergio Satanassa several months ago. He talked about what it was to be gay in the 1980s here: “Y esto de estar en un local, el member por ejemplo, y picar a la puerta, ver solamente un chico, abrir la puerta y meterse 15 o 20 skin-heads con bates de béisbol i empezar a darle a todo el mundo.” Yet, today, we see a city that is very progressive in its approach to sexual identity–arguably, a model for the world. Will you talk about the LGBT movement here, and how tolerance has increased so dramatically?
Yes, I think that the people that live in Barcelona and are a part of this collective we’re quite privileged because it is true that Barcelona is a very open-minded city, a city where, not never, but there hardly are homophobic assaults, we can live quite calmly, let’s say, in our city
I’ve never suffered any assault, personally, my friends… Well, I’ve never suffered any physical abuse but verbally, I have, someone has yelled at me in the street some time
But well, I’ve turned around and told them to shove off and I’m fine, I mean that in that sense, I do feel we’re in a very open-minded city and that there’s no problem in living with all kinds of sexual orientations, now it is necessary to keep moving forward and to lose this closed gender conception that people still have and that little by little, is being accepted
But I do think it is different in villages
I think there are a lot of people that live in Barcelona and come from little villages throughout Catalonia or Spain, and this happens in Madrid too, that let’s say they’ve run away from their villages directly, because it’s not the same being homosexual, bisexual, intergender, transgender, queer, in a village than in a big city
I think there’s still a lot of work to do, although it is true that at a legal level, when the Socialist Party was in power, the first four years of legislature, they did many things right, among them, they legalized the homosexual marriage
And, despite I’m not a big fan of marriage, I think it is one of the tools that allow homosexual, bisexual, transgender people to get into a normalcy… well, I don’t like the term ‘normalcy’, but well, to get to a social acceptance
But yes… bearing in mind that the dictatorship didn’t end much time ago, and that during the dictatorship there was the Vagrancy Act, that you’d go directly to prison if you were homosexual, then there has been a lot of pogress
But I think that there is a lot that needs to be done and that there are areas that don’t socially accept the diversity of gender nor sexual orientations because well, this, in Barcelona or in Madrid too, when I’ve been there visiting, I’ve suffered verbal abuse for holding hands with my couple
Then, I think there’re are things that need to be done still in order to get to a real equality
Because although I’ve never suffered any abuse, the fact of having to come out everytime I meet someone new, it is something that I think about and it shouldn’t be like that because heterosexual people don’t neet to come out continually
There’s a normalcy still, it is considered that the normal thing is to be heterosexual and everything else is weird
No, everything is normal and nothing is, right? And until we don’t get to that point… a lot of work in education is needed still, right?
When people stop asking little girls if they have a boyfriend and little boys if they have a girlfriend, for example, then that will be a step forward
But still nowadays, there are a lot of kids that suffer discrimination at school because of their sexual orientation
Then, in spite of being a progressive state, which I’m proud of, I think the work is not over yet
Do you have an August 17 (terror on La Rambla) story?
Well, the 17th of August I was having lunch at my parent’s in Cerdanyola, luckily, and well, I remember… listening to it on the radio and rushing to turn the tv on
I remember those moments of complete uncertainty, that it was unknown whether there was a terrorist locked in a bar, or if they had gone or not
I remember there was a lot of people that started sending images of the bodies and the blood… I didn’t open any of them, luckily, because I find terrible that someone’d send something like that
I remember a lot of unease, I remember how I started writing all my friends asking ‘Are you ok? Where are you?’
I remember I friend told me she was in a bar and I told her ‘stay there, don’t go out, lock yourself in the bar, they haven’t arrested the terrorists yet, don’t go out…’
I remember that fear that… I’d heard about other terrorist attacks that I’d been following in the news, because I’m a very empathetic person and I could perfectly imagine it, but it is true that when it happened at home, also in such an emblematic place as the Ramblas, everyone, absolutely everyone that lives in Barcelona has been in the Ramblas, everyone
Then, it was very shocking because it is a place you’ve been in a thousand times and then… you cannot keep thinking ‘I could’ve been there perfectly’
I meet with friends a lot of times in the Rambles to go somewhere else later, or it may have been a relative, a friend, quite easily
And then, as news started to come up, when they identified the terrorists, they were kids, very, very young, and also, it appeared they were quite integrated in the town they lived in
The truth is that that impressed me even more, right? Because I felt sorry that such a young person, with a whole life ahead of him, is able to do something like that
I’ve told you I’m very empathic and I can empathize even with them but I found it terrible, terrible