“After the referendum, the interlocutor will be Angela Merkel”, Suso del Toro

Date: 13.08.2017

Author: Nicolas Tomàs

Source: El Nacional English

Defending the right of self-determination for the people of Spain has closed many doors for him. In Spain, but also in his own land. The ‘Galicianism’ of the II Republic has been crushed by the PP (Popular Party), which flourished since the end of the Franco regime, with the exception of brief lapses. But the writer, Suso de Toro (born in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, in 1956), remains firm: he writes and says what he thinks, to his own cost.

Always paying attention to what is happening in Catalonia, his latest work is La lección catalana (The Catalan lesson; Gregale, 2017). Before, when he believed in federalism, he wrote another: Otra idea de España(Another idea of Spain; Peninsula, 2005). If the system born of the Transition is now in crisis, it is the defense of the Catalan political process. He is convinced that on 2nd October the European Union will be forced to play a mediation role between the Spanish state and the Catalan government.

What has the Catalan process meant for the Spanish state?

The Catalan process has made Spain reveal its true nature. This is its true face. What happens is that, during the previous decades, there were no dilemmas or contradictions that obliged it to show it. They could circulate the idea that it was a fully democratic state. But this was not the case. There was a tremendous crisis, with enormous social punishment, but the Spanish society did not have the capacity to rebel. It is when there is a true democratic rebellion, as is the Catalan one, that the state reveals how it is. And it is not a democratic state.

Is it authoritarian, as Pep Guardiola said?

What Guardiola said can be defended in a common language, because that is how it is shown. If you need to put things in political categories, with a more scientific claim, it is necessary to clarify it. I would not dare say that it is an authoritarian state, but it is certainly not a democratic state. It looks much more like an Eastern country than a Western democracy. It looks more like Poland or Hungary, despite them saying it resembles France or Germany.

Is the Catalan process revealing the seams of the 1978 regime change?

Absolutely. The Catalan process reveals the crisis of the political system born from the Transition. It is curious, because two of the most decisive signatories of those pacts were the communists and the Catalan conservative nationalists. Today the successors of the PCE (Communist Party of Spain) are demonstrating that they are still tied to the pacts of the restoration of the monarchy. On the other hand, the conservative nationalists have not moved away, but have been expelled. The pro-Franco component of the PP is so notorious that it has managed to expel the heirs of those pacts from the constitutional consensus.

How do you see the referendum of 1st October?

The referendum will take place. The creators of this unstoppable process were Mariano Rajoy and his party. They collected signatures against the Statute [of Autonomy of Catalonia] and also against the Catalans, as it was a great operation of xenophobia, to encourage hatred and anger. They created the monster. And now they find a reality that they don’t know how to weigh up and can’t control. They have left no other way out in Catalonia other than a referendum. The alternative would be the liquidation of Catalonia as a country.

Was it out of ignorance?

There is an important factor that people do not believe: the contempt, the pride and also the ignorance of the Court of Madrid. It is an absolutely provincial world that, paradoxically, defines itself as cosmopolitan whilst branding others as provincial. They don’t know, it costs them to travel. They only know how to travel to Manhattan to buy T-shirts and baseball caps. But they’re incapable of travelling to Catalonia without feeling prejudice, or with curiosity. And that is why they don’t know the reality.

They believed, as the deputy prime minister said, that they would win in Catalonia by 10-0. They thought that they would humiliate the Catalan public opinion, which would be suppressed. Or as Federico Trillo (former PP Minister of Defense), might say, that it would be a military ride. What happens is that, when once there were 200,000, now there are several million Catalans. The great creators of this are Rajoy and his party. But they did not realise what they were creating.

Can a disproportionate response be made to 1st October?

Disproportion has already happened. It is already disproportionate to process and prosecute a president of the Catalan government and his advisors for organising a referendum. Whoever did this are the ones who should be prosecuted. Those in government who incited the process as well as the prosecutors and judges. It is an excess of anti-democracy. This only happens in countries that are not democratic.

Will the legitimacy of the referendum be lost if there is not a campaign for ‘no’?

In Madrid they already know that there will be a referendum, that millions of Catalans will go out to vote, and that they won’t be able to send out the Civil Guard or imprison millions of Catalans. They know they are defeated. That is why they are now offering candy. That’s what they’ll do during these weeks. The PSOE began, saying that Spain was a “nation of nations”, and now it is Rajoy himself, saying that after the referendum it will be necessary to speak. They know there will be a referendum. This battle is lost. The only thing that will happen is that Rajoy, who created this problem, will not be the interlocutor. A credible interlocutor cannot be someone who has repeatedly offended the Catalan citizenship.

Who will be the interlocutor after the referendum?

Angela Merkel will have to play the role of interlocutor. It is her responsibility that in this part of Europe, in a state that is so important within the European Union, there is democratic dialogue and that a political problem is solved by political, non-police means.

So, on 2nd October, the interlocutor of Catalonia will not be the State, but the international community?

From that moment on, those who will have conversations with the Catalan political leaders and authorities will be the European Union. It will have to play the role of mediator between Catalonia and the Kingdom of Spain. Before, however, they will continue to offer candy. It’s curious, because they now speak about a new system of funding, when Rajoy denied this to Mas. And Rajoy tried to imprison Mas. But now the situation has changed. They know that the referendum is inevitable … therefore they will try to offer promises for the future.

For the time being, what they are trying to do is delegitimize it via the participation turn out, with the call to boycott.

Yes, but they’ve lost this. They can continue intoxicating Spanish public opinion with all their newspapers and television, they can continue lying with these weapons of mass destruction that are the Madrid media, but Catalan public opinion is still the same; it will vote.

It is also true that the 9-N vote practically only achieved voting from pro-independence supporters.

When one or two million European citizens go out on 11th September and then 22 days later they vote in a civil event denied by the Spanish state, this is a unique political situation in Europe. It is a state crisis, comparable to the fall of the Soviet Union. President Puigdemont has already said it: the political and legal unit of Spain is broken. He does not recognise the Constitutional Court. He doesn’t care if it disqualifies him, because he doesn’t recognise it. Not only is Rajoy not recognised as the prime minister by the majority of Catalan society. It’s that they don’t recognise the other institutions of the Spanish state either: from the monarchy to the justice system, or the National Police and the Army.

You spoke about the Madrid media. What role have they had in all this?

The media is another institution that is not recognised any longer by Catalan society. They have been instrumental, from a faction in Madrid, in defending the interests of centralism. The Madrid newspapers and Spanish television have done great harm to the people of Catalonia among other Spaniards. They have deprived them of fame and slandered them. They have lost all the ethics that they might have had.

You wrote for many years for El País 

I wrote for the press in Galicia until they threw me out. I wrote for the press in Madrid until they also got rid of me. Right now I don’t know who I could write for … for the time being, in Catalonia.

Have you been punished?

Yes, but like many others. The sectarianization process, the evolution of Spanish public life, has been expelling any dissident voice. If you try to live and think freely in a country that is not democratic, you will logically be punished.

This week there has even been a newspaper calling for the CUP to be banned. On its own initiative.

The state that funds the Francisco Franco National Foundation, the state that dreams of forcibly preventing a referendum, reaches these extremes. What they have done with the Catalans, with these millions of adults, has been trying to treat them in the same way they did with Basque terrorism and its circle of sympathizers. The media have wanted to treat the Catalans as terrorists.

How do you see the position of the comuns(Catalonia in Common)?

They are what the PSC (Socialist Party of Catalonia) was in another period. Today the PSC is a very old and reduced party, but in its time fulfilled its role of searching for a way for Catalonia. Today the comuns (Catalonia in Common) fulfil this role. This is evident in the Catalan press that previously defended the PSC. Now they support the comuns. But the role of the comuns is decisive in the strategy and role of the state. What the federalists call to maintain dependence. When Ada Colau (Mayor of Barcelona) says that Madrid is her capital, and when thecomuns say that Spain is reformable, they don’t say that Madrid has never behaved like a capital for all, but that it is the headquarters of an oligarchy that takes advantage of us all.

Does it understand its swings, already not about independence, but about the referendum?

They are professional politicians and they want to have a political future. And they have played all their cards to be “the good Indians” who will cooperate, the people of confidence in the colony. But this commitment has run its course, because there will be a referendum. Catalonia will not be the same after 1st October. We will not know in what way at that time, but it will not be controlled from Madrid. It will be something else. Then, the bet of being the autonomist party will not look good. It is a bad bet. For this there’s already the Ciudadanos (Citizens), PP and the PSC. Many acronyms for a single letter. The only thing that can save the future of Colau is to get wet with the referendum, to commit herself.

Is the new Pedro Sánchez to be believed?

If led by Susana Díaz, it [the PSOE] would be a party of retired people with a very limited cultural and socioeconomic profile. That Pedro Sánchez put himself at the front gives it an opportunity, if he makes the most of it. There’s the possibility to resume dialogue with wider social sectors …

And does he believe in a plurinational Spain?

I defended federalism and saw what happened. Now I don’t believe anything. They are empty words. He himself cannot guarantee a proposal on behalf of his whole party. It is complicated, because part of his party is betraying him. On the other hand, the PP is the one that created this situation. And Podemos (We Can) in the end has to earn its political support in Spain. And the Spanish public opinion is conditioned by the anti-Catalan messages. We already see it now, as they have joined the politics of Rajoy in denying the legitimacy of the referendum.

Rajoy’s strategy continues, but it has enclosed all Spanish society in a difficult situation. That is why I believe that the intervention of the European Union will be final. It is the only way. In addition, bear in mind that Spain is a kingdom. If it was a republic, the president of the Republic could have a mediating role. But that is not the case. The king does not have all the political resources to intervene as if there was a president of the Republic.

Do you agree with the argument that Spain is unreformable?

It is not unreformable, but it reforms through force. Spain has never reformed by itself, only when it has been obliged to do so. It went from Franco to post-Franco because Franco died. If not, it would have continued the same. Because the owners of Spain were doing okay. And those of us who were against were a minority, we did not have strength to impose a democratic break. From this weakness of anti-Francoism, and from the ideological and sociological strength and presence of Franco’s regime, the current political system was born.

By itself, Spanish society does not have the strength to reform. The oligarchy from Madrid is very strong. It is more: it continues accumulating more energy, and more capital. It controls everything: ports, airports, trains, businesses, highways, everything. They have accumulated more during the so-called “coffee for everybody”. They have increased the power of centralism. This is the paradox.

How is all this seen from Galicia?

There is an impotence. The civic spirit, the creative capacity that Galicianism had at the time of the Republic was ripped out and physically liquidated, shot, imprisoned. Later there was an inability to reconstruct an alternative, capable of directing a country from then on. Galician nationalism just doesn’t have the political capacity to offer its society a way. When I say Galician nationalism I refer to the BNG (Galician Nationalist Bloc). It’s the only one. The rest are more or less autonomous branches of Madrid power. In the end, those who decide are Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Iglesias or Mariano Rajoy.

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