Jose Tortajada

Interviewed September 20, 2017 for Catalunya Barcelona docuseries.

Hello, good morning everyone. My name is José and I’m a native from Barcelona.

I’m going to explain you how my experience that day was. How it could be lived by any citizen of Barcelona.

In that moment, I, like anyone else here in Barcelona I suppose, found out about it through a text message.

They sent me a text message with a video. A very delicate video that wasn’t censored, with some gruesome scenes.

What happened is probably not worth explaining, because everyone has seen it. It was something truly terrible that surely could have been avoided.

I’m saying this because talking to some fellows of mine, that are good friends who work in the Tactical Security Forces, it was something about which we had been warned.

It was something that could have been prevented.

The Especial Tactical Forces gave the message to [the Ministry of] public works, the body that would be in charge of all that could have been done in order to avoid it.

This was dismissed because, politically, here it is preferred to have a police force that looks pretty, so to speak, instead of a tactical elite force like you have, for example, that can really cover the needs.

To be specific, when this happened I was around the Gracia promenade.

Surely many of you will know it, because it’s very close to Catalonia square. Practically, it could have touched me, so to speak.

I was luckier than some of my friends, because a certain friend of mine was working there, in the Boquería market, which is the most centric market there is in ‘Las Ramblas’.

He had to hide and was a bit shocked with this because he saw the dead, he saw the accident in its full scope.

The truth is that this shocked him. It all happened so fast. News started to rain from everywhere, an attack here, another one there.

It wasn’t really known if there was a link and they were together or not.

Nowadays, all the information there is can’t be known if they are completely true.

Because when [you talk with] people who are in the Tactical Especial Force, they tell you that all wasn’t linked as it has been sold on TV, in a personal capacity, so to speak.

But the mass media, that contradict one another, each of them gives you their version.

I think this all could have been avoided, especially if our Tactical Police Forces were prepared enough when it comes to weaponry to stop an attack of this kind.

Quoting a bit my fellow, what the police here was complaining about is that, obviously, with a glock or a 9mm walter you can’t stop a van, let alone a terrorist with an AK-47.

Starting from there, I think we should reflect on the things we were wrong about.

Especially, give a bit more strength to these Tactical Forces that are, in truth, risking their lives for us.

Panic spread. People were crying, shouting, running.

Some ran away, others didn’t know what to do.

To be specific, as it is told in select groups, so to speak, there was someone who even tried to stop the main attack, when the van got in ‘La Rambla’ and started weaving, running over anyone in front of it.

When it crashed against a wall, apparently this man tried to block the terrorist, but when he saw his family torn to pieces, he was shocked and fell.

These are things that, since we’re so used to seeing them on tv, we aren’t truly aware of what’s happening until it happens home.

We see it up close and maybe a relative, a friend, someone close, has been hurt and maybe died because of this.

This is the way I saw this. I’m one of the lucky who suffered no consequences, other than the fear of knowing that my friends in the police force are not super heroes, when they are in action they can die.

But other than this, thank God I’ve had the luck that my family, friends and fellows are okay.

I think we should take measures. It’s not a matter of Spain, Europe, or the United States. What we should really do is band all together for a common cause that is erasing terrorism and manage to finally live in peace, as much as possible.

This said, all that’s left is say goodbye and send my regards to all.

Opinion on independence?

Another of the hot topics that we are living here in Catalonia, news of which are traveling around the world, would be the issue of independence: how it is lived here, what’s the perception on a state level and what would be the perception that is maybe had globally.

We need to start from the base that all the information that is being provided is, as always, being given from the point of view that is more in their interest.

The truth is that the average Catalan has a rather different view than the one that is being taken on a state level or a global level, so to speak.

If I was asked about my own vision on the topic, I believe in a model more like that of the United States, so to speak.

To me it’s a model that is much more competent economically, and the results prove it.

Why am I taking this as a base?

In Spain, we are strongly based on many communities. Some are stronger economically, others not so much.

It is true that there are autonomic communities that are dependent of the decisions of the central government and, indirectly, the results that the stronger autonomic communities have.

The average Catalan, from my point of view, has a great socioeconomicocultural lack, and is based more in feelings than facts.

If we base it on other models that have managed it, such as the Basque Country for example, we notice that there has never been talk of a state separation actually, but rather there has been talk of economic self-management.

Actually, the problem we have in Catalonia is the management of the gross domestic product on a national level and the management of taxes.

There are many inequalities that are not being spread to the general public, so to speak.

What the average Catalan maybe isn’t taking into account is that, in a state where all should be exactly equal, there are autonomic communities that, regarding business, regarding entrepreneurs, regarding social security, pay much lesser amounts that those that are being paid in Catalonia.

It is an element to be studied that, having such a high entrepreneur rate as we have here, the failure rate is around from the six months to a year tops.

This is due to no other reason than that the entrepreneur, no matter how much he wants to, can’t take care of the cost of payments to the social security, Internar revenue, taxes.

If we do the math quickly, the state is taking away, from what we earn, about a 55% in taxes, if we do the numbers roughly.

But, globally, we are around that.

So, when there’s no chance to have an added profit doing this, it’s no surprise that people start to revolt.

When the economic bubble in Spain comes, that was the real estate bubble. We are talking about the years between 2007 and 2010 specially, which was when it burst and the Central European Bank set the highest Euribor rate that has existed in the marked – we are talking about a 4,25.

We really find ourselves in a crisis.

People start to notice what is going on and they start taking into account elements that they didn’t take into account so far because they had an economic ease that allowed them to pay more and live more.

The moment this all disappears, and based on the two strongest autonomic communities – Catalonia and Madrid –, they notice that it is actually this two communities that are maintaining the country and that’s when this battle comes.

The personalities that are defending us, to be honest, we could talk of Mr. Puigdemont, we could talk of the people around him, or in his moment Artur Mas.

In my opinion, I think they don’t represent us Catalans. I think that they give a pathetic image, truthfully. This is my personal opinion, given from the uttermost respect to these people.

I think they are giving a very negative image of us, because what we really have is a self-management problem.

The average Catalan is being fooled. Because if we don’t base it on the true numbers, we already have a great deal of self-management. So if we talk about scamming the citizens, so to speak, the first scam is already being received here in Catalonia, where we are paying extra charges everywhere in order to do extra upkeep on politicians with excessive salaries.

This is the issue everywhere, I think, because if you look at other places it’s the same, but at the least the average citizen can have more benefit.

If we look at models that are economically superior to ours, like the German model or the Dutch model, we will notice that, above all, they are based on companies, which are still the ones that provide wage earners with jobs, and give a lot of support to entrepreneurs.

Then, economy grows and there’s movement, or the expenses generate more expenses and that makes money move and, therefore, grow.

Here we live with the wrong idea. We think that the solution is to keep raising taxes, making the grow, and in the end we don’t really know where that money is going to.

Then, what happens to the Catalan? He sees that he’s paying a lot and that he’s getting very little.

If we take into account the GDP numbers, this is the year 2016, we are talking of a global contribution of 11% to the Gross Domestic Product, and receiving a 3% in exchange.

You don’t need to be a genius to see that, with these numbers, the Catalan can’t survive.

If we add to this that there’s a small austerity period because banking, which is a very strong private element, has locked up loans and has generated some difficulties to evolution; we find a suffocation Catalan, a Catalan that doesn’t know why it’s generating so much and living with so little.

This said, I don’t think independentism is the solution. I really think that it isn’t sustainable.

I think that the vision of an own coin, since we evidently would have to get out of the European Union, would harm us.

I also think it would be a global problem, on a military level, infrastructures, big companies that surely, in front of the doubt of what will happen, will leave.

I think it’s a really bad plan, honestly.

What I think would be a good plan would be to work in an economic self-management and that, of course, the autonomic communities that bring more money to the state – if a state division like the United States can’t be reached, where each has its own government and self-manages everything – I would work so that, at least, what we receive from our own capitals is bigger.

Having said that, I think that my position is clear.