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25 de gen. 2015
The hidden links of the far-right with "Societat Civil Catalana"
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dimarts, 20 gener 2015
"Societat Civil Catalana", an association opposed to the independence of Catalonia, received one of the European Parliament's 2014 European Citizens' Award. The European Parliament, at the proposal of PP, gave it an award that recognizes an "exceptional commitment to" European values. The new Spanish nationalist organisation, despite its attempt to develop a non-partisan discourse, has received support and maintains links with leaders of Catalonia's extreme right-wingers opposed to Catalan independence, such as "Plataforma per Catalunya", Vox and the MSR.
On 23 April 2014, Saint George's Day, the patron saint of Catalonia and a day claimed by "Catalanism", Societat Civil Catalana (SCC) was enveiled at the Teatre Victòria in Barcelona. It is no coincidence. This organization bases its approach by arguing that "wise" Catalans are those who want to keep the current link with the Spain and that the true Catalanism is "Hispanic Catalanism", a concept strenuously promoted by the historians in its entourage. Despite several attempts to create a solid Spaniosh nationalist organization in Catalonia to stand up to the independence movement, the most serious one has now emerged. SCC was born to cover the need to structure an activist front to stir up the anti-independence debate outside the Parliamentary chambers.
Santiago Abascal and Ariadna Hernández (Vox) at the launching of SCC in Barcelona / JORDI BORRÀS
On the day of the launching, the Teatre Victoria proved too small to accommodate all the people who wanted to attend. Among the audience were numerous political and cultural leaders. From "Ciutadans" MPs, representatives of the PP and UPyD, to a PSC leader: Joan Rangel, who had been delegate of the Spanish government in Catalonia during Zapatero's term. Neither the PSOE nor the PSC sent an official delegation to the SCC launch, and Rangel went there personally. This was not the case, however, of the representatives of the ultraconservative Vox party, led by its general secretary, Santiago Abascal, and the party coordinator in Barcelona, Ariadna Hernandez, a regular at activities of the neo-Fascist Casal Tramuntana. The xenophobic party Platforma per Catalunya (PxC) also sent five leaders led by Robert Hernando, its secretary general.
Also sitting in the stalls of the theatre was a delegation sent by the Fundación Francisco Franco, an organisation that receives public funding from the State and that is devoted to praising and exalting the figure of the Fascist dictator. As if that were not enough, a representation of the Republican Social Movement (MSR) also attended the event. Attention should be paid to this neo-Nazi party, as it belongs to the European Alliance of National Movements, an alliance of European far-right parties formed, among others, the Italian "Flama Tricolor", the British National Party and the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik). The MSR also has contacts and very goodrelations with the Vlaams Belang ("Flemish Interest") and is one of the Spanish counterparts of Greece's Golden Dawn party. A few days after the presentation of SCC, Jordi de la Fuente, the MSR leader, said in a statement to the press that his organization had had some weight in the preparation of the SCC launch. De la Fuente crowned his statement by saying that "many of the ideas proposed by "Societat Civil Catalana" on how to approach Catalan identity, we can agree with, because we put them forward."
SCC's Barcelona launch / J. BORRÀS
The setting-up of SCC was studied and planned because of the need to regroup a demobilized Spanish nationalism. Hitherto, acts of Spanish national affirmation had been limited for many years, to 12 October. However, during the last three decades, the banner of Spanish patriotism in the streets of Catalonia had been brandished by the extreme right. Not until independence claims become massive street events that Spanish nationalism decideds to structure itself. In 2012, a new group called Moviment Cívic d’Espanya i Catalans organized the first large Spanish Nationalist gathering in Barcelona to celebrate the 12th of October. The site chosen was Catalunya Square, which brought together some 6,000 people according to the local police with a compact mixture of Spanish nationalist parties and organizations both within and without Pparliament, many of which were extreme right-wing. This event was repeated in 2013 and 2014, when Societat Civil Catalana took charge of the event.
SCC's large demonstrations
On 12 October 2014, SCC organized a rally in the city center numbering 38,000 people according to the local police. The "Contrastant" collective, however, which specializes in quantifying the number of participants in major events, downgraded it to no more than 16,000 demonstrators. The event was hosted by the mass ranks of mostly conservative Nationalism, to which were added, as every year, much of Spain's extreme right-wing.
PxC activists at the 12 October SCC event in Barcelona / J. BORRÀS
This presence generated as always quite an outcry in the social networks, and forced an SCC spokesman to express "rejection of non-democratic organisations" after barring access to several far-right groups. However, these organisations had publicly endorsed the call to turn the 2014 event into the one that had brought together most xenophobic and ultraconservative right wing organizations in the plaça de Catalunya: Falange Española de las JONS (FE de las JONS), Soberanía y Libertad (SyL), Vox, MSR, Somatemps, Comunión Tradicionalista Carlista, PxC, the Casal Tramuntana, a delegation of the "Hermandad de Antiguos Caballeros Legionarios de Barcelona" (the former legionnaires' Brotherhood, which ended up singing “Cara al Sol” [the Falangist anthem] in the middle of the square) and a large group of extremist followers of the Espanyol F: the Brigadas Blanquiazules (BBBB). The call was even followed by members of the "Rebels Motard Club Hispania", that define themselves as "traditionalists", Spanish Nationalists, Christians and ethnicists.
Just a month before this mobilization, the SCC organized another gathering. In this case, it was in Tarragona, taking advantage of the date of 11 September. This event, which took as its motto "Let's recover common sense, let's recover the flag" marked a turning point in the strategy followed by Spanish nationalism in Catalonia, because for the first time, it used the September 11, Catalonia's National Day, as a day of protest. It followed the "Hispanic Catalanism" doctrine. In short, the act sought to transform this day, historically claimed by Catalan Nationalism and Separatism as a call for the unity of Spain. On the same day that 1·8 million people, according to the local police, demonstrated in Barcelona to demand a referendum on self-determination, SCC was able to amass 7,000 people in Tarragona, according to the police. In Tarragona there were PSC and PSOE political representatives, and specially Carme Chacon, former Minister of Defence, and leaders of Ciutadans and the PP in Catalonia, Albert Rivera and Alicia Sánchez-Camacho.
Democracia Nacional activists on their way to SCC's Tarragona event. / J. BORRÀS
The Tarragona event was not devoid of controversy either, on account of the presence of numerous activists and organizations around the extreme right: Vox, MSR, Syl, PXC (who mobilised several buses and private cars according to the xenophobic party's sources). Even the neo-fascist organization Democracia Nacional (DN) convened its members to the SCC event. DN is a group born from the ashes of the defunct extreme right-wing organization Juntas Españolas (JJEE) and has prominent members of the neo-Nazi "Círculo Español de Amigos de Europa" (CEDADE). Indeed, the attendance of a DN delegation marching in formation at the Tarragona event caused controversy for days, because of a leaked video in which the former Ciutadans MP José Domingo, a founding member and member of SCC, could be seen trying to hide the arrival of the right-wing group from the presence of the press. Even the brother of SCC president JordiBosch i Codina, who that day helped in the organization of the event, tried to block the informative work of a group of journalists because of the the presence of the DN delegation and accused them of manipulating the news.
The long shadow of the extreme right-wing
SCC has from the first always insisted that it is a transversal platform on the left-right axis. But as historically Spanish nationalism in Catalonia has a very powerful right and right-wing component, SCC has sought to involveme the PSC in their events, but it has only managed the presence of some of their leaders, but never the official membership of the Party. From the very start, SCC has been very careful when publicly presenting its founders and when appointing its leadership, choosing, for example, a board (consisting of 11 names) of people with little if any known political background, and even some from the PSC entourage, such as vice president Joaquim Coll. Nevertheless, it could not hide the far-right leanings of some of its founding members, such as Javier Barraycoa who, the day before the SCC launch, wrote an article in the El Mundonewspaperin which he extolled the virtues of the new association. Barraycoa is a lecturer at the Abat Oliva-CEU University, and author of several history books. Several months ago, journalist Andreu Barnils shed some light in the shadows of this character with an article in Vilaweb. The author explained in the text that Barraycoa is also a member of the Comunión Tradicionalista Carlista (CTC), a far-right political, ultraconservative Catholic party, driven by the motto "God, Fatherland, Laws, King." In fact, Barraycoa is a National councilor of the Partyand is secretary of the regional board of the organization in Catalonia. In early 2013 he took part in a tribute to the Terç de Requetès de la Mare de Déu de Montserrat, the group of Carlist soldiers who fought on Franco's side during the Spanish Civil War. Just over a year later, on February 8, 2014, just two months before the public appearance of SCC, Barraycoa gave a lecture at the headquarters of DN, the far-right party, to present his book "Cataluña Hispana", at an event recorded on video that started with a minute's silence in memory of the fallen soldiers of the 250 Blau Division, better known as "la División Azul", the Spanish troops sent by Franco to fight on the Russian frontalongside Adolf Hitler's Nazis.
SCC president Josep Ramon Bosch, at a press conference / J. BORRÀS
SCC is chaired by Josep Ramon Bosch i Codina, son of a famous Francoist from Santpedor. His father, José María Bosch Espinet, was a member of Fuerza Nueva (FN), the largest far-right party in Spain since Franco's death. Bosch Espinetstood for this right-wing party in the 1980 elections and was a personal friend of the president and founder, the notary Blas Piñar. Bosch Espinet was responsible for organizing a Mass, for years, every November 20 in honour of dictator Franco and the founder of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera. This Mass was held until 2005, when the new Santpedor parish priest put an end to this practice. His son, however, Josep Ramon Bosch i Codina has claimed repeatedly that he has not been a member of any party since he tore up his PP membership card some years ago. However, what is not so well known is that Josep Ramon Bosch founded the organization "Somatemps"a few months before the SCC, and he certainly chaired it during last quarter of 2014, though months earlier, in July of the same year, hadtold the press that he had given up connections with it well beforehand.
Somatemps, right-wingers' refuge in Catalonia
So what is Somatemps? Behind the pun, "There's still time" (to stop Separatism) and the Catalan militia "Sometent", lies an organisation established in the town of Santpedor (birthplace of the founder president, Josep Ramon Bosch) at the end of 2013. Somatemps, which is one of the founding organisations of SCC, is defined as "a group of people from diverse social and ideological origins, who share a common concern: the manipulation of the history of Catalonia for political purposes". Among its features stands out "the aim to provide solid elements of historical thought and reflection to rediscover the Hispanic Catalanness, to break secessionaism's Manichean discourse".
Somatemps was born with the intention of becoming the think tankof Spanish nationalism in Catalonia and brings together among its promoters and prominent members, various celebrities and academics. They include Josep Ramon Bosch, who is also the president of Societat Civil Catalana, Abat Oliva CEU University lecturers Javier Barraycoa and Jordi Cabanes (apparently the president of the association) and also a biologist and historian, Josep Alsina, who is its vice president and has acted as spokesman of the organization. Although, according to Somatemps, the organization is chaired by an unknown Jordi Cabanes, whom virtually no-one has seen at many of their events, the register of the Catalan Government's "Direcció General de Dret i d’Entitats Jurídiques" lists Josep Ramon Bosch as president of the association. However, the person who is most publicly visible in the association is not the president, but rather Josep Alsina Calvés, vice president of the organization.
Josep Alsina Calvés, who hails from Ripoll, is a senior teacher of biology and geology, a nd a science teacher, at a high school in Barcelona. After the PENS was disbanded, Josep Alsina joined Fuerza Nueva (FN), together with the wellknown extremeist Ernesto Milà and other members. Since the early 2000s, he has featured wnadering through the most intellectual and avantguard environment of Spain's extreme right, which is undoubtedly located in Catalonia. Thus one comes across him writing articles for the digital publication Tribuna de Europa or directing the Nihil Obstat magazine, published by Ediciones Nueva Republica, owned by the historic leader of the MSR Juan Antonio Llopart, which was tried and condemned to two and a half years in prison, but was eventually acquitted, in the case of the Kalki bookshop - Círculo de Estudios Indoeuropeos (CEI) – Ediciones Nueva República, in which the public prosecutor charged Llopart and three others with a continuous crime of genocidal ideas, illegal association and crimes against the exercise of fundamental rights for publishing, printing and and distributing thousands of books of Nazi ideology. Today, both Llopart and Alsina are in Somatemps close to the newly founded ulrtra right-wing Soberanía y Libertad (SyL) party. Given their origins, it is no surprise to find that the central core of Somatemps consists of notorious ultrarightwingers of the various Catalan far right families. At the few events the organization has held, most of the audience are leaders and members of the MSR, Plataforma per Catalunya, Vox, Democracia Nacional, and Falange Española de las JONS, though also, to a smaller extent, Ciutadans, of the Partido popular, and representatives of SCC such as Ferran Brunet, who is the organization's financial director. Since the start of 2014, Somatemps has held several events and also joined the two large events organized by SCC: the 11 September rally in Tarragona and the 12 October demonstration in Barcelona.
SCC: questions without answers
SCC's launch in Barcelona / J. BORRÀS
One of the enigmas hovering over SCC is its funding. For example: 11 September rally in Tarragonahad a budget of €100,000 euros. on the very day the organization was launched, on 31 July, the association president himself, Josep Ramon Bosch, assured the press that they had not been able to find companies willing to sponsor it and that the contributions to pay for it had come out of the pockets of the organization's members, and this either means that all SCC members have a high purrchasing power, or that there are other means of funding that have not come to the surface. Likewise, who and how providedr the resources splashed out for the organization's 12 October demonstration in Barcelonait is still unclear.
There are other outstanding questions, which lead us to stop for a moment before the recent setting-up of a new body: the Fundación Joan Boscà. It was registered in the Foundations Registry on July 28 2014, just 14 days after SCC representative held a meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Most of the Foundation's office-holders are also members of the Societat Civil Catalana board of directors. In this case, however, the roles of president and vicepresident are exchanged: Joaquim Coll is its president; Josep Ramon Bosch is its vicepresident; Jorge Buxadé is the secretary, and Juan Arza — also an SCC board member - and Francisco Moreno are the Foundation's other two board members.
In the Statutes we can find in the heading some of its principles such “promoting, disseminating, defending and fostering the constitutional principales of equality of all Spaniards”. The Foundation was to be launched pulbicly in mid-October, but up to now they have not held a single public event. What is known, however, is the right wing ideology of its secretary: Jorge Buxadé Villalba. Moreover, Buxadé admitted to SCC membershipin a debate on 14 January with other leading members of the most active right wing in Catalonia: Javier Barraycoa, Robert Hernando and Josep Alsina.
Buxadé was Number 7 on FE de las JONS' list for Tarragona in the 1995 Catalan elections. A year later he again took part in an electoral list, this time the General elections, and with another of the parties that claim to be heirs of Falange Española Auténtica (FA), the Fascist organization founded in the 1930s by Primo de Rivera. However, Buixadé is remembered as being the Spanish government's counsel in September 2009, when following the government's instructions, it challenged the poll on independence that was held in Arenys de Munt. The Spanish nationalist ideology of this lawyer is well-known, and his political activity is present, even on the Internet. In fact, his personal blog, in which most of his posts of of an ultranationalist content, we can even find a post in which he praises the 45,000 Spanish “volunteers who fought for Hitler in the "División Azul". In the post Buixadé describes those soldiers dressed in the Wehrmacht uniform as "heroes".
Recently, the SCC has sponsored a book published by the rightwing publishers Galland Books. The book is "Nos duele Cataluña. 15 españoles con seny" (Catalonia hurts us. 15 commonsense Spaniards) and it was launched at the Hotel Atenea in Barcelona on 26 September 2014 by ythe organization's president, Josep Ramon Bosch, alongside Alberto Fernández Díaz, the Spanish Minister of the Interior's brother. All three are coauthors. Nothing is by chance: the Hotel Atenea, where the book launch took place, belongs to Mariano Ganduxer Floriach, a Barcelona haut-bourgoisie businessman and a memer of tthe SCC board of directors. The Hotel Atenea was the same location for the formal setting-up of the association, a few months earlier.
Nor is the name of Galland Books a quirk of fate: Adolf Galland was a Luftwaffe pilot who made his name in the Condor Legion alongo with 20,000 other German soldiers that Adolf Hitler put under the orders of Francisco Franco to wage war against the Republic. In fact, Galland was to be regarded as one of the top pilot in the Nazi armed forces. The Galland Books website surprises one by its lack of variety: books on the Francoist army, on the Nazi army or on Spanish soldiers in the División Azul. The catalogue is practically monothematic. As if its editorial line were not clear enough, the corporate website has a large banner of MemoriaBlau, a gathering point on the Internet for those nostalgic about the División Azul and also for well-known Spanish neo-Nazis.