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Oops, I joined a racist party

Por: | 01 de septiembre de 2011

One of the most bizarre news stories of what has been a blistering Spanish summer came from within the ranks of the far-right Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) party, whose number of councilors in the town of Salt was suddenly depleted by an outbreak of apparent racism. No, surely not. Oh yes. Joana Martínez, one of three politicians who had claimed seats in Salt's town hall after the previously miniscule party's strong showing in May's local elections, felt forced to resign due to internal pressure after it emerged she had a black boyfriend - albeit one who "has his papers," as she told EL PAÍS. Then in the same week in August another dark-skinned lover emerged, this time the male partner of the also-male councilor Carles Bonet. Apparently shocked at the negative reaction from party comrades to his having a Dominican boyfriend, Bonet was heard to bleat about “Nazi tendencies" within the PxD. Well, yes, you joined a xenophobic party, remember? 

What were they thinking? It is not as if there are no other options for a right-leaning would-be politician in the Catalan region. The CiU conservative nationalist bloc is not short on concern over the possible threat to Catalan identity brought by the influx of immigrants. The Popular Party also enjoyed better results in this year’s elections in the region, rising to third overall ahead of the leftist ERC. Martínez says she had okayed her situation with party leader Josep Anglada (pictured above), but this is the same Anglada who started out as a member of the neo-Nazi Fuerza Nueva and who is now engaged in a mutual-admiration love-in with France's Marine Le Pen.  

While the reactions of the aggrieved councilors do seem somewhat naïve, and indeed bordering on the bizarre (are they in fact double agents working to bring down PxC from within?), they do serve to call the xenophobes' bluff. Officially, according to its manifesto, and indeed like most far-right groupings around Europe, the PxC is not a racist party, but rather one concerned about the impact of uncontrolled, unregulated movements of people, who may happen to be of other creeds, colors and so on. Its stated fear is that public services will be saturated by these chaotic throngings of mankind. Nothing to do with a visceral hatred for foreigners... until a member turns out to have a Senegalese partner. Papers or no papers, it just isn't right. "They told me I was filthy, and asked how I could go to bed with a black man. […] If we were going out to have a drink, it was made clear that my partner was not invited." 

In the end, though, the rise of anti-immigration politics in Catalonia is no joke. The PxC may rise further, or it may be made irrelevant as other parties to the right of center make increasingly regular forays into the land of xenophobia to mop up those votes that have leaked into the hands of overtly racist groupings. This week the Catalan regional government, run by the CiU rightist nationalists, has proposed that the licensing of new religious buildings must take into account the "tradition" and "history" of the neighborhood concerned, reforming a 2009 law that prioritizes concepts such as public safety and hygiene. It is a mealy-mouthed way of banning minarets without the need for a Swiss-style referendum, but it lets local Muslims know where they stand just the same. Arabic façades will also be out, and what about the color green or those suspicious arches?

"The religious communities themselves will have to figure out whether the most important thing is the façade or what is inside,” explained the director of religious affairs in the region, Xavier Puigdollers. Of course, those architectural elements do, broadly speaking, have a tradition in Spain. What is Seville's Giralda cathedral tower if not a converted minaret? But when it comes to winning votes or taking power, complex truths regarding race and cultural identity seem to be all too easily forgotten. 

Photograph by Pere Duran.


Hay 3 Comentarios

Pues eso. So much for the stupid ethnical homogeneity they are seeking around Brussels...

@Cerdo Justiciero | 02/09/2011 11:57:46

Your assertion that fascism was absorbed by the so-called democratic institutions in the Spanish State would need further analysis, and is highly debatable. Spain the only place where this occurred? Now, that's laughable. You wilfully ignore what happened in other parts of Europe after the war. It was not totally wiped away (I reckon you mean stamped out), but it smoothly flowed into more 'democratic' ways.
The clumsiness you attribute to Spanish politicians (PxC is anything but Catalan) is spot on, but in matters migrational all of Spain has been known to show an endemic irrationality when faced with the reality that it has always been a place where races mixed and people came and went.

Well we can try and be as polite as possible but... does anyone really think that far-right xenophobic parties are composed by anything but weak-minded, low culture abnormals?
Anyway the rise of such groups is no joke, specially in our country -the only one in Europe where fascism wasn't wiped away but absorbed by the democratic institutions. Of course de endemic clumsiness of our politicians when faced to new and complex migrational affairs is of little help.

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Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

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Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

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