The Homeland of Itzurza (La Patria di Itzurza in Italian) is the first novel by Alessio Vagaggini. The book has been published by Chance Edizioni in 2021.
The History, the stories, and women. The first has a strong and authoritarian voice, the seconds play a secondary role in the wider history, the thirds just get lost on the way.
But this book is not (just) about the events of a specific era, this is a novel. The three elements converge all along with the tale around four women, the main characters of the novel: Itzurza, Maria, Elena, and Clara. These women – so different between them – will face their identities and their choices in a Spain stuck between the future and the memory of the recent Franco-era which is well-rooted in the society.
The first word of the title – Homeland – indicates the relevance of places. What is the relevance of the location for this novel? Why did you choose Spain?
I have always thought that Spain is a perfect location for a novel because it is a country with a solid cultural connotation and characterized by a series of unresolved conflicts. From the independence issues of Basque and Catalans passing through the nostalgics of Franco’s dictatorship, which still produce effects in today’s society. Spain has always been deeply involved in these terms. This tension reflects well in the interior torments of the women of the novel.
The main characters are all women, tell us more about them
“The Homeland of Itzurza” focuses on four female figures, four ordinary women in their lives but unique for the message that each of them wants to launch. The historical context is the background to see these lives living so differently from each other. Itzurza is the archetype of a woman who tries to impose herself in a highly male-dominated society. Through male activities such as war, she will enter a terrorist organization (ETA) and play a leading role. On the other hand, Maria and Clara have a more “feminine” nature given their closeness to the arts, to the care of their physical appearance, to seduction; many points in common unite them, precisely because it is a mother and a daughter in conflict with each other precisely because they are incredibly similar. Indeed, Maria affirms herself thanks to her talent for acting, becoming the most famous actress in the Kingdom of Spain and, it is said, even reaching the ears of Francisco Franco. On the other side, we have Clara, whose iconic beauty is the first captured aspect, which represents the first pillar in her “rebellion”. The revolt against all traditional values, atheism, the imposition of her excessive sensuality represent the means to break all patterns in a world where she is a prisoner. Mother and daughter impose themselves on the male world not through an “action” but rather as a “representation” – one with their own art of acting, the other of seduction – by lulling themselves into that position of domination. Still, they constantly chase something giving them a never-ending state of tension. Only the third woman of the family, Elena, will be capable of going over these inner and outer conflicts.
The book is a mosaic of scenes. Is there any you prefer among these?
I tried to make some pieces of the book “cinematic” to allow the reader to identify better with the events. The scenes I care about are the crisis of Matias, Elena’s husband. Due to his wife’s mysterious disease, he comes to the brink of madness like in an Almodovar movie or the dialogue between Itzurza and Miguel in prison. I deliberately inspired this latter by “I Malavoglia” novel when they greet Padron Ntoni at the hospital. However, the story revolves around the dialogue between Itzurza and Clara, the piece I wrote with the most attention to detail. Here are two girls who are forged by very different life experiences and values. To tell the truth, I really imagined their meeting in the autumn of 2018, when I was in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid and saw these two girls, apparently very different, talking to each other at a bar, in the midst of great confusion. In addition to being the keystone of the novel, I have articulated the foundation of the plot around this scene, which, not by chance, comes to it after a long climax that begins from the very beginning.
Thank you very much, Alessio, both for your time and for the chance of going deeper into the novel with us. And as there is much more to talk about from this book, we will soon talk about it in a Facebook / Instagram live on our channels.
The Homeland of Itzurza (“La Patria di Itzurza”, 2021, Chance Edizioni) is available – to date, only in Italian – at the following links:
The covid-19 pandemic hit Europe violently. The new coronavirus, which infected the first human in the Chinese region of Hubei, is changing our lives, subverting the political and economic framework. In the initial phase, the response of the European countries was scarcely coordinated and, often, late. The impact of the virus has been particularly severe in the economically most developed regions: Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto in Italy; the Community of Madrid and Catalonia in Spain; the region of Paris, Ile de France; Bavaria, North Rhine Westphalia and Baden Württemberg in Germany; the Stockholm’s county in Sweden; Flanders in Belgium. Inevitably, the deep integration among the economies of the various EU countries was also an efficient vehicle of transmission for the virus. In absence of a joint strategy for the reopening, at European level, the risk of new spreading of the infections through these paths will be even higher in the next weeks.
The most affected countries, Italy and Spain, have adopted very strict measures. They allowed to continue to carry out the production only to the companies producing essential goods and services or involved in strategic activities for the management of the crisis. On the other hand, the majority of EU countries chose a softer lockdown, closing commercial business in contact with the public, leaving most of the production companies open. However, these restrictions, necessary to reduce the sanitary emergency, risk to undermine the European economy. The dimension of the crisis will diverge country by country. Indeed, the strictness of the measures, the direct and indirect damages of the epidemic and the financial capacity of each country to support its economy will make the difference. A precise and punctual intervention from the State is needed, providing the required liquidity to make it through the crisis.
The necessity to finance the spending with debt and its critical issues.
The main sources of financing for a State are taxation and the issuance of bonds on the markets. In the midst of a pandemic, a short-term increase in taxation is not a sustainable tool. The objective is to safeguard firms and to keep the productive and economic system alive. Instead, it is inevitable to increase the public debt to reduce the impact that an announced economic recession will have on every citizen’s life. As they demand loans on the markets to finance their spending, the States issue debt securities. Like any other loan, also government bonds embed the market risk – a reduction in the market value of the bond may cause losses to the holder – and, in extreme cases, the risk that the capital lent will not be completely reimbursed. Generally, the more investors – banks, financial institutions, pension funds and households – will find it likely that the loan will not pay off, the more they will demand a high yield for the risk they are bearing. At the same time, the cost of the debt for the State will increase as the risk perception of the investors increases. Political and economic events together with the amount of debt outstanding affect the finances of the States. Moreover, they influence also the investors’ expectations and bond yields. A typical unit to measure the risk on public debt is the spread between a safe asset – usually in EU the reference is the German bund – and another government bond. Besides, to evaluate the dimension of a public debt it is common to use the Debt/GDP ratio (this topic was also discussed here).
The current situation of Public debt in the main EU countries
It seems clear that the European States are not all in the same condition. Spain and Italy currently are facing the hardest consequences from the pandemic, but they are also the States with the highest debt. In the last years Italian GDP grew slowly, and its debt reached 134% of GDP in 2018. Similarly, Spain had a Debt/GDP ratio equal to 97.6% in the same year. However, recently Spanish GDP had a consistent growth, 2% in 2019 and an average growth of 2.8% per year since 2015. Nonetheless, before the financial crisis in 2007 Spain had a debt/GDP ratio equal to 35%. The huge increase in debt due to the crisis forced the Spanish government to reduce the public spending and to enforce several additional reforms to increase its competitiveness and maintain the possibility to raise funds issuing debt on the markets.
Therefore, Spain and Italy are caught in the crossfire. On one side they are facing an unprecedented sanitary crisis, on the other they have to spend massive amount of money for the reconstruction of their economies. In addition, they may not be able to benefit of cheap borrowing on the markets.
Already as 21st April, the yield on 10 years Italian government bond (BTP) was 2.02%. The equivalent yield on Spanish bonds was 0.97%. As a comparison, it is interesting to see that the yield on 10-years German bonds is negative, equal to -0.481%. Germany had a Debt/GDP ratio of 61.9% in 2018. While, Netherlands has a yield of -0,177% and France has 0.06%. Following the increase of these debts, also the related yields will grow. The cost of financing will increase for all the EU countries, but this effect will be much bigger for the States that already have a high debt.
The debate about the EU measures against the crisis
The sanitary crisis is a global emergency. In front of covid-19, there is no virtuous country, nor vicious. It makes no sense to blame the most affected countries with moral judgements. This crisis is symmetric, differently from the financial crisis of 2008. Notwithstanding, its impact and the timing will be different country by country. Since the beginning of the emergency, there has been a hard debate in the EU. The two factions were the supporters of a joint issuance of debt as common response to the crisis – among them Italy, Spain, France – and the opponents – among them Germany and Netherlands. At least in the initial phase, the opponents, confident on their ability to face the economic crisis on their own, were available to help the other countries only under strict conditions. Their proposal involved rigid rules on the repayment of the public debt and on the duration of the loans – European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with enhanced conditions credit lines. Meanwhile, the European institutions gave their support to the most damaged countries with the specific Pandemic Emergency Purchasing Programme (PEPP) of the European Central Bank (ECB). So far, this intervention allowed to all the countries to maintain a low yield rates on their bonds. This is especially true for Italian BTP. Additionally, EU allocated other 540 billion euro to support the economy (more info here). Unfortunately, the dimension of the crisis requires further interventions. Issuing common debt – Eurobond or European recovery bonds – to finance the economic reconstruction can be the correct solution. Eurobonds would allow to the countries in difficulty to borrowing low cost from the market, making a step further in the European integration process.
Why a joint intervention is in the interest of the whole EU?
It’s not only a matter of European solidarity. Facing a recession of Eurozone GDP estimated as 7.5% by the IMF, no one is stable. There are not solid countries and individualism is not a feasible option. Furthermore, the European Union is a supranational organization that has shared for many years the benefit of being an open economic area. Freedom of movement for workers, goods and capital generated an interdependence among the member States. This is also confirmed looking at the destination countries for the export of Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany and Italy in the figures below.
The export is a fundamental component of the GDP for all the countries above. Especially for Netherlands that accrued an export/GDP ratio of 82.5% in 2019. Instead, Germany had a export/GDP of 46,9%. Analysing the destination of this export it is extremely evident that the biggest share is directed to other EU countries. Italy is the fifth country for the percentage of goods and services received by the Netherlands and the sixth for Germany. While, Spain is the seventh destination country by dimension of export for Netherlands and the eleventh for Germany. Moreover, Germany and Netherlands are also destination of a significant share of Italian and Spanish export.
The European economies are deeply connected. Now it’s time for the European leaders to find an agreement for common and strong measures against the crisis. It will take time. It may require changes in the treaties and the EU budget has to be increased with additional contribution from every single country. This is in the interest of all the member States. Otherwise, the economic crisis will follow the same paths as the epidemic. The risks are an economic depression and the rise to the power of Eurosceptic parties, which may lead to the end of the European project.
A lot has been written about the II World War thanks to documents, witnesses, books, and movies, we can say that nowadays it is a chapter of our history that belongs to our general culture. However, there is no doubt that – being such a great and important story with thousands of documents about it available – there are still parts of it that we do not know yet because of the fact that they are impressed nowhere but in the minds of those who lived it in the first place and that cannot tell about them any longer as they are not among us anymore. Sometimes, it also happens that these stories are not left aside by chance, but that in a certain historical moment it seems to be more convenient to put the accent on others and leave these ones hidden.
It could also be it is not exactly like this, but it looks like it is the case of the story of La Nueve (the Nine). What’s La Nueve? Neither I did know the existence of this division of the French Army that was the first entering Paris and free the city from the nazis on 24th August 1944. And why this division was so particular? Well, the fact is that, despite being commanded by a French general and part of la France Libre (“free France”) Charles De Gaulle’s French Army, this division was not composed by French soldiers but – in great majority – by Spanish ones.
“How can it be?” is the legitimate and spontaneous question of those who do not know this story, not much known to say the truth also in Spain.
One thing that is often forgotten when we talk of the II World War is that among the soldiers in the Allied armies, there were many that were coming from countries that were not even involved in the war and that were fighting just for their ideals of freedom and democracy: among these countries, Spain was the most represented one.
How did it happen that people from Spain got enrolled in the French army? To tell this story, well told in the book “La Nueve – los españoles que liberaron Paris” by E. Mesquida (1), we have to go further back in the past until 1936, the year of the start of the Spanish civil war and the majority of these boys – that will later become soldiers of La Nueve – was less than 20 years old. Back at that time, in Spain there was the so-called Spanish Second Republic, born a few years before – in 1931 – after the death of the dictator Primo de Rivera, the fall of his successor Aznar-Cabañas and the escape of the king Alfonso XIII. In 1936, the Republic got put in danger by the advance of general Francisco Franco who went up the Iberic peninsula with his troops starting from Morocco (back then a Spanish protectorate) and, with the help of the Italian, German and Portuguese armies (respectively sent to Spain by Mussolini, Hitler, and Salazar), conquered Spain and nominated himself “caudillo“. A the end of the war, in 1939, the defeated volunteers of the Popular Front that fought against Franco’s troops as well as civilians, women, and children from all over Spain started escaping towards France in mass, in a desperate exodus that will later get known as “la Retirada” (“the retreat“).
This migration was much larger than what the French government had forecast. Since France could not – and did not wantto – let these people with nothing but themselves get in, the border with Spain got closed by the French authorities initially, but then – due to the pressure exerted by the people that were escaping from Franco’s bombs (Franco had ordered a “rigorous and severe cleaning” towards them, as will later write the Italian fascist Galeazzo Ciano) and the one exerted by the international public opinion, it got opened again. As the French government was expecting fewer refugees, only some barracks that could accommodate up to a maximum of 6000 people had been prepared: in few days arrived in France around 500’000 of them. Among these, were also those that later will be the soldiers of La Nueve.
These Spanish refugees got separated from their own families and friends and enclosed in around 20 camps spread in all the south-west of France and, since no accommodation had been prepared for them, they had to stay outdoor with no shelter, watched by guards in order not to have the chance of getting out of the camp. Some of those who had fought during the civil war were imprisoned in special jails because they were considered to be “dangerous extremists”.
In the imminence of the outbreak of the II World War, many refugees got sent to Africa and then, once the filo-nazist Vichy government took the power in France, they were sent to work to infrastructures like the trans-saharian railway, in slavery conditions.
After the disembarkation of the Allied in North America in 1943, the prisoners of French camps got freed. The Spanish ones were taken in front of a decision to take: either get sent back to Spain or enter in the French legion; the great majority of those who had fought during the civil war opted for getting enrolled in the legion.
At that moment, there was already a part of the army that was not responding anymore to the command of the filo-nazist Vichy’s government led by the general Philippe Pétain for it had already joined the call of the General Charles De Gaulle, creating the army of “la France libre” (the Free France”), under the operative command of General Leclerc. More and more Spanish started deserting the french legion to join Leclerc’s troops and fight on the same side of the Allied. After the battles of Algeri, those in Libia and the one in Tunis, in which they faced notorious Rommel’s Afrika-Korps, this part of the army that was (successfully) fighting in Africa was transferred to Morocco (back then Morocco was a French colony). Here the Deuxiéme Division Blindée (Second Armoured Division) born, In this division, most of the soldiers were not French but Spanish, and within this division was also the unit of La Nueve, almost entirely composed by Spanish (146 out of 160 soldiers),
From there, they have been sent to Pocklington, England, to get trained before going to fight in Europe and to get ready for the disembarkment in France. When the order came, they left from the port of Southampton to get to Normandie, where they disembarked on 1st August 1944 on the beach of La Madelaine in front of the village of Saint-Mere l’Eglise. From here on they started fighting together with the American troops with the objective of freeing France, moving South. fighting and winning as in the battle of Ecouché.
After this battle, the troops of La Nueve started moving rapidly towards the East. At that moment, the intention of the Americans was to slow down the French troops: both armies in fact wanted to be the first to reach the capital.
Hence, when General Leclerc took the decision of keeping on going with his troops towards Paris, he was well aware of the order given by the American general Gerow that had expressly specified that La Nueve would have had to conquer the position at the height of the bridges on the Seine without entering in the capital, and that – in case of encountering the resistance of the enemy – they should have stopped and wait for the American infantry. That point is reached, the fight for the honor and glory for being the first entering the capital was an open challenge between French and Americans. Therefore, when the soldiers of La Nueve got to Antony – just outside Paris – and encountered the troops of the enemy defending it, Leclerc had no doubt on what to do: he did not stop his troops, gave the order of attacking and succeded on making enter two units of Spanish soldiers in the city. The first unit to enter and arrive at the town hall on 24th August 1944 was the one led by lieutenant Amado Granell, from Burriana (a village in the Valencian Autonomous Community). The day after, the face of Amado Granell was printed on the first page of the newspaper Libération straight under the heading “Il sont arrivés” (“they have arrived”) (2). Shortly after, also the other units arrived at the town hall as well as the fire from the German troops that were trying to re-take control of the city. After a quick crossfire, the Spanish units that had just arrived together with the units of the French resistance that were already occupying the building neutralized the enemy. Finally. they could give the news that the goal had been met and call for reinforcements from the town hall. During the morning, the Second Armoured Division (with more than 3000 Republican Spanish soldiers) entered Paris and, together with the French partisans, freed the French capital: at half-past three in the afternoon, was given the cease the fire.
Saturday 26th August 1944, La Nueve received the military honors and got saluted by General De Gaulle as acknowledgment for having been the first to enter the capital. The celebrative parade on the Champs Elysées was opened by Amado Granell and the escort of De Gaulle was composed of four half-tracks of La Nueve that were named after battles of the Spanish Civil War like Guernica, Teruel, and Guadalajara. Soldiers were not showing only the France Libre flag but also small Spanish Republican flags as well as one of more than 20 meters long. Many French generals did not like much this and, after some days of rest at the Bois de Boulogne that had been converted into a military camp, the order of retiring the Spanish Republican flags and starting the march again was given.
On the 9th of September, the march towards East started. Together with the American troops, La Nueve fought in Andelot, Catel, Vaxoncourt, and in other villages between France and Germany, until entering Strasbourg and taking place in the vanguard. However, some internal political battles impeded La Nueve from crossing the Rhine for the moment, in the meantime, they were sent and fight in other battles such as the one in Grussenheim, more South in today’s French-German border. Finally, the internal situation got unblocked and the Second Armoured Division got incorporated in the VII American army, the same army they had already previously fought together with, and started moving quickly towards the foot of the Alps. At that point of the route, it was clear to everyone that the objective was Bershtesgaden, the location of the Berghof, Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
Once close to the destination, they had to face units of young SS that were keeping on fighting to death until, after 36 hours of battle, La Nueve finally arrived in Berschtesgaden on the 5th May. However, there they found out that the Americans had already arrived earlier as they came from another side. Still, they noticed that the Eagle’s Nest – that was above Berschtesgaden – had not been conquered yet. Captain Tuyeras, that was french and jew, decided to start to ascend the mountain and, on the 6th May, arrived with his soldiers at the Eagle’s Nest that was 3 km far from the village, later allowing only to reach it only to French troops – La Nueve included – so to put the French signature to the conquest of the famous Hitler’s chalet.
Finally, also the Americans got there. Initially, they were disappointed by the French conquest, but the climate got more relaxed as many champagne bottles were found in the basement of the chalet and the soldiers could celebrate all together drinking the wine from glasses having the initials A.H. printed on. Shortly after, also the long-awaited news arrived: war was over.
Still, for some of them, this was not the true end of the war but just the end of a chapter of a fight that had to continue later on in Spain. However, in this last part of the path, the great part of the Spanish soldiers had died and – among those that got to the Eagle’s Nest – there were only sixteen Spanish left: together with those that had fallen on the way, fell also the hope of going back to the fight to free Spain.
It has been 314 days, 7547 hours and 452727 minutes since the beginning of 2019 and it sure looks like this year will go down in the history books as quite eventful. We had multiple voting sessions for the Brexit deal that after the retiring of Theresa May seem to slowly shape the final exit accords. There was also the election of numerous right-wing and far – right (1) presidents and prime ministers worldwide that favor the more conservative ways and approaches to both national and international politics. Nevertheless, a common factor can be seen throughout the electoral campaigns of these leaders, they all used three key points to concentrate on: restricting access to their countries by putting up walls (2) or designing new laws, guaranteeing more employment to the citizens of the country (3) and promising a better future.
However, one of the countries that have captured most of the media´s attention lately is Spain, the chaos in Catalonia has sparked numerous international discussions and now the results of the Second general elections are causing even more discussions in the country itself.
The people are getting tired of the uncertainty that has enveloped the county, Spain has been without a stable government since April, which makes 8 months until the November elections, a country that has a population of 46,7 million (4) people has been without a leader for almost as long as the duration of an average pregnancy. The growth of the Spanish economy has suffered a great blow because of the shaky state of its inner politics, no law could be created, voted or much less passed in the last 8 months and that has also made Brussels nervous.
On the 10th of November, 2019, Spain held Second general elections that in part replicated the results from the ones back in April, however, this time there was a certain surprise that left many people baffled. The winner of the November elections was PSOE (The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, social-democratic political party) and with 28% of the vote now has 120 seats in Congress, followed by PP (The People’s Party, conservative, Christian-democratic political party) with 20.82% of the vote has 88 seats in Congress, a number that has increased with 24,67% since April and the third place is for VOX (a far – right political party) with 15.09% of the vote and has 52 seats in Congress.
Here is where things become interesting, back in April, that third place was occupied by CIUDADANOS (Cs or Citizens–Party of the Citizenry, a center – right party) with 57 seats in Congress. Cs lost 57,19% of its supporters and as a consequence its leader, Albert Rivera resigned publicly one day after the elections.
Vox gained more popularity during the end of last year and the beginning of 2019, with a campaign that aimed to exploit the fear and ignorance of the voters. Vox´s electoral program has 100 points that will supposedly “revive” Spain but the first ten propositions only cut certain hard – fought rights and the picture doesn´t get any better as one follows reading.
The leader of the party, Santiago Abascal expressed his desires on multiple occasions to “rid the country of leftists”, make documented immigrants pay for using the public health system (apart from the standard taxes they already pay just like the Spanish people), immediately deport illegal immigrant no matter where they are from and why they have fled, the introduction of the paternal PIN and of course, the cherry on the cake, protect the bullfighting by law (5) .
For those who are not familiar with the paternal PIN, it is quite easy to explain, the parents would have to sign each time their consent and approval for their children to attend presentations in school containing ethical, social, civic moral or sexual values. All this in order to avoid that the current educational system “converts” their children into homosexual adults.
Vox has also been quite vocal about encouraging heterosexual families to have 3 or more children by conceding them certain incentives. Another main point of the party’s proposed reform is changing the law about gender violence (6) that protects women from their abusing partners. Abascal has also proposed and promoted the construction of a wall in Ceuta and Melilla paid by Morocco (7) (because that worked so well already for a certain President).
The very first point of Vox´s agenda is to suspend Catalonia´s autonomy, created in accordance with the Spanish constitution of 1978, with the aim of guaranteeing limited autonomy of the nationalities and regions that make up Spain. In addition, Vox also wants to ban the rest of the parties that advocate for more independence of certain regions as well, this decision would affect parties such as PNV (Basque National Party) that currently has 7 seats in Congress and Na+ (Navarra Suma).
The protests in Catalonia
Going back to the problem at hand with Catalonia, it started at least a decade ago but intensified in the last couple of years since the illegal independence referendum that took place in 2017 when a fraction of independentists decided to take matters into their hands. This led to great divisions between the people that live in Catalonia, neighbors to this date are not speaking to each other, numerous families have been fractured (8) as well and the wave of violence that it all stirred has been plaguing the streets of the main cities, like Barcelona, creating unsafe environment for everyone, residents, tourists and students included.
After announcing the verdict of the court case against the leaders of the independentist movement, the main streets of Barcelona got flooded with people from all around the province but it wasn’t for a peace walk. The angry protesters set trash bins on fire, threw bottles and stones at everyone that stood in their way, for these protesters, the person that wasn’t with them stood against them.
There are two main groups of protesters that use the social turmoil to stoke the fires of violence, the so called “Tsunami Democratic” that constantly and anonymously organize big groups of people to block roads and especially the border with France, costing more than 25 million euros of losses per day (9) . And there is also a group known as CDR (The Committees for the Defense of the Republic) that brings nothing but violence on the streets. Only last month, a manual (10) was released by them that described in details the weak spots of the police uniforms so that they [the protesters] can do most damage.
So, let´s guess the questions everyone is thinking: what will happen with Catalonia? The truth is, until there is a properly functioning government in Spain, this question cannot be answered. Most people comment about the possibility of enforcing the article 155 of the Constitution [Article 155 allows the Government to take measures in exceptional cases to restore constitutional order or to prevent any great damage to the general interests of Spain, while preserving and respecting the existence of the Autonomous Community, its Law of Autonomy, and its Institutions.] but there is still a long way to go until a decision is reached.
This topic brings us back to our initial point, the results of the elections that are only reinforcing the blockade that was in place before them. PSOE will be constricted to reach an agreement and make a deal with other parties if they want to secure their place on the top.
How long will this uncertainty continue? The people are getting tired of voting, the participation on the last elections had decreased by 3.88%. There are politicians who play games that rely on fear tactics and our society regresses, slowly but surely every time we let said fear cloud our judgment, especially when the moment to vote arrives.
Since 2012 every 11th September mass protests in favour of the independence take place in Barcelona coinciding with the celebration of the national day of Catalonia, in which the defeat of Barcelona by the Bourbon troops during the Succession war that signified the elimination of the autonomy of Catalonia is commemorated.
That day, the 11th September 2012, became an inflection point for the sovereignty movement in Catalonia. After that moment the current Catalan government understood that a great part of its electorate was supporting the independence, so the main catalanist political parties (the ones that are focused on the regional and local politics and do not run for national elections) began to opt fort the objective of turning Catalonia into the next European nation. The obtaining of an absolute majority in the autonomic elections in October of 2015 became the starting point of what is called as the sovereignty process, which will end the next 1st October with the celebration of an independence referendum.
Throughout history there have not been many small territories so outstanding like Gibraltar.
A small peninsula with less than 7km² dominated by a 426 meters high rock. A calcareous massif formed around 200 million years ago at the door of the Mediterranean see. An extremely important strategical and military settlement where the British people dug a tunnel network to defend a hypothetical axis powers’ attack.
Spain is, with no doubt, one of the most appreciated tourist destinations for the Europeans. Since the 60’s, more developed European countries citizens (in that time Spain was immersed in a dictatorship that kept it isolated from the rest of the world during the previous 20 years) began to be interested in spending their holidays in this country, attracted by the good weather and low costs.
Son passati 314 giorni, 7547 ore e 452727 minuti dall’inizio del 2019 e sembra che certamente quest’anno passerá agli annali come un anno ricco di eventi. Abbiamo avuto diverse sessioni di voto per la Brexit che dopo il ritiro di Theresa May sembra di giungere lentamente a un accordo finale. Ci sono state le elezioni di diversi presidenti e primi ministri di destra o estrema destra (1) in tutto il mondo, che hanno favorito approcci di stampo conservatore nelle politiche nazionali e internazionali. Cionondimeno, un fattore comune puó essere individuato in tutte le campagne elettorali di questi leader, infatti hanno tutti usato tre punti chiave su cui concentrarsi: la restrizione delle politiche di accesso al proprio territorio attraverso la costruzione di muri (2) o leggi apposite, la garanzia di un impiego per i cittadini della nazione (3) e la promessa di un futuro migliore.
Tuttavia, uno dei paesi che hanno catturato di piú l’attenzione dei media ultimamente é la Spagna, il chaos in Catalogna ha dato adito a molte discussioni in tutto il mondo e ora i risultati delle seconde elezioni generali sta portando ulteriori discussioni sul tema all’interno del paese.
In molti si stanno stancando del clima di incertezza che ha avvolto il paese, la Spagna é stata senza un governo stabile da Aprile, vale a dire ben 8 mesi fino alle elezioni di Novembre – per rendere l’idea, stiamo parlando di una paese di 46,7 milioni di abitanti (4) che sono rimasti senza una guida per un tempo quasi equivalente alla durata di una gravidanza. A fare le spese di questa incertezza politica di questi mesi é stata soprattutto l’economia spagnola cbe non é stata supportata da nessuna riforma visto che da Aprile nessuna legge é stata creata, votata né ufficializzata, e questo ha reso anche Bruxelles nervosa.
Il 10 novembre 2019, in Spagna si sono dunque tenute le seconde elezioni generali che hanno in parte replicato i risultati di quelle di Aprile, tuttavia hanno comunque riservato qualche sorpresa che ha destato un certoi sconcerto, Il partito vincitore delle elezioni di novembre é il PSOE (Il Partito Socialista Operaio Spagnolo, partito social-democratico) che con il 28% dei voti ha ora 120 seggi nel congresso (formato da 350 seggi), in seconda posizione dietro il PSOE c’é il PP (il Partito Popolare, partito conservatore cristiano-democratico) con il 20,82% dei voti e 88 seggi nel congresso, un numero di voti che é cresciuto del 24,67% rispetto alle elezioni di aprile, in terza posizione c’é invece VOX, partito di estrema destra con il 15,09% dei voti e 52 seggi nel congresso.
Qui le cose si fanno interessanti, in Aprile infatti, quel terzo posto era occupato da CIUDADANOS (Cs o il partito dei cittadini, un partito di centrodestra) che aveva 57 seggi nel congresso. Ora Cs ha perso ben il 57,29% dei voti e in conseguenza di questa debacle il suo leader, Albert Rivera si é dimesso pubblicamente il giorno dopo le elezioni.
Cosa é VOX?
Vox ha guadagnato popolaritá durante la fine dello scorso anno e l’inizio del 2019, con una campagna volta a far leva sulla paura e l’ignoranza di una parte dell’elettorato. Il programma elettorale di Vox é composto da 100 punti che dovrebbero “risollevare” la Spagna, ma le prime dieci proposizioni sono incentrato sul taglio di alcuni diritti per cui si é combattuto duramente in passato e l’impressione non migliora continuando con la lettura dei punti successivi.
Il leader del partito, Santiago Abascal, ha in diverse occasioni espresso il desiderio di “ripulire la nazione dalla sinistra”, far pagare gli immigrati per la sanitá pubblica (in aggiunta alle tasse che giá anche loro pagano esattamente come i cittadini spagnoli), respingere e rimpatriare gli immigrati direttamente senza sondare il loro luogo di provenienza e perché stanno migrando, l’introduzione del paternal-PIN e naturalmente, ciliegina sulla torta, la difesa della corrida (5).
Per coloro che non hanno dimestichezza con il paternal-PIN, si tratta di un concetto facile da spiegare: i genitori dovrebbero firmare un’autorizzazione ogni volta che i bambini si dovessero trovare a partecipare a presentazioni a scuola che avessero contenuti etici, sociali, di educazione civica-morale o sessuale. Tutto questo per evitare che l’attuale sistema scolastico “converta” i bambini in adulti omosessuali.
Vox si é fatto sentire poi per incoraggiare le famiglie ad avere 3 o piú bambini promuovendo incentivi per le famiglie numerose e per cambiare la legge sulla violenza di genere che protegge le donne dagli abusi dei partner (6). Abascal ha inoltre proposto la costruzione di un muro a Ceuta e Melilla che dovrebbe essere pagato dal Marocco (7) (visto che questo ha giá funzionato bene per un altro noto presidente).
Ma il vero punto su cui fa leva l’agenda di Vox é la sospensione dell’autonomia della Catalogna, in vigore dalla costituzione del 1978 al fine di garantire una limitata autonomia alle regioni e comunitá che formano la Spagna. In aggiunta, Vox vuole reprimere rendendo illegali i partiti che oggi richiedono maggiore indipendenza per le regioni che rappresentano come ad esempio il PNV (il Partito Nazionale Basco) che al momento ha 7 seggi nel congresso e Na+ (Navarra Suma).
Le proteste in Catalogna
Tornando alla questione catalana, essa é cominciata una decina di anni fa ma si é intensificata negli ultimi anni in seguito al referendum illegale del 2017 quando una parte degli indipendentisti ha deciso di prendere in mano la situazione. Questo ha portato a divisioni tra le persone che vivono in Catalogna, ad oggi ci sono vicini di casa che non si parlano, famiglie che si sono divise (8) e un’ondata di violenza si é riversata nelle strade delle principali cittá come Barcellona, creando un clima di insicurezza per tutti: residenti, turisti e studenti.
Dopo che é stato annunciato il verdetto della corte che si é pronunciato contro i leader del movimento indipendentista, le principali strade di Barcellona sono state inondate da persone da tutte le province attorno alla cittá, ma non é stata una marcia pacifica. I manifestanti, furiosi, hanno incendiato cassonetti, lanciato bottiglie e pietre contro chi gli si parava davanti: o con loro o contro di loro.
Sono due i gruppi principali che stanno usando le agitazioni sociali per riversare persone e violenza nelle strade: il primo é “Tsunami Democratic” che continuamente a in maniera anonima organizza grandi gruppi di persone al fine di bloccare strade e soprattutto il confine con la Francia, che sta costando perdite per 25 milioni al giorno (9), il secondo é il gruppo noto come CDR (Comitato per la Difesa della Repubblica) che porta violenza nelle strade. Il mese scorso, é stato pubblicato da questo gruppo un manuale (10) in cui venivano descritti i punti deboli delle divise della polizia al fine di indicare dove colpire i poliziotti per recare maggior danno.
Quindi la domanda che ora tutti si pongono é: cosa succederá ora in Catalogna? La veritá é che, finché non ci sará un vero e proprio governo in funzione in Spagna, non ci potrá essere una risposta a questa domanda. Molti ritengono che si debba rinforzare l’articolo 155 della Costituzione (l’articolo 155 permette allo stato centrale di prendere misure in casi eccezionali per ripristinare l’ordine e prevenire minacce all’interesse generale della nazione, pur preservando e rispettando l’esistenza delle comunitá autonome e delle loro istituzioni) ma c’é ancora molta strada da fare.
Questo tema ci riporta al punto iniziale, i risultati delle elezioni confermano lo stallo ottenuto dalle elezioni precedenti. Il PSOE dovrá infatti cercare nuovamente un accordo con altre forze politiche per raggiungere una coalizione che abbia la maggioranza dei seggi nel congresso.
Per quanto ancora durerá questa incertezza? In molti si stanno stancando di votare, la partecipazione alle ultime elezioni é diminuita del 3,88% rispetto alle precedenti. Ci sono politici che giocano sulle paure e la societá arretra ogni volta che lasciamo che la paura annebbi la nostra capacitá di giudizio, soprattutto nella cabina elettorale.
Per quanto ancora ci lasceremo guidare dalla paura?