Paul Mason writes: “Independence for Catalonia? Over my dead body… and those of many soldiers.” That was how Francisco Alaman reacted to the 1.5 million strong demonstration in Barcelona last month, with many calling for independence for the region.
It’s a view. Quite strongly held not just on the right in Spain but on the centre left. However Alaman is a serving soldier: a colonel. And it wasn’t the only incendiary thing he said.
In the week tens of thousands of protesters surrounded parliament, he told the website Alerta Digital:
“The current situation is very similar to 1936, but without blood. Unfortunately, the data indicate that the situation will only get worse in the coming months and years.”
Economics journalists have learned, (thanks to the work of the FT’s Gillian Tett), to ask a very brutal and searching question as we parachute into the latest theatre of crisis: look for the social silence. What is staring you in the face but nobody wants to talk about it?
Well Colonel Alaman has answered it.
During the early years of Spanish democracy, forgetting about the Civil War (1936-39) was not just a psychological necessity – it was a political choice.
The “pact of silence” instituted after the fall of General Franco was seen as a price worth paying for rapid, peaceful transition to a functioning democracy – a democracy that, moreover, found space to accommodate a strong, previously clandestine Communist Party alongside the rapidly moderating socialists of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party).
The approach was codified into law, with the 1977 Amnesty Law guaranteeing a blanket immunity from prosecution for those suspected of crimes against humanity during the Franco era and the Civil War.
With Spain now reeling from austerity, its riot police dispensing truncheon blows and rubber bullets against demonstrators and passers-by, the “pact of silence” is falling apart. [Continue reading…]