Un observador inglés (13) – Dear Spain, don’t criticise the international media. Blame your own government.

Six months ago today, Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, failed to stop a referendum in Catalonia taking place – despite saying he would, and despite spending over €87m brutally trying to prevent it, deploying the Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil to attack innocent voters of all ages. In the weeks prior to 1st October 2017, Rajoy’s right-wing Spanish government warned its country’s media against publishing any advertisements about the referendum, sending Guardia Civil agents to editorial offices in Catalonia – effectively banning them from doing so. Not only did it try to censor the Catalan media (in addition to clearly controlling certain media in Madrid), but it also blocked websites and apps that gave balanced and practical information about the referendum, or on how to vote. They searched printers for ballot cards (even the car boot of a printing company’s cleaner), banned posters, events and debates, blocked telephone operators and even threatened to cut off the power, clearly violating human rights and the freedom of speech. And now … for that same government and its ‘diplomats’ to openly criticise the international media for reporting the true facts about what happened before, during and since 1st October, it is an utter disgrace.

Spain is a country full of rich material for foreign writers. But not only has Rajoy spectacularly failed to defuse the Catalan issue (in fact he’s done more for independence than anyone else on the planet), but his actions have also unearthed Spain’s underlying fascism and Francoism for us all to see. It was obviously always there … but it is now clearly visible. As Ian Gibson, the renowned Hispanist and biographer, said on Deutsche Welle radio: ‘The Spanish right-wing says that it isn’t Francoist but it has Francoism in its genes, in its DNA. It’s outrageous.’ This Francoism is ugly, Spain. It’s very ugly, and you need to do something about it. But that does not mean telling us not to write about it.

In a weird sense, I’m glad that this whole issue is now in the hands of top lawyers in Germany, Scotland, Switzerland and Belgium. I’m glad that the media from all over the world are reporting on it all, in every language. The EU Commission and Juncker himself have done bugger all. It needs international lawyers and the international media to continue to expose the truth, and if Spain’s ‘ambassadors’ don’t like it, then … tough. Get proper jobs. As the top human rights lawyer, Aamer Anwar, who is representing Clara Ponsatí in Scotland, said the other day: ‘Our defence in court may make uncomfortable reading for the Spanish government in the full glare of international scrutiny. We are confident that the outcome will make it even more so.’ Go for it.

I’ve written here before about my experiences of 1st October, and how I was incensed that the ‘Madrid media’ failed to report on the true events – unlike the international (and Catalan) media. It incensed me that the EU remained silent. It incensed me that Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, went on CNN and BBC stating that the images of police brutality were ‘fake news’. It incensed me and it still does. Late October (I think it was), Spanish ‘politician’ Juan Carlos Girauta, the C’s spokesman, voiced his concern in Congress about the international media’s coverage of events in Spain, appearing to suggest that it should be better controlled (he then blocked me on Twitter and I wasn’t even following him). This time last week, the former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, said on his LBC radio show, about the detention of Carles Puigdemont in Germany: ‘I thought European Arrest Warrants were for drug smugglers and criminals, not for democratically-elected political opponents of the Spanish government.’ We’ve since had the weekly German magazine, Stern, comparing Rajoy to Milosevic – and The New York Times reporting that ‘Spain is creating a situation where Europe’s judges rather than its own politicians are being asked to solve Catalonia’ – yes, because Rajoy is used to getting his judges in Spain to resolve his ineptitude. In the past few days, Spanish ambassadors, diplomats and Spanish authors have criticised The Washington Post, Le Monde, The Times and other international media for daring to question Spain’s democracy, calling it a ‘campaign of disrepute’. But, no, no, it’s not a campaign of disrepute. It’s called reporting the truth.

There was no ‘rebellion’ in the weeks prior to the Catalan referendum of 1st October, nor on the day itself, nor was there since. There was no ‘violence’ – except the violence carried out by Spain’s national police and Guardia Civil. As far as I know (and as far as some videos now show Rajoy appearing to also confirm it), there was no ‘misuse of public funds’, either. So why are there nine political prisoners in Spain (still without any trial) and a further seven in self-imposed exile fighting extradition charges? The fact is this: there shouldn’t be. It is clearly an injustice, and it is up to the international lawyers and foreign media to finally expose it. Someone has to.

14 thoughts on “Un observador inglés (13) – Dear Spain, don’t criticise the international media. Blame your own government.

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Laura

    April 1, 2018 at 3:12pm

    Very good Tim!!!. You are the best. The blog is Fantastic. Catalunya love you!!!.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Brandon Jones

    April 1, 2018 at 3:27pm

    Wonderful article.

    However, I disagree that “The EU Commission and Juncker himself have done bugger all”

    They have applied a very sad, and detrimental-to-the-truth REAL POLITIK attitude, in compliance with what Rajoy is looking for: “It’s an internal affair”. Well, as you and The Times and The New York Times and other international journalists say, it is not!

    Rajoy has also rewarded Junker and other EU cronies with Spanish awards.

    One of the things I think many people have got wrong is that Rajoy should “dialogue”. A couple of years ago I asked a foreign Ambassador to Spain who had met Rajoy, what he thought about his dialoguing skills : “They don’t exist”.

    So, what is needed? … as it is impossible to dialogue with this man.

    Unfortunately, the PSOE leader has disappeared from the scene, having been caught in Rajoy’s web of collusion in “outlawing” the Catalan desire to have a meaningful referendum.

    I, like you, love Spain. I would love to see a truly federal Spain, una Nación de Naciones. A plurinational country, which it is!

    How can we all help to create this?

    Ideas, please …

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Steve Groen

    April 1, 2018 at 5:42pm

    I feel lucky to have found Tim’s blog. I always enjoy Tim’s assessments, and this one is certainly relates much of what I’ve perceived from abroad, including in retrospect this undeniable statement, “Rajoy spectacularly failed to defuse the Catalan issue (in fact he’s done more for independence than anyone else on the planet). . . .” When will Rajoy, and the rabid chipmunk sitting next to him in parliament, realize that a civilized society, one which values fundamental rights at least as much as it does profit, excludes Francoism?

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Olga

    April 1, 2018 at 5:56pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Juli Costa-Esteban

    April 1, 2018 at 6:11pm

    You, Ramón Cotarelo and VilaWeb are the best chroniclers of what’s happening in Catalonia. Thank you so much to all of you.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Brandon Jones

    April 1, 2018 at 6:13pm

    Wonderful article.

    However, I disagree that “The EU Commission and Juncker himself have done bugger all”

    They have applied a very sad, and detrimental-to-the-truth REAL POLITIK attitude, in compliance with what Rajoy is looking for: “It’s an internal affair”. Well, as you and The Times and The New York Times and other international journalists say, it is not!

    Rajoy has also rewarded Junker and other EU cronies with Spanish awards.

    One of the things I think many people have got wrong is that Rajoy should “dialogue”. A couple of years ago I asked a foreign Ambassador to Spain who had met Rajoy, what he thought about his dialoguing skills : “They don’t exist”.

    So, what is needed? … as it is impossible to dialogue with this man.

    Unfortunately, the PSOE leader has disappeared from the scene, having been caught in Rajoy’s web of collusion in “outlawing” the Catalan desire to have a meaningful referendum.

    I, like you, love Spain. I would love to see a truly federal Spain, una Nación de Naciones. A plurinational country, which it is!

    How can we all help to create this?

    Ideas, please …

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Diane Beauchamp

    April 1, 2018 at 7:43pm

    Thank you so much for this. The citizens of good will need to be correctly informed about this situation.

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Susan Koller

    April 1, 2018 at 11:46pm

    All excellent stuff – including the comments. The “rabid chipmunk” – what a perfect description. I like that very much indeed.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Enda

    April 2, 2018 at 12:08am

    Great stuff Tim. As an Irishman living in Spain, I am gobsmacked by the whole situation. The sheer insecurity of the Spaniards is mind-boggling. Any foreign praise (basically Merkel’s and the EU’s) is proudly trumpeted; any foreign criticism is defined as being the work of ingénues brainwashed by Catalan propaganda (it’s amazing how effective Catalan propaganda is!).

    I saw Pérez-Reverte’s criticism but could you be so kind as to point out who the other critics of the foreign press were? Thanks!

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Consuelo Alfonso

    April 2, 2018 at 10:03am

    A wonderfully exquisite reply Tim. When i read you everything in my mind relaxes..as oppossed to reading the Madrid controlled press. As soon as i open one of them i feel the screech of anxiety..the sense that reality has been so deeply violated at the cost of the reader.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Séverine

    April 2, 2018 at 10:24am

    Couldn’t summarize it better. This truly reflects the feeling of those of us on the side of democracy here in Catalonia.
    PS: I am a French national, we have demonstrations either in our blood or as a national sports. Seeing how freedom of speech is restricted here makes me sick.

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Ernest Ross

    April 2, 2018 at 4:27pm

    This blog/post is so insightful. UK MSM never reported anything like this, Scotland’s 45% received tweets/posts from Catalonians they post videos clearly showing Spanish government controlled civil guardia/police attacking voters dragging voters out with their hair using batons on elderly voters.
    IF ANYTHING IT SHOULD BE RAJOY AND THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT WHO SHOULD BE ON TRIAL.
    Thank you for this Tim.

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Hector

    April 2, 2018 at 10:24pm

    The fact that there was a Court order banning Regional Catalán Gov to celebrate the referéndum seems to be ignored here.
    The independence of Justice is ignored as well.
    The Spanish Constitution voted by 98% in Cataluña also asiático ignored.
    2m Catalans cant impose or destroy the other 2m.
    We have suffered separatist terrorism for 40y. We honour those who were killed not surrending to the fascist who tried to destroy a vibrant country as is Spain and wanted to impose their fascism to the people. Now a minority so Spanish want a new Republican and We the mayoirty have to surrender.?

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Ian

    April 16, 2018 at 12:48pm

    Like your blog. Strange that foreign media haven’t (mostly) realised that a very strange right-wing coup has occurred in Spain.
    All the top courts and judges have taken over the state – taking it back to Franco. A gang of right-wing judges govern: has anything similar happened in the past ? The judges are appointed by the PPSOE, but the politicians choose to do nothing – even enabling this coup dètat.

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