Franco’s fascist power structures in Spain are alive and well in the EU
Toni Strubell is a former MP in the Catalan Parliament, journalist, and author of What Catalans Want
Núria Bassa Camps is a Catalan Photo Journalist
Luis Gonzalo Segura, born in Madrid in 1977, is a writer and ex-lieutnant in the Spanish Army. A geographer by training, he became famous in the media when he was expelled from the Spanish army in 2015 following his criticism of the corruption and abuse existing in the army as described in his first book “Un paso al frente” (A step forward), published in 2014. He also wrote “El libro negro del ejército español” (The black book of the Spanish army) in 2017. His latest book “En la guarida de la bestia” (In the lair of the beast), published in May 2019, reports and denounces the harassment suffered by women in the Spanish armed forces. He is also famous for having declared in November 2018 that any attempt to reform the Spanish army would “clash” with King Felipe VI.
You were expelled from the Spanish army in 2015. Why?
I was expelled as a lieutenant from the Spanish army because I spoke up against what was going on there. I was punished because to do so was considered a breach of discipline, not because what I was reporting was untrue, which it wasn’t. They were really applying the same disciplinary concept as that applied by Chile’s Pinochet against journalists for reporting cases of corruption. They were suspended and persecuted for “acts of indiscipline”. Just like me.
What treatment did you receive when you made your complaints?
Although my case was considered an administrative rather than a judicial affair, the treatment I got was deplorable and perverse in every sense. I was stigmatized and portayed as a criminal. Vicious press campaigns were carried out against me. I was imprisoned for five months and measures were applied –such as keeping me in solitary confinement- that were clearly contrary to human rights. My own officers had me locked away for reporting their corruption. I was made out to be an enemy of the system while other soldiers making statements praising Franco or the far-right, for example, are not treated as enemies and merely receive token disciplinary action to stave off a “bad image” for the Spanish army. If held in disciplinary centres at all, they are treated like aristocrats and patriotic heroes.
Do NATO and the EU care about the lack of democracy and respect for human rights in the Spanish army?
Not at all. They couldn’t care less that there is a democratic deficiency in Spain and corruption in the Spanish army. Just look at the case of the presence in NATO of Turkey, a country with a very poor democratic record which is run by an admirer of Hitler. Or the fact that Saudi Arabia should be a close ally despite butchering critical journalists and waging a bloody war in Yemen that has led to 250.000 deaths. That the Spanish army should have a clear leaning to the far-right, being riddled with Francoists, nazis, and fascists, is not a problem for the EU.
Why does the socialist defense minister, Margarita Robles, not act against the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia or the unashamed participation of previous defense ministers in the arms industry?
Margarita Robles has shown all through her political career that she has no scruples whatsoever. In my book “El libro negro del ejército español” (The black book of the Spanish army) I went into the presence of the far-right in the Spanish army and now, with the appearance of Vox on the political scene, this has now become clear to all. The identification of a large part of the army with Vox is simply hair-raising. But Margarita Robles will not lift one finger to change this situation. So for now there is no chance democratic movements will take root within the Spanish armed forces. Critical voices such as those of corporal Marco Santos or myself, both expelled from the army, have had no support from within, and progressive members of the armed forces are forced into keeping very low profles.
How do you judge the role of the army and the Guardia Civil in the Catalan conflict and the Referendum of October 1 2017?
The army and the Guardia Civil have been politically used as a battering ram in the repression of the Catalan people. The images we all saw of the aggression unleashed against voters was quite obscene. This has led to a permanent divorce of the Catalan people with regard to the idea of Spain. To understand this syndrome, one simply has to think about the record of the current Minister of the Interior, Mr Marlaska. As a judge, he was directly responsible for several ECHR sentences against Spain for abuse against Human Rights. He was a judge who overlooked cases of torture against detainees and covered over the famous Yak 42 case (in which hiring cheap aircraft transportation led to the death of 75 military, whose bodies were not even correctly identified by the PP administration). Yet president Pedro Sánchez has expressed no doubts about having ministers such as Marlaska in his cabinet.
Germany expelled 300 soldiers 4 years ago for showing sympathy with the far right. Why does this not happen in Spain?
No, it won’t. And this is clearly because Spain is an authoritarian regime with a democratic varnish and a Francoist foundation. Those who today control Spain are the Francoist elite. The political apparatus is nothing more than a series of characters who are puppets in the hands of that elite, and regularly have to ask their permission about how to act. So it’s obvious that expelling fascists from their army and police forces is quite out of the question as against in Germany where Fascism was beaten. Here fascism was never beaten, but merely camouflaged by the democratic transition of 1978 which has now come to be seen as a huge fraud.
How do you see the role of the Spanish army in the COVID-19 crisis?
The role of the army in the COVID-19 crisis has been as obscene as has that of the Spanish Government. Not only has the constitutional concept of the State of the Autonomies been wiped away by severe centralization, but the whole crisis has been subjected to an absurdly military discourse. Army officers were as glaringly as unnecessarily present at all early government press conferences. Army units have been given a very glamourous role in emergency tasks that they should never have had anything but an ancillary role in because there are civil emergency units much better prepared for those tasks. In other countries, the disinfection of public places is carried out by specialized companies. Why by the army is Spain? I think that they were after whitewashing future mass state expenditure in the army by showing how “useful” it was fighting against Covid-19. All propaganda and show.