Inés Arrimadas isn’t nice. Albert Rivera’s worse.
In the rarefied air of post-1 October Spain, historical analogies abound, some further fetched than others. In recent weeks, the Catalan School – under constant attack from Ciudadanos since the party’s inception in 2006 – has featured in many comparisons, This persecution is unsurprising when you remember that it was one of Ciudadanos’ declared reasons for coming into being. The attempted correlation is with Gleichschaltung, the Nazification, of the education system in 1930s Germany. Those that laughed at this narrative a decade ago, now look on nervously as Ciudadanos edge closer to the Moncloa because, in reality, it is their plans for the Catalan education system that bear the greater ressemblance, not to the Nazification of German schools, but to Franco’s revocation of recognition and suppression of regional languages in education.
Anti-Catalanist Ciudadanos have succeeded in generating fear among the educational community. Nowhere has their fixation on the most important of Catalan institutions been clearer than when leader, Albert Rivera, tweeted the photos, names and surnames of the nine teachers of El Palau school in Sant Andreu de la Barca accused of discriminating against Civil Guard children by discussing the police violence of 1 October in class the following day. (Charges against five of the teachers have already been dropped. The case against the remaining four is paper thin.) Rivera’s calculated irresponsibility resulted in an intensification of the harassment the teachers were already suffering, as the ex-lawyer wilfully ignored the presumption of innocence – ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat; the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on the one who denies – in contravention of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite droning on endlessly about the rule of law, Ciudadanos show about as much regard for it as the ruling Partido Popular.
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Rivera points, the pack attacks
(Original article: Rivera apunta, La Manada dispara)
by Sergi Sol, El Nacional, Tuesday May 1, 2018
Rivera is born of hatred and resentment. No political leader has ever attempted to preside over Spain brandishing just one calling card: rabid anti-Catalanism. Not even Aznar got close. Not even Primo de Rivera and Francisco Franco, who at least combined their hallmark anti-Catalanism with other phobias. Not Albert Rivera. He always plays the same card in his presidential race, a deep-rooted opposition to anything Catalan-sounding. It’s all he has and, worst of all, all he seems to need.
His tweets are typical of an unscrupulous individual, the embodiment of evil. He lies consciously and shamelessly, caring not for the suffering and damage he causes. Could he look the children of the political prisoners, the teachers, those assaulted for wearing a yellow ribbon in the eye? He has but one obsession, to feed confrontation and take political advantage. He will do whatever it takes to become the most ruthless of the political leaders with the “coup d’état”. If it suits him in order to win the elections he’ll demand life imprisonment for Junqueras (having already said that, if it was up to him he would rot in jail) and for the rest of the jailed or exiled members of parliament. And what suits is driven by the basest of instincts and served up on a silver platter by a supportive media, his Moorish Guard.
Rivera is the neighbourhood bully, the coward that indicates they prey to the pack of hyenas. Rivera is the piece of work that stomps out of Parliament incensed at its attempt to condemn the Franco regime. In Congress he has blown up all the bridges, and the most basic rules of coexistence and his pupil, Arrimadas seems never to know it when good grace is required.
One of Rivera’s latest displays of braggadocio has targeted the Sant Andreu de la Barca teachers, harassed by Spanish nationalism’s cave-dwellers and persecuted by a judiciary that is loath to prosecute assaults on those wearing yellow ribbons, but zealous in response to the demands of the Civil Guard or the far-right. The day after his latest tweet that placed the teachers in the spotlight, threatening graffiti appeared on the walls of the school, including the names and surnames of the teachers, the objects of the witch hunt. Rivera, promoter of the lynching, had already judged them some time before and has now sentenced them. More votes from deepest darkest Spain in the bag and Rivera content. The commandos have done the job. What would he be capable of doing to the teachers, for example, if he ever got to be president of Spain? What would he wreak on the disaffected?
Falangists always considered education a problem and Francoists ran it with a fist; the educational community were by far the most castigated public servants during the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, both quantitatively and qualitatively. They were hunted down and killed in their tens of thousands. The reason was very simple: the teachers were a mainly progressive collective, like now, and the Franco regime – like National syndicalism before it – considered them responsible for inoculating society and young people with the Republican disease. It was an exemplary and intimidatory campaign intended to discourage any new attempt.
Albert Rivera makes constant use of the manual that inspires him, of the ancient bêtes noires of Spanish totalitarianism and those customs that for so long were so traditional. A few days ago in Terra Alta, I was told how uniformed officers taking a refreshment break at the village bar, when the time came to settle the bill, asked “How much do we owe you, if anything?” condescendingly expecting the response “It’s on the house, gentlemen”. To this they went on “oh, and a few coins for the cigarette machine, no change on me”. Rivera’s Spain is not new, it is nostalgia for Franco with a modern coating, but a carbon copy of the “good customs and practices” that have inspired all dictators in this wretched Black Spain (1).
(1) Black Spain:
Franco’s Black Spain. Satirical drawings of fascists in the Spanish Civil War.
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We remind @UNICEF, @unicef_es and @unicef_cat that we know this situation exists in Catalonia, which we’ve already suffered in Europe, during the Nazi regime in Germany and the Balkan War.
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So which analogy is closest to reality: the comparison of the Sant Andreu de la Barca teachers to Nazis and the Civil Guard children to Jewish children in concentration camps, which was made by a Civil Guard trade union, or the comparison of Albert Rivera’s attitude to these same teachers to that of a Falangist leader by a journalist?
Well, for a start, Nazi parties are illegal in Germany and Falangist parties are legal in Spain. 1930s Nazism is not part of Spanish history whereas Falangism is part not only of Spain’s history, but also its present. On the one hand there are socio-historical parallels and on the other there is extreme propaganda, part of a heavily funded and coordinated media assault by the Partido Popular, the Partido Socialista Obrera Española, Ciudadanos and Societat Civil Catalana, and their ‘Moorish guard’ – the media – currently touring Europe with the narrative. It is the narrative of the Spanish unionist establishment which has emboldened so many far-right thugs to commit acts of vandalism and assault in the past eight months in Catalonia, with impunity. It’s very tiring.
Many Spaniards – jurists, historians, writers, journalists, philosophers, teachers, artists, clowns, puppeteers, actors, rappers, musicians, taxi drivers, etc. – compare current Spanish leaders to the Spanish leaders of the past in terms of an ideology that, modernised and disguised, continues to exist, and is legal. Ciudadanos are fixated on all things Catalan and education is the area they would most like to ‘reform’. Their rhetoric on the Catalan School has wavered little since 2006, regardless of the Catalan education system’s relative success. The simple goal is greater subsumption and subjugation of Catalan to Castilian.
Thanks to Ciudadanos, Catalonia has become an exhausting place to live; their constant anger, hatred and lying. Lying about their neighbours, their teachers, their colleagues, their fellow citizens and their own lives. And to use the children of willing Civil Guards to sell the lie is low, a form of abuse. Christian unionists should remember the commandment “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”. Ciudadanos was born to bear false witness, to divide and rule Catalonia along ethnic lines. Ciudadanos are social and political pyromaniacs, unable to stop pouring petrol on the fire, as they see it burning a way to power. The legal abuse of Catalonia and the Catalans by the Spanish State since last summer has been dependent on the complicity and false testimony of Ciutadans. How else could a Catalan dream of governing Spain?