If you ask most people about the secret police their minds will go back to the days of the Nazi regime or totalitarian Eastern Bloc states. However many will be aware that the secret policeman (and policewoman) is alive and well. Indeed as I write this in Spain they are having a ball!
Spain and a repressive regime go hand in hand for those who think back to the years of the Franco dictatorship. For Spaniards who are of my generation or older the threat of the knock on the door was very real indeed. For those under 40 it is all history. They are very proud of the advances Spain has made in the democratic stakes since the death of Franco. Hence the discovery that secret police are still on the nation’s streets has come as a profound shock.
Of course Spain’s secret police have been there all alone. In March I wrote in the Morning Star about the anniversary of February 23 1981 attempted coup when the fledgling democracy of Spain was almost brought to its knees when the Guardia Civil Lieutenant Coronel Antonio Tejero marched in to the Spanish parliament, confronted the MPs and fired shots in the chamber.
One of those forced to flee was Antonio Herrera now in charge of the health section of the CC.OO union. The Communist MP, Paco Vázquez, met him in Málaga offering to take him to Gibraltar. He declined and says later friends in the police told him at the time they knew exactly where to find him plus each and every one of those on the left.
Now the secret police have surfaced again amongst the protestors, ‘Los Indignados’, of the 15-M movement. This movement makes up a number of people’s organisations which have become indignant with the nation’s economic plight, the endemic political corruption and greed. The street protests have been largely peaceful and have embraced young and pensioners, the employed and jobless, professional classes and artisans. The Spanish summer is as real as the Arab spring.
So the surfacing of videos that show secret police infiltrating the demonstrations of the 15-M movement to provoke disturbances and confrontations supposedly on the part of the protestors in order to justify the brutal police retaliation has come as a major shock to the public.
Whilst the shock is real enough what has left people stunned is that only websites such as Voto en Blanco have had the courage to show what is going on via the internet. No media, which is subjected to or dependent on the State or its agencies, has been brave enough to report the actions of the secret police. Whilst it is the police in the spotlight they, of course, take their orders from the politicians in power who are demonstrating the low moral standing of those who currently govern Spain.
The majority of the violence has taken place in Barcelona, a territory governed by the Generalitat. It is here that Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Spain’s minister of the interior, who is also responsible for the security of the country, has approved the tactics and methods of the police which are more in keeping with a dictatorship or a democracy that has no ethics or decency.
As can clearly been seen on the videos that have been placed on YouTube, although I understand access to some has been blocked, police provocateurs have infiltrated the demonstrations and used violence in stark contrast to the peaceful protests around them. In a video of the demonstration in Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella once the secret police have done their work the riot squads move in firing directly in to the crowds. The video then identifies the police perpetrators.
These are the actions we associate with Nazi, Fascists or repressive regimes. However Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba is not only a socialist government minister but the likely heir to the current premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
If socialist Rubalcaba can sanction such action on behalf of PSOE then if Mariano Rajoy’s centre-right Partido Popular wins the general election next March expect the repressive instruments of State to be given full reign. For the sad fact is all the corrupt political parties are under attack. Collectively they are guilty as charged so will fight back with their total might – secret police and all.
(Versions of this article appeared in the Morning Star and Panorama on June 28 2011).