There is nothing to resist the unstoppable confrontation between the Spanish political forces. A decade ago, the Congress of Deputies established June 27 as the Day of the Victims of Terrorism and organized an annual event that was intended to symbolize the unity of the parties in the face of political violence. The institutional tribute began to crack last year, when the Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) decided not to attend, a position supported by Vox. This Sunday the plan was extended to the PP, which, while the act was being held in the hemicycle, preferred to participate in a protest rally at the doors of the Chamber together with members of AVT and Covite, as well as leaders of Vox.
The image couldn’t have been more disconcerting. Inside the Chamber, a solemn act with the Presidents of Congress and the Senate, the Presidents of the Constitutional Court, the First Vice President of the Government and the Ministers of the Interior and Justice, and representatives of associations integrated in the Victims of Terrorism Foundation. Two staunch political opponents sat on the same bench: EH Bildu spokesperson, Mertxe Aizpurua, who was attending for the first time, and the deputy from the Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN) Carlos García Adanero. Along with them, the representatives of Ciudadanos, Edmundo Bal; from the PNV, Aitor Esteban, and from ERC, Gerard Álvarez. The only two popular parliamentarians were present, although in their institutional capacity as members of the Chamber of the Chamber, Ana Pastor and Adolfo Suárez Illana.
And at the same time, in front of the Puerta de los Leones, a hundred people formed a protest rally. Among them were the spokespersons for the majority victims’ associations, a delegation from the PP led by its parliamentary spokesperson, Cuca Gamarra, another from Vox with Jorge Buxadé at the helm and the deputy Miguel Gutiérrez, from Ciudadanos, a party that did participate in the act. , but that he had “the heart, the understanding and the affections outside”, as Edmundo Bal explained ― inside―.
In the hemicycle, the president of Congress, Meritxell Batet, recalled that “social and political unity was fundamental, ten years ago, for ETA to be defeated.” Outside, shouts were heard calling for the resignation of Pedro Sánchez and both the representatives of the associations and the right-wing politicians present accused the Government of “laundering the heirs of the murderers” and cried out against the approach of the gang’s prisoners to jails. of the Basque Country. The president of the AVT, Maite Araluce, demanded the banning of EH Bildu, and Gamarra, questioned about it by journalists, avoided expressly supporting that request.
The solemnity of the institutional act, with a minute of silence and pieces of classical music performed by two students from the Madrid Conservatory of Music, could not escape the climate of division. Batet began his speech by underlining that this annual tribute “belongs to the victims” and as such they “are free to participate or to be absent.” On behalf of the victims’ foundation spoke its president, Tomás Caballero, son of a UPN councilor assassinated by ETA in 1998, who admitted the “voluntary absence of a large part” of the associations, to which he showed his “consideration and respect” , and asked the Government for a “reflection” on the circumstances that have caused this fracture.
Before the act, the statements in the courtyard of the Congress of some of those present had evidenced discord. The first to appear before the press was the Citizen’s spokesperson, who launched a diatribe against the Government in which he linked his agreements with EH Bildu to the pardons of the leaders of the you process. Bal’s words outraged the president of the Association of Victims of 11-M, Eulogio Paz, who said they were “inappropriate for a politician who deigns to be.” “All the governments, the PSOE and the PP, have approached and pardoned terrorists,” he said. On behalf of the group of victims of the State security forces and bodies, its vice president, Javier López, explained that they are also critical of the Executive’s policy, but considered that in an “institutional act like this” they are “absolutely out of the question. place the political demands ”. And he added: “On a personal basis, I do not understand the absence of the PP and Vox.”
In his speech before the Chamber, the president of the Victims Foundation sent a specific request to the Government and the parties: that they promote legal reforms to prevent public tributes to terrorists. “They are an outrage to the victims and an incitement to hatred and violence,” Caballero denounced. “A democracy like ours cannot continue to allow it.”
Despite the rarefied climate, Batet did not give up her calls for the unity of the political forces: “I call for this act because I believe in it and in its sense, convinced that acts like this are what make community and, above all, those that they make the State ”. In the street, only angry speeches were heard against a government accused of “equidistance” between the terrorists and their victims. There you did breathe an apparent unity, although below you could see a very different underground current. In a corner the deputy of Vox Cristina Esteban whispered with her fellow MEP Hermann Tertsch: “And then they vote for the PP, those of the Basque Liberation Movement! You have to portray them ”.