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World Association of International Studies

Post Corruption in Catalonian Politics
Created by John Eipper on 11/06/19 2:57 AM

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Corruption in Catalonian Politics (Jordi Molins, Spain, 11/06/19 2:57 am)

With my reference to the new book of Sir Paul Preston, I did not try to suggest that Paul's book agrees with my opinions. I was only using part of its title (corruption) to make my point. I am sorry if there was a confusion about that.

José Ignacio Soler wrote of the "(...) JxCat independentist party, heirs of the most corrupt Catalonian political party."

The biggest corruption cases in Catalonia, related to political parties, are: three for Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (UDC; Treball case, Turisme case and Pallerols case), one for the Socialists (Filesa case) and one for Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC; Palau case).

First, it is important to highlight that two of the three Catalan Republican parties (ERC and CUP) have zero corruption cases in their history.

JxCat, the third Catalan Republican party, took over PDeCAT, which is the new party created after the disappearance of CDC. But in fact, JxCat is the political party of President Puigdemont, and PDeCAT has very little influence.

CDC disappeared because it was the political party of Jordi Pujol. When it was discovered the corruption scandal of Pujol and his family, the Catalan Parliament retracted the honors to Pujol.

Note: let me recall that the corruption of CDC pales in comparison to that of the Socialists and the Popular Party. However, those Madrid political parties have not suffered any electoral consequences for their corruption activities, unlike CDC and Jordi Pujol in Catalonia.

The Palau case ended for Fèlix Millet with a conviction of almost 10 years in jail. Surprisingly, he spent exactly 38 days in prison.

Let me recall that the Palau case involved money laundering by CDC ... from bribes of Ferrovial, a large Madrid company (clearly not a Republican company).

Fèlix Millet was in a very good relationship with the Popular Party. José María Aznar nominated him for FAES, the think tank of the most right wing section of the Popular Party.

On September 26, 2014, Jordi Pujol, in a commission investigation on corruption, stated: "if you keep cutting the branch of a tree, in the end, the whole branch falls, and all the nests in it. No! later, the other one will fall there! And then another one ... and another one ... No, no! ... Later, all nests will fall!"  The message was very clear: if I am condemned about corruption, I will speak everything I know, and it will not be pretty for the highest echelons of the Spanish State.

Surprisingly after that date, the Spanish media created a big silence around Jordi Pujol, until now. As far as I know, the trial for Jordi Pujol has not finished, and it has no final date. Nobody speaks about it. At least one of his sons has been very lucky, and he has been able to leave prison very early and under very good conditions.

Jordi Pujol was never an independentist, but an autonomist. In fact, as said above, the company paying the bribes to CDC was Ferrovial, a Madrid entity.

On the other side, the most corrupt political party in Catalonia was clearly UDC (Christian-Democrats). UDC was the oldest political party in Catalonia, and its leader Manuel Carrasco i Formiguera was killed by the Francoists. His last words were for Jesus Christ and for a free Catalonia.

But the UDC leader in the Constitutional regime was Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida. Duran i Lleida is a harsh Unionist, and he accomplished the biggest blunder in Spanish politics in modern era: his party disappeared because of no voters, after having survived Francoism. After such a feat, the Spanish government rewarded him with the Presidency of Aena, the government-owned company controlling the Spanish airports (in a Soviet-centralized way), constantly diverting resources from the Barcelona airport towards the Madrid airport.

Instead, the independentists in JxCAT (the group around President Puigdemont), as far as I know, have never been condemned by corruption.

A final question can be: how is it possible that all corrupt Catalan politicians are Constitutionalists, and no Republicans have ever been condemned by corruption? The answer is not, of course, that Republicans are "better" in any sense than the Constitutionalists. All humans are the same everywhere. But of course, we all react differently, depending on our environment and constraints, moral and otherwise.

And in Catalonia, for the last 370 years, if you publicly said that you were independentist or Republican, you knew things in life would not be easy for you. Instead, if you said you were Constitutionalist, you knew you could access jobs above your level of competence, with easiness.

As a consequence, it is normal that in Catalonia corruption comes almost 100% from Constitutionalists and not from Republicans. Of course, if and when Catalonia becomes independent, things could become different, even the opposite.

JE comments:  It's far easier to get your hands in the cookie jar when you're in power.  How true.  Should Catalonia become independent, there will be an enormous temptation for the leaders to go down the well-trod path of kleptocracy.  Jordi's final point above should be heeded by all.

Sir Paul Preston (next) sends a further thought on corruption.

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  • Corruption in Catalonian Politics, Revisited; the Ominous Jordi Pujol (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/12/19 4:48 AM)
    Jordi Molins's November 6th post on corruption in Catalonia deserves some comments.

    I admire Jordi's attempt to demonstrate that the independentist parties are involved in nothing more than a few isolated cases of corruption. Further, Jordi indirectly blamed Madrid for its complicity in these cases.

    It is difficult to disguise that JxCat is not the political party heir of PDeCAT, CdC and Convergencia i Unio. The evolution of this group is clearly documented, and its changes of names and structures are evidently attempts to "whitewash" a corrupt image. The 3% corruption cases are ongoing, and most likely will reveal more evidence and scandals. At least Jordi states that of the three independentist parties (JxCat, ERC, CUP), the last two are "free" of corruption.  Is he perhaps admitting that JxCat has a history of corruption?  By the way, isn't it also true that these two "clean" groups have never been in power to be really tempted?

    Jordi Molins also mentions that Pujol was never independentist.  Maybe Jordi is right ... or maybe not. Anyway, Pujol is considered by many to be the main sponsor and promoter of the modern Catalonian nationalist movement, author of the Nationalist Manifesto of 1989, which has been in recent years the inspiration and motivation for the independentists, with clear independentist and nationalistic political, educational, and social strategies.  Catalonia's independentist parties seem to have followed this manifesto to the letter. This dark, ominous, racist, xenophobic and corrupt character (he can hardly be called "Constitutionalist") was for many years, decades, the head of Catalonian politics, followed by his disciple Artur Mas, a convinced independentist, both being opportunistic politicians using their influence and power for their own personal interests and ambitions.

    It seems to me the argument that the corrupt politicians in Catalonia are only "constitutionalists" and not independentists is again another twisted argument, an attempt to cloak the independentist movement with a righteous, high moral and ethical status.  It is far from being true (with the evident purpose of discrediting the opponent side). It is similar to the pacifist image promoted by the movement that has been clearly revealed to be false during the recent violent protests.

    Finally, to turn to the question posed by John E in Paul Preston's post: "why are some societies more corrupt than others?"

    This topic has been always of great interest to me, but I always found it very difficult to tackle. Just as a first way of approaching it, there must be a complex mix of many cultural, social, political and economic factors, which properly combined would reach higher ethical and moral standards. There are perhaps cultural and perhaps religious values, effective education, respect for the law and institutions, a lack of impunity, a sense of citizenship, political and economic freedom, economic prosperity and less inequality, among other values and merits. To deal with this issue would require a long and deep discussion.

    This topic reminds me of David McClelland's theories of the three main motivations or needs (The Achieving Society, a very interesting book): Power, Affiliation and Achievement. Briefly, in his theory the author claims that societies with social motivation for Power and Affiliation are more vulnerable to corruption; the societies motivated by Achievements tend to be more ethical and less corrupt. He also relates this three motivational forces to personal and religious values. I believe his views are pretty much capable of explaining many aspects of the question.

    JE comments:  José Ignacio, how is Jordi Pujol ominous and racist--and xenophobic?  Granted, I haven't read his manifesto.  It's a document that has indirectly inspired much WAIS discussion, although we've never visited it.

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    • Jordi Pujol Was Never an Independentist (Jordi Molins, Spain 11/13/19 3:34 AM)
      José Ignacio Soler wrote on November 12th: "Jordi Molins also mentions that Pujol was never independentist. Maybe Jordi is right ... or maybe not."

      Can José Ignacio give us a single piece of evidence in which Jordi Pujol stated explicitly, or even implicitly, he was an independentist, during the 23 years in which he was the President of Catalonia?

      Many Spanish Constitutionalists hate Jordi Pujol not for being independentist (which he was/is not) but for being Catalan. Spanish politicians with similar (or greater, or vastly greater) levels of corruption are never criticized as harshly as Pujol (or other Catalan politicians).

      José Ignacio also wrote: "At least Jordi states that of the three independentist parties (JxCat, ERC, CUP), the last two are 'free' of corruption. Is he perhaps admitting that JxCat has a history of corruption? By the way, isn't it also true that these two 'clean' groups have never been in power to be really tempted?"

      ERC's Carod Rovira was twice member of the Catalan government during the first decade of the 2000s, and ERC's Junqueras has been twice member of the Catalan government in recent years. ERC has the local power in 359 municipalities in Catalonia. CUP, in 19.

      As I described in my previous WAIS post, JxCat is mostly the Republican side of the old Convergència i Unió. The Constitutionalist side of the old Convergència i Unió was the one mostly tainted by corruption. As stated, Puigdemont and his circle (the ones controlling JxCat now) have no corruption charges whatsoever, as far as I know.

      As a consequence, it is safe to state the Republican Catalan politicians have not been involved in corruption, so far, unlike their Constitutionalist counterparts.

      JE comments:  José Ignacio Soler based his argument largely on Pujol's Manifesto of 1989, which (in José Ignacio's view) has been the "foundational" document of the independentists/Republicans.  As I suggested yesterday, we should open up that doc to see what's inside.

      I found this article, from 1990 (not '89):  "La estrategia de la recatalanización."  Is this the one we're talking about?  The text explicitly refers to Catalonia as a nation, and in terms of education, calls for a "knowledge of Catalonia's national reality."


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      • Jordi Pujol: My Personal Impression (Paul Preston, UK 11/13/19 7:13 AM)
        I spoke with Jordi Pujol on numerous occasions over the years, and never suspected anything about his corrupt deals. I never had the slightest doubt that he wanted Catalonia to have greater autonomy within Spain. He had long since pursued a policy of consolidating a sense of national identity based on language and culture.

        In 1990, he commissioned a team of Catalan intellectuals to draft "The Strategy for Catalanization" (La estrategia de la catalanización). It was a programme aimed at demonstrating to the population that Catalonia was hobbled culturally and economically by the discrimination of the Spanish state. (see Javier Ayuso, "Estrategia de construcción del enemigo español", El País, 2 December 2017, https://elpais.com/politica/2017/12/01/actualidad/1512147095_879949.html )

        I doubt if Pujol was a separatist. He was too shrewd about economic issues. However, there is no doubt that he wanted to make Catalonia as autonomous as possible within Spain.

        JE comments:  There's not a major figure in Spain that Sir Paul Preston doesn't know.  Thank you for the vignette!

        Note that Pujol et al. spoke of "Re-Catalanization" and not "Catalanization."  This is both a strategic and a deeply ideological choice of words.  Make Catalonia great...again.

        Once again, the link:


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        • Pujol and "Make Catalonia Great Again" (Paul Preston, UK 11/14/19 4:50 AM)
          Catalonia great again? (See JE's comments on my post of November 13th.)

          Once when I was chairing a talk by Jordi Pujol, he said something like "The Catalan empire was the greatest the world has ever seen." Although I was out of his eye-line, perhaps sensing that I was stunned by this, he waved airily in my direction and said, "the distinguished historian here will confirm this" before ploughing on and giving me no chance to respond other than to roll my eyes.

          JE comments:  Paul, it must be irksome to have your name attached to the far-fetched claims of political ideologues.  I'm sure the Pujol incident is just one of several you've experienced.

          To be sure, Aragon's possessions and sphere of influence were impressive.  The map below shows Aragon's "footprint" in 1450.

          It would be fun to assemble a list of empires the world has forgotten.  To Aragon, we could add the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zulu kingdom/empire, the Omani empire, the Khazar empire...

          Ozymandias comes to mind.

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        • Re-Thinking Pujol and Catalonian Separatism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/14/19 6:49 AM)

          We must respect Paul Preston's doubts about Jordi Pujol being a separatist (13 November).  However, I must reply to Paul with my own doubts.

          Let's assume that Pujol was at least "nationalistic," something evident in his "nationalist manifesto" of 1990 (Programa 2000), which I have already argued is at least the strategic basis of Catalonia's modern separatism. From this assumption it might be very evident that, in general, all nationalisms tend to be, or eventually become, independentist, separatist or at least some sort of tribal sectarian thinking. It is hard to believe that nationalism exists solely to vindicate lost cultural roots. It should then be evident that all nationalisms are in general xenophobic and even racist. I emphasize the words "in general," because I admit there might be nationalisms, call it patriotism if you like, whose political aim is to integrate instead of separating or building inner borders.

          Finally, Paul informed us he was in close contact on numerous occasions with Pujol and never had suspicions about his corrupt deals. If Paul never suspected his corruption, what can make him so sure Pujol was not a separatist?

          Paul, as a historian, should place this character into Spain's political and historical context. Besides Pujol being an opportunistic politician, it was necessary for him to be careful to disguise any independentist ideology in order not to be immediately under some sort of backlash or to lose support. One should remember that Catalonia's popular support for independence in Pujol's time was still very low, and open independentist sympathies would have been politically risky.

          JE comments:  There's something to ponder here.  The key would be the meaning of the year "2000" in Pujol's manifesto.  Was it at least the suggestion of an independent state?  Recall that the word "nation" appears throughout the document.

          One question for Nacho Soler:  is there really such a thing as an inclusive or "integrating" nationalism?  To my mind, this can only happen from the position of power or of an existing multicultural state.  Soviet nationalism was certainly inclusive.  Stateless minority peoples, whether in Kurdistan or Catalonia, are by necessity exclusionary.

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          • Integrationist vs Exclusionary Nationalism (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 11/15/19 2:58 AM)
            In response to my post of November 14th, John E asked, "is there really such a thing as an inclusive or 'integrating' nationalism?" He added that such a thing can only happen from a position of power in a multicultural state, and he mentioned the Soviet Union as an example.

            This is an interesting subject and I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas.

            We must start by remembering the differences between nationalism and patriotism, a topic we discussed previously in this Forum some time ago. Nationalism (and patriotism) is a concept, somehow describing abstract ambiguous feelings, but certainly it refers to a group of people with some strong common ethnic, cultural, or religious roots, with a strong sense of belonging to the same community or territory, generally speaking a common language. So far this definition is very general, and in modern times we should include a political structure, a state with political institutions.

            Now the concept of political inclusive-ism is precisely related to integrating different groups politically, which are cultural and historically very similar in many aspects and belong to a territory that could be considered a "geographic unit" or attached by strong common historical events. This integration can be through agreements, consensus, cultural or mutual economic interests, or other peaceful means.

            Exclusive nationalism is precisely the contrary, and involves denying the commonality despite the evident similarities. This exclusionary process can be inspired by xenophobic, ethnic or cultural supremacist feelings, although they can perhaps be justified by other more "politically correct" reasons. Surely the "integration" of groups with few similarities, by force or violence, should not be considered a process of peaceful integration. This is rather a conquest or invasion, as in traditional colonial empires. In these cases the principle of self-determination should be applied.

            Having stated those principles, I can think of several examples of inclusive nationalism. Are they not the principles that originated in the modern Western European nations? For instance, Germany, France, Italy, or Spain for that matter, which were created with the strong objective of consolidating or integrating small organizational units, kingdoms or principalities, cities, villages, communities, etc. This did not always happen peacefully or by consensual agreements of course. Sometimes they failed, but most were successful in the end. Wasn't the reunification of Germany a historical case of integrationist nationalism?

            The EU is a modern case, in the era of globalization, of an effort to integrate different nations, albeit with an artificial concept of "nationality," such as the European nationality. How can it be denied that Europe has strong common historical bonds, multicultural ties and a well-defined geographical unit? Maybe there are not enough ties, unfortunately.

            The situation in Spain, maybe the UK too with Scotland, is a case of the two kinds of nationalisms in conflict, the exclusive and the inclusive. If we accept the EU as a multinational supra-sate, a "nation of nations," then Brexit in relation to the EU is another example of the exclusionary kind.

            In America, the US is a clear historical example of inclusive nationalism, not in a very peaceful way to be honest but very effective. The US Civil War is another confrontational example. Contrast this to what happened in South America, where despite all the things in common, exclusive nationalism succeeded and divided the region into weak underdeveloped countries.

            JE comments: The US Civil War was "exclusionary" from the Confederate side, and "integrationist" from the Union side.  Why?  Although the North was on the moral side of history (regarding slavery), the ultimate answer is because it was more powerful.  And keep in mind that the North went to war not to abolish slavery, but to end secession.

            If you scratch the surface of nationalism, there is always an element of artificiality.  I'm fond of citing Benedict Anderson's landmark study from 1983, Imagined Communities.  The title says it all, although the paradoxes remain:  if nations are artificial constructs, why are people willing to die for them?

            Probably the most "organic" element of the nationalist DNA is language, but this doesn't apply to the fragmented nations of Spanish America.  And as a contrary example, take Switzerland.

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            • Nationalism and Sports (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/15/19 11:27 AM)
              When I was a boy, my father was a die-hard fan of one of the soccer teams in my hometown. I tried following in his footsteps but basically could not do it because it made no sense. However, when one year Brazil was in the final for the World Cup, I went irrational and felt the fleeting feeling of nationalism and patriotism. But once Brazil won, I knew we would be back to the same situation as before. It was only a temporary rush that had very little to do with getting a good job which allows a family to live comfortably, with good health care, good schools, etc. It was really just like eating a delicious candy bar.

              To me nationalism is a similar feeling: Regardless of how miserable one's life is, with unemployment and injustices, nationalism can always thrive under the guidance of a populist leader. Take the US for example, after historically advertising that this is where the masses of disadvantaged immigrants should come for freedom and prosperity, nationalists now want to exclude these pesky minorities, and xenophobia is acceptable. What are we going to do with these undesirables? Put them in concentration camps? How about all the foreigners brought into our country because they helped the US fight wars all over the world? Do they get the same treatment?

              JE referenced Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities with a question: "If nations are artificial constructs, why are people willing to die for them?" People are willing to die for things they believe in, no matter how irrational. And remember, people can believe in whatever they want, regardless of facts. Historically, I know of very few people who died for a proven scientific fact, but millions have died for abstract "isms," ideologies, religions, and other superstitions.

              JE comments:  Circus is just as important as bread.  For nation-building, even more so.  In Brazil it's soccer, in Venezuela it's the beauty pageant.  Or at least this is the argument of a fascinating documentary, To Be a Miss (2016).  Has anyone in WAISworld seen it?

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              • BRICS Meeting in Brasilia (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/17/19 3:49 AM)
                JE commented on my post of November 15th: "Circus is just as important as bread. For nation-building, even more so. In Brazil it's soccer, in Venezuela it's the beauty pageant."

                Indeed, but that might be the underlying problem with our democracy. While we engage in circus, others are taking care of business. Almost totally absent from our manipulated media, the BRICS nations are having their 11th summit this time in Brasilia, hosted by the Brazilian government.

                Their agenda seems perfectly benign and constructive for all concerned. However, in our latest circus we have two teams: one with Americans (some Republicans but mostly Democrats with various agendas) with any conscience left are desperately trying to get rid of our mentally deficient, criminally minded President. The other team, protecting the President against mounting evidence about who he really is and his un-presidential behavior, are Christian fundamentalists (can you believe it?) and other unpatriotic individuals.

                If our circus was not so detrimental socially, politically, and economically to the American nation, it could actually be interesting times. But then I looked at the last item for discussion in the BRICS summit: the development of a digital currency which I briefly discussed a few time in the immediate past as a serious threat to the US dollar as a the main reserve currency. Remember, the BRICS nations as a block represent a large portion of the world economy and growing fast as we stagnate.

                I was already worried about the Russia-China-Iran economic partnership; but now we may have to include Brazil, India, and South Africa. If this takes hold, the US dollar will lose its special status and we are toast financially as a nation. If this happens, when? What are the implications for the American people? Another Great Depression? I have no idea about the results at this time, just concerns and prayers to God the Universe to protect my grand children.

                JE comments:  Tor Guimaraes reminds us that "circus" is also slang for frenzied chaos.  Juvenal meant it as a public spectacle, as in chariot races or feeding Christians to lions.  With the impeachment hearings now on TV--the ultimate reality show?--we Americans are experiencing the circus in both senses.

                Two questions:  Is anyone in WAISworld watching the hearings?  And 2):  I hope our colleague David Fleischer in Brasilia will comment on the BRICS summit.  Before we get too rosy an image of the BRICS, we should note that at least three of the five nations are facing major crises at present.

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