Interview: Luisa Martín (JER) – Spanish Republican Association and Carlos Hermida (RPS) – Republicanos
1. How would you define JER?
The Spanish Republican Association (Junta Estatal Republicana in Spanish or JER) is formed by a wide group of organizations, collectives and individuals who share republican ideas and that have committed themselves to working in order bring about the Spanish III Republic. In my opinion, that could be an instrument in order to create a republican popular front.
2. How was it created? What are its objectives?
JER was created after the First National Republican Meeting, held in Madrid at the events hall of the Friends of UNESCO Association (Club de Amigos de la Unesco in Spanish), last 21st of January 2012.
In the Second National Republican Meeting, held in Rivas-Vaciamadrid last 19th of January 2013, JER’s objectives were clearly defined: to separate from the current regime and to establish a Federal Republic, which will be secular and supportive, and will have citizens as its core element and as the main character of politics. It will also implement an economic model that will give priority to the public sector. This Republic must seek once and for all the Truth, Justice and Compensation for the victims of Francisco Franco’s criminal fascist dictatorship.
3. Your call for a public demonstration last 14th of April in Madrid had a massive response (more than 20,000 citizens turned up). Were you expecting such a response? Why do you think so many people answered the call? Does this pave the way for other courses of action?
The massive response to the 14th of April protest is mainly due to the corruption scandals that affect the Spanish Royal Family, which has enhanced dissatisfaction of the citizens, since they have been hit by the economic crisis and spending cuts in social services. This protest has given way to a new political scenario in which an important social sector is openly questioning monarchy.
4. In your point of view, what are the mistakes that the Republican movement in Spain has made? How would you correct them? Are you doing anything on this front?
The Republican movement in Spain has had in many occasions a purely testimonial character. It has defended the II Republic, but it has not set any political objective. This situation has changed with the creation of the Republican Federation (Federación Republicanos in Spanish). We have precise plans and objectives: abolishing the monarchy and establishing the Democratic and Federal Republic of workers of all classes in Spain.
5. If I go out to the street of any Spain city and ask to an girl or boy 20-year-old about the 7th of July, 98% will say will say “San Fermín” without any doubt. But, if I ask about 14th of April, a very high percentage of them will have doubts or say that they cannot link that date to any important event. Only a few of them will give the correct answer (the “Day of the Spanish Republic”). Just one or two will finish saying “Bourbons to Estoril”, as the saying goes in Spanish. Do you agree with my hypothesis?
It is true that there is a deep historical ignorance about the II Republic, but I believe that is changing. There are more and more young people who are becoming interested to know what really happened in Spain during the 20th century.
6. Do you agree that history education in Spain still focuses on Philip II’s Imperial Spain (16th Century), the Bourbon Restoration under Alfonso XII (1874), and the Constitution of 1978, while other parts of the history are only mentioned? If yes, why?
17 and 18-year-old students in Spain study the II Republic, the Civil War and Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. Nevertheless, how textbooks and teachers explain these subjects is a completely different story. Some neo-Fascist ideas lacking any historical basis have been spread. It is fascist propaganda but some people buy it and we must fight against those interpretations.
7. Are the altar and the throne (Church and Monarchy) still the references to the identity of Spain, as the Constitution of 1812 said? Do we keep looking to the past rather than the future? Are we risking petrifying ourselves if we only look backwards?
First of all, the Constitution of 1812 was very advanced, and it set an example for other European and American constitutions. Its content should not be reduced to that reference to the altar and the throne that is made in the question. The Spanish right-wing has managed to keep some myths of the Spanish identity which are absolutely reactionary and that have nothing to do with historical facts.
8. Many people believe that Spanish Republicans are nothing but a bunch of nostalgic dreamers whose only objective is to try to reinvent or to rewrite the Second Spanish Republic. What would you say to them?
We republicans are not nostalgic dreamers. The II Republic is a fundamental reference, but we look to the future, we want to transform this country. Thanks to our work, the republican sentiment is spreading and, mark my words, one day the Republic will be a reality in Spain.
9. The Republican movement in Spain is formed by many groups with different ideologies, such as socialists, communists, Marxists, agnostics, Catholics, trade unionists, etc. They talk about union, consensus, but how are they to form a common front?
In the Republican Federation we believe it is crucial to form a republican social front, a popular front to achieve the Republic. In order to accomplish this, the left-wing must unite, but that does not mean that the different organizations have to renounce to their names, nor their past or their programs. It only means setting aside what separates us and focusing on what unites us, as was done in February 1936, when the Popular Front was formed.
10. The objective is to achieve a republic, no doubt about that. But, what republic? A Spanish Federal Republic? Is Federalism an option for you?
We hope to achieve a Democratic and Federal Republic of workers of all classes in Spain. This new Republic will answer to the interests of a new power, which will be formed by workers, small and middle-size bourgeoisie, middle-classes and intellectuals, all of them against the current oligarchy power. This Republic will be a Federal one, because we believe it is the only way to successfully answer to the historical national aspirations in Spain, making coexistence possible between the different peoples in Spain.
11. We are living an interesting political moment in Spain. In the last two years, 15M Movement has been created, as “the outraged” or the Platform of those affected by the Subprime mortgage crisis (“Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca” in Spanish). Minor left-wing and nationalist parties are getting more votes and seats in Parliament. Real Democracy Now movement (“Democracia Real Ya” in Spanish) is thinking about running to the next elections as a political party, following the example of the Italian Five Star Movement. Is this the end of a political era in Spain?
That is right. We are at the end of a political era. The model created during the Transition is obsolete. The Monarchy and the Constitution of 1978 represent an obstacle to the social and economic development of our country. There must be a real democratic breach and that can only be achieved through republican ways.
12. Judge Baltasar Garzon recently spoke about his possible participation in politics. What is your opinion about that?
Baltasar Garzon, as any other citizen, is entitled to intervene in the political life of his country. The question here is what program is he going to do it with and what are his objectives. If he wants to reform the Constitution and the institutions, he will fail. This system cannot be reformed. It must be demolished and superseded by another regime.
13. Surveys show that citizens are more and more dissatisfied with “traditional parties” such as PP and PSOE and the institutions that were born during the Spanish Transition. Is this the end of the two-party system? Is there a need to regenerate politics in Spain? Would it help if the electoral law was modified?
Yes. Everything must change. The only regeneration can come with the Republic. But I insist there is no possible regeneration with the monarchy. Its origin is in Franco’s dictatorship, it has the genetic print of fascism and that is the reason why the current system is not democratic. It was designed by the same people who ruled this country during Francisco Franco’s cruel dictatorship.
14. As indicators of “the quality of a democracy”, we can list, among others, the active participation of citizens in the political action of a country, as the fact of demanding transparency and that politicians respect the laws, denouncing and showing “zero tolerance” to corruption and privileges. Because in democracy politics is a work of everybody. It is no longer enough to vote every four years. Do you believe that politicians have risen to the occasion?
Democracy is about real and active participation in politics by citizens. If everything is reduced to voting every four years, that is only democracy in appearance. A false democracy. That is happening now.
Most of today’s politicians are not up to the circumstances, and they have formed a corrupt caste in the Spanish society. Nevertheless, it is a terrible mistake to say that all politicians are the same. True, some are, but not all. Furthermore, this is not only a mistake, but a dangerous statement, since it opens a door to fascism with its demagogy against politics and a false message —“neither right nor left, they are all the same”.
15. Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
I just want to add that Monarchy is the problem and the Republic is the solution. A republic will give freedom back to the people, and also social justice and national sovereignty. On behalf of JER and RPS, thank you very much for your interview.
Luisa Martín (JER) – http://jer-spain.blogspot.com.es/
Carlos Hermida (RPS) – http://federacion.republicanos.info/
*Real Democracy Now Manifesto
Tuesday, 17th of May 2011
We are ordinary citizens. We are like you: people who get up every morning to study, go to work or job-hunting. We are people with families and friends. People who work hard every day to live and give a better future to those close to us.
Some of us have progressive ideas, others have conservative ones. Some of us are religious, others not. Some of us have very fixed political ideas, others are apolitical. But we are all worried and outraged because of the political, economic and social situation that we are living. We are worried and outraged because of the corruption that can be seen among politicians, businessmen and bankers. We are worried and outraged because the ordinary citizen is defenseless.
This situation is hitting us daily. But if we all unite, we can change it. It is time to move, time to build together a better society. That is why we believe firmly that:
Equity, progress, solidarity, free access to culture, ecological sustainability, development, welfare and happiness of the citizenry must be priorities in any advanced society.
There are basic rights that these societies must defend: the right to housing, work; the right of culture, health, education; the right to participate in politics, of the free personal development and the right to consume the goods that are necessary to live a happy and healthy life.
The current way of functioning of our economic and government system does not respond to these priorities and is an obstacle to the progress of mankind. Democracy begins with the people (demos: people; cracia: government), so the government must be the people. Nevertheless, in this country the biggest part of the political class does not listen to us. Its mission should be taking our voice to the institutions, making political participation possible through direct channels and trying to do it in the best interest of the overall majority of the society. Right now, the mission of the political class in Spain is to become rich and more prosperous and powerful at our expense, and it only listens to the dictates of the big economic powers while clinging to power in a particracy led by the never-changing PP-PSOE.
Things like greed and the fact that only a few are getting all the power generate inequalities, tension and injustice, and that leads to violence, which we refuse. The unnatural and obsolete economic model which is nowadays used is leading the social machine to a spiral that forces it to consume itself and makes rich only a few, while condemning the rest to scarcity and poverty. Until the system collapses.
The main purpose of the system is to amass wealth. That is its priority, above efficiency or the welfare of society. It does not matter if resources are being wasted or the planet destroyed. It does not matter if that means higher unemployment or unhappy consumers.
We citizens are part of the machine which is destined to make rich only a few who are not even aware of our needs. We are nobody to them, but none of this can happen without us, since it is us who are making the world move. If, as a society, we stop giving our future to an abstract economic return that is never for the benefit of the majority, we will eliminate the abuses and deficiencies that we all suffer.
There must be an Ethical Revolution. Money has been given more importance than the Human Being and it must be put to our service. We are people, not market products. I am not what I buy, why I buy it, or who I buy it from.
For all those things, I am outraged.
I believe I can change things.
I believe I can help.
I know that, together, we can make it.
Come with us. It is your right.