I’ve spoken to a few people here in Spain this last few days –working class people in their 60s and 70s- who, in the course of conversation, were talking about the possibility of another civil war if things get worse. For them, the Partido Popular’s implacable stripping away of the welfare state, the joblessness of their children or their friends’ children or their grandchildren, the sight of people rooting through rubbish bins, and the contempt shown by the government for any kind of protest or strike, all seem to be part of reality inexorably reasserting itself: all politicians are corrupt, the strong prey on the weak, anything else is pointless idealism and there is nothing to be done but keep your head down and get on with it.
On a related note, this is a translated interview with novelist and journalist Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa, conducted by Arantza Furundarena, published 6th January in hoy.es.
Shall we start with your latest book?
Which one was it?
Well, as far as I know, the one that’s about one of Nazism’s most bloodthirsty women and is titled “The Beautiful Beast”.
Oh, right, but you see I’ve just finished another, titled ‘Bimini’. A strange book in which I try to prevent 20,000 miners from being thrown out onto the streets.
What does it propose?
They extract coal from our mines the same way as they did 100 years ago. Money that has been given to improve them has been pocketed by businessmen. I look at how to change it and improve it. That’s my line. But here no-one pays any attention.
You should tell the politicians.
What is bad about politicians is not what they steal, but that what is stolen is but one percent of the evil they have caused. It’s as if you had a gentleman who wants to steal a hundred euro watch and he breaks a shop window worth ten grand. So, to get a 50 million euro commission they built a billion euro airport that will never have a plane land in it.
Is Spain the worst country in the world?
In political corruption, one of the worst. Perhaps behind even Somalia.
Is there any solution?
There is nothing to be achieved from putting them in prison. Many of them ought to be shot or hung in the public square. But pressing them to give back what they have robbed? Worse than the robbery of the watch is the destruction of its crystal. Because what they are doing with Spain is smashing its crystal [‘alunizaje’].
You’re talking about shooting and hanging in a figurative sense?
You are making a call for barbarism.
Is there a greater barbarism than the one committed against a citizen who has to throw himself out the window or suffers a heart attack when they arrive to evict him? If the people who allow this were hanged, the next person to come along would think better of it. The enemy is not like before. Now there are rats in our home. And it’s difficult to get rid of them. The trouble is that if the tanks go into the Moncloa [seat of Spanish central government] some day, people will not react as on 23-F. And I say this as someone who is a complete enemy of dictatorships, because they deported and killed my family.
That’s why I’m surprised you justify the death penalty.
Well, at times you can’t see any other solution. Look at Matas [Jaume, former Partido Popular President of Balearic Islands sentenced to prison for corruption]; out and about and laughing his head off. To say nothing of Díaz Ferrán [former president of CEOE, Spain’s main bosses’ group under investigation for concealment of assets and money laundry, involving the use of an Irish subsidiary of his travel company to route 4.9 million euro to a Swiss bank account.]. How can the president of the business group be a guy who has tossed hundreds of people onto the street while he becomes a millionaire?
Are we living through another inter-war period?
Economic wars last a lifetime because human avarice is eternal. But these are very cruel times. If I were 20 I’d be out on the street. If anyone is organising a revolution they can count me in.
But the Bolsheviks only managed to change tsars.
Yes, but if we don’t defend ourselves within five or six years at this rate Spain will be a country of one hundred rich multimillionaires and a people of slaves dying from hunger.
What is Spain’s capital sin?
Apathy. Being unable to react against this useless shower.