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