En español

Spanish Foreign Policy Must Comply with International Law and Abide by the UN System.

The mobilizations that took place on Saturday, March 13, throughout the Spanish state and ended in the small hours of the morning, resulted in the mobilization of voters that usually abstain from participating in the electoral process.

Spain has a very high abstention rate, which has been analyzed in its sociological profiles for years.

The majority are progressive abstainers that, for whatever reason, do not see themselves represented by the existing political parties.

Hence, over three million voters, not only put an end to Jose Maria Aznar's government, but also to a type of governor's that we can refer to as "the governors of the transition."

The mobilizations took place because it became apparent that civil liberties were in danger and that the intention was to impose a neo-franquist model founded on what we referred to as a "global state of exception." In Spain, this saw itself reflected in the restitution of the discourse of the two Spains and the myth of separatism as the greatest threat to national security.

Saturday evening was long and was not documented by the press. It is very difficult to get an idea of the hundreds of thousands of people that mobilized in front of the Popular Party's headquarters throughout Spain.

The initiative originated in Catalonia and extended itself via word-of-mouth, this time using cellular phones and internet.

Only three examples will be cited:

On one hand, what occurred in the Villa of Vallecas (a neighborhood affected by the terrorist attacks) where thousands of people demonstrated and concluded with a tribute to the victims of the Madrid Massacre in the Pozo del Tio Raimundo, during the early morning hours.

The tens of thousands that showed up in front of the Popular Party's Main Headquarters on Genova Street in Madrid, and marched on the Puerta del Sol and wound up at Atocha in the wee hours of the morning, where they paid tribute to the Massacre's dead.

And also, the demonstrators in Catalonia held an identical, hours long, march in Barcelona

The authors, for the most part, are the millions of young people that make up the Spain that arose from democracy and that, for the most part, are educated enough to overcome the functional and real illiteracy of the Spain that Aznar intended to manipulate.

These are the same young people that challenged the university law and put together the largest demonstrations of the democracy without the support of traditional Spanish mobilization mechanisms, and in many cases, against them.

Clearly, what incited these mobilizations was the obvious manipulation of discourse. This does not only refer to the manipulation of information by certain Spanish leaders of the nationalist right, represented by the Minister of Interior, presidential candidate Rajoy and Aznar himself, who attempted to emulate the manipulation of discourse that president Bush has become known for in his post September 11 policy.

In seventy-two hours attempts were made to impose this same discourse here framed within the theory of national security. This was grounded in the, now evident, lie that Basque secessionism was responsible for the terrorist attacks

Neither Richard Perle nor Paul Wolfovitz could have done a better job

All this was done with the support of mass media, which, like the newspapers El Pais, El Mundo, Television Española and others, have come to feed into the discourse of power and have lost all credibility as democratic sources of information.

They echoed President Jose Maria Aznar's calls in which he deliberately lied, stating that there was proof that ETA was responsible.

The problem is that this media knew that it was a lie and that as much as the now "reader's advocate," of the El Pais newspaper tries to justify it, it isn't enough.

As an example of the cynical line of thought that represents present-day journalism, we are reproducing a paragraph published in the Colombian daily newspaper, "El Espectador," by Miguel Angel Bastenier, sub-director of El Pais and who is part of the strategic support this newspaper has provided Pacho Santos, as Vice-president of the Republic of Colombia. Bastenier defends a drug-trafficking and corrupt state, only comparable to the Golden Triangle's Burma of the 1970's.

His clairvoyant comment, the last paragraph of a long article, is as follows:

"And, on the other hand, if it is Al Qaida, there is who argues that the PP comes out damaged, because the voter is going to punish the Government that involved Spain in operations like the war in Iraq, reason why the crazed Islamists "punished" Madrid on Thursday. This reasoning, nevertheless, seems to me, somewhat recherché; and not because it lacks logic, but rather because the voter doesn't do geopolitical square roots to vote. He or she needs direct stimuli and not arguments in seventh derivative…"

Well them, this journalist, that holds great power in Spain, is among those that the Moncloa [the residence of the Spanish presidents] can call and lie to.

The underlying issue is that the new Government that resulted from the elections on March 14th, must govern knowing that this has occurred and that, therefore, voter mobilization can only be maintained if the social fabric is rebuilt and a discourse of civil liberties and human rights is favored. Room must be given for the growth of a true civil society based on the respect for international law and the defense of freedom. This can only be achieved if the doctrine of military interventionism and the state of exception, which not only belong to Aznar's government, but are also a part of the legacy of previous socialist party governments, are set aside.

It is not coincidental that the doctrine that allows NATO to be present if Afghanistan, and that has created the first Russian simulation of nuclear warfare since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is known as the Solana Doctrine. The same Solana that during his youth was politically active in el Pozo del Tio Raimundo and was a conscientious objector.

For the first time since the conflict caused by the Green March, at the dawn of the Spanish democratic transition, foreign policy will clearly determine whether Rodriguez Zapatero has understood the dilemma and is capable of resolving it.

The first step must be the withdrawal of Spanish troops in Iraq, and the re-establishment of policies that defend international legality within the framework of the United Nations and the promise that March 16, 2003, date of the meeting between Blair, Bush and Aznar in the Azores Islands, cannot replace international law.

It is possible that British and North American conservatives will want to pressure the new government with the argument that it has given into Al Qaeda's pressure.

The answer to this argument is simple, what Spaniards want is to return to the legality established in the United Nations Charter, which has been violated and to put and end to the global state of exception which has been imposed by force. It is they, who should give explanations for supporting the most rampant illegality which has served to legitimize the law of might make right.

A return to European policy, which never should have been renounced, while emphasizing that security is not achieved through military spending, is attained by defending the rule of law and impeding that the global state of exception, or the Bush doctrine, determines the agenda of the European Parliament.

At the economic level, for example, a state that defends freedom cannot allow for the founder of Patria y Libertad (Fatherland and Freedom) to represent the interests of the Spanish hydroelectric company, Endesa, in Latin America.

It will have to demand accountability for the thousands of millions of euros that have been squandered in fictitious investments in this region and that have helped support governments such as that of Menem, of Fujimori, or the intervention in the economic advice to De la Rua's government, which led to Argentina's scandalous suspension of payments, and in which Carlos Solchaga and Felipe Gonzalez directly participated.

It is necessary to change the nature of the support that the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs grants the Colombian narco-state with the sale of tactical armament that only makes sense insofar as it is a sure bet on the rise in tensions between Colombia and Venezuela; or by organizing its agenda in Europe and seminars, like one recently held in Barcelona, and that has no other purpose besides offering the Colombian Government the opportunity to affirm that it isn't true that they are not welcome in any European Country. (The fact that the next seminar is planned for the month of April in Barcelona and is presided by the militaristic Javier Solana, unconditional supporter of the warmongering Uribe Velez)

Another dilema is how Zapatero's government will represent the youth that have caused this social mobilization. What specific policies will be offered to this social sector that, at the moment, represents the vast majority of the Spanish electorate and has been excluded from the political agenda and the specific policies of the parties since the transition?

To conclude, there is the issue of the specific policies that will be adopted to permit the creation of a social fabric that represents the plural, democratic Spain, with civil liberties, republican ethics, and respect for human rights that is not determined by cooptation or short-term policies.

The way these variables are resolved depends on that the millions of voters that mobilized consolidate themselves as the permanent votes of citizens and not as mere votes of protest.

There are also, of course, social and economic policies to be considered; we are not ignorant to this, but we believe that as a human rights and civil liberties organization we are obligated to determine those aspects that are a necessary condition for economic growth to not be based on a lack of social solidarity, a rise in exclusion, financial speculation and the corruption of governments where Spain has great responsibilities as their first foreign investor.

All these things have been at stake for seventy-two hours, and at the very least, the mobilization of hundreds of thousands and millions of voters that stopped abstaining have represented a firm NO to what, to the date, was the main axis of Spanish foreign policy.

Now we must work so that this is not only a dream of a terror-filled night were we feel that the humble victims of the Madrid Massacre were manipulated in favour of neo-franquist state of exception policies.

The rule of law, civil liberties and human rights deserve no less.

Equipo Nizkor.
Brussels, Madrid and San Francisco, March 15, 2004.

Human Rights in Spain

small logo
This document has been published on 14mar04 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.